Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Find yourself wanting to jazz up boring old cauliflower because you know you should eat it, but you just can't get past the taste? Welcome! I want to give a sincere, heart felt thanks to Emeril for providing this tasty recipe. You can find the original here, my adjustments are included below.

If you find yourself with leftovers, throw them in the blender with some chicken stock. This makes an excellent puree you can serve with another meal!

Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Parm, Lemon & Garlic
Adapted from recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2003

6 to 8 servings

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon+ sliced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Chopped chives, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Place the cauliflower florets in a large saute pan or a roasting pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the cauliflower, and season with the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place the saute/roasting pan in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even roasting(I did this every 5 minutes). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Garnish with chopped chives/green onion and serve immediately while still warm.

Excellent with steak as an alternative to potatoes, or fish!

Gloucester, VA First Annual Wine Festival

I had the privilege of attending Gloucester, VA's very first annual Wine Fest along the picturesque banks of Capahosic and the York River on October 30, 2010.

How did I hear about this, you ask? Well, this is my home town. And for those of you that know nothing or little about Gloucester or poo poo it as a small country town, I invite you to read it's impressive history here.

Of even more interest to me than the wine, was the property where the wine fest was held. We were well off the beaten path of Rt.17 in the heart of Wicomico. We pulled into a large field on the water to walk over to Moton Center(or Holly Knoll as the house is properly named), recently purchased by The Gloucester Institute(off of RT 614). Originally the home of Robert R. Moton, Holly Knoll and it's inhabitant played a key role in American history, specifically the civil rights movement. Tours of the house were offered and the view from the roof was spectacular!(pic below)

It's amazing to me that every time I go home since I moved back to VA, I learn something new! And I really thought I had soaked up all there was to know, historically speaking, about my humble country county and here comes its first annual wine fest.

I really hope they hold it here again. It was a picturesque, clear, if not a bit chilly, sunny day on the water. All the vendors were friendly and accomodating. The kettle corn was to die for! I only hope they have a few more food vendors to choose from next year, my Nathan's hot dog didn't exactly cut it with my glass of white ;) Maybe BBQ would be nice addition? I ended up lugging home about 6 new varieties of wine, including a lovely Meritage from Athena winery that I can't wait to crack into at Christmas.

I highly encourage those of you looking for something a little different and a little less pretentious, yet rife with history to give this a go next year. Salut!

Brandied Apple Butter

As a result of a misguided romantic notion about apple picking, I ended up with some pretty amazing apple butter. Which, I'm happy to say, is going to be part of the Christmas sweet-treat package I make for friends and family this year.

So, I did a little research and decided Carter Mountain Grove, right up the street from Monticello and Michie Tavern, would be a fantastic place to pick apples. We headed out semi-early on a Saturday, took the hour journey and were greeted on the mountain by a teeming throng of screaming children with their well-meaning, but oblivious guardians. Who were weilding long, dangerous-looking, metal basket tipped apple-pickers. Which, I might add, on several occasions barely missed tops of heads and a few cars. Witnessing all of this, I then get out of the car and the icy wind whips right through me.

I make a split second excutive decision, abandoning all thoughts of meandering through orchards, I run for the pre-picked bushels. One apple pie, a gallon of cider, 1 bushel of Jonagold's and 1 shredded tire later- we have apple butter! And I have to say, I am in love with the crisp sweet taste of Jonagold apples. A cross between Jonanthans and Golden Delicious, the Jonagold have an attractive freckly gold and rose exterior. They are also a sizable fruit which is ideal when you have to peel so many for this project!

Typically you don't want to fiddle around too much with a canning recipe, but since apple butter is a high-acid item, it is a more flexible recipe than most. I had some applejack lying around from a failed attempt at a colonial cocktail that ended up with my friend and I gasping for air and gagging. Quite good in the apple butter though!

