Friday, October 26, 2012

Mini Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

A trip to cider mill is one of my favorite ways to spend a fall afternoon. Few things beat the simple pleasure of biting into a freshly picked apple on a cool fall day. While I am a big fan of apples and all of the offerings at the cider mill, my favorite are the doughnuts. Hot from the fryer and covered in a generous dusting of cinnamon sugar they are too much for me to resist. Sadly I have not had the chance to visit the cider mill this season. After a little searching I was able to find this recipe for baked doughnut muffins. I adapted it slightly so I could bake them in mini muffin pans. After the muffins are coated in cinnamon sugar they can easily pass for doughnut holes, albeit slightly misshapen ones.

Mini Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins
recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker originally adapted from Martha Stewart

For the Muffins:
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 ¼ cups pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating:
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup granulated sugar
2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour 48 mini muffin cups (I used 2 mini muffin pans).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and pumpkin; set aside.

Beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low, then add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the pumpkin mixture, beating until barely combined. Turn off the mixer and fold the batter a few times with a rubber spatula to catch any pockets of flour that weren't incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffins cups (I used a 1-ounce ice cream scoop). Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let the muffins cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

While the muffins are resting, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.

Working with one muffin at a time, remove the muffins from the pan, brush all over with the melted butter, then toss to coat in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Return to the wire rack and let cool completely.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

In honor of Halloween, this week Eating Deliciously will feature recipes with pumpkin. I  have several things to share with you including sweet and savory recipes. Let's start off with roasted pumpkin seeds. These seeds are delicious simply seasoned with salt. I amped up the flavor of classic roasted pumpkin seeds with garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce. Feel free to use any flavor combination that you like.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
recipe adapted from Oh She Glows

Medium-sized pumpkin
Olive oil

Optional Seasoning (for 2 cups of seeds)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cut open the pumpkin and use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the insides. Separate the seeds from the stringy core. Rinse the seeds.

In a small saucepan, add the seeds to water, about 2 cups of water to every half cup of seeds. Add a 1 teaspoon of salt for every cup of water (more if you like your seeds saltier). Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Apparently, this method helps make the pumpkin seeds easier to digest and produces a crispy outer shell during roasting.

Drain the seeds in a colander and dry lightly with a paper towel or tea towel. The seeds will stick to the towel, but just rub them off with your fingers. Don’t worry; they don’t have to be bone dry – just a light pat down.

Spread about a tablespoon of olive oil over the bottom of a roasting pan. Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan, all in one layer. Season the seeds with garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce, if desired.

Roast seeds at 325°F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Roast for another 8-10 minutes.

During the last 5 minutes of roasting, remove a few seeds and crack open to make sure the inner seeds are not burning (you don’t want the inner seed brown). Cool a couple and pop them into your mouth to test. They are ready when the shell is super crispy and easy to bite through. The inner seed should have only a hint of golden tinge to it. Remove seeds from oven and allow to cool completely before eating.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats with Reese’s Pieces

Rice Krispie treats are a dessert staple from my childhood, but sometimes I like to mix it up and step out of the plain Rice Krispie treat rut. Since I am on a peanut butter kick lately, I was thrilled when I came across this recipe on My Baking Addiction. The combination with peanut butter and Reese's Pieces is Rice Krispie treat heaven! These treats are rich so make sure you cut them no larger than 2-inch bars

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats with Reese’s Pieces
recipe courtesy of My Baking Addiction

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ¾ cups miniature marshmallows, divided
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 cups crisped rice cereal (Kellogg's Rice Krispies)
1 cup Reese's Pieces

Line a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add in 5 cups of marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Add in the peanut butter and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Add crisped rice cereal; stirring until well coated. Fold in the Reese's Pieces and remaining ¾ cup marshmallows.

