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As you know, I decided to make a tasty risotto for Nate the other day. But I realized that the meal was lacking in protein and I try to serve us balanced meals as often as I can.

I racked my brain trying to figure out what to serve with it, since I had zero desire to cook up any sort of meat. Nate suggested that I make an appetizer, and that’s when I remembered an interesting type of dip I’d seen going around the blogging world.

This dip is made with a bean base, like hummus, but with the addition of peanut butter and honey it becomes a wonderful spread for apples, graham crackers, or whatever else you want.

It’s simple to make too, since you just dump all the ingredients into a food processor. I used my small 3-cup one.

I hope you’ll get past the fact that this is made from beans and give it a try. This is a perfect way to serve your kids a snack that’s healthier than cookies and chips. Serve it to your family and don’t tell them what’s inside 😉


High Protein Peanut Butter Dip
Recipe by Me 

Serves 4  for a snack with things to dip

Ingredients
1 (15oz) can White kidney beans (aka cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp Smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Chocolate graham crackers and sliced apple for serving

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend well.

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Look, I know I’m a few days late on the Valentine’s Day blog posts.

Every other blogger seems to get it together a week ahead of time so that their blog readers have all sorts of recipes and ideas for the upcoming holiday.

The fact is that Nate and I can only eat so much dessert and I only have so much time…and I want the Valentine’s Day dessert I make for him to be eaten on Valentines day, and not a week ahead of time. If I posted this a week ago then I’d have to bake up something new for Valentine’s day.

But you know what’s great? These can be made any day of the year.

There doesn’t have to be a special holiday to share some chocolate goodness, or to tell someone you love them.

Nate showed me he loved me by walking all the way across the city to Trader Joes to pick me up some sea salt for the top of these bars 🙂

These are EXTREMELY rich…only for true chocolate lovers. I thought the hot chocolate from the other day was rich, but these were even too much for me. Luckily, Nate was a fan.

From my  to your stomach 🙂


Dark Chocolate-Cherry Ganache Bars

From The NYTimes

You can print this recipe from the original link

Makes 18 bars

150 grams all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
90 grams confectioners’ sugar (about 3/4 cup)
26 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
52 grams cherry jam (about 2 tablespoons)
340 grams bittersweet chocolate, at least 62 percent, chopped (12 ounces)
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons kirsch, rum, brandy or other spirit
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel, for sprinkling.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and fine sea salt. Pulse in the butter and vanilla until the mixture just comes together into a smooth mass. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment or wax paper. Press the dough into the pan. Prick all over with a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes and up to 3 days.

 Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the shortbread until firm to the touch and just beginning to pull away from the sides, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Brush jam over shortbread’s surface and let cool thoroughly.

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

In a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the kirsch. Spread over shortbread. Sprinkle fleur de sel on. Cool to room temperature; cover and chill until firm. Slice and serve.

*Note: I chilled these overnight and I think it was too long. Only chill for an hour or if chilling overnight, let it come to almost room temp before serving. I found the shortbread part to be too dry and crumbly when straight from the fridge.

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As I mentioned in my recent post, Nate needs carbs to fuel his long Sunday runs during his marathon training. Since I was kind of sick of making pasta, and you’re probably sick of seeing pasta recipes, I chose another tasty carbohydrate: rice.

I realized that I had leftover arborio rice, from when I made rissoto a while back, that was just dying to be cooked up. I wanted something different. It seems that all risotto recipes have mushrooms in them, but finally I stumbled across a Tomato, Oregano, and Feta Risotto that sounded amazing.

It called for Greek flavors and ended up being one of the most delicious meals I think I’ve ever made. The lemon zest made it really fresh tasting (luckily I didn’t have any zester accidents this time) and I loved the tomato base. It’s a completley vegetarian meal.

The only change I made to the recipe below was substituting Vermouth for the ouzo, since I didn’t have any. As with all risottos, it took over an hour to make and involved constant attention and stirring, but it was absolutely worth it!


