Sunday

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs ~ An easy and make ahead appetizer!


I wanted an easy, make ahead appetizer that I could freeze for the Holidays.  This little recipe fit the bill for me and they were a big hit too!  What I really liked about this recipe, is you get all of that great buffalo chicken wing flavor, without the mess with the wings!

I made the meatballs one evening, put them on the cookie sheet and froze them.  When they were frozen, I transferred them to plastic containers and sealed them for two weeks before I was planning on serving them.  I took them out of the freezer 1/2 hr. prior to baking.  So, so easy to do and have on hand!

I found it on shrinkingkitchen.com, in case you want her recipe as I adapted it just a bit!

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
 
      
Ingredients
1 pound lean ground chicken
1 egg
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 carrot (medium)
1 stalk celery (medium)
2 green onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ounce crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup Frank's Hot Sauce (or your favorite), divided
1 tablespoon butter

Step by step
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. (If making the same day) 
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment 
  3. Cut the celery, carrot and green onion into large chunks and throw into a food processor.
  4. Pulse to chop into small bits.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture, chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt, 1/2 the hot sauce and the blue cheese.
  6. Gently fold together to combine, but don't overmix.  *Regrigerate the mixture for at least an hour, before making the meatballs, they are too soft and sticky otherwise.
  7. Form the mixture into small meatballs - you should get about 28 small meatballs. *I used a teaspoon to measure the size, as I wanted small ones. 
  8. Place the meatballs on the cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 18 minutes.
  10. While the meatballs are baking, put the rest of the hot sauce and the butter into a microwave safe dish.
  11. Microwave about 30 seconds, until butter melts.
  12. Stir well to combine.
  13. Remove the meatballs from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  14. Place the meatballs onto a serving dish and drizzle with butter/hot sauce mixture. *Or to be on the safe side, in case you have guests who don't like things too spicy, serve the hot sauce as a dipping sauce on the side.
 
 
 
 
Nutrition
WW PP 4; Calories 157; Total Fat 8.7g; Saturated Fat 3.5g; Trans Fat 0.0g; Cholesterol 87mg; Sodium 741mg; Total Carbohydrates 5.8g; Dietary Fiber 0.6g; Sugars 0.8g; Protein 13.8g

Saturday

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake ~



I love making ice cream cakes, they are so easy to make and are always a big hit for any holiday or get together you may have.  Kids especially love these and my grands will ask me to make them one for their birthday, with their favorite ice cream flavor and mix- ins.

These cakes take about 15 minutes to make, but it look like it takes you hours to do.  Each Christmas I make this one, because it's the only time I can find peppermint ice cream at the grocery stores.  And what kid or adult for that matter doesn't love peppermint or candy canes.

I came up with this recipe years ago, after I bought one at the grocery store.  I thought to myself, "how hard can this be? " And how terribly expensive it is to buy them too.  They have been a real favorite of my family and friends and I love knowing that I am giving them something home made.

Ingredients:

1 half gallon of  softened Peppermint Stick Ice Cream (I buy mine at Whole Foods)
1 package of Mint Oreos, crushed in food processor
1 bag of Andes Mints, chopped
1/4 cup of crushed candy canes
1   8" inch spring form pan
1/2 cup chocolate sauce
1 can of Real Whip cream (optional)

Take one cup of crushed oreos and press into the bottom of your springform pan.  By tablespoons, spoon 1/2 of your ice cream to make a layer of ice cream.   Sprinkle 1/4 cup of oreos over ice cream.  Drizzle 1/4 cup chocolate sauce over top.  Next, sprinkle 1/2 of thecrushed candy canes over top.  Then repeat with the ice cream, starting at the center and working outwards.  You don't have to fill in every spot, because on the edges you can add extra crushed oreos.  Nothing needs to be perfect at all!  :)  With the back of your spoon, spread the ice cream layer to smooth out the top a little.  By the spoonful, make an outer edge filled with the oreos and add some crumbs in the center to make a circle. Drizzle chocolate over top (I go easy on this part).  Then sprinkle the top with more crushed candy canes and andes mints.  Cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, place in freezer until ready to serve.  Take out of freezer 15 minutes before serving.  Release the spring form pan sides and smooth sides with a knife if needed (I don't bother).  Add crushed candy canes to side if you would like.  Place on cake platter and decorate with the around the edge of cake with canned whip cream if you would like.


