Lavender Smoothie

Lavender-Smoothie

There are certain flavors that I love in just about anything. Cardamom, citrus, and rosemary are a few, but my husband knows that if we come across anything with lavender, I’m probably going to want to try it, especially if it’s in something you may not normally see it, like caramel sauce or beer (there’s a brewery near us that makes a lavender wheat that I have yet to try; it’s definitely on my list!)

Lavender-Tin

One of my favorite ice cream flavors is a Wild Berry Lavender from Jeni’s, and this smoothies is modeled off of that. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s very similar. Orange zest and lavender are the primary flavors, but blueberries and bananas are in there too. It’s interesting, unique, and takes a bit of a different turn from your traditional berry banana smoothie, but it’s delicious nonetheless!

Dried-Lavender

One thing to mention if you’ve never cooked with or used lavender for eating: A little goes a long way. Too much and you go from a nice pop of floral flavor to soap. Even if you really, really love the flavor, don’t be tempted to add too much. Trust me.

Lavender-Smoothie-2

Lavender Smoothie
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 banana
  • ½ teaspoon dried culinary lavender
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
Instructions
  1. Blend everything in the blender until smooth and creamy. Pour into glasses and serve.

 

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Butternut Squash Ravioli with Oregano Hazelnut Pesto

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-with-Oregano-Hazelnut-Pesto

I use Evernote to keep track of everything, especially recipes. I am constantly clipping recipes to try, recipes for inspiration, or just because the photos look good. Sometimes I make them, sometimes I go back and look at them again and again, and sometimes they get filed away to never been seen again.

While recently looking for some recipes for my weekly meal plan, I stumbled upon this recipe I clipped ages ago from Saveur. I’m not a huge pasta fan, but I do love squash, browned butter, and a nutty, herby pesto, so this seemed perfect.

Butternut-Squash

 

Hazelnuts

I’ve put it on my meal plan at least once, but never gotten around to making it because it always seemed too complicated at the time. Because my kitchen is so small, I tend to navigate towards recipes that are quick, but most specifically, don’t leave me with a bunch of dishes to wash. There is nothing worse than taking time to make an elaborate dish, find it falls flat in terms of flavor, and then going back to the kitchen to a mountain of dishes to clean up.

Ravioli-Ingredients

About halfway through making this, I thought for sure this was going to be one of those recipes. I was sure the raviolis were going to burst when I cooked them, or that the pesto would turn out less flavorful than I had hoped. Well, I’m happy to say I was wrong. Everything turned out amazingly delicious, and this was one of those recipes that turned out perfectly.  I made it pretty much as written (I added the zest of 1 lemon to the pesto and pureed the squash in my food processor instead of a food mill), and while it’s definitely not something you want to try on a busy weeknight, it’s worth the trouble when you’ve got the time.

Butternut-Squash-Ravioli

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Oregano Hazelnut Pesto
Author: 
 
Adapted from Saveur
Ingredients
Pesto:
  • 1 bunch fresh oregano
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Ravioli:
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons minced sage, plus ½ cup packed whole leaves
  • 2 teaspoons minced oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Make the pesto by putting everything but the olive oil in a food processor. Process until finely ground and drizzle in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cut the squash in half, remove seeds, and lay on a baking pan, along with the whole garlic cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 30-40 minutes.
  3. Heat the butter over low heat in a small skillet. Cook until browned, foamy, and fragrant. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the nutmeg, sage, and oregano. Allow to cool slightly and add the cheese.
  4. When the squash is done cooking, allow to cool slightly. Scoop the flesh out of the skin with a spoon into the bowl of a food processor. Squeeze the garlic cloves in and puree until smooth. Transfer to a the bowl with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.
  5. Before making the raviolis, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and add the remaining sage leaves. Fry until crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
  6. If you’re using egg roll wrappers, cut them into quarters and lay them about a dozen at a time on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spoon about a tablespoon or so of the squash mixture into the center of the wrappers and brush the beaten egg around the edges. Lay another wrapper on top and seal the edges. Fill all the raviolis until you are out of squash and/or wrappers.
  7. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the raviolis, being careful not to crowd the pot. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1-2 minutes, until raviolis are tender. Remove with a slotted spoon.
  8. Serve the ravioli topped with the pesto and fried sage leaves.

