Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mediterranean Barley Salad

I have been making an effort to introduce new grains to my family, and barley is one of them.  I absolutely love barley - its healthier than rice and pasta, but still just as delicious.  It is also incredibly versatile, so I can't wait to play around some more and try some new recipes. 

I've had this recipe saved for quite some time, and I finally got around to making it a few weeks ago.  I think it is meant to be served as a main dish, but I actually served it as a side dish with Rosemary Grilled Chicken Thighs.  It was a perfect side, and it made perfect leftovers for lunches.  It can be served chilled, at room temperature, or warm, so it would be a perfect contribution to upcoming picnics and potlucks.

I made several changes to the original recipe.  First, I'm not a fan of raw fennel, so I omitted it.  I also added some red bell peppers, feta cheese, and fresh dill.  I think cherry tomatoes would also be a great addition, as would some cucumber. And if you really wanted to shake things up and go crazy, you could use cous cous instead of barley, or even make this into a pasta salad.

However you decide to make it, you'll definitely enjoy this light and fresh salad.

Mediterranean Barley Salad
adapted from Cooking Light, March 2010
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 pitted kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Bring the water and barley to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, and vinegar in a bowl.  Whisk to combine, and add the barley, onion, parsley, bell pepper, olives, beans, and salt and pepper.  Cover and allow to sit either at room temperature or chilled for 30 minutes.  Gently fold in the walnuts and feta, and serve.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Carrot Cupcakes

When I think of Easter desserts, carrot cake is the first thing that comes to mind.  I'm not really sure why it is considered the ubiquitous Easter cake, other than the fact that well, rabbits eat carrots?  In any case, I really like carrot cake:  it has a nice warmth from the cinnamon and nutmeg, and the carrots keep it sweet and moist.  I saw Annie convert Cook's Illustrated's version of a carrot cake into cupcakes last fall, and I decided to do the same thing when I set out to make these.

As far as difficulty goes, this is an incredibly easy recipe.  Peeling the carrots is by far the most time consuming step, but from there it comes together very quickly.  I also like that it is made in the food processor.  What a fun new use for it!  I used my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe (which, coincidentally, I also got from Annie), which I love using to pipe - so pretty!

I took these to a friend's birthday party, and they were enjoyed by all!

Carrot Cupcakes
adapted from Baking Illustrated
makes 24-28 cupcakes
  • 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, and preheat to 350.  Line 2 muffin pans with liners and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a food processor fitted with the shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups).  Add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside.

Wipe out the food processor and fit with a metal blade.  Process both sugars with the eggs until frothy, about 20 seconds.  Keep the machine running, and pour the oil through the feed tube.  Continue processing until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer.

Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, and stir in the dry ingredients and carrots.  Fold in until there is no longer any flour visible.

Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full, and bake for 18-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Frost, and serve.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Vegetable Risotto

So I know I just posted another spring vegetable recipe last week, but I couldn't wait to share this one as well.  You all know I love risotto, and I've been looking forward to making a spring version since... well pretty much since last summer.  I've had my eye on Ina Garten's recipe, but then I saw this one from Cook's Illustrated.  Now Ina and Cook's Illustrated are probably my 2 favorite recipe sources, so I wasn't sure which one to use.  It pretty much came down to calories, and this version is lighter.  I also like how it uses the "refuse" of the veggies and herbs to create a flavorful broth.

Risotto is typically a very rich dish, but this risotto somehow still tastes light.  I added some seared scallops to Joey's, but I kept mine vegetarian.  It was without doubt the lightest and freshest tasting risotto I've ever made, and I was floored when Joey said it was his favorite.    And at under 400 calories per serving, I'll definitely be making this again and again this spring.

Spring Vegetable Risotto
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Light and Healthy

  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley, stems reservd
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh mint, stems reserved
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), ends trimmed and reserved, spears cut on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound leeks, greens reserved, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and rinsed (about 4 cups)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Combine the minced parsley, minced mint, and lemon zest in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine the vegetable broth and water in a medium saucepan, and turn to medium-high heat.  Chop the tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough 1/2 inch pieces.   Add to the broth, along with the reserved mint and parsley stems, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard the solids, and return the broth to the saucepan.  Set over low heat and cover to keep warm.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the asparagus, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring often, until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.  Add the peas, and continue too cook until heated through, about 1 minute.  Transfer the vegetables to a plate and set aside.

Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil, leeks, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the pot.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8-10 minutes.  Uncover and increase the heat to medium.  Stir in the garlic, and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the ends of the kernels are transparent, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the wine, and cook, stirring often, until it has been completely absorbed, another 3 minutes.

Stir 3 cups of broth and continue to simmer, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed and the bottom of the pot is almost dry, 12 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup more broth every few minutes, as needed to keep the bottom of the pot from drying out.  Continue cook, stirring often, until the rice is al dente, 10-12 minutes.

Remove from heat, and vigorously stir in the cheese, butter, and lemon juice, then gently fold in the reserved asparagus and peas.  Season with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve immediately, sprinkling each portion with the gremolata.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Vegetable Soup

Spring has (finally) sprung!  And it is my favorite season, so get ready to see tons of recipes that take advantage of all the produce - asparagus, peas, artichokes, strawberries... We had an unusually cold winter here in Atlanta, so I can't even begin to tell you how happy I was today when the high was 75.  Love it!  What I don't love, however, are the allergies that come along with the beautiful weather.  As a matter of fact, I have had some serious allergies over the past few days, and the day I made this soup I was so sick, and really just wanted comfort food.

I didn't have too high of expectations, for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, while I do like peas, I didn't know that I would like them as a main ingredient.  I also was a little unsure of the mint.  I love mint flavored desserts, but I was afraid it would overpower the delicate flavors of the vegetables.  On the contrary, I think it just gave the whole soup another boost of flavor, and it really just tasted nice and fresh.

This recipe is from Ina Garten, and its actually called Fresh Pea Soup.  However, I also added asparagus, and I topped it with some sauteed mushrooms.  I saw a similiar recipe in Better Homes and Gardens that had these as a garnish, and I loved the idea.

On a day when the temperature is in the 70's, I certainly didn't want a heavy soup with rich ingredients.  This soup was comforting and tasty, but still very light and fresh.  I gave a bite to Caroline, and she kept coming back more more!

And as shallow as it sounds, I think my favorite part of this soup is its gorgeous bright green color!

Spring Vegetable Soup
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa at Home
serves 6
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (about 2 leeks)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow or spring onion
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends removed, and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 5 cups freshly shelled peas (or 2 10-ounce packages of frozen peas)
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (or creme fraiche, or sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
Heat a large saucepan or stockpot over medium-low heat.  Add the oil, and heat until shimmering.  Add the leeks and onion, and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the onion is tender.  After 2-3 minutes, add the asparagus, and stir often.

Add the chicken stock, and increase the heat to medium-high.  Bring to a boil, and add the peas.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until they are tender (if using frozen peas, they will only take 3 minutes).

Take the soup off heat and add hte mint, salt, and pepper.

Place 1 cup of soup in a blender, and puree on low speed.  With the blender still running, open the venthole and slowly add more soup, a few ladles at a time.  Continue to do this until the blender is 3/4 full.  Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until it has all been pureed.

Melt the butter in a small skillet.  Saute the mushrooms until they are brown and softened.

Whisk in the Greek yogurt and chives, and taste for seasonings.  Serve hot, topped with mushrooms, and sprinkle with additional chives.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pad Thai

It has been a long time since I've ordered Thai take-out food, much less eaten Pad Thai.  I used to pick it up quite regularly as a single girl living in the city, but now that I'm a suburban housewife my Thai take-out days are gone.  And now that I know how to make Pad Thai, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  Its hard to find good Thai food, so I was of course super excited to see Cook's Illustrated take it on. 

Some might think that this requires advanced kitchen skills, or fancy ingredients.  Well, as long as you can chop, you can make this.  I'd highly recommend having everything chopped and prepped before you start cooking since it comes together very quickly.  As for the fancy ingredients... well, I had to substitute some things, and omit others, but the result was still fantastic!  I couldn't find tamarind, so I used their substitute of 1/3 cup lime juice + 1/3 cup water.  I also couldn't find the dried shrimp or Thai salted preserved radish.  I completely spaced out and forgot to add the bean sprouts as well.  It still tasted great, but I'm going to be on the lookout for these ingredients from now on, so I can try the real thing.

Joey was a little skeptical when I told him what I was making for dinner, but he actually loved it.  And what's not to love?  Sauteed shrimp, rice noodles, crunchy peanuts, and a wonderfully delicious sauce - smooth, nutty, with enough heat to keep it interesting and addictive.

