October 31, 2011

Omega-3 Granola

I always crave yogurt and granola in the winter, but store-bought granola is so expensive. Every year I have to remind myself that making granola at home is super easy and recipes for just about any combination you can imagine abound on the internet.

This recipe for Omega-3 Granola from Epicurious is one of my favorites. As I mentioned in my last granola post (almost exactly one year ago), the beauty of homemade granola is that you can throw in whatever you have in the pantry. When I made this batch of granola this weekend, I only had 2/3 cup of walnuts in the freezer, so I threw in 1/3 cup of chopped hazelnuts. I also love dried cranberries, so I used 3/4 cup of chopped dates and 1/4 cup cranberries.

Finally, I bought a container of dried egg whites this weekend, for a super-secret December project, and I decided to try them in this recipe. As far as I can tell, they worked out just fine, and I didn't have to waste a couple egg yolks.

October 27, 2011

CSA Autumn Week 5

In the bag for week 5 autumn we have:

red turnips (at least I am assuming that's what those are)
collard greens
mustard greens (that literally taste like a spoonful of dijon mustard)
butternut squash

October 26, 2011

Sour Cream Banana Bread

This might be the most perfect looking banana bread I have ever made...

But unfortunately, it isn't the tastiest. In fact, if you ate this with your eyes and nose closed, you wouldn't even know it was banana bread!

This recipe is from Chow and is the second banana bread recipe I have made in the past two weeks. I made it mainly because I had some sour cream to use up. The first one I made was called Perfect Banana Bread and I found it on the blog, I Am Baker. I neglected to take a picture of the first one, which is why it didn't make it onto the blog. Well, that, and I insisted in adding 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal to it, and I think it made it cook a little funky. I think that if I am going to add flaxseed meal, I need to adjust other ingredients. But, even with that mess up, the top was the most flavorful and crunchy top I have ever had. I will be trying it again.

October 25, 2011

Last Night's Pasta Frittata

What I learned today: vanilla flavored almond milk is delicious in coffee, disgusting in a frittata!

I had some of yesterday's greens and pasta left over and although I thought it would be just fine reheated, I wanted to stretch it a little further. I also wanted to use some of the cherry tomatoes sitting on my counter. So I pulled up my recipe for leftover spaghetti frittata and decided to make it work for this.

I added the halved tomatoes to the pan just before I poured the eggs in and I used five eggs instead of four (I felt that four didn't quite cover all of the pasta last time). As I mentioned above, I didn't have any cow milk, so I used vanilla almond milk. Do NOT do this, it does not taste good. Otherwise, this turned out pretty well. The cannellini beans are a little weird in a frittata, but at least I know this for next time!

October 24, 2011

Sauteed Greens with Cannellini Beans and Pasta

This recipe from Epicurious was a great way to use both the collard greens and the tatsoi from this week's CSA bag. Raw, the tatsoi tastes a little bit like mustard greens and is texturally very delicate, almost like baby spinach. The collard greens tasted a little sweet, which is certainly not an adjective I would have ever applied to collard greens.When they were cooked, however, the two greens were virtually indistinguishable and, happily, they lost any bitterness they would have had raw.

I liked this over pasta, although I would have chosen a different shape next time. To be honest, I was trying to use up a box of Giada's fusilli col buco, so that is the only reason why I chose it. Finally, I couldn't help but think that this would have been even better with some bacon!

October 23, 2011

Pasta with Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage and Tomatoes

A funny thing happened when I was trying to decide what to do with the remaining two links of apple chicken sausage (the first two went into this frittata): I googled "sweet apple chicken sausage pasta" and there in the middle of the second page of results was my little blog suggesting I take a look at Fusilli with Fennel and Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage! Well, thank you, me, what a great idea!

Unfortunately, I didn't have any fennel around, but I did have a package of cherry tomatoes I wanted to use. (I originally bought the cherry tomatoes to make Domenica Marchetti's BLT Bucatini, which is from her new cookbook, The Glorious Pasta of Italy, but then I read the whole recipe and realized that I need to slow roast the tomatoes for two hours and I just don't have that kind of time on a weeknight!)

I followed the recipe as written, adding the halved tomatoes to the pan when the onions were almost done. Additionally, instead of opening a bottle of white wine, I used up some rosé in the fridge and was pleased with the results. Lastly, as you can see in the picture, I felt like the dish needed some color, so I chopped up two handfuls of parsley and mixed it in at the very end (off the heat). I hate that parsley is usually just considered a garnish; it really adds a ton of fresh flavor to foods. So don't forget the parsley!

