Archive | October, 2013

Friday Links

25 Oct

Once upon a time, casual Friday meant khakis. Then came the jegging. And now, in the age of the blogosphere, Friday is a nice excuse to ditch usual content and post some links instead.

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Okay– I see you lazy Friday bloggers. I don’t feel like writing today, either. Instead, I’ve got two awesome recipes  that I followed completely and came out with awesome results:

 

Ginger Spiced Banana Bread–moist and flavorful. Full of gluten, full of sugar.

Crock Pot Lime Peanut Chicken— BFKef caught the cooking bug this week and loved making (and eating!) this one. If he can do you… you really can do it.

 

This weekend I’m headed deep into the country with BabyKef and CousinKef, MS for some fall fun (okay- so it’s only 30 min outside of DC so it’s not exactly the country… but it’s fall and it will be fun) and I can’t wait to come back next week with some apple recipes!

Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Maple Browned Butter Sauce

24 Oct

Pumpkin is awesome, and if you need further proof please see:

Still not convinced? I applaud your commitment to skepticism but regret to inform you that it’s futile: prepare to be amazed by the glory of pumpkin.

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Now that I’ve convinced you of pumpkin’s supremacy over basically everything else (karpouzi notwithstanding), do not even THINK of transferring your skepticism toward your own ability to make gnocchi.  It goes like this: you make some dough, you cut it, you cook it.  So put on your big girl panties, grab some pumpkin, and let’s make some gnocchi.

This gnocchi recipe in particular is on the sweeter side- when FlailingKef and I taste-tested the first batch we couldn’t quite decide: savory or sweet? We were happy eating something that was equal parts dinner and dessert until I decided to throw some sauteed spinach into the mix– and that’s when we knew we had “chosen wisely” and found the holy grail (shout out to the three other people still suffering through the increasingly-miserable-and-offensive How I Met Your Mother). You’ll have enough for 5-6 servings, so grab some hungry friends while you’re reaching for those panties!

 

Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi with Maple Browned Butter Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 c  canned pumpkin
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 c grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3-4 cups all-purpose flour (I used gluten free)
  • lots of fresh rosemary (I used two very big sprigs)
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • spinach for serving (optional)

Assembly

1. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, both cheeses, eggs, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

2. Add 2 cups of flour to the mix and stir to combine.  Keep adding the flour 1/4 c at a time until you have a dough that is sticky but still moldable. The goal is to be able to roll out the dough into a log–so go for that consistency. Once you’ve got it, knead dough into one ball and cover  with a damp towel.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and let it simmer while you shape the gnocchi.

4. Flour a cutting board or your counter. Separate your dough ball into eight(ish) equal sections. Roll each section into a small log that is about half an inch thick.  Then cut each log into several pieces that are about 1-inch long– now you have gnocchi!

5. Use a fork to gently indent one side of each piece of gnocchi–this will help it absorb sauce later.

6.  Drop gnocchi into the boiling water a few at a time- if you cook too many at once they will stick together. Cook them until they rise to the top- when they’re floating they’re done. If you’ve got a slotted spoon, use that to pull out the gnocchi and lay them on a cookie sheet or plate. If you don’t have a slotted spoon use whatever you got. Life will go on. Repeat until all gnocchi are cooked.

10. Once you’ve got a plate full of cooked gnocchi, melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat and cook until there’s no more froth and the color has taken on a brown tint (but is not yet burnt!). Add the maple syrup and about three-fourths of the rosemary.

11. Add a single layer of gnocchi and let them cook for about 2 minutes.  Use your slotted spoon (or alternate utensil) to remove gnocchi.  Repeat until you’ve used all the gnocchi.  Transfer to  whatever you’re serving/storing them in and drizzle with the leftover sauce and remaining rosemary. Serve with spinach sauteed in the same pan as the butter sauce.

Blackened Green Beans

17 Oct

It’s Thursday and that means I’m getting together with three favorites, SummitKef, NoLongerClevelandParkKef and AKAKef to watch Kerry Washington rip the rest of the world a new one. I will refrain from larger comment on the racial/political/gender/social dynamics on Scandal (not to mention Shonda’s extremely liberal use of belief-suspending plot lines)–but know that I watch it, I sometimes enjoy it, and that I am DYING for Harrison to get a real story line. In the meantime, I’ll be with these guys:

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In addition to weekly run-downs of Kerry’s cream couture, Scandal Thursdays necessitate a trip to the vaguely-“Asian” Chipotle-style SHOPHOUSE around the corner from NoLongerClevelandParkKef’s awesome new apartment. And this, my friends, is the roundabout way I finally get to today’s recipe: blackened green beans.

Until precisely 4 episodes ago, I was green-bean averse. They were just always so floppy and… flaccid. Blech. And then I went to Shophouse ,where they basically fry the ever-living-bejesus out of their beans, and I began to LOVE these verde veggies! (Imagine that: if you fry something enough, it becomes delicious.)

I usually make these in the morning before work and requires about the same amount of time it takes me to pull on my support hose (nurses… am I right?) Fry as much or as little as you like- as you can see from this grrrrreeeaazzzzzy pic below I overshot the oil on the first try.  Whoopsies 🙂

greenbeansBlackened Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 2-3 c of green beans, cleaned and ends chopped
  • 1 TBS soy sauce (or tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 1 TBS ground coriander
  • 2-3 TBS olive oil

Assembly

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a big-bubble boil. Throw in the green beans and blanch them for 2 minutes. Drain into a strainer, rinse with cold water, and pat dry.

2. While the beans are drying, heat oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Allow the oil to heat up to the smoking point.