Using buttered spatula, press the mixture into the prepared pan. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats with Reese’s Pieces are best if served the same day they are made.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Minestrone Soup with Pesto

I have been slowly transitioning into fall by cooking more soups and stews. I was still able to pickup some fresh zucchini at my farmers market. However this soup is still delicious using frozen green beans in place of the zucchini. I followed a suggestion from Panera and made fresh croutons to float on top of the soup. To make the croutons, remove the crust from 6 slices bread of your choice and cut into ½ inch cubes. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch sauté pan until melted. Add cubes to pan and season with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir the cubes to evenly coat with melted butter and cook until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove croutons from the pan and serve with the soup. Store any leftover croutons in an airtight container.

Minestrone Soup with Pesto
recipe courtesy of Panera Bread

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped carrots
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup peeled and chopped Yukon Gold potatoes (about 8 ounces)
1 quart low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
15 ounce can petite-diced tomatoes with juice
15 ounce can small white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup ditalini, small shells, or other very small shape pasta
1 cup finely chopped zucchini (optional)

⅓ cup Basil Pesto

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, 4 cups of broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Add additional broth if the soup is too thick.

Stir in the beans, pasta, and zucchini (if using), and simmer until pasta is tender, 8 to 9 minutes. Stir in the pesto.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grilled Veggie Skewers with Herb and Garlic Marinade

Fall has officially arrived but that doesn't stop me from heading outside to fire up the grill. Yes, I am the neighbor you see dashing in and out of the house grilling in all types of weather. I do own a cast iron grill pan but it can't beat the flavor of food cooked on my outside grill. I suppose you could make this recipe year round but I find that it is best using veggies fresh from the garden or farmer's market.

Grilled Veggie Skewers with Herb and Garlic Marinade
recipe adapted from Food Network

½ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon or lime juice
¼ cup water
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ears fresh or frozen sweet corn, thawed and quartered
1 cup red onion chunks
1 cup white button mushrooms
1 cup zucchini or yellow squash chunks
1 cup red, yellow or green bell pepper chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Make the marinade: Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. The marinade can be prepared in advance and held covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Place the corn on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with waxed paper. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Place the vegetables in a shallow dish or container. Pour marinade over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat.

Remove vegetables from the marinade, reserving marinade. Thread vegetables onto skewers, alternating colors. Cook skewers on grill until vegetables are lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes, basting with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Kabobs with Apricot Sauce

Before my sister's wedding this summer I was able to get my cousins together for a trip to northern Michigan. One of our many adventures included a stop at Pond Hill Farm

picture via Following The Dream

Pond Hill Farm has tons of activities that are great for the whole family. We started with lunch in The Garden Cafe followed by petting and feeding the animals on site. Next up was wine tasting from the Harbor Springs Vineyards & Winery. We opted to do the wine tasting that included 2 different types of hard cider. Eight rather large tastings later, we headed to try out the Squash Rocket. Here you can fling squash at targets set up in the field. Just be careful not to hit any animals!

picture via Following The Dream

Pond Hill Farm also has a store where they sell various canned goods using the produce grown on the farm. After an afternoon of wine tasting and squash flinging I was more than happy to test out some of their homemade goodies. One of the many items I bought was the Apricot Spoon Jam. The jam made a perfect compliment to these grilled chicken kebobs.

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Kebobs with Apricot Sauce
recipe adapted from Pink Parsley originally adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures via Fine Cooking 

3 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
½ cup apricot preserves 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar 

Combine 2 teaspoons of the rosemary, the brown sugar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a medium bowl, and drizzle the oil over it, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken and toss to coat well.

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (400-450°F), and oil the grates lightly. While the grill is heating, thread the chicken cubes onto skewers.

Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce: Combine the remaining teaspoon of rosemary, the apricot preserves, a pinch of salt, and the rice vinegar in a small saucepan. Set over low heat and stir just until the mixture is heated through. Remove from heat and reserve half the sauce for dipping and place the remaining sauce in a small bowl for basting the kebobs.

Arrange the kebabs on the grill and cook, turning every 3 minutes or so, brushing with the apricot sauce. Grill the kebobs until they are slightly charred on all sides and cooked through, about 12-15 minutes total. Transfer the kebabs to a platter to rest for about 5 minutes. Serve with the reserved apricot dipping sauce.

