Monthly Archives: August 2012

Blackberry-Peach Crisp

Have you had blackberries or peaches yet this summer?  I hope so!  Have you baked them with some brown sugar and oats?  Do that next!  For someone like me who has a very prominent sweet tooth, it’s important that I find desserts that satisfy those cravings without making me feel rotten afterward.  My mom used to make apple crisp all the time when I was younger and, as a result, I love a good fruit crisp – especially the “crisp” part.  I mean, flour, sugar, oatmeal, butter, how can you go wrong?  When I came across this recipe for Blackberry-Peach Crisp, I was a little worried that the topping wouldn’t be as sweet and decadent tasting as the good old-fashioned crisps of days past but this dessert did not disappoint.

Fresh blackberries and peaches are mixed with nothing more than fresh orange juice (I used clementine juice!) and vanilla, allowing their natural sweetness to shine through.  The fruit mixture is placed in individual ramekins and topped with a gooey coating of whole-wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, canola oil, and honey which melts together to form a crunchy topping.  The fruit gets perfectly soft and bubbly as it cooks and is delightfully mildly sweet.  This crumb mixture, which is spiced up with cinnamon and nutmeg, isn’t loaded with flour, thank goodness, but instead has a consistancy closer to granola which makes my toes curl.  And because this dessert is baked in ramekins, portion control is easy to maintain (only 159 calories a serving!).  I could easily make a batch of this crumb topping and eat it with nothing but a spoon and a smile.  And maybe some ice cream.  I’ll keep this recipe close by to use later in the fall with apples and pears.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.

If you like this, also check out Blueberry-Peach Cobbler.

The ingredients:

Combine berries, peaches, juice and vanilla in a bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, oats, brown sugar, canola oil, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg with hands until moist and crumbly.

Spoon fruit mixture into four 4-oz ramekins coated with cooking spray.  Scatter crumb mixture evenly over the top of each.

Bake in a 375°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until fruit bubbles and top is golden brown.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Self Magazine

Anadama Bread

Sorry it’s been a couple days since I’ve posted but I’ve been out of town for three days and despite having Internet access, I just didn’t feel like pulling out my computer.  You know the feeling.  Being disconnected.  It kind of feels good.  Although with my iPhone on my hip, I wasn’t truly disconnected.  Oh well.  It was an effort.  Anyway, I’ve been on a real reading kick lately (I recently devoured The Age of Miracles, Wild, Gone Girl and Where We Belong – all of which I recommend) and since I’ve decided I need dial down my book collection rather than grow it, I decided to take advantage of my library card and checked out two more books to read yesterday, The Bungalow and The Hypnotist’s Love Story.  Reading as much as I have been sometimes disrupts my pattern of cooking but it was in one of my reading fits last weekend that I spontaneously decided I wanted to bake some bread.  Next thing I knew, I was up to my elbows in flour, twisting and kneading fresh dough until it was perfectly rounded and fragrant.  This particular bread, Anadama Bread, is a bread my aunt often makes for holidays or just because.  Of course I think hers tastes better.  Just because.

Anadama Bread is a yeast bread made special with the addition of molasses and cornmeal.  This bread has the slightest hint of sweetness, but not too much, and is good toasted with jam or just butter.  It also freezes easily, just simply slice it ahead of time and seal in a freezer bag.  Making bread can be both therapeutic and satisfying.  Kneading dough is a good way to de-stress and after watching a mixture of ingredients come together and simply grow, you get a feeling of accomplishment when you pull out the warm, baked bread from the oven and your kitchen – your whole house – smells like a bakery.  There is nothing better.  When I make bread I kind of get that feeling that Tom Hanks has in Cast Away when he pounds on his chest and proudly proclaims to no one “Look what I have created!  I have made fire!”  When that bread comes out of the oven perfectly rounded and browned, it’s hard not to be proud and want to show it to someone.  Next time, I just might pound on my chest too.  Just because.

Read a good book lately?  Let me know! 🙂

The ingredients:

Dissolve the yeast and molasses in warm water in a large bowl, and let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in melted butter.

Add 3 cups flour, cornmeal, and salt to yeast mixture and stir until blended.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes), adding enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down; let rest 5 minutes.

Roll into a 14 x 7-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Roll up rectangle tightly, starting with a short edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal.  Place roll, seam side down, in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Uncover dough and bake at in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Penne with Vodka Sauce & Vegetables

I’ve noticed a pattern in the food I’ve been eating lately – vegetarian and with zucchini. For someone who didn’t touch zucchini as a kid and grew up eating deer meat and rabbit, this is an interesting revelation. Trust me when I tell you, I prefer my diet much more now. Although I wish I didn’t eat so many carbs, I’m happy that I don’t eat nearly as much as I did when I was a vegetarian and ate pasta constantly. As in every single night. Because things have changed, I look forward to a hearty pasta dish, especially one made with vodka sauce. Penne with Vodka Sauce and Vegetables is a lightened up version of regular pasta in vodka sauce which is hearty enough that you won’t even notice the fact that there is no meat in sight.