Hope this inpires someone to try a new project. I promise, it's worth it! PS- It helps to enlist some help during the peeling process. See below and note who's behind the camera and who's peeling ;)

B's Brandied Apple Butter (aka: Flat Tire Apple Butter)

Bushel of apples (makes approx 14 Qts of apple sauce, 3 of which will just be for you, and 3 which will be in reserve for this recipe, the rest goes in the crockpot initially for the apple butter)
5 Qt dutch oven & stockpot
8 Qt slowcooker
2 1/2 c. white sugar, divided
2 1/2 c. brown sugar, divided
1 c. orange blossom honey
1 1/2 c. apple jack brandy
6 tspn cinnamon, divided
1 tspn allspice
1 tspn clove
1 tspn cardamom
1 tspn fresh grated nutmeg
2 tspn salt
2 c. apple cider

Peel, core and cut apple into chunks. Place into dutch oven and stockpot. Fill to just overflowing. Pour 1 cup of apple cider into each pot. Cover each pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Cut to medium high heat and cook until apples are tender and fall apart. Approx. 20 minutes. Run through ricer or food mill (if you use a food mill, you can leave the skin on).

Fill crockpot w/8 Qts of apple sauce. Add 1 c. each of the white and brown sugar, honey, 4 tspn cinnamon, rest of the spices, brandy and salt. You will have in reserve a 1/2 c. each of the white & brown sugar and 2 tspns cinnamon. Cook on desired temp until reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. Add reserved 3 Qts apple sauce, sugar and cinnamon, adjusting to personal taste. Cook until reduced by an inch or so or until desired thickness. If too thick, thin w/apple cider. If too thin, keep cookin'! Run through a blender or use stick blender for final texture.

This will make approx 26-28 half pint jars of apple butter.

For canning instructions, please refer to the experts here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apple Jelly

Well, it's officially fall round these here parts with the advent of Apple Jelly cooling on my counter top and the whole kitchen/house smelling like a spiced apple candle. Mmmmmm.......thanks Dave Lebovitz, for this inspiring post and recipe.

I grew up canning with my mother, but had not ventured back to my roots until recently. And I have to say, I'm glad I did. There's just something that feels so good about creating a beautiful & tasty product from local produce with your own two hands. Knowing that you'll possibly even give your project out as a gift at some point. And that gift will make someone terrifically happy on perhaps a crappy day they are having.

Sidenote: I concur with Dave that my jelly didn't set up until around the 230 degree mark. And this is really pushing it when playing with sugar. So, make sure to pull your pot off of the burner if you find yourself rising over the 220 degree mark and test every few degrees using the cold saucer method (notes in Dave's recipe).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Caesar Salad

I'm a firm believer that no good Caesar dressing comes from a bottle. So, what's a girl to do during a salmonella scare when she's craving Caesar salad? Employ some good, old fashioned Duke's mayo, that's what. This dressing is not as thick as it would be with a nice fat egg yolk, but tasty and safe just the same!

Caesar Dressing
Serves 4

1 tbsp Duke's mayo
1 tspn dijon mustard
6 anchovies (in olive oil)
Scant 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tspn salt
1/2 tspn fresh cracked pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 c. olive oil
1/3 c+ grated parm reg cheese

Place mayo, mustard, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, cheese, salt and pepper in food processor. Let it rip and then slowly add olive oil until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, cheese and lemon juice to personal preference.

Toss w/chopped romaine (2-3 hearts or 1 big head) and a sprinkling more of cheese.

We also serve ours w/grilled/roasted chicken, roasted tomatoes and bacon on top. You could also make your own parm reg croutons to thrown in. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tapas Nite

This summer has blown by and all of my friends and I have been scattered to the wind. So, I had to come up with a good excuse to corral us all together and that resulted in 'Tapas Nite.' Inspired by a Tapas cookbook two of them had given me as a gift, I might add.

I highly recommend a Tapas party if you like to theme it up. Just beware the salt lick of ham that crops up when you want to get your pinchos on. Take your Diurex early and often!

If you're looking for menu ideas, we had:
  • Pork tenderloin, caramelized onions and brie crostini
  • Ham, brie, walnuts and balsamic crostini

  • Marcona almonds roasted w/rosemary and sea salt

  • Beef empanadillas

  • Goat cheese and serrano ham empanadillas

  • Mascarpone, goat and chive stuffed dates wrapped in serrano ham

  • Swordfish ceviche

  • Shrimp salad

  • Potatoes roasted with rosemary, shallot, garlic and sea salt

  • Sausage and manchego toasts

  • Sangria

  • Cava for dessert

I made the potatoes (amongst a few other things) and they seemed to be a hit! So here's the recipe for you--