Note: I made these kebobs on the outdoor grill but you could use a grill pan on the stove top. I have also made these under the broiler with good results.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Ricotta and Baby Spinach

This is another summer to fall transition recipe. The original recipe calls for stuffing zucchini but my family needed a break from the excess of zucchini we have been eating lately. I bought some beautiful baby graffiti eggplant at my farmers market on a whim and this recipe was a great way to enjoy it.

Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Ricotta and Baby Spinach
recipe adapted from Dirty Girls Kitchen

4 baby eggplants
2 cups Homemade Ricotta Cheese
1 egg
5 ounces baby spinach
3 cloves garlic
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
¼ cup fine bread crumbs
1 small can San Marzano tomatoes
1 sprig basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F.  

Put the spinach and garlic in the food processor and chop finely. Place mixture in to a large bowl and stir in the ricotta, egg, nutmeg, and ¼ cup of the parmesan cheese.

Cut each baby eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the middle. Fill the eggplant halves with the ricotta mixture and place on a greased cookie sheet. Stir together the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese and sprinkle the crumbs over the eggplant.

Add the San Marzano tomatoes with juice, basil leaves and olive oil into the food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.  

Drizzle sauce over the eggplant and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked through and the bread crumbs are golden. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on top and sprinkle with extra parmesan, if desired.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Garlic Feta Cheese Dip

With fall sports season kicking off I like to have several quick and easy appetizers to whip up for game day. I already shared the recipe for my favorite Pizza Puffs which can be made with or without meat. This recipe is nice to have on hand for a vegetarian option. I like to serve this dip with fresh vegetables, crackers or mini pita breads. Using a hand mixer will ensure the feta, cream cheese, and sour cream will blend together smoothly, even if you don't have time to let the cream cheese come to room temperature.

Garlic Feta Cheese Dip
recipe adapted from

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon dill weed
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

In a mixing bowl, combine the above ingredients with mixer until blended well. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve with vegetables or crackers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Funfetti Cake Batter Blondies

I am a confirmed chocolate fiend but if a recipe has cake batter and funfetti in the title than I have to try it. There is something so cheerful about those little rainbow sprinkles that I cannot resist. These colorful blondies are chewy gooey cake batter heaven!

Funfetti Cake Batter Blondies
recipe courtesy of Girl Meets Life

1 box yellow cake mix
¼ cup canola oil
1 egg, beaten
¼ to ½ cup milk
¼ cup rainbow sprinkles
½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 8 x 8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine cake mix, oil and egg in a large bowl. Add the milk slowly just until the batter is combined. Start with ¼ cup and add no more than ½ cup total. The cake batter should be as dense and thick as possible. Fold in the sprinkles and white chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and add a few more sprinkles on top, if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes or just until the edges turn golden brown. The blondies will still be gooey in the middle. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes so the center sets, before cutting into squares.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Caprese Burgers

Happy (early) Labor Day! This weekend happens to be one of my favorite weekends of the year and not just because of the extra day off from work. Labor Day ushers in the end of summer and start of fall. Our days are still warm but when the sun disappears from the horizon the temperature drops and out come the sweatshirts. Even with the cooling temperatures the garden is still flourishing. The recipes you will see here in the next couple of weeks will be aimed at using up my summer vegetable bounty.

One of my favorite ways to use late summer produce is the caprese salad or insalata caprese if you are feeling fancy. The classic caprese is a simple summer salad made with fresh tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and pungent basil. This recipe combines those same flavors into a delicious burger that is perfect for late summer cookouts.

Caprese Burgers
recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

2 ½ pounds ground sirloin beef
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella,  sliced into ¼ inch-thick slices, patted dry with paper towels

Pesto Mayonnaise:
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Basil Pesto

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
8 hamburger buns, halved
4 medium tomatoes, sliced into ¼ inch-thick rounds

For the burgers: Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Combine the beef, 1 cup basil pesto, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Form the mixture into eight 4-inch-diameter patties, each about ¾ inch thick. Grill for 5 minutes. Turn the burgers over and place a slice of mozzarella on top. Cook for about 5 minutes longer until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is slightly melted. Allow the burgers to rest for 5 minutes.

