Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili

Soup and chili are one of my absolute favorites. I could and would honestly eat soup or chili for one to two meals a-day. This is why we have had to utilize the soup doctrine in our house. If the Hubbs says "no more soup" it is a firm no and I must cease and desist. This was a new one, I am really digging it, especially since it has gotten cooler at night I have been dreaming of winter squash..... that's normal and ok, right.

I made this one in the Crock-Pot, a fair amount of chopping but worth it. Here is a trick after you have scooped out the seeds on a butternut squash, toss it in the microwave for a few minutes, it will be way easier to peel.

Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each: cumin, chili powder and ginger (I went with hearty shakes of them all)
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
3 cups broth of your choice
1 28-oz. can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes or whatever your prefer
1 cup chopped green chiles
3 14-oz. cans black beans, rinsed, drained
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

assemble in your Crock-Pot:

Spray Crock-Pot with cooking spray and add garlic and spices, give them a swirl.

Add the remaining ingredients and give it all a stir. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. this one took about 5 hours and then we kept it at warm for a few hours before munching. This made a ton, we both had dinner and there was about eight servings put up in the fridge and freezer after that.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Apple Craisin Quick Bread

I received a surprise call last night. The Hubbs was going to get to come home for the weekend, I got a bit of a break from being a campaign widow! I preparation for that and to busy myself as to not fall asleep before the debates and before he arrived; since I would have to let him in the house (yes, yes, I "may" have locked myself out of the house which ultimately involved our door getting re-keyed in the past few days, but that is neither here, nor there....). Back to the bread, I adapted this from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook which is probably an underutilized resource in my cookbook collection.

Apple Craisin Quick Bread
1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
1 C sugar
1 C shredded apple (I used one MASSIVE honey crisp apple, I would venture that you would need at least 2 hearty apples or 3-4 very small-you loose volume while shredding)
1/4 oil
1 C Craisins (raisins, currants, chopped apricots, etc would be great as well)

Grease a larger loaf pan 8x4 or 9x5 and preheat oven to 350.
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside
In another bowl combine wet ingredients and add dry to it in a few batches and stir till moistened, then fold in the craisins.
Pour batter in the prepped loaf pan and place in the oven. Cook for about 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I added a bit of cinnamon sugar that we had in the cupboard on the top for funsies. According to the Hubbs this was a nice treat to come home to.

Daring Bakers: Gluten Free/Vegan Lavash with Fig and Olive Tapenade

The Challenge: Make Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. This challenge allows for large helpings of creativity and personality, with the crackers, your flavor choices for the crackers, and with your dip/spread choice. This challenge came from Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl.

I really liked this challenge, it was a nice break from sweets. I opted to go both gluten free and vegan; our household often cooks both intentionally vegan and accidentally vegan so I looked forward to trying my hand at gluten free as well.
The crackers turned out great and way tastier than the last version of crackers that I made I attribute that to the mix of flours in the gluten free flour that I used.

Gluten Free Lavash
Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) gluten free flour blend (I skipped the xanthan gum, cause I didn’t feel like running to the co-op)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

I used a bit of black and regular sesame seeds and a sprinkling of sea salt on the crackers. I also tried some rolled out and some using the glass-smoosh method. When I make these again I will definitely stick to the smoosh method. I layed out the parchment and then made a small ball of dough and then placed a bit of parchment over it and flattened it with a drinking glass the just peeled back the parchment. This took a bit longer, but made for a more consistent cracker.

Fig and Olive Tapenade
From Elana's Pantry
Fig Tapenade
1 cup dried figs
½ cup water
1 cup kalamata olives
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1. Place figs in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds, until well chopped
2. Add water and pulse to create a paste
3. Add olives and pulse until incorporated
4. Add olive oil, vinegar and thyme; pulse again for 30 seconds until tapenade is smooth

This was super tasty and would be a great with any number of other crunchy snacks, it was a great mix of sweet and savory.

Thanks for a great challege!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oatmeal Cranberry Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Glaze

For this months Cupcake Hero, bakers choice using two of the ingredients from the previous challenges, I opted for cranberry and cocoa. I hoped that these would be like a tasty cupcake variation on dark chocolate covered dried cranberries that I have been known to cram in my face from time to time.

Oatmeal Cranberry Cupcake
Adapted from Cupcake Project's Cinnamon Raisin Cupcake with Maple Glaze

1/2 C butter (1 stick) softened
1 1/2 C sugar
3 eggs
1 t vanilla extract

8 oz unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C cider vinegar
1 1/2 C oats
1 C flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t salt
2 C dried cranberries

Cream butter and sugar.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Add vanilla extract, applesauce, and vinegar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, a little bit at a time.
Fold in the dried cranberries.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 F for around 25 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean. I ultimately ran out of cupcake liners so I also made a few bigger mini cakes in ramekins, those took a bit longer.

Rich Chocolate Glaze
2 C confectioner's sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/4 C low fat sour cream
1/3 C milk (what ever you have on hand)
1/2 t vanilla extract

Toss the whole shebang in a bowl and combine well with an electric mixer. This is thick, but loose enough to pour on your cuppies if you prefer.

These turned out tastier than I thought they would and would definitely use variations of this in the future.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taking suggestions.....

I will be getting this blasted cast off next week (hopefully), and will get a good amount of my arm back, save for a brace of somesort. Aside from just basking in the glory that is called "washing my arm", what should I make? I have a couple challenges to catch up on so those are on deck, but what else?

Holler at me with ideas.

The one drawback is that the hubbs turns into a political pumpkin at pretty much the same time and will be gone through election day, so any local suggestions may have to help consume......

Saturday, September 13, 2008

no really, we have been cookin'

When I say our camera is holding everything hostage I am not kidding. The hubbs may or may not have sent the cable that connects our camera to the computer to long island.... and he may or may not have every memory card ever associated with our camera/computer stuck in his pocket in pants that he may or may not be wearing or in a pile in our room.

Either way, we had awesome figs and blue cheese, some heirloom tomatoes, Rich's most recent take on arepas(creamed corn rules), oh and steak that made me really happy that I started eating meat......
But, nothing to show for it....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Quick Panzanella

Yeah, I know the picture is terrible, but right now our camera is holding everything hostage, so we are left with camera phones.
I decided to make a quick Panzanella with some homemade bread and a wonderful heirloom tomato. I could probably eat this every day of my life. Just a bit of toasted up bread cubes, tomatoes, touch of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of parmesan cheese then munch away.....

farmers market haul

Nom, nom, nom.........

Here is a bit of our bounty from the farmers market yesterday. I cannot wait. We have some tasties lined up for the week. Look at those little eggplants, I seriously want to hang one around my neck as pendant!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lookie lookie!!!

One of my blogging peers and friend (like actual in-person!) just got a rad shout-out in our paper the Times Union.

Check out the wonderful blurb here

And check out the The Ridiculous Food Society

So exciting!