Pad Thai
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
serves 4
  • 2 Tablespoons tamarind paste or substitute (1/3 cup lime juice + 1/3 cup water)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water (if using tamarind)
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar (use brown sugar if you use tamarind sub)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces dried rice stick noodles
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt
  • 12 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons dried shrimp, chopped fine (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped Thai salted preserved radish (optional)
  • 6 Tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 3 cups (6 ounces) bean sprouts
  • 5 medium scallions, green parts only, sliced thin on a sharp diagonal
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • lime wedges, for serving
Soak the tamarind in the boiling water for 10 minutes.  Push it through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and fibers and extract as much pulp as possible.  Stir in the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and 2 Tablespoons of the oil.  Set aside.

Cover the rice sticks with hot tap water in a large bowl.  Soak until softened, pliable, and limp, but not fully tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain the noodles and set aside.

Beat the eggs and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large (preferably nonstick) skillet or wok over high heat until just beginning to smoke.  Add the shrimp and sprinkle with walt; cook, tossing occasionally, until the shrimp are lightly browned and opaque, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Off heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and swirl to coat.  Add the garlic and shallot, and saute over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring constantly, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the beaten eggs and cook, stirring vigorously, until scrambled and barely moist, less than 30 seconds. 

Add the rice noodles, dried shrimp, and salted radish to the eggs.  Toss with 2 wooden spoons to combine.  Pour the fish sauce mixture over the noodles.  Increase the heat to high, and cook, tossing constantly, until all the noodles are coated.

Scatter 1/4 cup of the peanuts, the bean sprouts, the cooked shrimp, and all but 1/4 cup of the scallions over the noodles.  Continue to cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are tender, about 2-3 minutes.  If they are still not tender, add 2 Tablespoons of water and continue to cook until they are.

Transfer everything to a serving platter, and top with the remaining scallions, the remaining 2 Tablespoons of peanuts, and the cilantro.  Serve immediately, passing the lime wedges separately.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Pork Medallions with Cherry Sauce

Sometimes on Friday nights I like to make a "restaurant style" meal, put Caroline to bed a little early, and have a date night at home.  Such was the case last Friday, when I made this meal.  This meal looks fancy, but is actually pretty quick to throw together.  I decided to wrap the pork medallions with bacon... well... because its bacon.  It created a little more work (wrapping the medallions, browning the sides in the pan), but the final result was quite delicious.  I did think the smokiness of the bacon played nicely off the sweetness of the cherry sauce.

I served this with a simple risotto and roasted asparagus (so excited for spring produce!), and we drank a lovely Oregon Pinot Noir with it.  All in all, a perfect date night meal!

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Medallions with Red Wine, Cherry, and Rosemary Sauce
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, The New Best Recipe
  • 1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 slices of bacon (preferrably Applewood smoked)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • salt and ground black pepper
Arrange the bacon on a microwave-safe plate, and cook 1-3 minutes, until several tablespoons of fat has rendered off.  Transfer the bacon to a paper towel and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, slice the tenderloin into 1-inch slices.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Wrap each medallion with a slice of bacon, cutting off the excess at the end if necessary.  Secure with a toothpick.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, until shimmering.  Working in batches if necessary, sear each medallion about 1 minute per side, or until nicely browned.  Use tongs to turn the medallions, so as not to scrape off the sear.  Turn each medallion onto its side and brown the bacon as well. Transfer the pork to a plate.

Set the now-empty skillet over medium-high heat and add the red wine and cherries.  Cook, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon, until the liquid reduces to 2-3 Tablespoons, about 2-3 minutes.

Increase the heat to high and add the broth, rosemary, and any accumulated juices from the plate of the medallions.  Cook until the sauce reaches the consistency of maple syrup, about 2 minutes.

Remove the toothpicks from the pork, and add the pork to the sauce, turned to coat.  Simmer to heat the pork through, about 1-2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the pork to a serving plate, and spoon the sauce over the meat.  Serve immediately.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Honey Mustard Chicken & Rice Pilaf

I was looking through my blog archives, and I noticed that I seem to have a lot of indulgent and calorie-dense recipes here.  The truth is, we eat a lot healthier than it appears on my blog.  I just don't always blog these recipes because they are so simple, or because it is a thrown together meal:  grilled chicken salads, veggie pasta dishes, a LOT of baked or grilled fish, and chicken, rice, and veggie dishes.  Which brings us to the honey mustard chicken. 