 

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Magical Beet Smoothie

Beet Smoothie

I love vegetables, and there are few that I simply don’t like. Brussels sprouts aren’t amongst my favorites, but if they are cooked the right way, I will eat and even enjoy them. (Hint: not steamed to a mushy, sulfury mess!)

Beets, however, are one that I can’t seem to enjoy no matter how they are prepared. After belonging to a CSA and getting tons of beets, I’ve tried to cook them in every way possible: steaming (belch!), roasting (better, but still, no thanks), pureeing into soup (gross!), eating on salads, and everything in between. I tried juicing them, but no matter what I added, it always tasted like dirt juice to me. Lovely, bright pink, dirt juice, but dirt juice nonetheless. Same with smoothies. I scrubbed, peeled, and scrubbed again, and still I couldn’t get past what others called “earthy.” To me, this means it will taste like I just ate a spoonful of dirt. Add this to the fact that they stain everything they touch bright pinkish red, and I can’t quite see the point.

Recently, though, I’ve learned to somewhat enjoy beets in a smoothie. Truth.

Beet

A while back I was in Whole Foods and in the front of the store was a guy doing a demonstration on a Vitamix. Since I already own one of these awesome machines, I was going to walk on by when I saw that he had an entire lemon in the blender with some spinach and an avocado. Not peeled, not sliced, just a whole lemon. Naturally I stopped and tasted a sample of what he made, which was a bright green, ice cream like concoction. It tasted delicious. Lemony, sweet, and creamy.

I immediately bought some lemons and went home and tried it myself, and lo and behold, it was just as amazing as it was in the store. I’ve adapted the recipe to make a smoothie, but the basics are you throw a whole lemon, half an avocado, a big handful of spinach in the blender with a frozen banana and some honey. Add some water and blend well, pushing everything down with the tamper to make sure the lemon gets blended. Pour and drink.

I’ve used this basic recipe for many smoothies, sometimes adding some frozen berries, and I’ve even used a lime. It’s always delicious, although the citrus is definitely the dominant flavor.

It just recently occurred to me that I could try this same thing with beets. If the lemon overpowered everything else, why not this vegetable that I loathe?

Lemon with Beet Juice

So I experimented and came up with this recipe, which does not taste like beets at all. Of course, if you don’t like beets or lemons, you’ll have to keep experimenting, but if you love lemons, this is an easy way to get rid of all those beets you may have on hand (okay, not all of them, because I still only use half a beet, but still.)

Beet Smoothie

Note: I make this with either a frozen banana or half an avocado, and I don’t add any sweetener, so it’s on the tart side, especially with the avocado. Feel free to add some honey or other sweetener to taste. Also, I have only done this in my Vitamix, and don’t think a regular blender would blend the whole lemon as smooth, but feel free to try.

Magical Beet Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Smoothie
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • ½ beet, scrubbed, not peeled
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 apple (I use Honeycrisp)
  • 1 lemon, whole or cut in half
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ avocado OR 1 banana
Instructions
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a high powered blender and add about a cup of cold water. Blend, using the tamper to push down all the ingredients. Add more water if necessary to reach the desired consistency. I usually add a lot of water to make it more of a juice like consistency, but that’s up to you :)

 

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Cast Iron Skillet Banana Cake

I always buy bananas when I go to the grocery store. I usually put them in smoothies, but sometimes I buy more than I can use and they start turning brown on me. Anyone who’s ever bought bananas knows that once they’re brown, you better use them because the next day they’ll be mushy and super sweet.

