Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal

I had some pumpkin puree left over after making some pumpkin frozen yogurt (which was kind of a failure, btw, so you won't be seeing it on the blog), and needed a way to use it up.  A little Googling led me to Kacey's Kitchen and this recipe for Pumpkin Oatmeal.  

You'll need:

1 cup oats
2 1/2 tbs brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp butter, softened
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
maple syrup, to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray 4 individual-sized ramekins with cooking spray.  Set them aside.

Combine all of the ingredients except for the pecans, mix until combined.  Divide the mixture evenly between the 4 ramekins.  Put the ramekins on a baking sheet (allows you to move them in and out of the oven more easily) and bake for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, pull them out of the oven and sprinkle each of the ramekins with the chopped pecans.  Give each of them a good squirt of maple syrup, too.

Put the ramekins back into the oven and bake for an additional 7 minutes.  Let them cool for a few minutes before digging in.

If you're just cooking for 1 or 2 people, you can also keep these in the fridge and have them another day.  They will just require a little extra time in the oven.

So if you're in search of a moderately healthy, delicious breakfast option, give this a try!  I'd love to make more, but it seems that Walmart is no longer stocking the pumpkin puree, just the pumpkin pie filling nonsense, and I unfortunately wasted the bulk of my last can of pumpkin on the aforementioned failed pumpkin frozen yogurt.  Anyway, just because it's not October or November, who says you can't enjoy some pumpkiny goodness?  Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Soup

The recipe for this soup is a Novice Chef Blog original.  Now, if you have never visited The Novice Chef, you need to go.  Now.  I know I say that about just about every single blog I get recipes from, but seriously.  The recipes are always delicious, the stories are good, and this girl is funny.  I mean actually laugh-out-loud funny in a world where the expression "lol" is woefully overused.  Even the way she tags this recipe on her blog is enough to make me giggle: "Ass Friendly". 

Since today is a holiday, I don't have to go to my office.  I don't think I could even if I wanted to, since the university actually closes down today (thanks MLK Jr. and Hopkins!).  Since I have some free time, I thought that this soup would make for a nice, healthy, fiber-packed lunch, rather than just heating something out of a can.  Quite unintentionally, given that I wasn't really thinking about today being Monday, this soup is also perfect for a Meatless Monday meal.

You'll need:

3 tbs olive oil
2 large white onions, chopped
2 large jalapenos, minced
1 large shallot, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tbs cumin
2 tbs chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp pepper
6 (14.5 oz.) cans black beans, 4 cans drained and rinsed, 2 cans with liquid
6 cups liquid (vegetable broth, chicken broth, water, or a combination)

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, jalapenos, shallots, and garlic.  Saute until the onions are translucent.

I used my Dutch oven for only the 2nd time for this soup.  Of course it's red!
Add in the spices and mix.  Cook for a few more minutes.

Add in the beans and broth/water/whatever you used.  Stir everything up, and heat to a simmer.  Simmer the soup for about 45 minutes.  It won't look like it at first, but it should thicken slightly.  

Remove your pot from the heat, and using an immersion blender, blend until you're happy with the consistency of the soup.  Alternately, you could blend this up in a regular old blender.  Just make sure to do it 1 cup at a time.  Be careful: hot liquid in a blender can be dangerous!

You can garnish your soup with some sour cream, cheese, or whatever else your little heart desires.  Not that I thought it needed it, taste-wise, I garnished mine with some sharp cheddar.  It needed that little pop of color.  I also toasted up a small grilled cheese, of sorts, made from 2 small corn tortillas and more sharp cheddar, for dunking purposes.

The verdict: this soup is deeeeelicious.  First, it starts out by smelling up your kitchen/apartment in just the best way possible.  A friend that lives down the hall said she just followed her nose toward the enticing smell, and ended up at my place =).  Then, when you actually eat it, you find that the soup is made thick and creamy by blending some of it.  It's savory and smoky from the cumin, and subtly spicy from the jalapenos and chili powder.  In short: it's awesome.  

I'll be eating this for lunch several times this week, and will be freezing the rest to have some other time.  If you are a black bean-lover, please give this a try!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lentils with Spinach and Goat Cheese

Hello everyone!  I had every intention of posting this yesterday, but got caught up running some analyses and forgot about it.  It would have been pretty much perfect for a Meatless Monday dinner or side dish... but yeah.  Keep it in mind for next week?  Sorry, guys.  At any rate, unlike some of my previous postings this year, this recipe is definitely new-year's-resolution-friendly.  It's full of vegetable, high fiber, and protein-rich goodness (among other things).  And it's pretty inexpensive to make.

I found this recipe here: on the blog Just a Taste, and made a few really minor tweaks (swapped olive oil for butter, added arugula in addition to spinach, and added garlic to the greens).  It should yield 8 side dish-sized servings or 6 entree servings.