October 20, 2011

CSA Autumn Week 4

In the fourth week of the Autumn CSA we have:

collard greens
sweet potatoes
garlic (baby)

October 19, 2011

Sesame Soy Braised Mei Qing Choi

Wow, I am 0 for 2 with these last two pictures!
When I was trying to figure out what to do with the Mei Qing Choi, I decided that since it looks like bok choy, I was going to treat it like bok choy. I remembered that delicious sesame soy braised bok choy and kohlrabi dish that I made earlier this year and decided this should work well in the same preparation.

As you can see in the rather hideous picture, I didn't have as much Mei Qing Choi as the recipe called for, so the ratio of cabbage to rice is a little off, and I didn't let enough of the liquid evaporate, so I ended up with a Mei Qing Choi and brown rice soup. But I didn't mind; it was delicious. I used fresh ginger this time, too, because I had some leftover from last week's cabbage disaster. I could actually taste the difference.

October 18, 2011

Kale and Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage Frittata

Hot mess

As you can see, I am trying to distract you from looking at the frittata by putting an equally crazy looking apron behind it!

Appearances and amateur cooking mistakes aside, this frittata was delicious! As my diligent and observant readers will know, I have been trying to diversify my kale recipes and after inspiring one of my co-workers to make a frittata (for the first time!) last week, I decided I needed to make one, too.

My love of sweet apple chicken sausage is well documented (see here, here, and here) and I buy it whenever it is on sale. I had some in the fridge and thought it would work well with the kale. I followed my basic "What's Left in the Fridge Frittata" recipe, but made one glaringly obvious amateur mistake. I threw the kale right in the pan after the chicken sausage had been browning and was shocked when it didn't wilt like spinach or arugula. Duh! So, learn from my mistakes! If you want to use kale in a frittata, make sure you blanch it first, and then cut into bite-size pieces before adding it to the pan. But, at least I remembered the broiler this time, so the kale and the Parmigiano-Reggiano got nice and crispy!

October 17, 2011


When I made the Snickerdoodles two weeks ago, my grandmother emailed me to pass along a recipe for Snickerpoodles, which she thought Patton might like. I made them over the weekend and they made the house smell like real snickerdoodles! I am not going to lie, I tried a bit of the batter, too. Tasted a little bland. I haven't tried a piece of the finished treat, yet. Patton, being a very special dog, licks the cinnamon and cornmeal off the outside before biting into the treat. But he comes back for more, so he must like them!

October 14, 2011


Not a very appetizing picture...

Looking back at the original recipe for this on Food 52, I realized that I did not cook this cabbage dish correctly. The cabbage was supposed to be caramelized before you add the cream. Mine got to the soft stage and I decided that was enough. (It certainly took long enough.) I guess the heat has to been higher than medium to caramelize this amount of cabbage.

Anyway, regardless of whether or not I cooked this correctly, it still didn't taste bad. I am not a huge fan of cabbage and was happy to find a recipe that even sounded interesting enough to make. Perhaps if you like cabbage and take the time to properly caramelize it, you will love this recipe!

October 13, 2011

CSA Autumn Week 3

In the CSA Autumn Week 3, we have:

Mei Qing Choi (Chinese cabbage)
salad mix
red turnips
broccoli (covered in green worms! I had to throw it all away.)

October 12, 2011

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

Longtime readers of BlB know that Marshal Mike loves peanut butter anything and salted oatmeal cookies. I recently found this great recipe for Salted Peanut Butter cookies on Molly Wizenberg's blog Orangette and thought, well, that sounds right up MM's alley!

I followed the recipe as written, except I couldn't find pastry flour. I have whole wheat pastry flour, but decided that might be a little weird. So I used half cake flour and half all purpose flour. These cookies are extremely crumbly. Like fall apart on command crumbly. But they are delicious! I brought the extras into work (I sent most of them to MM in Afcrapistan) and my co-workers may like these better than the whole wheat chocolate chip cookies!

October 7, 2011

Pasta with Kale, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Feta

I am kind of obsessed with kale and get really excited when it comes in the CSA bag each week. I usually just bake it into chips, so this week I decided I had to do something different with it. I remembered that fantastic kale and lentil pasta that I made last month, and thought about making that again, but I had two sweet potatoes on the counter that I wanted to use, so I had to come up with something else.

My past experiments with adding roasted sweet potato to pasta haven't been extremely successful (see here or here) and this was really no better. Maybe sweet potatoes and pasta aren't meant to hang out. Although sweet potatoes and Vialone Nano rice are a match made in heaven! This dish wasn't horrible, it just needed a little more depth of flavor (caramelized onions?) and a sauce of sorts. But, it wasn't bad for a weeknight dinner. And Patton loves roasted sweet potatoes.