They are so easy to do, I made two ~  I have two places to go for the Holidays and thought each house would like one!

Sunday

Snowbaking ~ Chcolate chip, coconut, oatmeal cookies....



Yes, it's a new word, at least for me.  We were snowed in today, so I decided to bake... so yep, it's snowbaking!

These cookies are chunky, chewy with chocolate chips, oatmeal and coconut in them.  And I made them for gifts for Christmas, for a few friends.  They are pretty low in sugar and fairly healthy too (no butter at all).

Here's the recipe:  (Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

  • 2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-½ cups Quick Oats
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1-½ cups Walnut Oil
  • 1-½ cups Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2  Egg
  • 4 teaspoon coconut milk
  • 3 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups shredded Coconut
  • 6 ounces, Semi-sweet Chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In large bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In bowl of an electric mixer, beat together oil and brown sugar until smooth. Add in egg, milk and vanilla and coconut extract. Beat again for 2 minutes or until smooth.
Add in flour and oat mixture to the wet ingredients; mixing until well combined. Slowly add in coconut and chocolate chunks.
Drop dough with cookie scoop or by large rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-13 minutes or until edges just being to turn a golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire rack to finish cooling
.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.


  
YUM!

 



Tuesday

Chocolate Peppermint Snowflake Candies ~

 
 
 
 
Want an adorably delicious and easy homemade chocolate gift for someone special this year?  Look no further.  Have I found the perfect gift for you.

I saw these on a blog last year, Baked by Rachel and I thought they looked so intricate that I could never possibley make them. But after reading how easy they were I wanted to give them a try.  I'm all about easy, so if I can do them, you can do them.  Promise.  So, I bought one of the silicone snowflake molds that Rachel suggested.   If you don't have them at your local stores, then they are available on Amazon.


Snowflake Peppermint Bark - adapted



Ingredients:

5oz or dark chocolate
 5oz white chocolate
1 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1/3 tsp peppermint extract, divided
2 crushed candy canes

Directions:

In a small to medium sized bowl add milk or dark chocolate and 1/2 tsp vegetable oil. Melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power. Stir well after each 30 seconds. When fully melted, add 1/4 tsp peppermint extract. Stir well.
Using a small spoon, divide chocolate among mold cavities. Sprinkle with crushed candies, making sure the powdered and small pieces are used for bottom layer.  Drag melted chocolate into outer edges of mold with a toothpick, getting into crevices .

Repeat process with white chocolate. Remove from molds after fully hardened. Store in the fridge.

*Makes 6 snowflake peppermint bark pieces, if using this mold. Double ingredients for thicker (like pictured) or for 12 snowflakes.


I'll paraphase it here for you though.  I tweaked mine a bit also.

Mine took all of 1 minute to finish.

Take a tablespoon and pour the dark chocolate in the center of each snowflake mold and then tip the mold gently from side to side.  With a toothpick, drag some of the melted chocolate into the outer edges.  Sprinkle some of the finer pieces of candy cane pieces over each snowflake and place in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour.

Enjoy

I bought my snowflake mold on Amazon.  I used good chocolate because these were for a gift, I think that is the key in this recipe.

 They look amazingly adorable for so little work, don't you think?




Thursday

Roasted, carmelized fennel steaks ~



I don't love the winter.  I am such a warm weather person, that often I wonder why I don't live down South.  However, I was born here and it's been the only home I have known.  And in my book, "home is where the heart is".  So Boston is where I'll stay, happily so.... most of the time. 

There are a few things I do love about the winter though and one of them is it's a time for cooking and baking.  I love having roasted root vegetables every night for dinner.   Some wonderful aromatic food gets prepared in my house during this season and one of my very favorites is roasted vegetables.