Potatoes Roasted with Shallot, Garlic and Rosemary

2 lbs smallish older potatoes, quartered
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
5 oz shallot- larger ones cut in half or quarters so they cook evenly
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 c. good spanish olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring water to boil, add potatoes and a fistful of salt. Once water is boiling again after adding potatoes, set the timer for 5 minutes. Strain. Toss in bowl with olive oil, rosemary and salt. Roast for 35 minutes. Add shallots and garlic, roast for approx 20 minutes more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Salmon w/Tomato & Lemon Vinaigrette

I don't think it's any secret that I absolutely love to eat and cook fish! Just don't make me clean them! I think fish is even more desirable to me now since it's the closest I can get to shellfish (developed an allergy- boo!)

So, I'm always up for a new recipe to add to my fish repetoire. And I can not get enough of this salmon recipe courtesy of Emeril. Light, zingy and addictive, it's enough to convert even the most hard core salmon haters. It also made me fall in love with the possibilities of marjoram. I now use this fresh herb in most of my sauces. I think it's almost replaced tarragon as my new fav.

Broiled Salmon with a Warm Roasted Tomato and Lemon Vinaigrette
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2006
4 servings

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
4 (6-ounce) portions salmon fillets
8 sprigs fresh marjoram

Preheat the oven to broil with the rack 6 to 8 inches below the lighted broiler plate.

Place the tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the olive oil, marjoram, lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the lemon juice in a 10-inch saute pan, saute quickly, and set in the oven on the rack. Cook until the tomatoes are well caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Add the basil to the vinaigrette and toss to blend. Set aside until ready to use.

To cook the salmon, lay the fillets in a 12-inch saute pan and season with the remaining salt and remaining black pepper. Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the salmon, arrange marjoram sprigs over top, and broil in the oven until the salmon is browned and cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the tomato and lemon vinaigrette after plating.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tequila Lime Chicken Tacos

I love stocking up on bone in chicken breasts, particularly when they are .98 a lb or less. It seems most people are afraid of bone in chicken parts, which is too bad for them, but leaves more for me! :) They also come in handy for this Tequila Lime Chicken recipe courtesy of Ina Garten.

Ina wants you to have the skin left on your boneless chicken breast in order for the breast to stay moist while grilling. Getting rid of the bone minimizes cooking time. The only way I know to get a skin on boneless chicken breast is to debone a whole chicken breast yourself. If you want to know how, check out this video here. Super easy!

You can use regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you don't want to go to all the trouble. I halve this recipe for the 2 of us and it never goes to waste. If there's any left over from dinner, it goes in a pita for lunch the next day.

Love how easy this recipe is-- marinate overnite, grill up quickly the next day to throw into tacos. Great for a quick, fresh weeknite dinner option! This fragrantly mouth watering chicken melts in your mouth!

Tequila Lime Chicken
Copyright 2002 Barefoot Contessa Family Style
6 servings

1/2 cup gold tequila
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 whole (6 split) boneless chicken breasts, skin on

Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill with coals and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them skin-side down for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

I peel the skin off and discard. I think pull the chicken apart w/2 forks for tacos. Serve w/toppings of your choice- ie: salsa, cheese, lettuce, sour cream etc.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Prosciutto & Peach Salad

I've had some succulent peaches, ripe for the eating, ready to jump off my shelves this week. So, I decided to incorporate them into a fresh summer salad, riffing off of a recent Cooking Light recipe.
Prosciutto & Peach Salad

Dressing: (enough for 4 servings)

2 - 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tspns honey
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch salt and pepper
1 tbsp finely minced fresh mint


Baby lettuce of choice
Fresh slices of ripe peach
Sunflower seeds

Combine dressing ingredients and toss w/lettuce and peaches (amounts depend on how many salads you want and if you're making this as an accompaniment or main course). Place lettuce and peaches in individual serving dishes. Top w/desired amount of prosciutto, feta and sunflower seeds. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Strawberries in Orange Caramel Sauce

I fell in love with this recipe a year ago when my friend made it for me. I vowed to make it myself one day and today was that day! It definitely lived up to the hype in my memory. Don't be fooled by the short ingredient list, together they pack a powerful punch of flavor.