Tomato, Oregano, and Feta Risotto

From The NY Times Diner’s Journal

Print this recipe!

serves 4-6

Time 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup Carnarolli or Arborio rice
1/3 cup ouzo (or vermouth)
1 1/3 cups grated ripe tomato (see Note *)
2/3 cup creamy feta, such as Dodoni or Cephalonia, or a French feta
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
Finely grated zest of a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and a little salt and stir until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and stir until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Place broth in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Raise heat to medium, and add rice to skillet. Stir until well-coated with olive oil and starting to soften slightly, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of the simmering broth. Keep stirring gently until the rice absorbs all the broth. Add ouzo and stir until absorbed.

Add grated tomato and stir gently until the mixture is dense. Add remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed, until the rice is creamy but al dente, 25 to 30 minutes.

Add feta and stir until melted and risotto is creamy and thick. Stir in oregano and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

*Note: To grate a tomato, halve crosswise and grate the cut side with a coarse grater over a strainer set over a bowl. Grate as close to the skin as possible, but discard the skin.

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Have you been looking for a way to use up the leftover buffalo sauce from the wings you made for Superbowl Sunday?

What! You bought wings?? If that’s the case, I’m honestly not sure why you’re reading a cooking blog. Homemade wings are one of THE easiest things to make.

I know, I didn’t used to think so either, but I have the BEST recipe for baked wings that will rival the fried ones at your favorite wings spot. I’ll have to share it sometime soon…

But, if you do have some leftover sauce (or just think this recipe looks so tasty that you want to go out and buy some), then this is the recipe for you.

I never really eat chicken wings but I made buffalo-style chicken thighs the other day and was reminded of how much I love buffalo sauce. Like, I could eat straight spoonfuls of it. Yum.

But even with my wing-making and straight-sauce-eating, there was still a bit left at the bottom of the bottle. So when I saw this recipe the other day, I knew I had to make it.

I wanted to healthify it a bit, so I added some chopped broccoli. And I shredded the chicken because I hate giant chunks of chicken in pasta.

It has the basic delicious, creamy mac n’ cheese taste with a hint of an undiscernable kick to it. You definitely should pour drizzle some more buffalo sauce on top when it comes out of the oven if you like it as much as I do. Nate just ate it as-is which is totally fine too.

Make this tonight!


Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Print here!

serves 4-6

1 pound pasta
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken breast (about 2.5 large boneless breasts)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 + 1/3 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese + more for topping
10 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)+ more for topping
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

salt and pepper to taste

for garnish: 3/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, additional buffalo wing sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions. Put drained pasta back in pot.

While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and once it’s melted and bubbly add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes until mixture gets a bit golden in color.

Add milk. Bring to a boil and whisk constantly until it thickens. Continue stirring until milk thickens. Add in grated cheese and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in buffalo wing sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

Spray a baking dish (9 x 13 is fine) with non-stick spray.

Add chicken and broccoli into pot with pasta, then pour cheese sauce over and mix throughly until everything is coated. Pour mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese and bread crumbs.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately top with gorgonzola and green onions. Drizzle with buffalo wing sauce.

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i.e. Heaven on a Plate

Nate and I have had non-stop plans since Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, we love travelling and spending time with family and friends, but sometimes it’s nice to have a lazy weekend at home where we can sleep in (a luxurious 8 am), and make something fantastic for breakfast.

Nate’s in the midst of his marathon training since he qualified for the Boston Marathon, so I try to make meals with enough calories to carry him through his runs.

I’m not gonna lie and tell you that these waffles are perfect for your New Year’s diet, but I can tell you that they’re worth every.single.calorie.  I actually cut down on the amount of butter and bacon in the original recipe, if you can believe it.

They taste like cornbread with a bite of bacon in every forkful. The thyme-infused syrup is herby and delicious- a combo I’d never have dreamed up on my own.

So please, make this for someone you love this weekend.


Cornmeal-Bacon Waffles with Thyme-Infused Maple Syrup
Slightly adapted from Leite’s Culinaria

Print this recipe!

makes 12-14 waffles 

For the thyme-infused syrup:

8 small sprigs fresh thyme
1  cup pure maple syrup
8 whole black peppercorns
4  tablespoons cold water

For the cornmeal-bacon waffles:

1 pound thick-cut bacon
4 large eggs
3 cups (12 fluid ounces) buttermilk, plus more as needed
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Make the thyme-infused syrup:

Pull off most of the leaves from the thyme. Place both the leaves and the stems in a small saucepan with the maple syrup, peppercorns, and water. Place over very low heat and bring to a very gently simmer. Let it bubble for 10 minutes to infuse the syrup with thyme. Strain the syrup into a pitcher. (You can make the syrup up to 3 days ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate, then gently reheat over low heat just before serving.)