I do all of my root vegetables the same way, just roast at a high temperature in the oven and they caramelize on their own.  Other than pre-heating your oven, cutting your vegetables uniformly and sprinkling with a little salt, pepper and olive oil, there is nothing else to do.  And they taste heavenly too.  Just place all of your cut vegetables a little bit apart, so they will roast and not steam, turn your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.   Place a half sheet pan on the middle of your oven and put the timer on for 15 minutes and remove the sheet from the oven, turn the vegetables over for another 10-15 minutes.  Serve one, maybe two steaks per person.

This week, I started slicing my fennel from top to bottom in 1/2" slices instead of wedges and they look so amazing and the taste is out of this world.  No coring them, no waste at all!  Fabulous tasting, easy to make.  How great is that?  Just look at these beauties right from the oven.  Place a slice on each person's plate as one serving and that's it!  And what a gorgeous presentation they make for a side dish too.



Another way I serve fennel, is roasted with Yukon gold potatoes.  It's a marriage made in heaven, trust me.  The flavors are exceptional together.  I wedged both the potato and fennel and placed them in the oven to roast at the same temperature and time.   Don't they look amazing too?


So, while it may be winter and it may be cold and dreary here.  These two dishes warm my heart.  Did I mention that they are low calorie and good for you too?

A big yum for me!

I'm joining Michael Lee on Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm this week.




Monday

Flour's Famous Banana Bread Muffins (adapted)





Flour's Famous Banana Bread (Adapted)

Recipe courtesy Chef Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston

I have been meaning to make this bread for a long time, it comes from a very famous chef from a wonderful bakery here in Boston, Flour Bakery.  I always have ripe bananas stored in my freezer, peels on, just waiting to be used.  Don't worry that they turn all black, their heavy skins protect the delicious banana inside.  And let them sit outside of the freezer at room temperature, before removing the skins.  And you may need a knife to cut the top of the stem from the frozen banana, but then they peel easily.

This recipe calls for 3&1/2 bananas and I never understood why.  I mean, what do you do with the other half?  And I hate waste, so I decided to try upping the sour cream a bit to supplement the extra moisture with just using 3 bananas.  And it worked wonderfully in this recipe.  I also like to bake muffins, because I can share with friends instead of bringing the entire loaf.   So, I just baked them for 20-22 minutes and they came out moist and fluffy.
 
I also changed out the amount of nuts to only 1/2 cup, but added 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.  Just because I think a little hint of chocolate with bananas and nuts is nice.


Ingredients


  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 very ripe, mashed
  • 1/4 cup sour cream 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

MUFFINS:
Spray and line 3 regular sized muffin tins.  I use a regular ice cream scoop and pour 1 scoopful into each.  Place in a 350 degree (F.), oven, middle rack for 20-22 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes and invert onto a plate.  Put muffins on cooling rack for 15 minutes, seal in an airtight container.

Enjoy!


 
Just a side note, if you care to know!  My cutting board was made by my youngest son in high school.  He is now 34, and I still love it as much as the first day he gave it to me.  He is a gifted woodworker and has even made some furniture.  But, this board was one of his first pieces and I cherish it!

 

Cranberry sauce with Vodka, Cointreau and lime... Cosmo Cranberry Compote ~

 
I love Thanksgiving.  I mean what's not to love?  Family and friends all enjoying a leisurely meal together, which I don't know about your family, but in mine, doesn't happen often enough.  So when we can all be together, it's a very special day for me.

I also take time for special kinds of extra dishes, that I wouldn't normally serve on ordinary times.

This dish is one of them.  Before you go any further though, I must tell you that you don't cook off the liquor in this recipe.  The vodka and Cointreau is added after the dish has been cooked, so please serve it only to adults and no pregnant gals either.

So if you want to change up your kind of boring cranberry sauce this year?  Then here is a great version to make and it's so easy too!  You can also make it up to 2 weeks in advance and store it in your refrigerator in a sealed container. 

1 12 oz. package of fresh cranberries
1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/3 cup vodka
3 Tablespoons of Cointreau
Juice of 1 lime

In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, bring cranberries, water and sugar to a boil.  Turn down to medium low and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn off your stove.  Set aside.  Let it cool for 1/2 hour.