Cast Iron Skillet Banana Cake

Sometimes I can get them in the freezer before that happens, but sometimes life gets in the way, and I’ll have a few that can’t be saved. Luckily, while they may not be able to be used in smoothies (at least not for me; too sweet), they still have some uses, one of which is this banana cake.

Chopped Chocolate

This cake is moist and flavorful, but it’s not super sweet. The addition of high quality dark chocolate compliments the sweetness of overripe bananas nicely.  Coconut oil and lemon zest add a zing, and  plain or vanilla yogurt adds richness and moisture. You can bake this in a bread pan like traditional banana bread if that’s more your thing.

Lemon Zest
Plain Yogurt

Banana Cake
One of the best things about this cake is that like most quick breads, it will keep for several days and still be as moist as when you first baked it.

Banana Cake

Cast Iron Skillet Banana Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This moist and rich banana cake flecked with specks of chocolate is sure to become a family favorite.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces high quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and chocolate in a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the rest of the ingredients until well combined. Stir in the flour mixture until well combined.
  4. Brush your cast iron skillet or pan lightly with coconut oil and spread the batter in evenly.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Depending on the pan you use this may take longer, but don’t over bake.
  6. Allow the cake to cool before slicing into wedges and serving.

 

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5 Small Kitchen Tools That Will Change the Way You Cook (and 1 Large One)

I confess: I have a small kitchen that is overflowing with tools, gadgets, and useless purchases that seem like a good idea at the time. They’re only a few dollars, and if you have a coupon (Hello Bed Bath and Beyond!), it can seem absurd not to buy them. Things like a strawberry huller, slicers, choppers, and all those other things that either don’t work or just aren’t as useful as you think.  I’ve had them all, and a few times a year, I find myself having to clean out my kitchen to get rid of them all. Several people on Craigslist have thought they’ve hit the jackpot by picking up my box of “Miscellaneous Kitchen Items”, only to go home, try them, and understand just why I’ve given them away.

 

Every so often, you find something that changes how you cook. Tools that cost a few dollars, but are worth ten times that amount. I’m not talking about tongs, spatulas, and things everyone has. You know how much a good knife will change your cooking. I’m talking about tools that actually do make your life easier in the kitchen. If you do a lot of cooking, any one (or all) of these will change the way you cook. The best part is that you can get all of these for less than $20.

 

1. Joseph and Joseph Garlic Press

I love garlic. If a recipe calls for 2 small cloves of garlic, you can bet I’m using 5 large ones. Peeling and chopping it, however? Not a fan. I’ve tried garlic presses that have the lever you push the garlic through, and frankly, I’ve never been impressed. They’re a pain to clean, and half your clove ends up stuck inside. I gave up on those after trying a couple, and even grated garlic on my microplane for a while, which was better, but sill not perfect.

 

Until I got the Joseph and Joseph garlic press. It looks a lot different than any garlic press you’ve seen, but that’s why it works so well. It’s all one piece, and it’s made of stainless steel, so when you’re done and your hands smell like garlic, you rub them on the press, and the smell’s gone!

It’s also easy to clean. Rinse it off, put it in the dishwasher and you’re done. I can mince 5 large cloves of garlic in 30 seconds with this thing. It’s amazing!

 

2. Oxo 4 Ounce  Angled Liquid Measuring Cup

Measuring a tablespoon or two of liquid is a pain. A large liquid measuring cup usually doesn’t have measurements for such small amounts, and trying to pour soy sauce into a measuring spoon is not exactly ideal.

 

I got these in a gift basket someone gave me for Christmas one year, along with some silicone measuring cups, a couple utensils, and a bowl or two. While the rest of that stuff is long gone, I use these just about everyday for something. They’re perfect when you just need a small amount of liquid, even if you aren’t using precise measurements. They’re also plastic and easy to clean. I have a 2 cup and a 4 cup version of these angled measuring cups, and while I like them both, these get way more use.

