Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spicy Bean Dip

Okay, it's really black eyed pea dip but if I had entitled it as such would you have opened this post? Most of our appetizers and dips are less than healthy, I personally have tried some healthier options and had come to believe that "healthy dip" meant shredded cardboard, no longer. This could be described as something akin to hummus, however, I don't care for garbanzo beans so this is a lovely option.
  It is also very versatile, as you can add more spice and heat or less, a bit more olive oil will make it even creamier or add some sour cream. I am thinking even now that I will try adding some smoky chipotle peppers or adobo sauce.
For my gluten free friends I used Nut Thin crackers, this would be good on matzoh too.
1  15oz. can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 large clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 green onions or 2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
3 tablespoons olive oil, more or less
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt/pepper to taste
4-6 dashes hot sauce (like Frank's)
Put all in food processor, whirl until completely mixed and mashed.
Taste. Add, more of whatever you think it needs, usually salt for me, whirl again.
Scrape into a serving bowl.
Serve with crackers or pita bread.
Great, no guilt snack or appetizer. Enjoy...really enjoy!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sweet Potato Latkes

These were over the top tasty, perfectly crunchy exterior with a tender inside.
For my gluten free friends they have no gluten, just an egg to bind the ingredients, enjoy.
Make them tiny for appetizers or palm size for a side dish, either way delicious. Serve plain, with sour cream or applesauce (traditional), for breakfast with eggs, or dinner with chicken or brisket. If you are strict kosher use soy or rice sour cream.
The first night I made these I used 4 large russet potatoes and 1 small sweet potato, they were so good I barely made it to the table with any still on the plate. The forth night of Hanukkah I made them again but with zucchini in place of the sweet potato, just as good. I also used red onion to add a bit more color and a softer, more mellow onion flavor. I had not made latkes in years, but I will not be waiting long to make them again.
Ingredients (roughly):
2 pounds potatoes, starchier the better like russets
1 sweet potato
1 onion, red or other
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
oil for frying, olive or canola
Grate the potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes.
 Drain in a colander, then place on a clean dry towel and roll up then twist to remove remaining liquid.

 Put into a mixing bowl with the onion, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well.

 Fry in about 1/2 inch of oil, if you are frying very many you will have to add more oil as you go.
I use about a 1/4 cup of potato mixture in each latke, they are easier to flip if they are small to medium, the larger you make them the more apt they are to fall apart as they are turned. 

 Drain on paper towels.

  I know you want one...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Savory Stuffed Mushrooms

These were so good and not as fat laden as some of the restaurant offerings, full flavor and not full fat. Not to be confused with low-fat, which these were not, just lower fat.
I came home with a package of 6 large mushrooms, these were white button variety but the portobello mushrooms are a good choice too. Notice that there are only 5 mushrooms on the serving plate, what goes on in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen, all I can say in my defense is that it is my duty to not put anything inedible on the table for my family...boy were they edible!
Since mushrooms vary in size, the amounts of each of the ingredients will vary so here are approximate measurements ( any excess can be baked on the side without the mushroom ).
1 oz cheese, I used a tomato basil cheese stick this time but mozzarella is good, chopped or shredded
2 tablespoons parmesan
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (Frank's is a favorite here)
dash salt
4 tablespoons bread crumbs ( I use Joseph's Pita, toasted then crumbled)
dash Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons mayo or cream to bind the stuffing
6 large button mushrooms
Spray a small baking pan with olive oil, set aside.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them (the stems) coarsely, place the empty buttons on the oiled pan.

Mix the chopped stems and all the other ingredients in a small bowl.

Spoon this into the buttons.
Brush with a little olive oil so the mushrooms will brown and be tender instead of dry.
Bake at 350F. for 25-30 or until the interior is hot and mushrooms are tender.
 Use these as an appetizer, side dish or garnish a roast by placing them around it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sweet Potato Challah

Beautiful. The end of the braid stuck out, lends interest, so I left it.
I made this by adding 1/2 a baked sweet potato to the Challah recipe in the "King Arthur Baker's Companion" with just a few other minor changes. This is my favorite cook book, everything I have tried from this book has turned out well.
Recipe: Makes one loaf
Mix these first ingredients and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
This is known as a "sponge".
1/3 - 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato
2 cups flour or more depending on the moisture content of the potato
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 large egg plus 1 yolk (save the white for brushing before baking)
 Beat well, knead for several minutes. Set aside , covered, for 40 minutes.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or grease generously.
Knead for another minute. Cut into 3 equal pieces and roll into ropes.

Lay braid on lined (or greased) pan. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes or so.
Mix the egg white with 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon sugar, brush on risen loaf.
Preheat oven to 374F. Bake 35-40 minutes until deep golden brown or internal temperature reaches 190F.

Cool on wire rack.
I sliced this too soon, it flattened a bit, impatience does not pay. I don't think my camera picked up the lovely color well enough, it is a beautiful, deep, orangey yellow.
 Mmm, dunk in soup for full effect.
This made wonderful toast too.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Apple Oatmeal Muffins with a Hint of Maple

These are yummy AND  healthy. I am a picky eater, I just confess this now, whew, it feel so good to come clean. If it doesn't taste good I just do not care how healthy it is I will not eat it more than once.
I have worked this recipe over twice and will stop now because it passes the test, easy, healthy and tastes great.
Make them and judge for yourself.
I used spelt flour for the white and whole but wheat will work just as well.
Apple Oatmeal Maple Muffins (I know, it is too long)
Makes 18 standard size muffins.
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole grain flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, dairy, coconut or whatever milk you use
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
3 tablespoons oil, I used melted coconut oil but butter would be good too or olive
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple flavor
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 large tart apple, diced
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly grease muffin pans or use paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients except the apple.
 Stir to combine but do not over mix or beat or you will have one tough muffin.
Add the apple by gently folding the batter over the chunks.
 Spoon into the pans.
Bake for about 20 minutes, test by inserting a toothpick in the center, when it comes out clean they are done.
There you go, whole grains, very little sugar, fruit, packed with flavor, who could ask for more!
Yum. Now go make these and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Soft, Tender Nutmeg Cookies

I wanted a very simple cookie, no frills, good for dunking, or just eating. This was a soft, tender cookie with a lovely nutmeg flavor. Gotta try it.
I used coconut oil instead of butter which made them soft instead of crisp, sour cream gave them richness and just a bit of nutmeg for a gentle flavor. FYI, the coconut oil did not impart a coconut flavor, so if you don't like coconut you won't taste it here.
1 1/2 cups coconut oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or white spelt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 375F.
Line sheet pans with parchment paper, or lightly grease.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the coconut oil and the sugar, beat until fluffy.
Add the eggs and extracts, beat until combined.
Whisk together the flour, powder, soda, salt, and nutmeg.
Stir into the coconut oil mixture, do not over beat, just combine.
Stir in the sour cream.
Spoon the dough onto the prepared sheet pans, leave a good amount of space between because mine ran together.
 Bake for 10-12 minutes, let cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.

Store in airtight container. These freeze exceptionally well.
One more time with the coffee, oh yes!