Add vodka and Cointreau, stir well.  Add lime juice and sitr.  Transfer to a container and seal tightly for at least two hours.

Serve with a thin slice of lime in the center.

I'm joining the lovely people at Rattlebridge Farms, for Foodie Friday today.  The link is on my side-bar.



Happy Thanksgiving ~



 

Sunday

Turkey Taco Soup ~



I lightened up Taco Soup, without losing any of the flavor. And like most of my food, it has a bit of a kick. It's easy and delicious too, which makes it a winner in my book.  At the end of the cooking process you can add a little tiny cooked pasta, cooked rice, baked tortilla strips, too.  And if you aren't worried about the calories, add a dollop of sour cream and thinly sliced avocado when you serve.  But, you don't have to because this soup is fantastic on it's own. 

Here's the recipe:

1 lb. lean ground turkey
3 medium carrots, small diced
3 stalks of celery, small diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 T. taco seasoning (I use Trader Joe's)
1 can of white or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can of petite canned tomatoes (8 oz.)
8 cups of chicken stock (low sodium)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 pound bag of fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 T. Kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a dutch oven, heat oil on medium heat.  Add onion and sauté on medium low for 5 minutes.  Stir in carrots and celery.  Saute for another 3 minutes and add in garlic.  Remove pan from burner.  Stir garlic so it doesn't burn.  Add 1 tablespoon of Taco Seasoning, stir.  Add salt and pepper and stir again.  Place pan back on burner and turn to medium.  Add in tomatoes and chicken stock.  Bring soup to a simmer and turn down to low.  Partially cover and let cook for about 15-20 minutes.  Add chopped spinach and turn stove off.  Cover the pot and let sit for 30 minutes.

Serve with suggestions above, or just eat it alone.  It's that good, it's that easy and it's very healthy and low cal.  When I eat it for lunch, I don't embellish it.  For a meal, I love adding sour cream, thinly sliced avocado and a sprinkling of cheese.

Enjoy!







Thursday

A very rustic Eggplant & Ricotta Galette ~





It had been a while since I made a galette and I was in the mood for something kind of different than my normal stir fry for dinner during the week.  However, I work during the day and coming home to long recipes isn't in my realm.  I want short cuts.  So I roasted the eggplant in the morning before I left for work.  I put them in a container and left them on the counter.  This made short work for my dinner! 

This one is made with baby eggplants, but I'm sure you can use the larger one, just make sure you buy the smallest size they have.  I cut them mine in half, because they were about the size of a golf ball.  If you buy a regular size eggplant, cut the slices into 1/2" widths.  Some people salt the slices and drain them for a few minutes.  Although I have never found that step necessary, unless you have a really, really large and old eggplant. 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Anyway, slice a large eggplant into 1/4" thickness or cut your small ones in half (I used 10 small ones), toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tsp. of kosher salt and roast  for 15 minutes.  Let cool for about 5 minutes.

In the meantime, either using your own pie dough or a store bought one, which I did, roll it out on a floured surface.  Transfer dough to a half sheet baking pan lined with parchment paper. Let sit for a minute while you get your cheese mixture ready.

Mix together, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella and 1 ounce of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

In a separate bowl, whisk one egg and 1 Tablespoon of cold water together.

Spread cheese mixture over dough, leaving a 2" border on the edges.  Place eggplant slices on top of cheese mixture in one layer.  I didn't have any mozzarella, so I used blue cheese.  Although I liked the flavor, I much prefer it with the ricotta/mozzarella mixture.  The blue cheese was just a little to pungent.  Stick with the ricotta.  It's sublime.


Now fold up sides of dough to encase the eggplant/cheese mixture.  Pleat the dough edges gently as you go.


Brush dough with the egg wash and grate more parmesan cheese all over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.


Let sit for a few minutes and serve.  By the way, I snipped the stem before I served it!  It makes a nice dinner dish served with a  green salad for accompaniment.



Joining the lovely people for Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm here:

http://designsbygollum.blogspot.com/

Butterscotch Tiramisu Cheesecake ~ easy and gorgeous too!