 

3. Martha Stewart Magnetic Measuring Spoons

I have a thing for measuring spoons. If you were to come look through the drawers in my kitchen, you’d find several measuring spoons in each one. I don’t know why, because I rarely measure anything when I cook. I usually just use them as spoons to move spices and such from their container to their destination. Of course, you probably know, most spice jars aren’t wide enough for standard measuring spoons, but these ones are. Not only that, but they’re magnetic, so they stay together nicely when you store them (not for me, of course.)

 

4. Flexible Cutting Boards

These are seriously one of the best kitchen purchases I’ve made. Seriously. I don’t know what they’re made of or who makes the particular set I’ve got, but if you chop things at all, you need these. They usually come three or four in a pack of different colors, with the idea being that you’d  use one for meat, one for fish, one for veggies, one for cooked foods. I don’t use them that way at all. I just use them to chop vegetables, slice cheese and apples, or whatever else I’m slicing. You can bend them to make sure none of your chopped goodies gets on your stove. Then when I’m done, I rinse it off and put it in the dishwasher. Since there are four of them, when I need to chop something else, I grab another. Not a day goes by when I don’t use at least two of these.  I rarely use one of the many large, heavy wooden cutting boards I have anymore.

 

5. Mortar and Pestle

This one doesn’t get as much use as the others, and in fact, I bought it because I liked the way it looked. It is great for small jobs like smashing small amounts of herbs, crushing nuts and seeds, and grinding spices. Use it to small olives for tapenade, or make guacamole. I got this one at Crate and Barrel, but you can find them in any cooking store, made of anything from wood to marble, in lots of sizes.

Bonus Large Item: Le Creuset 5 Quart Braiser

I have quite a few decent skillets, pots and pans, but I find this one to be the one I use the most. It’s heavy, durable, and a looks nice enough that I can hang it in my kitchen for all to see (it’s the green pan in the photo above.)  My favorite thing about it is that it’s so easy to clean. It’s pricey at several hundred dollars, but if you’re serious about cooking, I’d recommend anything from Le Creuset.

What kitchen tools have changed your life?

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Saag Paneer

I’ve been on an Indian food kick lately. After trying a few different Indian restaurants in town, I wondered why I couldn’t just make my own. It turns out that I can. It’s pretty easy, inexpensive, and so good!

Saag Paneer

I like most everything I’ve had, but my favorite is saag paneer. It’s basically just a creamy, spiced spinach that has chunks of paneer, which is a firm Indian cheese throughout. Like most Indian dishes, you eat it with rice, although I prefer to eat mine with naan.

 

I’ve eaten this at many restaurants, and one thing I noticed when making my own is that paneer is a grilling cheese — meaning you cut it up, throw it in a skillet, and instead of melting, it turns brown and crusty while staying firm. I’ve never had it this way in restaurants. They just cube it up and toss it in, but it’s definitely better grilled first.

Paneer

This recipe is pretty easy, and makes delicious leftovers. You don’t need a lot of ingredients, but if you don’t have a food processor, chopping the spinach by hand is quite a task. I know — I did it that way the first time, and if I had to do that every time, I’d probably just get carryout.

 

It seems like a lot of spinach in this recipes, but spinach is the main ingredient, and it cooks down a lot, so once you’re done, you’ll see that it’s not as much as you may think.  If you can’t find paneer, any type of grilling cheese will work. I’ve used haloumi, although it’s much saltier. You can also use firm tofu.

Saag Paneer
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Creamy, spiced spinach served with chunks of grilled cheese is comforting, filling, and delicious.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like it really spicy)
  • 1 pound baby spinach, finely chopped in a food processor
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 12 oz block paneer cheese
  • Brown rice, naan, and plain yogurt for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat the butter in a large pot and add the onion. Cook until soft. Add the garlic and ginger, stir and cook for 30 seconds and add the spices. Cook for another minute.
  2. Add the spinach, all at once if possible. Stir until it’s wilted and add the buttermilk. Season with salt and pepper. If you think it’s a bit dry, you can add a bit more buttermilk. Stir again, turn the heat down to low while you grill the cheese.
  3. To grill the cheese, cut it into bite sized pieces. Heat a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a dab of butter to the pan and add the cheese cubes. Cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Add the cheese cubes to the pot of spinach and stir. Serve with rice and naan, and add a dollop of yogurt on top.

