Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

I think Fall has to be my favorite season. Not too hot, not too cold (except at night in our lovely hometown), beautiful foliage and some of my favorite seasonal produce like pumpkin, squash, cranberries, pears etc. So I will make it my business to use as much pumpkin and squash in as many recipes as I can this Fall and I've already made a list of ideas that will find its way to this blog- so if you aren't a fan of the orange veggies, consider yourself warned. Is it embarrassing to admit that thinking of what to make with pumpkin and squash has kept me up at night? Well, something about being exhausted but having gourds on your mind makes for great recipe ideas. This one was born around 1 am and I'm super proud of it. I  love the exotic-ness of adding the coconut milk while still getting the down home comfort feel of a soup and adding curry with the coconut is just like peas and carrots- destined for each other. The result is a creamy, slightly sweet and mildly spicy soup that just hits home. Enjoy!

1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 Tbl olive oil
2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
8 cups chicken stock or 8 cups water and chicken buillon
11/2 Tbl curry
1 can coconut milk (NOT cream of coconut)
3 Tbl brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the tablespoon of oil until the onions are translucent. Add the squash cubes, stock, curry, coconut milk, brown sugar and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook over low heat until the squash is cooked through about an hour. Blend with an immersion blender and serve.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Marinated Beer Can Chicken

My husband has been asking me to make Beer Can Chicken for ages but something about having a chicken hang out in my oven right side up has never appealed to me. Finally, being the good wife, I gave in but not before seriously tweaking the traditional recipe. Typically, beer can chicken is just a plain roasted chicken  who sits on a half empty beer can and roasts like that so that the fat can drip down the chicken and caramelize the skin and the evaporation from the beer can keep the chicken moist but with no beer flavor.
NO BEER FLAVOR?? So, then what the heck is the point?! Thus became the logic for me marinating the chicken first in some of the beer and lots of other yummy stuff before I let  Mr. Chickie dangle rather uncomfortably (imagine you sitting on a little beer can for two hours!) on his toasty can. The marinade smelled so good that had it not had killer amounts of potential e-coli in it I would have drunk it with a straw. I have to admit, though, that at points I did feel uncomfortable as I checked on the chicken because it looked so...alive...sitting there that way, like an old man sitting in front of a T.V is the image that came to my mind (look at the picture and you'll see what I mean, head drooped over, drooling)- but I got over it when the delicious aroma hit me. So if you have no qualms about harassing a chicken with a beer can then make this chicken today!!

1 whole chicken
1 can beer
2 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
2 heaping Tbls whole grain Dijon mustard
4 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl oil
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper

Combine one cup of the beer (save the rest and the can!) and the other marinade ingredients in a shallow pan. Marinate the chicken in it for a few hours or overnight. Place the can half full with beer in a roasting pan and sit the chicken firmly on the can. Roast at 350 for 2 hours basting occasionally if you want with the pan juices.

All lathered up and ready for the Beach:

All tanned and delicious- (sorry for the backside view!)


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ranch Dressing

Well, I can tell you this- I never knew how good ranch dressing was -or how fattening. I've tried some bottled versions before although there aren't that many with a hashgacha but they always tasted sort of flat to me with just a little token tang to make it seem ranch-y. But the home made stuff is soooooo much better! The only problem is that all the recipes I have seen for the dressing call for insane amounts of mayonaise and sour cream among other things but the thought of putting so many calories on a poor piece of lettuce was upsetting so I scaled down the fat grams by using low fat sour cream and low fat mayo. I'm sure the real deal tastes better but it's hard to imagine because this lowfat version was finger lickin' good. I served it simply over some crisp romaine lettuce for some crunch and some tomatoes because tomatoes always taste so darn good drenched in dressing and had myself a ranchy feast. Enjoy!

1/2 cup lowfat good quality mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk (rivyon 1.5 % in Israel)
1/4 cup lowfat sour cream
4 scallions
2 Tbl parsley
1 Tb dill
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbl Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
1 tsp hot sauce, optional
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor chop the scallions, parsley, dill and garlic. Remove to a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate. Dressing will thicken slightly in the fridge. Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chunky Mocha Zebra Cookies

Well, I guess they aren't technically Zebra cookies because they don't have stripes but you get the point. My husband and I have been on a serious coffee kick recently and I've been looking for ways to incorporate our addiction in other more solid forms. These cookies pack a serious coffee punch with 3 Tablespoons of coffee but surprisingly the coffee taste is not overwhelming. The flavor is offset by chunks of chocolate- semi sweet and white chocolate but had I had any milk chocolate on hand I would have put that in too. The cookies came out with what I think is the perfect cookie texture- crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and oozing chocolate and the little caffeine buzz I got from them was nice too :). All in all, can't go wrong with these beauties. Enjoy!

2 1/2 cups flour
3 Tbl instant coffee
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa
2 sticks butter (or margarine) at room temp.
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 bar (100 grams) white chocolate, chunked (or 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips)
1 bar (100 grams) semi sweet chocolate, chunked
1 bar ( 100 grams) milk chocolate, chunked

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl mix together the flour, coffee, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa. With a mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla. Gradually mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Fold in the chopped chocolate. Roll the dough into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove them when they are still soft and seem not quite ready- they will harden slightly as they cool.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Potato-Leek "soup" QUICHE

This is my final installment of quiches based on soups. It's appropriate to post it now because I always serve Potato Leek soup to break the Yom Kippur fast so I was reminded of this quiche. I love this quiche because of its unusual crust which would also make it a great addition to your Pesach repertoire. The crust is made of shredded potatoes which is meant to be the potato component from the soup and filled with a creamy leek filling. Together they really do taste like a delicious creamy potato leek soup in quiche clothing. You can also make this pareve by substituting rice milk and tofutti sour cream but I highly recommend the dairy version- it is unique and delicious and always a winner- enjoy!

