Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Salty Apple Shortbread

You guys.

These cookies.

You need to make them!

I knew Dawn was onto something with her salty apple shortbread.  I immediately wanted to make them, and knew I needed to add honey and cheese.  It took three tries to get the recipe right, but man, it was worth it!

Salty Apple Shortbread w/Honey & Gruyere
adapted from evil shenanigans & vanilla sugar
yield:  16-24, depending on how you cut them

The key here is to use a pan that is large enough so they don't come out too thick and cake-like.  The balance of flavors here is also delicate-- cave-aged gruyere was a little too strong, and clover honey was too mild to taste.

7 1/4oz whole wheat pastry flour
2T arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1/3c sugar
3/4c cold butter, cut into cubes
2oz mild cheese, grated (TJ's gruyere/cheddar blend was perfect)
1t kosher salt
3T wildflower honey (or similar)
3/4c tart sweet apple, finely chopped (honeycrisp or pink lady)
fleur de sel, or other flaky sea salt, to taste

Heat the oven to 350deg.

To the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, arrowroot, sugar, butter, gruyere, salt and honey.  Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and blend on low speed.  When the mixture is just about to come together, add in the apples and continue mixing until a dough forms.  Transfer the dough to a 9 or 9.5" quiche/tart pan (or springform pan) and press down evenly into the pan.  Sprinkle with flaky salt.

Bake for 30-35min, until the edges are browned and the center almost set.  Cool completely in the pan, and then lift them out via removable bottom (or spring-loaded sides).  Cut into bars or wedges using a sharp knife.

Sweet.  Salty.  I can't get enough!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Easy Butternut Soup

I'm not sure you've noticed, but...  I (finally) joined Pinterest.  If we hadn't passed December 21, 2012, I would've thought the world ended ;)  You can follow my pins to see what's caught my eye on other food blogs.  I also created a board with recipes that I've made and loved but haven't had a chance to share with you here (most recently southwestern chicken spaghetti squash salad and mushroom bourguignon).

Meanwhile, this soup!  I can't believe I haven't already shared this soup with you.  It is a staple here and is so easy this barely qualifies as a recipe.  Nevertheless it's a great recipe to have in your book when time is short.

Topped with a swirl of greek yogurt and sprinkling of chives

Easy Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 2-4

1 butternut squash (or other variety)
Fresh herbs (rosemary or thyme work well)
goat cheese, if desired
stock (any kind will do)

Step 1: Roast your favorite squash- I usually cut a butternut squash in half, and then roast (flesh side down) at 400deg until it's easily pierced by a fork.  If you have any fresh herbs, feel free to throw them with the squash (I often put some rosemary in the cavity of the butternut squash).

Step 2: Once the squash has cooled, scrape out the flesh and blend with some stock (may have to do this in batches).

Step 3: Add squash to a large pot and heat over medium heat.  I always throw in some goat cheese and stir until melted, but it's completely up to you.  Use stock to create your desired consistency.

Step 4:  Ladle into bowls to serve.  Garnish as you like, with a drizzle of chili oil, a swirl of greek yogurt, chopped herbs or even savory granola!

Served with savory granola

Savory granola was a pretty new concept for me, but I got really excited as soon as I came across it.  I've tried two recipes so far and this one from Clotilde was the favorite.  This savory, salty granola is fabulous on soup, but can also pass as a snack on its own.  I can't wait to try it on salads or even roasted veggies!

Have you ever tried savory granola??  What's your go-to recipe for an easy lunch or dinner?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chocolate POM Pancakes

There's something about the warmth of your blankets in the morning and the prospect of putting my feet on the cold wooden floor that makes me want to stay in bed indefinitely.  When my stomach starts grumbling, these pancakes are worth jumping out of bed for!

To keep these suitable for breakfast, I kept the pancakes batter not too sweet and added in just enough chocolate chips to make each bite was filled with melty chips and crunchy pomegranate seeds.  Treat yourself this weekend and make a batch, I know I will be :)

Chocolate Pomegranate Pancakes
adapted from Lauren (these are my favorite variety)
Serves: 2

1c minus 2T whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat or AP flour)
2T cocoa powder (I used this kind)
1t evaporated cane juice (or more if desired)
1t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t cinnamon
pinch of salt
1c buttermilk
1 egg
1t vanilla
1/4c semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for garnish
3/4c pomegranate arils, plus more for garnish

In a large measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg and vanilla.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, add dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Whisk well to combine.  Add chocolate chips and pomegranate arils and gently toss to coat.  Pour in buttermilk mixture and stir until just combined.

Heat a large nonstick griddle over medium low heat.  Coat with cooking spray if you need to (mine works well even without) and once hot, use a 1/4-cup measure to spoon out pancake batter.  Cook a 2-3 minutes, until you start to see bubbles on the surface.  Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes.

Serve, topped with extra pomegranate seeds and chocolate chips.

What will you be cooking up this weekend??

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Spicy Stout Mustard

Why didn't anyone tell me how easy it is to make mustard??  As my taste buds have grown up matured, mustard has become a favorite way to add a little flavor to sandwiches and dressings.  Easy enough to do after work, you simply combine all the ingredients in a jar and let it sit for a day, and then blend in your food processor!  You don't even need to can it, as it will last a good 6 months in the fridge.

Due to the high proportion of brown mustard seeds, this version has a kick- feel free to use more yellow mustard seeds if you'd like to mellow it.  So far I've tried it on sandwiches and homemade soft pretzels, but I can imagine it to be a fantastic addition to a grilled cheese with apples, ham and gruyere/cheddar!

