Vegetarian Chili and Nachos

Here’s a few shots from a “how to” article I shot for Walgreens last week. It’s a super easy veggie chili with a healthy spin on traditional nachos. The nachos use baked pita chips in place of tortillas, topped with a homemade bean puree, crumbled feta, avocado and diced veggies. Initially, I thought nachos were no place for a cheese like feta, but I must admit, I was sorely wrong. These are awesome and hearty enough to make for a quick light meal.

a link to the full recipe will be posted later this week!

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Valentine’s Day Breakfast ideas

Take Valentine’s Day/ Snow Day breakfast up a notch this year with these cool spins on egg sammies and p-cakes. If your in the northeast and have been hit by the snow fairies, you probably have a little extra time in the morning to cook these up.

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food_photography egg sandwich with arugula-1

out of maple syrup?

try a homemade strawberry syrup. Add a few spoonfuls of strawberry jam and some mashed strawberries to a small saucepan and simmer for a few minutes. ricotta pancakes with berries-1

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Pear Pancake

red pears

 

Pancakes seem like such a quick, easy meal. And they are, except for the mess. All those little batter drips that get cooked onto the stove top..ggrr.

and waiting for pancakes to cook – it’s like watching paint dry!

I’d rather just pour the whole thing into one big pan and cook it.

Like I did here.

No drips, no mess. And with the addition of sautéed pears and walnuts, this is looking  a smidge healthier than plain old pancakes.

red pear pancake

pear walnut pancake

pear walnut pancake

 

(recipe to follow)

Preserving Peaches, the easy way

It’s the last week at the markets for peaches…

 

still life-4

 

and plumbs are on their way out, too…

anne dale photography

But now is the best time to take advantage of fruit “seconds”. I just picked up two bushels of peaches for under $8.00.

 

Tips for freezing Peaches:

Dunk the peaches in a hot water bath for 30 seconds and immediately drop into an a bowl of ice water to cool.

The skins will peel right off. (Kids love helping with peeling the skins)

Split or cut in half and layer flat into freezer bags.

Perfect for smoothies all year round.

 

Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Bars

Were you a pool kid?

chocolate ice cream bars

I grew up at the pool. I remember refusing sunscreen, getting stung by bees, lots of skinned knees, and  that big wet spot on my shorts that was left behind from my swim suit.  We wore those pool-wounds like badges of honor -as proof that we were having fun.

And some days we were even allowed to pick a treat from the pool snack bar that gushed Choco Tacos’, Push Up Pops and Screwballs.

chocolate covered ice cream

And among a crowd of fancy frozen novelties were the old standbys -chocolate covered ice cream bars. So simple and understated, just like we were.

Here’s a refined but simple version of that snack bar classic.

chocolate and cream

Ingredients:

1 quart of vanilla ice cream
1 cup heavy cream

1 cup chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

chocolate sauce

Fill Popsicle molds with softened ice cream. Freeze several hours or overnight.

To make the chocolate sauce:

Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat on medium low. When warm, stir in the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Allow to cool to room temp.

Gently remove the ice cream bars from the mold and arrange on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Using a spoon, pour the chocolate sauce onto the ice cream bar. Lay the bar back on the tray and freeze until firm.

pavlova cookies

It was my first attempt at meringue.

meringue cookies

And they flopped. They flopped the second and third time, too.

So I can’t sit here and tell you how to make meringue.

But I can tell you that even if you mess up, you can still make it look so pretty that no one will ever know.

meringue cookies

Just call them Pavlova cookies, a sweet wafer like crust destined to be piled with roasted almonds, dark chocolate and fresh strawberries.

cream of tartar, vintage

Send your meringue making tips my way!!

 

the cutest cupcake ever

Ok, maybe not ever. But as far as baked goods in pots go, it’s pretty cute.

flower pot cupcakes

Here are the directions for making the cupcake segment.

All you need after that is one  mammoth bag of butter cream frosting and a few skewers with tiny paper flowers attached.

flower pot cupcakes

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Chocolate Flower Pot Cakes

I grant you full permission to eat one of these healthy chocolate cakes for breakfast on the grounds that…

 

chocolate flower pot cakes

most of the butter and sugar were replaced with a heaping scoop of speckled mashed bananas.

flower pot cakes

Leaving a perfectly balanced and perfectly cute partner to your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

coffee

And wouldn’t they make a totally awesome gift or spring party favor?

flower pot cakes

Chocolate Banana Cake Pots

Recipe adapted from Betty Groff’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup mashed banana

1 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup brewed coffee

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Before you start baking, wash and dry the terra-cotta planters and be sure to remove any stickers. Line the pots with parchment paper or lotus cup liners. The 3 1/2 inch planters are the closest size to standard cupcakes, but larger ones can be used, too.

Directions

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

1.Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add in the eggs, one at a time until smooth and fluffy.Beat in the yogurt and bananas.

2.In a separate bowl,  blend together the salt, flours, baking soda and cocoa powder.

3.Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and beat well.

4.Beat in the coffee.

5. Pour the batter into terra cotta planters no more than 2/3rds full.

6. For 3 inch pots, bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. ( increase baking times for larger pots)

flower pot cakes

 

 

 

 

quinoa stuffed cabbage- a gluten free galumpki

stuffed cabbage, galumpki

I love putting quinoa in unexpected places. If I put it out somewhere expected, like in a bowl on the dinner table, no one would eat it. Myself included. But here, the quinoa blends seamlessly into the salty sausage, caramelized onions and it just loves being all snuggled up in a warm blanket of cabbage leaves.