For the pesto mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and basil pesto until smooth.

To assemble the burgers: Drizzle the cut side of the hamburger buns with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Place the burgers on top and add 1 or 2 tomato slices. Add the top halves of the bread and serve. I like to top the burgers with fresh basil leaves and pass the pesto mayonnaise on the side.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pizza Puffs

These pizza puffs make an excellent one-bite appetizer that only takes minutes to prepare. The original recipe uses pepperoni but my family prefers ham on their pizza. You can get creative and mix in your favorite pizza toppings. Try these with ham, diced green pepper, and pineapple for a Hawaiian flavored twist!

I like to make a double batch of pizza puffs and freeze them for a quick snack. Freeze the baked puffs in a single layer on a baking sheet then transfer to a freezer bag to store. To reheat, bake the frozen puffs on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes until warmed through.

Pizza Puffs

¾ cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¾ cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 ounces cooked ham, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)
½ cup Fifteen Minute Tomato Sauce or store-bought pizza sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning and garlic powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and ham. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, microwave the tomato sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 tablespoon basil. Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining 1 tablespoon basil.

Serve the puffs with the tomato sauce for dipping.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Amazing Corn Chowder

From cold preparations in the summer to warm preparations in the winter, I am a big fan of the power of soup. I can always throw together a quick soup dinner on using random bits of leftover veggies, meat, rice, pasta, you name it. The possibilities are endless! Soup is also a great way to transition from the summer to fall. The weather in my area has started the slight shift that ushers in the fall. Our days are still warm but the nights have started to cool down enough to require a sweater or light jacket. A warm bowl of soup made with fresh summer corn is the perfect way to greet the changing season. Don't forget to  freeze some of your fresh corn so you can enjoy the sweet taste of summer in the coming months.

Amazing Corn Chowder
recipe slightly adapted from Stiring the Pot originally from Ms. enPlace adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless

3 large ears of fresh sweet corn or 2 1/2-3 cups freezer corn, defrosted
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups milk, plus more if needed
1 cup heavy cream
½ tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce, or to taste

To garnish:
crumbled feta cheese
minced cilantro

If using fresh corn, husk and remove silk. Cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. Scrape the remaining bits of corn from the con with the end of a spoon. You should have 2 1/2-3 cups of corn. Transfer to a blender or food processor. If using defrosted frozen corn, just place in a blender or food processor.

Heat half of the butter in a small skillet. Add the onion and cook until soft, 6-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add this mixture to the blender, along with the cornstarch and ¼ cup water. Process until smooth. If using a blender, you'll have to pulse the machine and stir several times--but do not add more liquid. Once the blades break up the corn, there will be enough moisture.

Melt the remaining butter in a medium-large saucepan on medium heat. Add the corn puree and stir constantly for several minutes until thick.

Whisk in the milk, partially cover, and simmer about 15 minutes. Over medium-low, stirring often. Strain through a sieve. Rinse out the pan, and add the soup back in. Stir in the cream, salt, and hot sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Ladle into bowls and garnish with crumbled feta cheese and minced cliantro.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Grilled Flank Steak with Soy Sauce and Garlic

Soy sauce is one of those condiments that always seems to be floating around in my refrigerator. I typically use it with Asian cuisine but I have also used it to add depth of flavor to soup. It never crossed my mind to use soy sauce as a base for a marinade until I came across this recipe on Epicurious. Genius! Flank steak is a great cut of meat but it can be tough if not prepared correctly. This method of marinating and quick grilling will produce a perfectly seasoned and juicy steak every time. I served this steak alongside Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa and Corn and leftover Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Grilled Flank Steak with Soy Sauce and Garlic
recipe courtesy of Epicurious

¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ to 2 pounds flank steak

To make the marinade, whisk together all ingredients except the flank steak.