Strawberries in Orange Caramel Sauce
Gourmet, May 2008

1 large navel orange
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup sugar
1 lb small strawberries, trimmed (3 cups)
Accompaniment:mascarpone or Greek yogurt (regular plain yogurt is great too, makes it taste like strawberry cheesecake).

Grate zest from orange into a small bowl, then squeeze juice into bowl. Add butter, liqueur, and a pinch of salt.

Heat sugar in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber. Remove from heat and immediately add orange-juice mixture. Boil, stirring, until caramel has dissolved and sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Add strawberries and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately. Top w/yogurt/marscapone.

Watermelon Lemonade

Tripped over this recipe thumbing through a recent GH mag and tweaked it a bit. Pretty good stuff! Would be even better with a splash of prosecco, melon vodka, cucumber vodka and/or limoncello. I'm just sayin'.

It's a clean, crisp canvas for your libation leanings.

Watermelon Lemonade

5 cups of 1" cubes of watermelon (enough to fill a blender)
1/2 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup super fine/caster sugar

Blend watermelon, lemon juice and sugar until finely pureed.
Pour in pitcher and place in fridge to cool.
Or pour over ice immediately and enjoy!

Herb Roasted Tilapia w/Fresh Tomato Sauce-

If you saw my fresh roasted tomato sauce post the other day, you may have been wondering what other delicious items you could infuse w/your new sauce. My suggestion would be serving under some herb roasted tilapia. Light, quick and easy. Perfect mouthful of summer, even when it's raining outside and the grill is on hiatus--

Herb Roasted Tilapia w/Fresh Tomato Sauce
serves 2
For the sauce:
1/4 large onion, finely minced*
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Splash olive oil
1 cup fresh roasted tomato sauce
3 tbsp fresh chopped herbs, divided
I used:
Small handful basil leaves, 1 long thyme sprig, a few sprigs savory and 5 small mint leaves
Salt & pepper to taste

For the fish:
2 large tilapia filets
1/2 lemon
2 tspns butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
The 1 leftover tbsp of chopped herbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add tomato sauce, simmer 15 minutes. Add 2 tbsp herbs, reserving 1 tbsp for the fish. Simmer for a while longer-- 15 to 45 minutes to let the flavors mingle appropriately.

Meanwhile, 15 minutes prior to eating, place fish on roasting pan. Squeeze lemon over top both filets, place bits of butter over each fish, sprinkle w/1 tbsp of herbs, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes (if frozen) until they flake easily with a fork.

For each serving, place 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom of a shallow (pasta) bowl. Place fish on top of sauce. Or you can do fish on bottom and sauce on top. Whatever you like! I also like to serve with a side of parmesan couscous and something green like roasted asparagus or a salad.

*I usually chop a whole onion and freeze what I don't use for a recipe. That way I have chopped onions in a pinch!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pimm's Cup on the Porch

Fizz No. 1 at Acacia started me down the road of longing for a proper Pimm's Cup. So, after fiddling around with a few ingredients, I think I've come up with what I think to be a superbly tasty version. Nothing like a little Pimm's Cup for porch sipping w/friends on a muggy summer's eve to take the edge off.......

Bella's Pimm's Cup for the Porch-

3 large mint leaves
Splash simple syrup
1/8 slice of lemon ( I do quarters )
1" chunk of cucumber
1/2 tspn grated, fresh ginger
1 shot Hendrick's gin
1 shot Pimm's No. 1
Ginger beer
Piece of cucumber shaved w/a vegetable peeler for garnish
Chilled 12 oz beer glass, filled with ice

Muddle mint, lemon, ginger and cucumber in a cocktail shaker. Add a splash of simple syrup, muddle some more. Pour in the shots of gin and Pimm's with a little ice, light shake, strain into glass over ice. Fill rest of glass with ginger beer, garnish w/cucumber shaving. Makes 1 drink. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Roasted Tomato Sauce

If you are up to your ears in fresh tomatoes from the garden, wanting to do something beyond canning or pickling, I would suggest making a nice roasted tomato sauce. Freezes beautifully and pairs well w/everything from pizza to pasta.

We found ourselves with gobs of homegrown heirloom and plum tomatoes that I used in this recipe.