Whole-wheat penne is mixed with zucchini, peas, onion and spinach and tossed in a tomato sauce made with vodka and half-and-half. The sauce is creamy and light, given subtle touch of heat from red pepper flake. Add Canadian bacon for an additional flavor boost as per the recipe if you prefer.  This recipe makes a ton, making it perfect for a family, guests or tons of leftovers.  This will be my lunch and dinner for days but that’s ok.  I’m used to eating a lot of pasta.

The ingredients:

Cook penne according to package directions, approximately 11 minutes. Add zucchini and peas during last 3 minutes and stir in spinach. Drain and place back into the pot.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; add vodka and cook 1 minute.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and red pepper flake. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Stir half-and-half and half of the parmesan cheese into the sauce.

Toss sauce with pasta and let stand for 10 minutes.

Spoon into serving bowl and top with remaining cheese.

Additions: None

Omissions:

  • Canadian bacon

Substitutions:

  • Whole-wheat penne

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Family Circle Magazine

Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches

This summer – this year – is flying by and I can’t believe it’s August already.  August is usually when the humidity gets as angry as ever and I begin my death-to-summer bitchfest.  I pray for the day temperatures drop a bit and when I see the forecast get anywhere lower than 85º, I deliriously wonder if it’s cold enough for a lightweight cardigan.  I mean seriously, the heat and humidity make me crazy.  However, one summer perk I’m forever in love with is the colorful and vibrant produce.  Even though I can get zucchini and tomatoes any time of year, they just don’t taste as good as they do in the dead of summer.  So, in appreciation, I make a deal with our beloved summer and tell her that I’ll endure her for as long as I have to as long as she keeps giving us such lovely food.  Since I’m a caprese freak, these Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwiches are a perfect marriage between veggies and mozzarella and one of the best summer combinations I can ask for.

Grilled zucchini, juicy tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and basil are sandwiched between two pieces of bread and grilled lightly, until gooey and warm.  Tangy balsamic vinegar and aromatic minced garlic add punches of flavor which leaves this sandwich tasty as-is with no need for any other condiments.  The recipe calls for ciabatta bread but I used bagel thins because I had them on hand so use any bread you like.  I think I barely breathed as I devoured this sandwich and it took every ounce of restraint to not eat another one.  As much as I tire of the heat and humidity, I love nothing better than summer’s flavors dripping down my chin.

The ingredients:

Toss zucchini in a shallow dish with olive oil and garlic.  Arrange zucchini on a grill or grill pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear.

Cut each zucchini piece in half crosswise and return to shallow dish.  Drizzle zucchini with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

Brush bottom halves of bread with the remaining olive oil.  Top evenly with zucchini, basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.  Place sandwiches on a grill or grill pan and heat until warmed through.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substititutions:

  • Whole-wheat bagel thin

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Summer Grilled Vegetable Pizza

I was hungry for pizza the other night but I’m not a big take-out pizza person.  I love take-out pizza, but I never order it unless I have someone else to eat it with me.  Otherwise, I’ll end up eating the whole greasy, cheesy, decadent pie and I don’t have enough willpower to not do that.  So, since I’m on a bit of a veggie kick this week, I decided to make one of the many pizza recipes that I’ve collected.  This Summer Grilled Vegetable Pizza is a perfectly light pizza that uses up the last of the zucchini and squash in my fridge.

Zucchini, summer squash and red pepper are grilled until soft and browned and placed over a store-bought pizza crust layered with marinara sauce.  Fresh mozzarella cheese and red pepper flake are a dotted over the veggies before the whole pie is baked on a pizza stone until golden brown (or slightly darker brown, in my case).  Don’t have a pizza stone?  Just use a pizza pan or cookie sheet.  The veggies are crisp-tender while the mozzarella cheese is salty and creamy and the red pepper flake adds a punch of heat here and there.  Use your favorite marinara, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or fresh tomatoes as your base here.  Play with any veggies you like to get a lesser-fat pizza that won’t leave you feeling too guilty.  You won’t even miss the fact that it’s not take-out pizza.

The ingredients:

Arrange all the vegetables in a single layer on a large cutting board or baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil.  Arrange vegetables on a grill rack preheated to medium-high heat and coated with cooking spray.  Grill for 3 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender and grill marks appear.  Remove from grill.  Coarsely chop bell pepper.

Sprinkle cornmeal over a pizza stone which has been preheated in a  500°F oven.  Carefully place dough on pizza stone and bake for 5 minutes. Remove the partially baked crust from oven.

Spread sauce over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  Arrange the vegetables over dough, and sprinkle evenly with salt and crushed red pepper.

Top evenly with cheese.  Bake at 500°F for an additional 12 minutes or until the crust and cheese are browned.

Cut into 6 slices and top with fresh basil (if desired).

Additions:  None

Omissions:

  • Red onion

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

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