Pasta with Kale and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Serves 3-4

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch (bag) of kale, thoroughly cleaned and ribs removed
1/2 pound dried pasta (I used the other half of the bag of shells from this dish, mainly because I wanted them out of the pantry!)
3 oz crumbled feta

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes with some olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread onto a baking sheet and roast for 25 or so minutes until soft.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt. Blanch the kale in the boiling water (should take 2 minutes or so, depending on how much texture you would like your kale to retain). Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. (If you are particularly ambitious, you can shock the kale in a bowl of ice water. I am lazy, so I tend to undercook it so I don't have to shock it.)

3. Cook the pasta in boiling water. Drain, reserving a cup of kale/pasta water. Mix the kale, sweet potatoes, pasta and feta together in a large bowl. Add a little pasta water to help create a sauce. Taste for seasoning (I had to add A LOT of salt and pepper).

October 6, 2011

CSA Autumn Week 2

In the bag for week 2 of autumn CSA:

Hakurei turnips

October 5, 2011

Flour's "Famous" Banana Bread

Any longtime readers of BlB will know that I am always looking for a good banana bread recipe. I have tried one with a messy topping that overflowed onto the bottom of my oven, one with espresso and whiskey to kick start the morning (or any time of day), one with a boozy glaze, one with peanut butter, one that is spicy and chocolatey, and now I have made what could be considered the most traditional of banana bread recipes. And guess what? I wasn't impressed.

I found this recipe on the blog, Ipso Fatto, but Flour's Famous Banana Bread recipe is all over the internet. Flour is a popular bakery in Boston that is always getting written up or visited on some food-interest show. I had high hopes for this bread! I almost didn't include the walnuts, because I don't love them, but I wanted to make the recipe as is and I figured I could use some Omega-3 in my life. Most blogs link to the recipe on the Food Network. Giada visited Flour on her show and Joanne Chang, the chef and owner of Flour, provided the recipe to Food Network. I used the alternate measurements that Ipso Fatto provides from the Flour cookbook.

Yes, this bread created a crunchy top, which, in my opinion, is the most important part of banana bread. And yes, it was moist and the ratio of walnuts to bread was pleasing. But, the downfall of this bread is that it tasted like vegetable oil. It totally masks the 3 1/2 bananas in the bread. I think butter would have blended better. Or maybe a mixture of the two.

So, my epic hunt for the perfect banana bread recipe continues. (I have already found two more contenders this week!)

October 4, 2011

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

Let's get this out of the way in the beginning: the end result of this dish is not what I would typically consider a stew. It is much too brothy to be a stew. I would call it a soup. Semantics aside, this was very tasty, hearty and warming on a cool October night.

I had my friends (and neighbors), Nicole and Joe, over for dinner this past weekend and I was craving pot roast. When I was flipping through Giada's Kitchen, I saw this recipe for Beef and Butternut Squash Stew and thought, well, that would be a good way to use the butternut squash from this week's CSA. (A note about the squash: I usually dread cutting butternut squash because they are large and tough, but these babies were a manageable size, easy to peel and easy to cut into.)

While the stew turned out well, it could have used more vegetables. I actually found myself searching for carrots that I knew were not in the bowl. And when I had it leftover at work the next day, I couldn't help but think that barley, or some other grain, would enhance the dish and soak up the remaining broth.

In case anyone is wondering what we had along side the stew, I pan-fried a can of chickpeas and threw them on top of the CSA salad mix and made Ina Garten's Vinaigrette for Green Salad (I halved it and omitted the garlic). Giada recommends serving this stew with crusty bread, and I thought, well, we can't have bread without roasted garlic butter! I first wrote about roasted garlic butter in June, but this time I roasted 6 heads of CSA garlic for 8 tablespoons of butter. (The CSA garlic only has between 4-5 cloves in each head.)  All in all, it was a great dinner!

October 3, 2011


When I told my friend Nicole that I made snickerdoodles this weekend, she said, "Oh, that is a cookie I have never tried to make!" After she said that, I realized that her statement held true for me, too.

I have always wanted to make snickerdoodles, mainly because the name is so fun to say. But also, they aren't complicated and taste of butter, cinnamon and sugar. What could be wrong with that? I used Michael Ruhlman's recipe from his blog and was extremely pleased with the results. These cookies are crunchy on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle. (After looking at the pictures on Ruhlman's blog again, I think I may have overcooked my cookies, which is why they are crunchy; Ruhlman's look a lot softer. Oh well!)

The other thing I liked about the recipe is that the measurements are in both volume and weight. Everything I read says that baking with weight measurements is easier and more precise than using volume and I have been wanting to try out that theory. I got a great kitchen scale for Christmas last year (thanks, Mom!) and have only used it for a couple random things here and there. Let me tell you, recipe writers need to start writing recipes with weight measurements instead of volume. It is so much easier! Put the bowl on the scale, zero the scale, add the first ingredient until its desired weight, zero the scale, add the next, etc. So much easier! And way less clean up!