Spicy Stout Mustard
slightly adapted from The Taste of Oregon
yield:  ~3 1/2c

12oz Pretty Things Babayaga (a winter ale whose malt gets smoked on rosemary)
1 1/4c brown mustard seeds
1/4c yellow mustard seeds
1c red wine vinegar
1T kosher salt
1t freshly ground black pepper
1/4t ground cinnamon
1/4t ground cloves
1/4t freshly ground nutmeg
1/4t ground allspice

Combine all ingredients in a large glass container and cover with plastic wrap.  Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 1-2 days to allow the mustard seeds to soften and flavors to meld.

Add mixture to a food processor and blend until seeds are coarsely ground and mixture begins to thicken, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Transfer to clean jars with lids.  Refrigerate for up to 6 months.

*I attempted to can the mustard using these instructions and upon doing so wound up with a mustard-y water bath and jars of dried out mustard.  Thus, I wouldn't recommend it.  If you want to try to seal canning jars, I'd suggest 1/2" headspace and processing just a few minutes...  but I'm not an expert!

Have you ever made your own mustard?  If so, do you have a favorite recipe?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Best of 2012

As we enter the second week of 2013, I wanted to recap some of the highlights from my kitchen last year.  It's always fun to browse through old posts and remember how many tasty things you've eaten :)

1.  The most viewed post here on Tri to Cook published in 2012 was my Kale Basil Pesto.  As kale has taken the place of spinach as my favorite green, it finds itself into many dishes here!  I enjoyed it on pasta as well as pizza, and know that it'll be made as soon as I have another prosperous basil plant!

2.  I finally crossed one item off my kitchen bucket list when I made macarons for a friend's baby shower.  These Red Velvet Macarons were filled with an amazing cinnamon cream cheese buttercream that was the perfect accompaniment to the cocoa-kissed shells.

3.  In the battle of the baby macarons, I have to say that the Lavender Macarons with Honey-Vanilla Mascarpone were my personal favorite, with a combination of flavors that are in perfect harmony.  There's not much else I can say about these, except that you should make them!!

4.  I combined a few more of my favorite things when making this Egg Roulade-  goat cheese, sweet potatoes, avocado and black beans make their way into an egg wrapper for one of my favorite brunch dishes this past year.  Easier than it looks, this makes an impressive dish to serve to guests!

5.  My Butternut Apple Bruschetta truly celebrates the cooler seasons and absolutely deserves to be on a Best-Of list.  Fabulous for parties, especially since the toppings can be prepared ahead of time!

Photo credit to Cara!

7.  Perhaps 2012 should be renamed the year of enchiladas, as these Butternut Black Bean Enchiladas were only one of the several varieties I made!  Stuffed with a mixture of black beans and kale, then smothered with a butternut squash-based sauce, these are definitely a way to ring in the new year. 

6.  When I dreamed up my Apple BBQ Sauce, I didn't imagine it to be as successful as it was, but it was good enough that I made another batch or two before tomato season ended!  This year I'll have to make a large batch and store some in the freezer so I can use it all year long.  I used it as a sauce for herbed turkey meatballs, pizza and even a few batches of enchiladas!

8.  Something happened this year that I never really dreamed as possible (at least not while I was in the 30-34 age group).  On a chilly morning at a sprint triathlon not too far away I finished first in my AG, qualifying me for nationals this year.  I knew my performance was solid during the race, but had no idea what was in store!

9.  This popular post could have had two titles- 'Ideas for your Superbowl Party' or 'How to Cater a Party for 40'.  Last holiday season I convinced my parents to let me cater the party they had for friends and my dads' colleagues.  I had fun planning and executing with the help of my family!

10.  Since I love all things almond, and go through cinnamon like there's no tomorrow, I couldn't wait to play with the concept of a horchata.  These Horchata Cupcakes, filled with dulce de leche were a delicious end to a dinner date with good friends.

11.  You guys love dishes that can do double-duty as much as I do!  I combined sweet potatoes and red lentils to create a party appetizer over the weekend and then morphed it into a soup for lunches during the week.

12.  I'm a huge fan of cocktails that work well both virgin and alcoholic, especially when it seems like everyone I know is pregnant these days ;)  This Pomegranate Vanilla Punch was absolutely delicious, no matter whether you added some bubbly or not!

I have no idea what 2013 has in store, but I know it'll be quite the ride!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Kale & Brussels Salad

Welcome 2013!

You're welcome for not posting a cookie recipe ;)  Although I do have one that I can't wait to share with you, I decided to get the year started with a healthy, delicious salad.  During the colder months, I tend to go for hearty greens and like to include something warm...  probably because I'm always cold.

The brussels sprouts were a new addition to this salad, a regular in my kitchen, and I like adding a little variety to the greens.  The toppings depend on what vegetables get roasted each week, and sometimes I even remember to add goat cheese and toasted pecans!

Kale & Brussels Salad w/Butternut Squash
inspired by Joanne & Brandi

3c butternut squash cubes
1 head kale
12oz brussles, trimmed
pomegranate arils

For the dressing:
3T extra virgin olive oil
2T grade B maple syrup
2T white balsamic vinegar
1t dijon
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400deg.

Add butternut squash to a bowl and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Spread onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-30min, or until tender.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the salad greens.  Wash and de-stem the kale, then tear into pieces or roughly chop.  Add kale to a large bowl.  Thinly slice the brussels sprouts and add them to the kale.  Prepare the dressing by adding ingredients to a small bowl (could also use a measuring cup or shake up in a tightly sealed jar).  Pour dressing over greens and toss well to combine.  Set greens aside.

Once the squash is roasted, remove from the oven.  Plate salad greens, then top with butternut squash and pomegranate arils before serving.

What's your favorite kind of salad in the winter months??  Did you make any resolutions for 2013?
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