Fresh Roasted Tomato Sauce-

2-4 lbs fresh tomatoes cut in half
Garlic Oil
Large pinch kosher/sea salt
1+ tbsp chopped fresh savory and oregano
3 tbsp double concentrated tomato paste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray large sheet pan w/non-stick spray on which you will place the tomatoes on, toss with garlic oil (approx 2 tbsp) and sprinkle w/fresh herbs. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour. Should be starting to slightly caramelize.

Puree roasted tomatoes in blender (for best texture). I also like to pluck the skins off, if possible. Pour tomato puree into a pot lightly coated w/garlic oil, add tomato paste, combine thoroughly and bring to a boil for a few minutes.

I recommend letting it set up overnite in the fridge in order to develop the best flavor for the dish you want to use it in.

This week I picked up some spinach and ricotta ravioli from Trader Joes that I served this sauce over after heating it back up and adding a bit of fresh chopped basil. Delicious!

Friday, June 25, 2010

White Pizza

Nothing makes a hard, long week better than having some of your besties over and chowing down on some white pizza.

I also like to serve it with a side of garlic infused broccolini (thank you for the inspiration Zu's!) which provides a fresh counterbalance to all of the chewy cheesiness.

The pizza is pretty simple and you can adjust according to your own tastes. This time I used pizza dough from Whole Foods, which was good but VERY chewy as it was whole wheat. Sometimes I make my own, last nite I didn't feel like being a hero, I was just trying to feed people ;)

So, I use:

Garlic Oil (make by frying up about 8 roughly chopped cloves until golden in 1 c. olive oil, strain)
Italian Fontina
Parm Reg
Whole Milk Ricotta
Fresh Herbs, chopped fine- Savory and Oregano from my porch

I hit the dough with oil, pile on as much cheese as you want, sprinkle on some herbs, hit w/some more oil and bake. When it comes screaming hot out of the oven, I hit it w/a few more herbs and pass around the Parm Reg so every one can cheese it up to their own tastes.

A winner, every time!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fizz No. 1 - Love at first sip....

Last nite, the hubs surprised me with an evening out at Acacia.
I can't believe it's taken us this long to try their new location, but fortunately that's been remedied.

Walking into the restaurant was like coming home to me. Everything I love about a good restaurant experience rushed up to enthusiastically greet me with the bustling, friendly service staff and the clatter/chatter of content diners in this clean, spare, low-lit, house music infused spot. The space is a perfect rectangle of grey, organized by soft barriers of low walls dividing seating sections, a bar area and a curtained area which I'm sure closes itself off to catered events.

We were seated in the banquette section along the far wall. Not usually a fan of such seating (think of the movie Valentine's Day- if you haven't seen it, you should, just for the banquette scene). The tables were far enough apart that you could have decent conversation with no one else's talking intruding.

Hubs got the steak w/roast potatoes, I ordered the sea bass over a parmesan and sweet pea risotto. I was quickly informed they were out and were substituting a rockfish (which I like better any way). The hubs thoroughly enjoyed the steak which had some sort of soy and beef broth sauce. The roast potatoes (fingerling white and purple) were a different story. Hard and undercooked, this is an unforgiveable sin in my book. Esp. when you're paying $5 per micro-potato. My rockfish, however, was pan seared to perfection and my only complaint about the risotto is that there wasn't enough. But, I do appreciate the reasonable portion sizes Acacia puts out so that you may enjoy many courses without overstuffing yourself.

All that aside, the piece de resistance for the evening was their Fizz No.1- a twist on the Pimm's Cup. Hendrick's Vodka, Pimm's No. 1 and Ginger Beer top the list of ingredients. It's brought out in an old-fashioned wide mouthed champagne glass (my personal fav as wel) with a small carafe containing an extra portion of this lovely elixir on the side. The first sip infused my mouth with cucumbery (my word, deal with it) herbal delight. I immediately and greedily wished for a pitcher of this sitting on my table. Marvelous summer cocktail- get thee to Acacia and try it tout suite!

Overall experience was enjoyable (potatoes notwithstanding) and we will be back soon! Keep doing what you're doing Acacia- Richmond needs more like you!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Energy Bars

Here's a little known fact about me- I studied nutrition* in college. There, I said it, my secret is out- I actually know how to eat "right." And at the beginning of every year, my inner nutritionist urges me to try and eat more moderately, mindfully and healthfully. Which is a tall order b/c my outer hedonist insists on fun, full-flavored eats.

