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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quinoa, Avocado & Chickpea Salad

Okay. This salad is........... vegan (gasp!). I'm pretty sure its the first vegan meal I've ever eaten (could be an exaggeration, could be true), and I'm always afraid to try vegan recipes for fear that they are tasteless, or that they include unfortunate substitutes for critical ingredients, like butter and eggs. BUT THIS IS GOOD. Very very good. I am already dreaming up fun new additions for next time, one of which includes feta cheese (whoops, there goes the vegan thing). It tastes super fresh and goes down easy. Very healthy, very filling, very delicious. Adapted from The Diva Dish.

1/2 cup dried quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch of cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
2 cups spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 can chick peas, rinsed & drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, pitted and chopped

zest from 1 lemon
juice from 2 lemons
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked pepper

Pour the quinoa and vegetable broth in a small saucepan and let sit for 15 minutes. Turn heat on medium/high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and cook, simmering, for about 20-25 minutes, or until quinoa is cooked through, but not dry. Remove from heat and let cool (I put it in the freezer to speed up this process since I was eating right away).

While the quinoa is cooking, place the spinach and cilantro in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped, but not blended. I overdid it, and as a result had a paste, rather than nice pretty flakes. Remove from food processor and place in the bottom of a large bowl. Using the food processor pulse the onion and garlic and add to spinach/cilantro. Add the chick peas and stir together.

Make the dressing by adding all the ingredients to a small jar and shake. Pour over the green/chick pea mixture and stir together. Add the chopped tomatoes and carefully fold in the avocado and quinoa. You don't want to over-stir, since you don't want the avocado to mash. Taste for salt and pepper and serve!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bailey's Brownies

Bailey's is delicious. Brownies are delicious. I'm not going to share an anecdote about these or try to convince you to make them. If you're anything at all like me, I'm pretty sure you're already done reading this and are checking your pantry for the ingredients so you can make these this instant. Follow your heart. Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is.

1 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter and chocolate, stirring every 20 seconds or so. Once melted, pour into the bowl of a mixer and beat together. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between. Add the flour and salt and beat slowly- just until incorporated- and remove the bowl from mixer. Pour the Bailey's into a measuring cup with a heavy hand. Take a sip of the Bailey's. Add the rest to the brownie batter and stir. Slurp up the extra Bailey's from the measuring cup. Taste the batter and decide to get the Bailey's back out of your liquor cabinet and pour yourself a glass over ice.

Spread the brownie batter into a greased 9x9 pan and bake for 25-35 minutes. Do not overbake!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not much in this life is better than a chocolate malt milkshake. My brother and I would frequent a local milkshake spot growing up called McDonald's Drug Store, which was better known for its functioning old-time soda fountain than its sundries. We (and the rest of the neighborhood) would spend afternoons trying all kinds of sodas and milkshakes- and most days, if there wasn't a line, Mr. and Mrs. McDonald would let my brother and me behind the counter to mix-up our own concoctions. This is where I had my first malted milkshake and fell in love. I actually think this is where I fell in love with milkshakes in general.

Anyways, malt. I love it. And its rare to find recipes that include it (other than milkshakes), so when I stumbled across the idea to add malted milk powder to chocolate chip cookie dough (from Pioneer Woman), I thought it was genius and knew I would love it. It is such an easy way to spice up a standard cookie dough and I imagine I'll keep coming back to this recipe frequently. The malt flavor is subtle but noticeable and the texture of this cookie is perfection: thin and crispy edges with a chewy inside. I've adapted her recipe a bit...

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (heaping) malted milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 eggs (yea, I'm crazy, just estimate)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In an electric mixer beat together the butter, brown sugar, and malted milk powder. Add the chocolate syrup and vanilla and beat together for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until incorporated. 

In a separate bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to the butter mixture and beat together. Stir in the chocolate chips and refrigerate dough for about 20-30 minutes. 

Roll into heaping tablespoon-sized balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 degrees. Cookies will flatten and have crispy brown edges. Mmmmmmm. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nutella Scotcheroos

I had never made (or even heard of) Scotcheroos until I was messing around online a few weeks ago looking up some new David Lebovitz recipes and stumbled upon these. They looked great and I decided that I'd give them a whirl, and serve them that night since I was having some friends over for a TV viewing party (and no, I'd rather not admit the embarrassing show we were watching watch every week together).

Anyways. I had read reviews that these were incredibly sweet, and sometimes too hard to cut, so I added more ooey gooey ingredients and less sweetness. They were great! Nice and chewy, sweet, but not cavity-inducing-sweet.

6 cups plain rice krispie cereal
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup Nutella
8 ounces chocolate chips
8 ounces butterscotch chips

Measure out the rice krispies and set aside.

Pour the corn syrup and sugar into the bottom of a large pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a light boil, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches this temperature. Take the syrup off the heat and stir in the peanut butter and Nutella until all is melted. Add the rice cereal and stir to combine. Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 cake pan and press down with your fingers so that the top is flat. Let cool.

Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in a microwave bowl, 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between.  Pour on top of the scotcheroos and spread evenly. Let cool, or refrigerate, until hardened. Cut into small squares and serve! nom nom nom

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Avocado Pesto Pasta

I first heard about this idea a year or so ago from my friend Stephanie who made it and posted it on her food blog. For some reason, I didn't make it immediately... and I have no idea why I didn't instantly understand how incredible it would be.