Pour the marinade over the flank steak. Make sure steak is well covered in the marinade, and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours, turning the bag every couple of hours for even marinating.

Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade, and shake off excess. Discard the garlic. Use a paper towel to blot the flank steak dry. This will allow the meat to brown and caramelize on the grill.

Grill the steak for 4 to 5 minutes on each side (about 9 to 10 minutes total) for medium rare. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing across the grain at an angle.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa and Corn

If you are a regular blog reader than you may have noticed that my posts have been sporadic over the last several months. I have many excuses reasons but let's just say that life (only good things) got in the way. I hope to return to a regular posting schedule now that I have more free time. 

I made these stuffed tomatoes to accompany Grilled Flank Steak with Soy Sauce and Garlic. Leftovers either warm or cold make a perfect lunch the next day.

Baked Tomatoes with Quinoa and Corn
recipe adapted from Pink Parsley

4 ears corn
1 cup chopped red onion
6 large ripe tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon chile powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces Colby Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)

Preheat the broiler to high.

Place the corn and onions on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil, tossing once or twice, about 10 minutes, or until charred and blackened in spots. Remove from the oven and place into a medium bowl.

Preheat the oven 350°F.

Cut the tops off the tomatoes. Carefully scoop out the tomato pulp, leaving the shells intact. Drain the pulp through a sieve set over a bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve 1 ¼ cups of the tomato juices, and discard the pulp and seeds. Sprinkle the inside of the tomatoes with ½ teaspoon of salt (total, not each). Invert the tomatoes onto a lint-free kitchen towel and stand 30 minutes. Blot the insides of the tomatoes dry with a paper towel or kitchen towel.

As the tomatoes drain, cook the quinoa. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well under cold water, stirring as you rinse. Drain well. Combine the quinoa, reserved tomato liquid, ¼ cup water, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Add the quinoa to the bowl with the corn and onions, and stir in the cilantro, scallions, olive oil, lime juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, cumin, cayenne, chile powder, pepper, and ½ cup cheese. Spoon about ¾ cup of the quinoa filling into each of the tomatoes. Divide the remaining cheese evenly over the tops and bake about 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. 

Remove from the oven and serve.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Italian Zucchini Pie

It's that time of year when gardens and farmers markets are exploding with an abundance of zucchini. This recipe is a wonderful way to use the excess. I used a mixture of zucchini and yellow summer squash for color. Feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe in place of the crescent rolls.

Italian Zucchini Pie
recipe adapted from Pillsbury

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups of thinly sliced zucchini, about 1/8-inch thick
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls
2 teaspoons yellow mustard

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, onions, and garlic; cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

In large bowl, mix eggs, heavy cream, and cheese. Add cooked vegetable mixture; stir gently to mix.

Spray a pie pan with cooking spray and unroll each crescent roll as if it were a pie slice, gently pressing the pieces together to make a crust. Firmly press perforations to seal. Spread crust with mustard. Pour egg mixture evenly into crust-lined pie plate.

Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of foil during last 10 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Asparagus and Baby Artichoke Quinoa Salad

Sorry for posting this recipe at the end of asparagus season. I have a little catching up to do.

Asparagus and Baby Artichoke Quinoa Salad
recipe courtesy of Closet Cooking

8 baby artichokes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
½ cup Asparagus and Ramp Pesto
½ pound asparagus (trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces and blanched)
1 cup chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
¼ cup feta (crumbled)
1 splash lemon juice

Peel the leaves from the artichokes until you get to the paler tender inner 2 leaves. Cut the top third off and discard and cut the artichoke in half.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the artichoke hearts and sauté until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add the quinoa and broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Mix everything and serve.

Asparagus and Ramp Pesto
recipe courtesy of Closet Cooking

1 cup asparagus (cleaned, trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces and blanched)
¼ cup spinach (optional, helps keep the pesto nice and green)
2+ ramps (aka wild leeks)
2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted)
¼ cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
3 tablespoons olive oil
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Place everything into a food processor and blend. Makes 1 cup.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Love Is Sweet!