Thus, my perpetual task (read: struggle) is to balance out satisfaction with smarts. These energy bars from Ellie Krieger really help do the trick. I subbed alot per my personal tastes & health considerations, but you'll notice I listed her original ingredients below if you would like to try that first. I try not to have to spend an exorbitant amount and stay within the resources of my local Kroger. I would also like to mention that this mixture just barely fit in my 7 cup food processor.

These are great for that 3pm lull where you need a pick me up. According to Ellie's nutritional count, these should make 24 bars out of a 13x9 pan and contain 133 calories per bar. Mine are prob. around 150 cal's a piece according to my math. (which is always questionable ;) ).

They keep for 3 days in an airtight container or 3 mo's frozen (wrapped individually).

* NOTE- I am not a licensed nutritionist and will never be dispensing that sort of advice on this site! ;)

Energy Bars
adapted from an Ellie Krieger recipe

Cooking Spray
1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 c. shelled, unsalted raw sunflower seeds (I used toasted soy nuts)
1/2 c. toasted wheat germ (I used toasted flax seed)
1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1/2 c. dried apricots
1/2 c. raisins (I used dried cherries)
1/2 c. pitted dried dates (I used dried mission figs)
1/2 c. raw almonds (I used mixed nuts that I had on hand)
1/2 c. nonfat dry milk
1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350, coat a 9x13" pan w/cooking spray, set aside.

Place all ingredients except maple syrup and eggs, in a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add syrup & eggs and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse paste.

Transfer to baking dish and spread evenly to cover bottom. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes then cut into 24 bars.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

RIP Tavern on the Green

It's incredibly sad to me that this landmark is closing b/c it contains precious memories for so many people. You could debate about the price tag vs. the common man, but I feel like we all need something special like this to aspire to visit. Something above and beyond the ordinary. A tradition of excellence to be admired. ToG, you will be missed.

Here's a few of the items up for auction Jan 13/14. Wish I could pick up some of those gorgeous samovars!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Black Bean Soup w/Salsa Cream

It's frigid here in VA and as such, my tastes run toward soul-warming soups and chilis.

Recently picked up the Williams Sonoma Soups cookbook. So far, I've tried two recipes and have plans for about 10 more. I've been pleased with the roasted veggie soup (which I'm still feasting on courtesy of my freezer) and even more impressed with my recent endeavor- black bean soup.

The texture is velvety & rich while being exponentially good for you as well as filling. Great dish to start the new year out right with in case your resolution is to be more health conscious. Not to mention, it just plain tastes good! Just make sure to knock back a few beano before ingesting ;)

I adjusted this recipe to be used in a slow cooker for more convenient preparation on a week night.

Black Bean Soup with Salsa Cream
adapted from WS Soups cookbook

2 c. dried black beans
8 c. water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 jalepenos, " "
3-4 cloves garlic, fincely minced
1 small red pepper, finely chopped
1 small ham hock
1 tspn dried oregano
1 tspn dried coriander (I toasted and ground whole)
1 tspn dried cumin
1/2 tspn chile powder (I used ancho)
Texas Pete, to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste (I used 1 - 1 1/2 tspn salt at the end)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Salsa Cream-
1/2 c. sour cream (I use lite)
2 tbsp salsa
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
salt & pepper to taste

Pick through beans for stones etc. Soak beans in a large bowl filled with water overnite.

Place ham hock, beans and water in slow cooker set to High.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Sweat onions, garlic and jalepeno for approx. 5 minutes. Add dried spices/herbs to allow their flavors to open up, as wll as red pepper cooking approx. 3 minutes with onion mixture. Add to crock pot.

Cook on high setting in crockpot for 7-8 hours or until beans are tender. Remove ham hock. Place 2 cups of bean mixture in blender, remove middle from blender top and cover w/a dish towel to vent the heat, puree. Pour into separate bowl and set aside. Repeat until entire batch is pureed (or not, depending on whether you want a pureed texture or a chunkier texture). Pour the bowl of pureed soup back into crockpot, hit with Texas Pete/salt & pepper to taste as well as lime juice. Adjust slow cooker settings to Warm.

Meanwhile, prepare salsa cream right before serving soup.
Serve each portion of soup w/a dollop.