I have recently begun reading Clean Eating Magazine, and I am loving it!  This recipe was in the latest issue, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I would love it.  Honey Mustard is by far my favorite sauce and dressing, and I have really been loving kale recently as well.  It has taken me awhile, but I have finally gotten Joey to admit that its pretty good too.  And Caroline absolutely devours it.  So needless to say, this dish was a winner all around.

Its a very simple recipe, first sauteing the chicken, then the vegetables, mixing with brown rice, and topping the whole thing with honey mustard.  I doubled up on the veggies to pack even more nutrients into this dinner, and we loved it that way.  Easy, flavorful, and healthy.  My favorite kind of meal.

Honey Mustard Chicken
adapted from Clean Eating Magazine
serves 4
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • cooking spray
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 large bunch kale (at least 8 oz), stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
Cook rice according to package directions.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat for 1 minute.  Reduce heat to medium-high, and mist with cooking spray.  Saute chicken for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Mist the same pan again with cooking spray, and add the onion, kale, and red bell pepper.  Saute until just cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  Add rice to the vegetables and saute until warmed, about another 2 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk together the honey, mustard, vinegar, oil, garlic, and 2 Tablespoons of water.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken and honey mustard and saute for about 3 minutes, turning chicken often to coat with sauce.

To serve, divide rice pilaf among 4 plates, then top with chicken.  Drizzle with remaining honey mustard, and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blueberry Scones

Most people say that they look forward to the weekends because they have time to make a bigger, more substantial breakfast.  Not me.  I have infinitely more time during the week (not that I make big elaborate breakfasts... Caroline and I love our oatmeal!).  We almost always have plans for Saturday mornings, whether its a tennis match, a road race, tailgate, or going to visit my family.  And don't get me started on Sunday mornings.  Nevermind that we have a permanent alarm clock that prevents us from sleeping past 7am, we always manage to be racing out the door for church with no time to spare.

So I actually am more inclined to want a grab-and-go breakfast on the weekend.  Which brings us to these scones. They certainly can be made the day you plan to eat them, but they are also perfect if you make them the night before, refrigerate, and then bake them off in the morning.  In fact, I have made them several times, and I feel like I get a higher rise when I prep them the night before and refrigerate overnight.  I'm sure that has to do with the butter being very cold and helping to produce the tall scones.  I also realized that I added the incorrect amount of baking powder, so that definitely had an effect as well!

The scones pictured were made and baked the same day, and they didn't bake up as high as they have previously.  But they still tasted fantastic!  Tender, moist, and sweet, with perfect little bursts of blueberry throughout.  This is definitely the most unusual technique for making the scones as well.

First, the butter is grated and frozen, so there are are nice bits of butter throughout the dough.  The dough is rolled out, then folded, and rolled out again, as if pastry dough.  And finally, the blueberries are pressed into the rolled out dough, and then the final dough is rolled up like a cinnamon roll, flattenened to a rectangle, and cut into the characteristic scone wedges. 

Here is the video from Cook's Illustrated that does a wonderful job demonstrating the techniques.
These are a huge favorite in our house, and I can't wait to experiment with more fruits - raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries all sound fabulous!

Blueberry scones
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
makes 8 scones
  • 8 Tablespoons cold butter, plus more for brushing
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, frozen
Grate the butter on the large holes of a box grater, and freeze.

Preheat oven to 425, and combine the dry ingredients.  Stir in frozen butter.  Whisk together the sour cream and whole milk, and stir into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until just combined.  The dough will be crumbly, but that's okay.

Turn out onto a well-floured surface, and knead a few times.  Roll out into a 12x12 inch square.  Using a bench scraper, fold the dough into thirds, then fold into thirds again in the opposite direction to form a square.  Roll the dough out into a 12x12 inch square again, and refold.  Place on a well-floured plate, and freeze for 5 minutes.

Roll out to a 12x12 inch square for a final time, and press the blueberries into the dough in a single layer.  Carefully roll up, as you would cinnamon rolls.  Press the roll into a 4-inch wide rectangle.  Using the bench scraper, cut into 4 rectangles.  Then cut each rectangle diagonally to make 2 triangles.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  At this point the scones can be baked or refrigerated overnight.  Brush with melted butter, then sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 18-25 minutes, or until golden-brown.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

BB: Individual Meatloaves

The first Barefoot Bloggers recipe this month was chosen by Tonya of What's on My Plate?  She chose Ina's Individual Meatloaves.  I can't say that I was super excited to make them, as I already have a favorite meatloaf recipe, but I gave them a shot.  I'm so glad I did, because they were easy to throw together, and totally delicious!   I made half the recipe, but now I wish I had made the whole thing.  The leftovers made great sandwiches the next day - I highly recommend toasting slices on some crusty bread with a slice of provolone on top. 