Make the cornmeal-bacon waffles:

Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crisp, turning once, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let stand until cool enough to handle. Crumble the bacon into small pieces. You should have about 1 1/4 cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and butter. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper, if using. Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture, then pour in the egg mixture. Whisk until the batter is mostly smooth with just a few lumps. If the batter is too thick, stir in another 1 to 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Gently fold in the bacon.

Preheat your waffle maker.

Ladle the batter into the waffle maker, using 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter per batch and spreading the batter so that it almost reaches the edges. Cook until crisp and browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a spatula, remove the waffles and serve hot or place on a baking sheet in a single layer in a 200°F (95°C) oven for up to 20 minutes while you make the rest with the remaining batter. Drizzle with the warm thyme-infused syrup.

Enjoy!

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It was about time for a Daring Bakers Challenge that was more fun and less annoying/frustrating/want-to-throw-all-my-baking-supples-out-the-window.

For January we were put to the scone making test! Although in this case, “scone” meant the European scone, which is actually called a biscuit in America. And biscuits in America are scones in Europe.

Backwards, right?

Anyway, we were allowed to put whatever fixins’ we wanted into the mix and I went with dill and cheddar, since I had both in my fridge. They suggested to use chives and cheddar but i’m glad I went with dill.

I served it alongside the veggie soup from the other night and they were just perfect…flaky, fluffy, flavorful, cheesy. Make these tonight!

Blog-checking lines: Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!


Cheddar Dill Biscuits

Print this recipe!

Makes 5-8 depending on biscuit size

Recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp mustard powder
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.

Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)

Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.

Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be! Mix in cheese and dill.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)

Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.

Place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.

Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.

Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

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For Christmas, Nate surprised me with a quick long-weekend trip to San Francisco over MLK weekend. He considers SF his “hometown” because he was born there- never mind that his parents moved to the east coast when he was 3 months old.

If you try to tell him that he’s from Delaware, he will vehemently deny it. I used to ask him why it was so important for him to be “from” San Francisco, but now that I’ve been there I can see why he’s so adamant about it being his birth place. It’s a beautiful city with equal parts beach, mountains, forests, suburbs, city. It has a little bit of everything.

view of SF from the Rock.

On Saturday we went to Alcatraz. The audio tour was beyond cool. If you haven’t been, you must go! We also visited the ferry building with its amazing food, the gorgeous Palace of Fine Arts, the Wharf where dozens of sea lions come to sunbathe, and the picturesque Land’s End walking path with views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Sunday morning we ventured out to Muir Woods, hoping to get there before the crowds. I think it could be one of the prettiest, most serene places I’ve ever been. There’s something about a damp, shady forest that I find so relaxing…not to mention how amazingly fresh it smells!

I don’t know about you, but my sense of smell is my strongest sense and I find myself smelling everything. It’s a little weird, actually, the way I smell any new thing I encounter. For some reason I feel the need to assess a smell even if I know it’s going to be a bad one. Maybe I’m part dog.

Though nothing will even come close to the smell of that cool damp forest, odors emanating from the kitchen come a close second 😉 While this soup isn’t the most fragrant thing I’ve ever cooked, it smells pretty darn delicious on a cold winter’s day, warming the room (and your belly!) right up.

It’s a very light soup, lighter than I’d imagined. I served it with some Cheddar Dill biscuits (recipe on Friday), but perhaps it would be best as a first course or a very light meal with some crusty bread.



Winter Vegetable Soup with Lentils

Slightly Adapted from Real Simple

Print this recipe!

serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 leeks (white and light green parts), cut into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp hot sauce (such as Tabasco) or more to taste
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce; optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a spoon, for 5 minutes.

Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Stir in the sweet potatoes, kale, lentils, thyme, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Simmer until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread, biscuits, or as an appetizer.

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