Sorry it's been so quiet around this blog the past couple of weeks. I have been busy crafting like a mad woman in preparation for my sister's bridal shower. I will be back to my regular recipe posts next week but today I am sharing some of the shower details.

When I plan a party I like to have a theme to tie everything together. The theme for my sister's bridal shower was Love Is Sweet. I love any reason to indulge in my favorite sweet treats! 

Shower Parfaits: gifts for the shower hostesses. I took a large wine glass and put a mesh sponge in the bottom and added a shower gel and body lotion from Bath and Body Works. I created gift tags that read "Thank you for making our shower so sweet" and tied with pink and white bakers twine.

Lollipop Escort Cards: I applied ribbon to a block of green styrofoam with a hot glue gun and used a lollipop favor kit from the craft store for the escort cards.

Faux Cupcake Table Numbers: I made these cupcakes to hold the table numbers used to direct guests to the correct table. I cut the hearts and numbers with my Cricut. Please don't take a bite, these sweet cupcakes are are not for eating!

Soda Fountain Centerpieces: each centerpiece had a large and small soda glass with pink and white carnations, glittered cherries and striped straws on top of a charger plate.

Cookie Favors: 3 mini pink ombre heart shaped cookies that read Love is Sweet. I created gift tags that read "It was so sweet of you to come" and packed the cookies in Chinese takeout boxes tied with ribbon.

All of the above pictures were taken with my phone in the days leading up to the party since I foolishly forgot to bring my camera to the actual shower. I hope you enjoyed this peek into my sister's bridal shower!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Corn Cakes with Tomato Avocado Relish

You can make bite-sized corn cakes to serve as appetizers or larger cakes served with a salad for a light lunch or dinner. Feel free to use defrosted frozen corn in place of fresh if it is not in season. I prefer to use fresh corn that was frozen at the height of the season. To make your own freezer corn, remove the husks and rinse the cobs to remove any remaining silks. Stand each ear in a large shallow bowl and cut the kernels from the cobs. Blanch the kernels in boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes then remove the kernels to a ice water bath to cool down. When the corn is cooled, remove from the ice water and pat dry. Fill a zip-top freezer bag about half full, remove the excess air, and zip the bag closed. Flatten out the bag of corn and label the bag with the contents and date. Transfer the bags to the freezer and enjoy the flavor of fresh corn no matter what season it is.

Corn Cakes with Tomato Avocado Relish
recipe courtesy of  Annie's Eats originally adapted from Ezra Pound Cake, originally from Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen

For the corn cakes:
3 large ears of corn, shucked
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup red onion, finely diced
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

For the relish:
1 large tomato, cored and chopped
1 scallion, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of half a lime
1 ½ teaspoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced
Ranch dressing, for serving (optional)

Cut the corn kernels off of the cobs and place in a large bowl. Place 2 cups of the corn kernels in the food processor and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly pureed but still chunky. Scrape the mixture into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels. Add the flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix well. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and butter, and stir just to combine.

To make the salsa, combine all of the ingredients except the avocado in a medium bowl and mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 days. Just before serving, mix in the avocado.

Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan and heat until sizzling hot. Scoop the batter into the skillet a heaping tablespoon at a time, cooking the cakes in batches of 4 or 5 so that they are not touching. Fry 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the cooked cakes to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve immediately topped with the relish and served with ranch dressing, if desired.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tortellini Soup

This simple soup is perfect for those nights I am craving comfort food. Most people think that comfort food has to be heavy and take a long time to prepare. That is not the case with this soup. It is light and comforting and takes less than 30 minutes to put together. 

Tortellini Soup
recipe courtesy of
Annie's Eats slightly adapted from The Well-Fed Newlyweds via Tasty Kitchen

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
15 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
9 ounces tortellini, any variety (fresh or frozen)
3 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan, for serving

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the pan and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Mix in the oregano and diced tomatoes. Add the stock to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the tortellini to the pot and cook according to the package directions. One minute before the tortellini is fully cooked, stir in the spinach. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with grated Parmesan as desired.