I wanted a special dessert for my grandkids combined birthday celebration because they are teenagers now.  And, I wanted something that not only tasted wonderful, but looked special too.  I found the original one on The Painted Apron's blog and fell in love with her presentation.  Mine is adapted, but just as nice I think.

This is a very easy cake to do and I made mine the night before and left it in a spring form pan overnight in the fridge.  The next day, I easily transported it to my oldest son's house.  Then I released the sides and tied my bow on it.  It was a huge hit.   But for me, I found it a tad sweet and I love chocolate so this lovely and easy cake wouldn't be my choice.  However, if you have teenagers or men in the house, they loved it!

Here's how to make it.

24 soft ladyfingers
4 T. melted butter, cooled
2 T. Cointreau liquor

Cheesecake/Tiramisu filling:
4 - 8oz. pkgs. of cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup of white sugar
4 eggs
2 T. Cointreau
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of butterscotch chips, plus more for the top decoration

Toast 12 split ladyfingers in an 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Watch after 7 minutes, so they don't burn.  Remove from oven.

Place toasted ladyfingers in food processer along with melted butter and 2 T. Cointreau.  Pulse until medium crumbs.  Press into the bottom of a sprayed 9 inch spring form pan. 

Place the rest of the split ladyfingers on the sides of the spring form pan, set aside.


In a large mixing bowl, using a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and white sugar together.  Add sour cream, brown sugar and remaining Cointreau.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Pour half the batter into the spring form pan (no need to measure).  It's okay if it's not perfectly half the batter.  Sprinkle the butterscotch chips in one layer over the batter.


Pour the rest of the batter over the top of the butterscotch chips and place in the oven for 55-60 minutes.  It will still jiggle in the middle a little.  Shut off oven, open door ajar for 1/2 hr.  Then remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for another 1/2 hr.  Place a row of butterscotch chips around the outside edge of the cheesecake.

At this point, you can place a piece of plastic wrap to cover the cake refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  Unmold sides.



I served it with Curtis Stone's Butterscotch sauce on the side.   But before I did, I tied it up with a pretty ribbon for a special night!



I'm joining the lovely Michele Lee West at Rattlebridge Farm, Foodie Friday....



 

Curried coconut cauliflower soup ~



It's soup weather again.... not my favorite time of year, but I love to be back in the kitchen again chopping and cooking.

And I love soup any time of the year, but the best time for me is now.  The weather is cool, the leaves have turned and I can add color to my dishes that our cold weather took away from our yards and gardens.

This soup is an adaption of one I found on foodgawker.  Their blogger put parsnips in it and I didn't have any, so I added a diced potato.  I thought the potato would add some creaminess to the soup without the extra calories of well, cream!

Here's the recipe.  The lime and cilantro brightens the flavors really well and makes it a very easy and delicious little meal.  Just add a salad to round it out and perhaps a slice of fresh bread. 

1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 granny smith apple, pealed and chopped
1 medium potato, diced (doesn't matter what kind)
1 large stalk of celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 15 ounce can of coconut milk
2 cups of chicken stock
1 whole lime, juiced
2 Tablespoons of fresh cilantro chopped
1 tsp. of curry powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 small pinch of nutmeg (optional)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt, divided

In a dutch oven, heat oil on medium.  Add onion and 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt.  Saute for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and wilted.
Add the celery, potato, cauliflower, apple, curry powder and salt. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes, turning it down to low if need be. (depends on your stove)
Add stock, coconut milk and bring to a simmer.  Turn stove on low and partially cover.  Let simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir in nutmeg and turmeric.  Turn off stove and let sit for another ten minutes and when it's cool enough use an immersion blender to make it smooth.  Add cilantro, lime juice and stir.  Adjust seasonings if needed.

Enjoy!

A sunset I captured at a friend's lakehouse in NH.  I love how the lake looks like glass.  Sad to say good bye to summer!



I'm joining Michael Lee West at Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday today ~
 

Penang Curry ~ Easy & yummy!



This curry tastes like restaurant quality, but it doesn't have all the labor intensive spices and ingredients that makes it practically impossible to do in a short time.  However, you won't notice the short cut in it's flavor.  This recipe short cut was given to me as a  tip by a Thai chef, who uses this short cut all the time.   And it tastes fabulous!