I stayed true to the recipe for the meatloaves, but I used Cook's Illustrated's recipe for the glaze.  To me, the glaze makes the meatloaf, and this one can't be beat!  I also used their method of cooking the meatloaves on a wire rack set atop a baking sheet, allowing the rendered fat to drain onto the baking sheet. 

Thank you Tonya, for yet another Ina success!

Individual Meatloaves
adapted from Ina Garten
glaze from Cook's Illustrated
makes 6 meatloaves
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion (2 large onions)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 pound ground beef (I used 85/15 ground sirloin)
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
For the glaze
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Preheat the oven to 350.   Wrap a wire rack with aluminum foil, and poke holes with a skewer or fork.  Set atop a baking sheet.

Heat oil in a skillet.  Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme, and cook until softened and translucent,but not browned, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, and tomato paste. 

Crumble the ground beef into a mixing bowl, and add the onion mixture, breadcrumbs, and eggs.  Lightly combine using a fork, being careful not to mash the mixture.  This will keep the meatloaves from being dense and tough.

Divide the mixture into six 10-11 ounce portions, and shape each into a loaf.  Line them on the baking sheet.  At this point they can be refrigerated for several hourse, or frozen.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until they reach 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.  Meanwhile, combine the ketchup, hot sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and coriander in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and cook until the glaze is thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. 

Using half the glaze, brush the tops and sides of each meatloaf.  Allow to cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until they reach 150-155 degrees.  Brush with remaining glaze, and place under broiler.  Broil an additional 5-10 minutes, and remove from oven.

Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chipotle Bean Burritos

We really don't eat out very often, and when we do, its either at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant, or its a  "date night," in which case we go to a restaurant that's not as child-friendly, and leave Caroline with a sitter.  However, every now and then we'll find ourselves out and about and want to just stop for something quick and easy.  One of our favorites is Moe's.  I really love their Homewrecker burrito, but at a whopping 900 calories, that's not something I care to eat on a regular basis, if at all.

When I saw these burritos in January's Cooking Light, I knew it was something we would enjoy.  Joey even commented that it reminded him of a Moe's burrito.  And at 360 calories, it is certainly a healthier option!  I actually made them even healthier by using nonfat Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream, whole wheat tortillas, and spinach instead of romaine (love those dark leafy greens!).  I also added some extra spices to the bean mixture.  All of my changes are reflected below.

These were super simple to make, and when I served them with some baked tortilla chips, guacamole, and homemade salsa, we felt like we were in a healthy Moe's!

Chipotle Bean Burritos
adapted from Cooking Light, January 2010
serves 6
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 Tablespoons fresh salsa
  • 6 10-inch whole wheat flour tortillas, warmed in microwave for 10-15 seconds
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, pepperjack, monterey jack, or a mixture)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
  • 6 Tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 6 Tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic, chile powder, chipotle chile, cumin, and salt, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the beans and broth, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and allow to simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in salsa, and mash lightly with a slotted spoon or fork.

Spoon about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture down the center of each tortilla.  Top each serving with about 2 1/2 Tablespoons shredded cheese, 1/4 cup tomatoes, 1/4 spinach, 1 Tablespoon green onion, and 1 Tablespoon Greek yogurt.  Roll tightly and serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BB: Baked Shrimp Scampi

It is a rare occurrence that I repeat recipes within a month.  I have an ever-growing list of recipes and ideas, so I'm more likely to try and tackle something new than I am to repeat something we've had recently.  So it says a lot that I've made Ina's Baked Shrimp Scampi twice within the last month.

The first time, I made it on January 31.  The day before February's Barefoot Bloggers recipes were announced.  So I sat tight on my picture, and was ready to post on February 25th.  And then... I forgot.  I don't know what came over me, but I just forgot to post!  I guess since I had been sitting on it for so long, it slipped my mind.  So anyway, here we are now.

This is one of the easiest recipes to throw together.  I probably spent less than 10 minutes prepping, then the scampi baked for another 10 minutes or so.  The white wine-butter sauce is rich and flavorful, with a nice burst of flavor from the lemon zest, rosemary, and garlic.  And the panko crust  gives that nice crunchy texture.  Such a simple dish, but it couldn't be any more perfect.  I suggest serving this over fresh pasta with some good bread. 