3. Combine the spices and soy sauce in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the green beans, making sure they all get a good coat.

4. Add seasoned beans to the hot oil- be careful, as there will be some splattering.  Let ’em fry (mixing around occasionally) until they reach your preferred level of crispiness- I love really burnt things so I let mine go about 7 minutes.

5. If, like me, you like things fried but not greasy (delusional, I know)- lay the beans out on a paper towel before serving warm.

The Best Cookies I’ve Ever Made

15 Oct

Heavens to Betsy, I’ve done it.

I made the best cookie ever.

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The ultimate cookie that is as easy as pie, as soft as Chewy Chips Ahoy, and as gluten-free as well, um, something that has no gluten.

The recipe comes from here– I made it sf with the subs below, plus added a little pumpkin because I had it lying around.  Grab your almond butter and make this puppy NOW.

The Best Cookie Ever

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 c almond butter (OR 3/4 c almond butter and a scant 1/4 c pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (regular sugar if you’re cool like that)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c carob chips (or dark chocolate chips)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Beat the egg lightly in a medium bowl. Add the almond butter, pumpkin if you’re using it, baking soda, and sugar.  Mix  together well.
  2. Fold in the carob chips. The dough will be a bit runnier than your standard cookie dough.
  3. Use a tablespoon to scoop the dough onto a baking sheet, separating the cookies by about an inch or more.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes. They will look a little under done but will finish cooking as they cool.
  5. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes, then transfer them carefully to a cooling rack. They’re soft and crumbly once cooled– which is delicious–but if you leave them to sit out over night they become even MORE perfect.

Creamy Ginger Butternut Soup

10 Oct

Soup is awesome. Butternut squash is awesome. Ginger is REALLY awesome. Obviously, I had no choice but to whip up a bath of this soup which just happens to combine all three.

I followed the recipe pretty closely– really the only things I did differently were to flavor the vegetables BEFORE roasting (which I think ought to be required and standard practice–but who asked me?), and quadrupling the ginger.

It’s worth taking a little stroll over to Recipes From a Pantry, as my quick visit there yielded a recipe for this butternut soup, plus butternut squash hummus AND butternut squash muffins. If I have to explain to you why that is awesome, you probably live in a place with no fall to speak of, and for that I truly pity you.

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Happy Fall!

Creamy Ginger Butternut Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash (mine was about 2.5 lbs), peeled and chopped
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2-3 TBS vegetable oil
  • 3.25 c vegetable stock (I am really into the unsalted stock- but it’s your blood pressure. Do as you will.)
  • 15 cardamom pods, shelled
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 c coconut milk

Assembly

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine in a large mixing bowl the chopped squash, onion, oil, cardamom, and ground ginger. Stir to make sure that the vegetables are all coated with oil and that spices are distributed. Throw the mixture onto a cookie pan or two– the vegetables can touch but should not be layered on top of one another. Roast until caramelized, which took me about 55 minutes. Stir once or twice throughout the roasting process to make sure everything gets cooked evenly.

2. When the vegetables are just about done, bring the stock to a boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the fresh ginger and then the caramelized vegetables. Let this mixture simmer for about 10 minutes– its done when the squash and broth both have awesome, gingery flavor.

3. Puree the broth and squash with whatever means you’ve got: an electric mixer if that’s all you have, a food processor if you’re lucky, or an immersion blender if you’re a fancy mamma jamma. Once you’ve got a nice puree, add the coconut milk and blend once more.

4. Serve warm (otherwise the coconut milk gets a bit thick) and enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Chili

1 Oct

I moved this summer, which was an exercise in soul-searching. How did I accumulate so much stuff? Did I really need the amazing individual cupcake maker I was given for Christmas two years ago? Just how, in God’s name, was this stuff going to fit into my new, much smaller apartment?

Soul searching aside, the move did force me to go through the binder full of torn-out magazine pages with recipes I’d been saving for a rainy day. It was funny to see the things I had held on to– there were literally hundreds of heavy, fancy-sounding meat dishes I must have ripped out back when I thought a great dinner party required breaking the bank and impossible-to-pronounce dishes. Most of those recipes didn’t make the cut, but it was a nice trip down memory lane that reunited me with awesome ditties like this pumpkin chili. I didn’t save the source, so I apologize for what is definitely recipe plagiarizing– but this is too good not to share!

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef (optional, obvi)
  • 1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can (15 oz) light red kidney beans
  • 2 cans (28 oz total) pumpkin puree
  • 2 large cans (56 oz total) crushed or diced tomatoes (spend the extra $1 for the fire-roasted variety. It matters)
  • 4 c broth of your choice
  • 1 lg onion, diced
  • 1 serrano or jalepeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • cilantro (chopped and to taste if fresh, 2 tsp if dried)

Assembly

1. Add oil, meat and black pepper to large soup pot. Cook over med-high heat until browned. Add cumin, chili, onion, serrano/jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Cook until translucent. If not using meat, just cook spices and vegetables in oil until soft and fragrant.

2. Add dark and light red beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, broth,and cilantro (only if using dried). Bring soup to a boil and reduced to simmer. If using fresh cilantro, add it now and let chili simmer together for at least an hour, stirring from bottom every 10-15 minutes.

(Note: you can also make this in the crock pot, basically just by browning meat and/or spices and vegetables and then adding everything together in the crock pot. Cook for about 6 hours on low, or 4 hours on high. Just as above, add fresh cilantro with about an hour to go so it doesn’t get too stringy. I have found not everything fits in my crock pot and just reduce the broth to make it all fit.)

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