You'll need:

2 tbs olive oil, divided
1 cup onion, diced
1/3 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup carrots, diced
2 bay leaves
1 3/4 cups lentils
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste
a few cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb fresh spinach leaves (or other greens)
5 oz soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaves.  Saute until the vegetables are golden brown.

Add the lentils and cook for about1 minute, stirring to make sure that they all get coated in the oil.  

Add the chicken broth and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Simmer until the lentils are fully cooked and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.  This took approximately 40 minutes.

Get rid of the bay leaves, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Heat the other tbs of olive oil in a large pan and add the minced garlic cloves.  Heat until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the spinach, or whatever green you have chosen, and heat until just wilted.  I used a mixture of arugula and baby spinach.

Plate the spinach, top it with lentils, garnish with crumbled goat cheese and serve! 

Okay obviously my atrocious photography isn't making this look like the most appetizing of dishes.  It really is, trust me!  If you don't believe me, venture on over to Just a Taste (link listed above).  Those photos will do it justice.  

I made this on Sunday, ate it for lunch then, and portioned out the rest of it to have for lunch during the week.  It is a very filling, hearty, and healthy meal.  Oh and let's not forget that it tastes really good, too!  Please enjoy!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chocolate Ice Cream

One of my favorite gifts that I received this Christmas was my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment.  I was all psyched up to use it as soon as we got back to Baltimore, and I tried.  I really tried.  I let the bowl freeze for 24 hours, made a delicious chocolate ice cream custard base, let it cool for 3 hours, and then proceeded to churn the ice cream in the attachment.  

... however ...

I managed to attach one piece incorrectly, and it gummed up the works.  I tried to stop the process, attach it correctly, and start again.  However, once you start churning, and the ice cream base is in the attachment, there's really no turning back.  It starts to freeze almost immediately, and you can't stop the mixer because the frozen stuff keeps it from being able to turn once you start it up again.

So I was left with a mostly soupy chocolate mess with quite a bit frozen solid to the bottom of the attachment's bowl.  

*womp womp*

Oh well, you live and learn!  So when Sean started asking if I was going to make a second attempt, I knew I had to try again.  So here's my second attempt at making some homemade chocolate ice cream.

Thank you My Kitchen Addiction for this recipe.

You'll need:

2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 egg yolks
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (alternately, use milk or dark chocolate chips)

Combine the milk and heavy cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Do not allow it to boil.  Sift in the cocoa powder and add the chocolate chips.  Stir to combine.

While the chocolate is melting, beat together the egg yolks and sugar in another bowl until the mixture is very light in color and falls back back from the beaters in ribbons into the bowl.  

Once the chocolate is melted, scoop out about 1 cup of the cream mixture and gradually beat it into the eggs and sugar.  This will temper the eggs and keep them from scrambling,

Pour the tempered egg mixture into the cream and chocolate and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. 

Once the custard has thickened, transfer it to a clean mixing bowl and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap, making sure that the plastic touches the surface of the custard.  Refrigerate until well-chilled, or at least 2 hours.  

Then, freeze in your ice cream maker!  Please follow the manufacturer's directions, unlikeI did the first time around.  When it comes out of the ice cream maker, it will be soft serve consistency.  You can eat it as is, or freeze it for a few more hours until it reaches a hard ice cream consistency.

Sean was my official taste tester for this recipe.  The verdict?  He approves!  I had a small bite (stupid diet...), and it is really good.  It's creamy, decadent, and super chocolately.  I highly suggest that you try it out.  You can also make your ice cream a little more exciting, if you're so inclined, by adding some toasted nuts, chopped chocolate, sprinkles, or whatever to the ice cream maker during the last few minutes of churn time.  Enjoy!!

Also!  Please take note of the fancy new buttons that my brother put on my blog above the "about me" section.  Now it's easy for you to "like" this blog's page on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and follow me on Pinterest.  Please "like" and follow this blog! =)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lemon-Garlic Marinated Olives

Do you love olives?  I wouldn't say that I love them, but I like them a lot.  This wasn't always the case.  My childhood best friend had, and likely still has, what I would consider a borderline obsession with olives.  You could always tell when she had been to our house, because the jar of olives in the fridge was cleaned out.  I didn't understand it at the time.  But I guess tastes change, because I have come around.  Any time I eat olives, I can't help but think of her and all of our ridiculous shenanigans.

I got this recipe from my Dad who originally got it from my Aunt Mary Lynn.  So thank you, Dad and Aunt Mary Lynn!  My Aunt had these out for Thanksgiving, and my Dad made them for Christmas.

You'll need:

Green olives
Brine from green olives
Black olives
Half of brine from black olives
Kalamata olives
Half of brine from kalamata olives
2 lemons cut into small wedges
1 tsp oregano
Garlic cloves, minced (to taste)

Throw all of this into a container (I use a small glass jar), refrigerate for a few days, and mmm boy...