 

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Gluten Free Rosemary Crackers

I love crackers. Eaten plain, with a cheese plate, or in a soup. I went through a phase where I was buying raw crackers at Whole Foods. Made of natural ingredients, they are made with things like raw nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Not quite as crispy as some crackers, they are different, but good different. Problem? They’re expensive.

Rosemary Crackers

I set out to make my own raw crackers, but after looking at raw cracker recipes, I realized that a dehydrator is necessary. I don’t have one, so I tried to make them in the oven. Not raw, and not quite the same texture, the crackers I made turned out pretty good. They’re also pretty easy to make, and only take a few ingredients. I used rosemary because that’s what I had on hand, but feel free to use any herb you want. These were delicious with homemade tomato soup, and didn’t last long.

Almonds

Rosemary

 

If you have a dehydrator, feel free to use it here. You’ll probably get something a little drier, and more cracker like than I did, but hey, that’s the point.

Gluten Free Rosemary Crackers
Author: 
Recipe type: Snacks
 
Crunchy, gluten free crackers are perfect eaten alone, with soup, or a cheese plate.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups raw almonds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Soak the almonds for six to eight hours.
  2. When you’re ready to make the crackers, combine the flax with the water and allow to sit for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
  3. Put the almonds, flax, rosemary, and salt in a food processor. Process until you have a fine crumb.
  4. Spread the mixture on large silicone mat or piece of parchment in as thin a layer as possible. Lay a piece of parchment on top and roll it out. The thinner you roll it out, the crisper your crackers will be. Cut into rectangles.
  5. Bake in a 300 degree oven for about an hour, until lightly browned. They’ll crisp as they cool.

 

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Juice or Smoothies?

It seems everyone is going on a juice cleanse these days, especially this time of year. I enjoy fresh fruit and vegetable juice and went through a period where I juiced a lot.

Then I got my Vitamix, and everything changed.

Health benefits aside, a juicer is hard to clean. It has multiple parts, and you have to do something with the pulp after you remove it. If you don’t scrub it well every time you use it, the mesh filter gets clogged and suddenly your pulp is sopping wet from all the juice you’re not getting. It can be a mess, and I don’t need any more messes in my life.

I like the juice, but it’s too much work for me, so I started making smoothies. Fruit smoothies, vegetable smoothies, chocolate banana smoothies. Here’s the thing about smoothies: They’re much more filling since you’re getting all that fiber and pulp, and they’re easy to make. Throw everything in the blender and blend. Rinse it out when you’re done and go about your day.

These days I probably get most of my nutrients from smoothies. I blend fruit, nuts and veggies with some water, drink and I’m full for hours. I don’t add dairy or yogurt since I’ve been trying to cut back. I try to add as many plant foods as possible. If I have any left, I pour it into mason jars and pop it in the fridge. It makes getting all my nutrients a snap.

There are those that say juicing is better for getting a lot of nutrients as they are absorbed by your body much quicker and easier. Some also say that smoothies are much harder on the digestive system. All these things may be true, but I’ve found that when I have two smoothies a day, my digestive system works better than ever. Maybe your’s is different; I honestly don’t want to know.

My philosophy? Do what works for you. For me, what works is easy cleanup.

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Eggplant Parmesan with Hand Chopped Pesto Bulgur

I have a confession to make: I am not a fan of pasta. I know that some of you reading this are wondering what is wrong with me, but hear me out for a minute.

It’s not that I don’t eat pasta, because I do; it’s just that I’m not going to order it off a restaurant menu unless it’s in the form of mac ’n cheese (I do love mac ’n cheese; there are exceptions to every rule).