For the crust:

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • salt and pepper

For the filling:

  • 3 leeks, cleaned and white and light green parts chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the shredded potatoes with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spray a 9 inch round quiche pan (I used Pyrex) heavily with cooking spray and press the filling along the bottom and up the sides until its covered. Bake for 15 minutes until the potatoes are just lightly golden. Saute the leek in the butter for about 10 minutes until translucent and cool for a few minutes. In a bowl mix together the cream, eggs, sour cream and ½ cup of the Mozzarella and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the leeks and mix well. Pour the mixture into the crust and top with remaining Mozzarella. Bake for about 40 minutes until the center is set and the quiche is golden brown.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sweet Zucchini Corn Muffins

Even back in Israel I find myself with an overabundance of zucchini. I'm not sure what makes me feel the need to buy so many every time I'm in the super market but I once again have found myself with a few too many. It's actually gotten to be an enjoyable challenge for me to figure out what to use my zucchini for. These I made with Yom Kippur breakfast in mind. Who doesn't love a corn muffin? The zucchini adds the incredible moistness and the health factor and the combo makes them hard to resist. I used to get corn muffins growing up at a local restaurant and I couldn't get over how good they were. Once I went to another bakery and found they had the same ones. I put two and two together and did some research and realized that they were all using a pre-packaged mix that they bought in bulk. That was disappointing but of course it didn't stop me from buying them. These are different then the muffins of my past, a little less sweet and a lot less preservatives (read: none) and they taste moist and fresh and just perfectly corny. My husband and CTT(Chief Taste Tester -btw, thank you for all the applications for the position but the position is happily filled) tasted one warm and put a little dab of butter and honey on it and was in heaven. Enjoy!

(makes 72 mini muffins)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups course ground corn meal
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 medium Zucchini, shredded
1/3 cup honey
1 cup oil
3/4 cup milk (if making pareve use rice or soy milk)
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix the zucchini in with the dry ingredients. In another bowl whisk together the wet ingredients and add it to they dry mixing until incorporated but without over mixing. Spoon into mini muffins tins and bake for 10 minutes until lightly golden.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

I'm a fan of pancakes any which way. I firmly believe that they should not be limited to breakfast and that they can be eaten for any meal and at any time.  I've been experimenting with different pancake combinations (more to come) and I've loved every minute of it. These I made for a lucky house guest who was visiting us from the unholy land. I made them while he was still sleeping in the hopes that the smell of the pancakes wafting toward his room would wake him and send the message that I was hungry and it was time to eat. It worked (or was it the pan I loudly dropped outside his door that woke him up?) and we all thoroughly enjoyed. Making pancakes with buttermilk is classic and the milk adds a delightful tang and helps give the pancakes a soft and delicious spongy texture. Even if you are not a fan of buttermilk I recommend you try these although if you are really opposed you can just use more milk instead. Enjoy!

3 cups flour
4 Tbl sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
2 large ripe bananas, mashed

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. In another bowl mix the wet ingredients together and then fold in the mashed banana. Combine the dry into the wet mixture right before cooking . Spray a griddle or frying pan with cooking spray and place a quarter of a cup of the batter on the pan. Cook over medium heat until the top side is bubbling and then flip over and cook for another 45 seconds or so on the next side.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chocolatey Peanutty Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Let me tell you about my friend Joe. I only met him this summer but I fell in love with him when I discovered the amazing things he has to offer. He introduced me to the world of well priced, gourmet and organic food stuffs and I spent my limited time with him enamored. Other people already know him well and sometimes call him by his professional name, Trader Joe, but I like to think I'm on a first name basis with him. Ok, enough with my senseless rambling. Basically, Trader Joe's is heaven for foodies and I love the place. I know I'm a latecomer because everyone else has been going there for years but there has never been one near where I used to live or visit in America but this summer I discovered one will be opening near my in-laws and I made an effort to seek one out and start the getting to know you process. I can't even list the things I found there that made me happy but one thing I found were little mini chocolate peanut butter cups that were uber cute and delicious. I froze them and hauled them back with me with the intention of making some sort of heavenly cookie with them. Fast forward to now and this is what I've made. Peanut butter cookies studded with the peanut butter cups and chocolate chips and then just because I felt like going crazy, some Reese's peanut butter chips. Lordy, they are good. I'm serving these for Yom Kippur breakfast. If I can keep them away from my husband for that long. Enjoy!

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup margarine (2 sticks) , softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbl milk
12 oz mini peanut butter cups
3/4  cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350. Cream the margarine, sugars and peanut butter together until well combined and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Add vanilla and milk . Mix the flour, salt and baking soda together in a bowl and add it to the mixture. Fold in all the goodies.  Place rounded tablespoon fulls on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake about 7-10 minutes until light browned. Don't over bake them- you want them to be a little soft when you take them out as they will firm up when they cool and you want them to be chewy.