These olives are endlessly customize-able.  Not a fan of kalamata olives?  Leave 'em out.  Want some heat?  Toss some red pepper flakes into the mix.  Too much garlic (I'd argue that this is not possible)?  Use less.  You get the idea.   

They make a nice snack or addition to an antipasti platter.  In addition to being very tasty, they're also extremely easy to make.  All you have to do is chop up a few things, combine it in a jar, and let it sit.  Please enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Liebster Award

Seriously, how excited was I upon hearing that Heather from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes nominated me for the Liebster Award?  So so excited!!  Thank you so much, Heather!

The Liebster Award is a way of giving recognition to newer blogs and/or those with fewer than 200 followers.  The recipient of the award then has to select 5 other blogs to pass the award on to.

To accept the Liebster Blog Award nomination, one must: 

1) Thank your Liebster Award presenter on your blog. 

2) Link back to the blogger who awarded you.

3) Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.

4) Reveal your 5 blog picks.

5) Let them know you chose them by leaving a comment on their blogs.

My top 5 picks:

What's Cooking with Kacey?: Kacey's blog is full of recipes that are delicious as well as totally reasonable to make on a busy week night, since they're quick and easy.  Let's also not forget that she's mom to totally adorable little girl, too!

Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes: Can you nominate the person that nominated you?  Don't care, because I'm doing it anyway!  Heather's blog is loaded with vegan recipes that appeal to vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike!  Her photos are beautiful, and the recipes are always awesome.

Feed Me, Seymour: Awesome name, awesome blog.  A fellow Pennsylvania-transplant-now-living-in-Maryland, Kim has some really great family-friendly, and all around delicious recipes.  Her photos are beautiful, and everything always looks great!

The Beer Cook: From the first time that I stumbled upon Vanessa's blog, I thought it was really entertaining and unique.  On her blog, she not only provides wonderful beer-food pairings, but also incorporates beer as an ingredient into her dishes.  

A Drop of Sweetness: A great little blog chock full of recipes for candy and baked goods.  If you need inspiration for some homemade goodies for yourself or others, this is definitely the blog to visit.

I hope that you visit and enjoy these blogs as much as I do!!  Thank you again! =)

Mac-Raff 'n' Cheese

Interesting name, right?  This recipe comes from the blog Patent & the Pantry.  If you follow that link, she provides an explanation as to how the dish got it's name.  I haven't been able to figure out an appropriate name of my own for it (other than omgdelicious), so it goes by the name she gave it.

Patent & the Pantry was one of the first blogs I started reading regularly upon discovering the world of food blogging.  In fact, when I began this blog, I started compiling a list of recipes that I love and knew that I had to share with you.  This was one of them.  Unfortunately, it has taken several months to bring this to you.

I made this on New Year's Eve for Sean, myself, and a couple of friends.  

To those of you who recently vowed to lose weight/get back in shape/eat better: I'm sorry.  To everyone else: you're welcome.

You'll need:

For the tomato sauce base
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped

For the macaroni and cheese
1 box short cut pasta
1/4 cup butter (half stick)
1/4 cup flour
5 cups grated cheese (use whatever you'd like!)
3 cups milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, saute until translucent.  Add the garlic and stir for about a minute.  Add the can of crushed tomatoes, and let it simmer for a bit.  Then add in the can of diced tomatoes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and sugar.  Allow to simmer until the sauce has thickened and reduced a bit.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

While things are thickening up and the oven is preheating, cook the pasta according to package directions.  As the pasta is cooking, you can start on the cheese sauce.  

Melt the butter in a pot over medium-low heat.  When the melted butter is frothy and bubbling, add the flour and whisk until it is well-blended.  Continue cooking for a couple of minutes, so that the raw flour taste can cook out.  Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming.  

After the milk-flour mixture has thickened slightly, add in 4 cups of shredded cheese.  Stir it all together until it melts, and add salt and pepper to taste.  If it looks like it's too thick, you can always add a bit more milk.

Drain the pasta once it's done, and return it to the pot.  Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to coat.

Put the tomato sauce in the base of a casserole dish.  Top with the macaroni and cheese.  Sprinkle everything with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.

Bake covered for 45 minutes - 1 hour.  Remove the lid and bake for an additional 10-20 minutes.

I usually bake up a smaller casserole for Sean and myself right away, and put the rest in a larger casserole dish to freeze and have at a later time.  To freeze any or all of this, follow all of the above directions, but stop before baking it.  Wrap it up and pop it in the freezer.  Just make sure to let it thaw before baking.  You will likely have to tack on some extra baking time, even after it has thawed.     

Seriously, one of the best things ever.  Try it.  Immediately.  I wouldn't lie to you, especially about something that is as heavily cheese-laden as this recipe.

The macaroni and cheese component is creamy and fantastic, and the sauce is tangy and savory, given an extra dimension with the addition of the balsamic vinegar.  And the layer where they two components meet?  Amazing.