The tip she gave me comes in a can (sshh), Maesri Penang Curry paste.  It's the size of a can of tuna and it's packed with flavor.  I got my can at an Asian market, but check your ethnic section in your grocery store.  Or Amazon does carry it too.  Even if it doesn't say Penang Curry, look for any yellow curry paste. 

Add the contents of the can of paste to a medium sized stockpot, and pour in 1 can of coconut milk (15 oz).  Fill the coconut milk can with water and add that to the stockpot.  Bring to a simmer, add large diced chicken breast and simmer for 15 minutes on low.  Add a pinch of red pepper and shut of the stove.  You can serve it above as is, sprinkled with chopped green onion. Of course, it's even better with good Naan bread to sop up some of the sauce. 

Or  you can add sliced red pepper along with your chicken to cook and serve over cooked basmati rice.  Add a sprinkle of of cilantro at the end. 

It's wonderful either way and it tastes really yummy.



Enjoy ~

I'm linking to Rattlebridge Farm's  Foodie Friday here ~


 

Cucumber and Avocado Summer Rolls with homemade Peanut Dipping Sauce ~




I love ordering these rolls in an Asian restaurant.  I love the flavor of the dipping sauce too, it's yummy.  I knew I wanted to try and make these at home, they looked so easy to do.  But, I heard people say that working with the rice paper was tricky, or a pain to work with.  I am here to tell you that it is not.  It's almost easy.  The only little tricky part, is not to walk away leaving the rice paper in the bowl of water.  As a matter of fact, feel the rice paper with your fingers all around when you place one in the bowl.  You will feel how stiff they are.  Then in about 15 to 20 seconds, they turn pliable.  And that's when they are ready.  You just lift them up and out of the water, holding it over the bowl to let the excess water drip for a few seconds.  Then spread it out on your waiting towel and it will be good to go.  Another tip is to roll them kind of tightly, just like a burrito, rolling the sides in as you go.  You'll keep them together better and they will look neat and pretty.

Here's the recipe:


    Cucumber and Avocado Summer Rolls
    (adapted from Williams Sonoma 2008)
 
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar 
  • 1 Tbs.. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I used Planters)
  • 2  avocados
  • 20 rice paper rounds, 6 or 8 inches in diameter (I used the one with a Red Rose on front of pkg)
  • Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded (I used the large setting on a box grater) 
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled & cut into thin strips

 



In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar until the sugar dissolves; set aside.

Halve, pit and peel the avocados, and then cut them into thin slices.

Place a wide, shallow bowl of warm water on a work surface. Lay a clean kitchen towel next to the bowl. Dip 1 rice paper round into the water for about 20 seconds to soften, then lay it flat on the towel. . Using another towel, pat the top of the rice paper dry.

Center a lettuce leaf on top of the stacked rice paper. Starting about one-third in from the edge closest to you, arrange a few of the basil leaves in a line across the lettuce. Top with a small row each of the carrot, cucumber and avocado; be careful not to overstuff the roll. Lift the bottom edge of the rice paper up and over the filling and then roll once to form a tight cylinder. Fold in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll the paper and filling into a tight cylinder. Set aside, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rice paper and filling ingredients to make 10 rolls.

Cut each roll in half crosswise and arrange, cut side up, on a platter. Place the sauce alongside for dipping and serve immediately. Makes 20 rolls; serves 8 to 10.

Here's a picture I took of a hay field in NH, last week.  Fall is such a gorgeous time in New England, nothing quite like it.  Wouldn't you agree?




I've joined the lovely people at Rattlebridge Farms for Foodie Friday ~

 

Thai inspired soup ~ Red pepper, red lentil, carrots....

 
 
This soup is adapted from jillyinspired's website, I bumped into it while visiting Foodgawker.  I really liked reading about the twist of spices and flavors in this soup, but the color is what really caught my eye. And the use of cinnamon and ginger instead of cumin intrigued me. Hmmm, how would it be for a savory soup?  It turned out great and it's really a delicious little soup.  Plus you don't really detect the cinnamon, more of a warmth than anything else, not that I don't love cinnamon, but think of it more for desserts.  I did add a pinch of red pepper at the end of cooking, thought that would help with any hint of sweetness.  So it has a bit of a kick to it, but it's not overpowering at all.