I also love eggplant, and eggplant Parmesan is on restaurant menus everywhere. The problem is that it’s breaded and fried, covered in cheese and served with a heaping pile of pasta. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had some delicious eggplant Parmesan, but just because it’s centered around a vegetable doesn’t make it a healthy dish.

I found this recipe in Clean Eating magazine several years ago, tried it and it has become one of my favorite things to make every since. I have changed a few things from the original, but the idea is the same. Crispy eggplant with a side of bulgur wheat instead of pasta. It’s different yes; but totally delicious.

The key to the flavor in this dish is the hand chopped pesto. It’s not as easy as throwing everything in the food processor (or heaven forbid buying those little tubs whose main ingredient in canola oil), but it’s worth the effort.

Fresh mozzarella, your favorite sauce (I use Rao’s marinara. Even though I make a killer tomato sauce, for this dish, it’s got to be Rao’s), toasted pine nuts, and some quick cooking bulgur wheat take crispy eggplant to a whole new level. One that doesn’t leave you feeling tired and bloated from grease, simple carbs and processed cheese.  Try it. If you don’t love it…well it will still be one of my favorite meals.

Eggplant Parmesan with Hand Chopped Pesto Bulgur
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
Eggplant:
  • 4 baby eggplants
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
Bulgur:
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
Pesto:
  • 1 large bunch of basil (if you’re using those plastic containers, get 2)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  • To put together:
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into small rounds
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 ºF.
  2. Slice your eggplant in ½ inch slices. Combine the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, and cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.
  4. Dredge the eggplants in the egg and coat with the breadcrumbs. Lay them on a parchment lined sheet pan. Sprinkle any remaining breadcrumbs on top. Once all are coated, bake for about 20-25 minutes, until browned and crispy.
  5. Put the bulgur, water and a big pinch of salt in a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn off heat and let sit while you put everything together, for at least 10-15 minutes.
  6. Make the pesto by chopping the basil, pine nuts, garlic and cheese by hand. When everything is finely chopped, add the lemon zest and a pinch of salt and put in a small bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and set aside.
  7. When the eggplant is done, remove from the oven and top each with a spoonful of sauce and a piece of cheese. Stack the eggplant either 2 or 3 slices high and put back in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  8. While the eggplant is back in the oven, add the toasted pine nuts and half of the pesto with the bulgur and fluff with a fork.
  9. To serve, spoon some of the sauce on the plate, lay the eggplant on top and serve with a side of bulgur, remaining pesto and leftover sauce.

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Double Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits

I love biscuits. Tender and flaky, with a melt in your mouth texture; they make the best addition to breakfasts and brunch. They’re also easy to make, and come together much faster than rolls or bread.

I also love chocolate, specifically cocoa powder. It’s got a deep rich chocolatey flavor that is easy to use in baked goods. As I was trying to decide what to do on a lazy morning, I decided to try making chocolate biscuits. What could be better?

This recipe comes together fast, and these are delicious with a hot cup of coffee on a lazy weekend morning. They’re not too terribly sweet, although you can add more sugar if you’d like. You can serve them with a raspberry or strawberry jam, or just eat them on their own. While they might not go well with gravy, they are worth trying.

Double Chocolate Buttermilk Biscuits
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Penzey’s)
  • ¼ cup raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 4 ounces bitter or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • More buttermilk and sugar for finishing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add the cold butter, and using either a pastry blender or your hands, cut the butter into the flour until it is mostly mixed in but you have a few pea sized pieces left. Add the chopped chocolate
  4. Beat the buttermilk, egg and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup and pour into the dry mixture. Stir until well combined, but be careful not to over mix the dough (you should still be able to see pieces of butter in the dough).
  5. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of flour on a dry, clean surface and lay the dough on top. Pat it down until you have a rectangle, about ¾ inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut the dough into biscuits and lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Brush the biscuits with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the tops are dry and firm.
  7. Serve warm with jam or butter. If you have any left, store them in an airtight container.

 

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