Fast forward a year or so. I came across a similar recipe a few weeks ago, remembered that Steph made it and loved it, and decided I'd try a version of it, too. I may be slow, but I (usually) come around... It is kind of like an italian guacamole, which sounds weird, but trust me... its not. It is good... refreshing and creamy and rich. But not the kind of rich where you feel like dying after you eat it. Bonus. Don't be like me and wait a year to make this. *Adapted from, serves 3-4.

2 ripe avocados, pitted
1/2 cup basil leaves
1 lemon, juiced, plus zest
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper
12 ounces spaghetti

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add spaghetti. Cook according to directions on box.

Meanwhile, add the garlic cloves to the food processor and chop. Add the avocado, basil, lemon juice (not zest), salt, olive oil, and some black pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour over drained pasta and toss to coat. Sprinkle with lemon zest and serve!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Ok. So the thing that happened... was... well... see, I joined Pinterest.............. and then I did nothing but spend hours upon hours for days upon days searching for new recipes/DIY projects/design ideas/hostess ideas, etc. that I want to try. Joining was a seriously dangerous move, both for the status of my dissertation and my waistline.

But, sometimes you just have to make sacrifices. And long story short, I found this recipe for Caramelitas and knew that I had to make them immediately. These guys are wonderful. The picture above shows just how gooey the caramel is... even after baking, even after cooling, even after sitting overnight... you cut them into perfect squares and just watch the caramel oooze. You should make them immediately. *Adapted from Lulu The Baker

32 caramels, unwrapped
1/2 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup oats
6 ounces chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small pan heat the caramels and half-and-half, stirring frequently, until just melted and smooth. Set aside.

Stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, flour, baking soda and oats. Press half of the batter into the bottom of an 8x8 glass pan. Bake for about 10 minutes and remove from oven. Sprinkle the chocolate evenly over the crust and then pour the caramel mixture on top. Crumble the rest of the buttery/sugary/oat mixture on top and bake for about 15 more minutes, until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely. If you don't cool completely, they will still taste delicious, but you'll need a spoon to eat it (which is how I ate my first "piece"). If you chill them in the fridge they are even easier to cut.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sausage, Kale, & Potato Soup

This recipe was inspired by a soup at Olive Garden... they call it Zuppa Toscana and its a creamy broth with spicy sausage and red skinned potatoes. Its very good and I wanted to make something like it at home. It turned out to be very yummy, easy to make, cheap, and most definitely healthier than OG's. Plus it has my favorite SUPERFOOD in it (sausage is a superfood, right?)... and who doesn't love superfoods?

1 pound ground sweet italian sausage
1 pound red skinned potatoes
1 sweet potato (~1/2 pound)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped
salt and pepper

In a large pan cook the sausage, breaking into bits, until browned. Drain the grease and set aside. 

Meanwhile, thinly slice the red-skinned potatoes and place in a medium pot. Dice the sweet potato and place in the same pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil- cook potatoes until soft. Drain, rinse, and set aside. 

In a large soup pot heat the olive oil and add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and the dried red pepper flakes and stir another minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Blend half of the soup and pour it back into the pot (this helps thicken the soup without having to add cream). Add the sausage and kale and cook another 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Squash & Prosciutto Ravioli with Brown Butter

I got a pasta maker! And I used it this weekend for the first time to make ravioli with my favorite neighbors. It was a major success. We made two kinds of ravioli, this squash/prosciutto/parmesan one and a mushroom one. They both were very good, but this was the clear winner... so I'm sharing it! (Adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

*Photo by Jason Volpe

2 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten

Pulse the flour in a food processor to evenly distribute. Add the eggs and process until dough forms a ball. If the dough is too dry (and you see tiny pebbles), add 1/2 a teaspoon of cold water and keep processing. Repeat this step until dough is a ball, but not sticking to the sides. If the dough is too wet, add 1 teaspoon of flour and process until dough is right consistency. Remove dough and knead for a few minutes on the counter until the dough is very smooth and soft to the touch. Place in a bowl and refrigerate covered for about 30 minutes. Roll through pasta maker according to directions and fill with ravioli filling. (This will make about a pound of pasta- the ravioli filling will not quite make enough for all this pasta)

1 large acorn squash
1/4 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 cup grated parmesan
2 teaspoons diced shallots
1 egg yolk
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
salt and pepper

Cut the squash in half and place face down on a lightly greased cookie sheet and roast for about 35-40 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove once the rind can be punctured easily by a fork. Once cooled, scoop out the pulp (you should have about 1 1/2 cups) and place in a bowl. Dice the prosciutto and add it, along with the parmesan, shallots, egg yolk, nutmeg, and sage to the squash. Stir together and taste for salt and pepper. Fill the pasta with this mixture and make sure to seal the edges of each ravioli with warm water.

Boil raviolis for about 2 minutes each and serve with a Brown Butter and Pine Nut sauce!!

1/2 stick butter
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Place the butter in a large skillet and cook until browned... stirring constantly to remove the pieces of browning butter from the bottom. Once butter is almost browned, add the shallots (carefully) and continue to stir. Add the parsley and taste for salt and pepper. Add the cooked ravioli directly to the large skillet and toss to coat. Add the pine nuts and serve. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.