And this soup is really easy to make, so that gets lots of points in my book. Oh,  it's also low fat and low in calories, a nice little bonus.

Here's the recipe:

1&1/4 cup of red lentils (I used Goya)
1 cup of carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 large red pepper
1 Tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. canola oil (I used grapeseed)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 jalepeno pepper, small diced
4 cups of chicken stock
1/3 cup of coconut milk (I use TJ's light)
1/2 fresh lime juice

Roast pepper either in oven at 450 F., for 15 minutes or under the broiler for 5 to 10 minutes.  Place in plastic baggie and set aside.  After it cools, peel skin off pepper and chop.

In a large dutch oven, sauté the onions and carrots on medium low heat for about 5 minutes.  Stir, every once in a while, you don't want the onions to brown, just wilt.  Add the jalapeno pepper, stir and cook for 1 more minute.  Add four cups of chicken stock, bring to a boil and turn down to low.  Add lentils, red pepper and ginger and cinnamon, stir and cover for about 25 to 30 minutes.  Take off stove, stir and let cool for ten minutes.  Use an immersion blender to make the soup as smooth as you like.  Add 1/3 cup coconut milk and stir.  Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lime at the end of cooking.  Let sit for 5 minutes and adjust seasonings.

I'm joining the lovely gals over on Foodie Friday today....

 


 





 

A special weeknight dinner ~



I don't usually cook a meal like this on a weeknight, nor have I cooked like this all summer.  But summer has come to an end.  And as sad as I am about that, I have accepted it as I do each Fall here in New England.  It's inevitable I suppose. 

So onward and upward we go into our cool weather cooking.

I bought a rack of lamb at Costco, if you have one near you, do pick one up.  It comes frenched, trimmed,  ready to roast and it's quite delicious.  The whole thing roasts in the oven in about 1/2 hr.  I did marinate it in yogurt overnight.  After it's cooked (between 130-140 degrees F.), take the roast out of the oven, let it rest tented in foil for about 20 minutes before you carve it.

I also made creamy, cheesy polenta to go with it.  A great and quick thing to make while the roast is cooking.  And it presents so well.  Just sprinkle some chopped, fresh parsley on top and it looks like you spent all day preparing.

While the roast was cooking, I served crab cakes, that I bought prepared from Whole Foods and cut them in half for a silver dollar size.  They come much larger than I needed for a first dish, but easily fixable.  Cut them while they are cold from the refrigerator.  Then just dust them lightly with panko bread crumbs and sautéed them with a little butter in a skillet for 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Plated them with red leaf lettuce and drizzled a red pepper remoulade over each.   I like Ina Garten's philosophy about entertaining, "buy some, cook some".  It's a great time saving tip.  But, buy the best....


However, dessert was the piece de resistance... and yet so simple.

A pint of good ice cream.  Just crush 4 oreo cookies.  Make a simple chocolate sauce:  1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, 2 T. cream, 1 tsp. butter.  Melt chocolate and butter in microwave for 1 minute (but do it in 15 second increments).  Stir in cream.  If you want put in a tsp. of brandy, I did.

Take a parfait glass and put a teaspoon of crushed oreos.  Scoop one scoop of ice cream in glass.  Add another teaspoon of crushed oreos, another scoop of ice cream.  Place in freezer, until 10 minutes before serving.  Take parfait out of the freezer and drizzle a couple of teaspoons of chocolate sauce over the top.  Simple, yet delicious!  I used Trader Joe's pumpkin ice cream.  It was dreamy.


I love entertaining ~





Roasted Kohlrabi ~ a taste of Fall...

 
I went to my favorite farm stand last weekend and couldn't believe how Fall magically appeared overnight!  Gone were all of the summer plants and greens and in came the witches, pumpkins and ghosts.  Gourds and root vegetables are everywhere.  Sigh.... summer is over, I must concede.