I know, some folks still aren’t on the quinoa train, but this dish is sure to convert them. It even got the thumbs up from my inked up ex-marine brother who seldom strays from cheese steaks and meatballs. And he is way too cool to give an actual thumbs up.  It was more like “This is good”.

I interpreted this as an enthusiastic thumbs up.

stuffed cabbage-Easter

Gulumpki

Disclosure this is yet another one of my grandfather’s traditional Polish dishes that I have successfully butchered and healthified.

Ingredients

1 pound sausage, casings removed

1 cup cooked quinoa (about ½ cup uncooked)

1 cup chopped onions (1-2 small onions or one large onion)

1 head of cabbage, about 3 pounds

1 cup tomato sauce

Directions

Trim the stump off of the cabbage. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. During a full boil, add the entire head of cabbage and boil, rotating if necessary, until the leaves begin to loosen and fall off. This will take approximately 6-8 minutes. Using a  large slotted spoon, carefully remove the head of cabbage. Allow to cool while you prepare the sausage. Begin cooking the sausage in a hot skillet.  When evenly browned, remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spatula. Add the diced onions to the pan. Fry the onions in the sausage fat. (If you are hesitant to fry things in pork fat, feel free to wipe the pan out and cook the onions in olive oil)

When the onions are fragrant and nicely browned, add the sausage back into the pan along with cooked quinoa. Gently heat and mix all ingredients together. Season with black pepper or any herbs you may have on hand.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Once the cabbage leaves are cooled, begin by laying a large leaf out and slicing out just the hard white core in the center. Scoop some of the sausage-quinoa mixture in the center of the cabbage leaf and roll it up like a burrito. Repeat for the remaining cabbage leaves.

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan and arrange the cabbage rolls on top. Any extra cabbage leaves can be layered on top of the rolls. Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with additional tomato sauce.

stuffed cabbage-Easter (2 of 1)

cheese babka with raspberry sauce; polish easter bread

cheese babka with raspberry sauce

Babka floods my polish arteries but once a year, every Easter since birth.  There will never be a bread to match my beloved babka on Easter morning.

The chrusciki? Way too crunchy.

The Polish poppyseed  bread? Too much like bird food mixed with butter.

As a kid, I would sneak slices from the babka bread basket and eat it while nestled under the dining room table or while jumping on my grandmother’s bed. Later, my teenage angst led me to rebel against my parents,all traffic laws and polish food- laughing in the face of stop signs and sticking my nose up at anything containing meat or cabbage.

babka 4 (2 of 1)

But I always ate the babka. While everyone else was swooping down like vultures on piles of smoked kielbasa and pools of polish mustards, I was munching on my third slice of babka.

cheese babka

Although our traditional Polish meal was enthusiastically shared with friends, neighbors and passersby, only the traditional polish food was welcome at this table and any creative culinary variations were scorned as sacrilege.

I just hope my late grandfather never finds out that my dad grills the polish kielbasa instead of boiling it and may he never know that I infused a homemade cheese babka with (sssshhhh…) raspberry sauce.

 

Babka, Polish Easter Bread

Cheese babka is traditionally speckled with lemon peel and raisins, but this one has soft scented raspberry preserves swirled through the center.

Ingredients:

21/2 tsp. active dry yeast (equal to one packet)

¼ cup water (use a thermometer to get it around 110 degrees)

½ cup sugar

5 eggs yolks (or 3 whole eggs)

½ tsp. salt

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

½ cup melted butter

¾ cup warm milk, using more if needed

1 pound of flour (approximately 4 cups sifted flour)

Raspberry Cheese Swirl

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 ½ cups farmers cheese (or ricotta or cream cheese)

¼ cup confectioner sugar

¼ cup of raspberry preserves

 

Start by proofing the yeast. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar in the warm water. The temperature is important here, because the yeast cannot grow correctly if the water is too hot or too cold. Give a little stir and let sit for about 10 minutes, until it’s smelly and bubbly.

While the yeast is proofing, beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar, salt and vanilla, beating until smooth. Slowly pour in the melted butter while continuously whisking until smooth. Pour in the yeast mixture and beat.  Add one cup of flour, then a splash of milk, alternating with each for the remaining milk and flour. If the dough is too sticky and wet, add more flour until it is firm enough to knead on a counter top.

On a floured work surface, knead the dough a few times until smooth. Place the dough in a clean, buttered bowl. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and set in a warm place for about an hour, until is doubles in size.

Prepare the filling. Mix the cheese with the confectioner sugar and vanilla. Gently heat the raspberry sauce in the microwave or a small pot until it loosens up a bit.

Prepare the bundt pan. Generously grease the pan with melted butter and a dusting of flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a floured work surface and shape into a 10 x 15 rectangle.  Brush the dough with the melted butter and then layer on the cheese filling. Spoon the raspberry sauce on top of the cheese filling, adding more if needed.

Begin rolling the dough into a log shape. Gently lift the log and place it in the greased bundt pan. Seal the ends shut and let rise another hour, until doubled in size.

Bake the babka for 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before inverting on a plate.