Thank you to Jill of Insanely Good Food for choosing this Insanely good recipe!

Baked Shrimp Scampi
adapted from Ina Garten, Back to Basics
serves 6
  • 2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons dry white wine
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup panko
  • lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat oven to 425.

Butterfly the shrimp by cutting along the outer curve of each shrimp, and opening like a book.  Do not cut all the way through, just deep enough to help them stand up.

Place the shrimp in a large mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, white wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  Set aside while you prepare the butter mixture.

In a small bowl, mash together the butter with the remaining ingredients, through the panko.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and mix to thoroughly combine.

Starting from the outside of a gratin dish or pie plate, arrange the shrimp in a single layer, cut side down, curling the tails toward the center of the dish.  Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp.  Drop the butter mixture over the top by the spoonful, and bake 10-12 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked through.  Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the top, and serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

BB: Coconut Cupcakes

So these coconut cupcakes were the first of February's recipes, but I couldn't resist waiting to post them until today - in honor of my birthday!!

I agonized over what cake to make for my birthday, and I had several frontrunners.  But alas, I have been watching what I eat in hopes of losing those last pesky 10 pregnancy pounds.  So I decided these could be my birthday cake.  Built in portion control.  AND I can give most of them away to friends and family.  So the decision was made.  A tiny part of me was a little disappointed that I didn't get to make some complicated dessert, but then I tried one of these cupcakes.  And they are fantastic.  Seriously delicious.

When I first set out to make them, I had planned on subbing the buttermilk with some coconut milk to amp up the coconut flavor.  Then, all the other Barefoot Bloggers went on and on about how much the buttermilk contributed.  So I decided to go with it.  I also had planned to toast the coconut that adorns the tops, but something about those pure-white cupcakes stopped me.  These are absolutely perfect the way they are.

Jamie of Jamie's Green Kitchen chose this recipe - thanks for choosing a winner, Jamie!!

Coconut Cupcakes
The Barefoot Contessa
makes 18 to 20 cupcakes
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded cocont
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 3/4 pound butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
 Preheat the oven to 325.  Line 2 muffin pans with liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low, and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in three additions, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined, and fold in 7 ounces of the coconut.

Fill each liner almost to the top with batter.  Bake 25-35 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, mix the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the vanilla and almond, and gradually add the confectioners' sugar.  Mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes with the cream cheese icing and sprinkle the tops with the remaining coconut.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore Risotto

Anytime the word 'risotto' is mentioned, I wax poetic about how much I love it, how great it is, etc etc.  Well I realized a few weeks ago, that I was certainly talking the talk, but I hadn't posted a new risotto recipe since October!!  So I added risotto to the menu for the week, and starting thinking.  I really enjoyed the Marsala Risotto, so I thought it would be fun to deconstruct another popular dish into a risotto.  I did a little research, and chicken cacciatore recipes are all different.  Some use red wine, some use white, different veggies are used in each, etc.  So I just kind of came up with my own based on what I had on hand.

I think it turned out great!  I have really been enjoying chicken thighs lately, and the red wine gave the risotto a nice deep flavor.  We served this with a side salad and some ciabatta bread, and we were both happy campers.

Chicken Cacciatore Risotto
serves 3-4 as a main dish
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley, minced
Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence.   Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Add the chicken and cook 5-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through.  Remove chicken and set aside.

Add 1 Tablespoon of the butter to the skillet.  When melted, add the shallot, and cook until softened, 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock and diced tomatoes to a simmer.  Cover and allow to simmer continuously.

Add the rice to the skillet, and cook, stirring continuously, until the edges are translucent.  Decrease the heat to medium-low.  Add the red wine, and stir continuously, until it is mostly absorbed.

Working 1-2 ladles at a time, add the chicken broth/tomato mixture to the rice, stirring constantly, until almost all the liquid has been absorbed.  After about 12 minutes, add the peppers and mushrooms to the rice mixture.

Continue adding liquid until the rice is cooked to al dente, about 20 minutes total.  Taste to check doneness.  When cooked to al dente, add 1 more ladle of chicken broth, and remove from heat.  Stir in the remaining Tablespoon of butter, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley.

Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces, and add to the risotto.  Divide evenly among serving plates, and top with more cheese and parsley.  Serve immediately.