But I do love turning on my oven again, so roasting root vegetables returned to my table this week.  And how wonderful it was to smell something cooking in the kitchen again.  :)

Kohlrabi is one of my fall favorites, it's a wonderful, tasty root vegetable.  Although it's a bit odd looking and very underrated, it's delicious when roasted.

Here is what I do, it's easy, and excellent if roasted lightly brown and crunchy.  Almost reminds me of French fries.

See it on the left?  You have to slice off the top and bottom and use and apple peeler to take the tough exterior off.  It's a bit fibrous, but really not that hard to peel off. 

  

I have an easy trick though.  After you cut off the bottom and top, place it back standing upwards and peel the sides down in one fell swoop.  See the beautiful fruit exposed inside?


Next slice it into wedges, just like you would a steak fry.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, Fahrenheit.  Toss the slices with salt and pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil.

I like them a bit darker, but you can take them out of the oven after they are golden brown too.  I bake them on a half sheet pan for 15 minutes and then turn them over to bake another 15 minutes.

They are yummy as a side dish, pretty low cal too!

 
I've linked this to the very lovely site of Foodie Friday ~


Friday

Apple Walnut Carmel pull apart coffee cake ~


I needed a quick morning coffee cake to bring to friends.  I embellished one of those "monkey bread" recipe and my friends swooned over it.  Did I tell them it took me 5 minutes to throw together?  Nope!  One even said they wanted me to make it for their Birthday!  If they only knew....

It's a fabulous little cake that would be a great brunch item.  And it's quick to put together and as you can see, not so bad on the eyes either!

Here's the recipe:

1 large apple (baking, I used empire)
2 cans of regular size, refrigerator biscuits (I used Pillsbury)
1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
2/3 cup brown sugar, divided
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Peel, core and dice apple.  Take biscuits out of cans, pull apart each biscuit and cut in fourths.  Add 1/3 cup of brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl, mix together.  Add biscuit pieces, stir together well.  Set aside.

Put butter, 1/3 cup sugar and chopped walnuts in the bottom of a molded Bundt pan.  Put pan in the oven for 5 minutes to melt butter.  Take the pan out of the oven.  Pour about half of mixture over the bowl with the biscuits and stir well.  Spoon the biscuit mixture into the Bundt pan, pressing down at the top to distribute evenly.  Place Bundt pan in the middle rack in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, until top is golden brown.

Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes.  Place a large plate on top of the Bundt pan and invert the cake onto the plate.

Serve warm.   The apples and walnuts make this simple cake just smell and taste heavenly!

Enjoy.....




Saturday

Spaghetti squash..... who knew?

 
My co-worker did.... she brought some in for me to try and it was delicious.  I decided to try to make some for myself.

And that it can be a very low calorie replacement for spaghetti.  I didn't believe it, but it can be.  And it's quite delicious on it's own.  But, I wanted to cut my calories/fat in half, while still enjoying a spaghetti dinner.  So, I made this spaghetti squash and replaced half of the amount of real spaghetti to my dinner and everyone loved it.

Just take one spaghetti squash (medium), and cut it in half length wise.  Pre-heat oven to 350 F.  Scrape out the seeds with a tablespoon and discard.  Spray a baking sheet with vegetable spray, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the cut side of the squash.  Place cut side down on baking sheet and place in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn over.  Add 1 cup of chopped, fresh, diced roma tomatoes.  Sprinkle with  1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese.  I used 1/2 cup for both halves.  Place back in the oven for 15 minutes on 375 degrees.  Now, you can serve this just as is.


Or, you can do what I did and serve it with roasted, baby eggplants, that were a fabulous accompaniment. Quite hardy too.  No meat needed for this meal!

 
 
And you can serve it like this....
 
 
 
Or you can scrape out the spaghetti squash with a fork after you bake it the second time (it comes out easily), and serve it along side of 1/2 cup cooked and tossed spaghetti (with a small amount of light spaghetti sauce). Add the roasted eggplant. And you have your Friday night spaghetti night with half the calories.  And you don't miss the meat either!

Just look at this dish.  Low calorie?  Yes.  Delicious? Yes. Did anyone feel deprived?  No, my guests loved it.  And most of all, I loved it and will make it again and again!