Monday, April 27, 2009



I first heard about ramps last year when I started frequenting the farmers markets as often as I could, but didn't pick them up until this year. What are ramps, anyways? They're a wild leek that has the bulb of a scallion with leaves that remind me of sage (without the fuzzies). A member of the onion family, ramps definitely had more bite than any onion I've ever had! Almost reminded me of garlic in its strength, but definitely onion in flavor. In my online searches I often came across the terms 'pungent' and 'stinky' to describe them. I picked up a small bunch and tried them out in 2 recipes, both of which I really enjoyed! Might not be the best choice for a first date though ;)

First up was a simple scrambled eggs with ramps, inspired by this recipe. Since I didn't have morels and asparagus on hand, I just kept it simple :) It was amazing how much flavor these 'simple' eggs had!!

Scrambled Eggs w/Ramps

The next day Amy posted a recipe for Linguine w/Sausage & Ramps and I knew that was next! Instead of linguine I had some very broken fettucine, which don't do the recipe justice--go check out the original post!! And don't be afraid of new veggies at your local farmers markets :)

Pasta w/Sausage & Ramps

Friday, April 24, 2009

PB Crackers

With the last of my PB2, I wanted to try and make some PB Crackers. I used this recipe as a guideline and they actually came out pretty well! A bit of a mild peanut flavor, but that's ok. They made for some yummy snacks!

They were also good paired with chocolate or honey-cardamom ricotta for dessert :) I bet a pumpkin dip would've worked well, too!

Peanut Butter Crackers
Adapted from Heaven is Chocolate, Cheese & Carbs

1.5c WW flour
1c PB2 (powdered peanut butter)
1t sugar
1 1/3t Vietnamese cinnamon
1t salt
1T agave nectar
1/4c canola oil (I used Smart Balance)
3/4c cold water, divided
cinnamon sugar and fine sea salt for topping

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix together flour, PB2, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add agave, oil and 3/8c water and mix. Continue to add water until you get a rough dry dough (I only used another 1/4c). Knead (I did this in the bowl) until the dough becomes a cohesive ball.

Divide dough in half. Roll out one half of dough in between two sheets of parchment paper as thin as possible. Cut dough into squares, rectangles, or whatever shape desired! Prick with a fork, then sprinkle on cinnamon sugar and a little bit of sea salt. Bake ~15min, turning halfway through. Roll out the other half while the first batch is cooking. Let cool before breaking apart (I don't know how necessary this is, some of mine were apart even before cooking!).

Ricotta Dips

I used part-skim to make these sweet accompaniments to my crackers, but they could easily enjoyed on their own! I eyeballed the amounts, but this is what I think went in...

For the chocolate variation: 1/2c ricotta, 1/2T unsweetened cocoa, and 1/2-1T agave nectar
For the honey-cardamom variation: 1/2c ricotta, 1/2-1T honey, 1/8t ground cardamom

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dine on Us!

When I was contacted by Foodbuzz to attend a blogger dinner on their dime, I couldn't say no ;) We met at Macchu Picchu for an evening of Peruvian cuisine this past weekend. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as the online menu was not translated and I've never been to Peru. My fellow diners included Caitlin, Tia, Mark and Finance Foodie. A very interesting group of folks, their tales of food and travels made me want to schedule my next trip!

I'll do my best to describe what you I got to try, but go check out Caitlin's review here--she knew what she was talking about!! First up was a Pisco Sour, a regional favorite that I had to try... sorry no picture. We started with some appetizers- Fried Yucca with a cheese sauce, (huge) Corn on the Cob with a mild white cheese and a Ceviche w/Shrimp and Fish.

Yuca a la Huancaina

Choclo Peruano con Queso

Ceviche Mixto (i think that's the version we had)

Yucca was another first for me, but it kind of reminded me of a potato. The corn had very large kernals and was a bit starch-ier than that which I'm used to, but it was tasty, as was the cheese served with it. The ceviche was also pretty good. I got a kick out of our server, who, upon seeing us start taking pictures of the food, said she would've brought out a prettier piece of corn!

At this point they also brought out these...
Which looked like roasted corn kernals. While the fresh kernals were good with the slight starchiness, I didn't care much for the roasted ones as this made them very dry.

For my main course, I went for a dish that was shrimp and spinach wrapped in chicken, served with a mass of spinach mashed potatoes and some steamed green beans. I'm going to spare you the aweful picture of this that I took, but I actually quite enjoyed it. Not sure how "peruvian" the dish is, but that's ok! While I did like most of the dishes up to this point, I must admit I was underwhelmed at the flavors of the dishes, they weren't very strongly seasoned. Whether this is normally the case in Peru, I only wish I could tell you!

Luckily we all went home with some Alfajores. Sorry I didn't get a picture of these either, but think buttery shortbread cookies with dulce de leche sandwiched in between. Umm, yeah, fantastic. I had one at the table, one when I got home, then quickly gave them to a friend to enjoy so I didn't have to tempt fate :) Thanks again to Caitlin and Foodbuzz for an enjoyable evening out!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Wow, I've been meaning to write this post for so long! But I just got to try out the recipe I had in mind, so it's finally time :) First I need to give a huge THANK YOU to Alex at Ile de France for giving me the opportunity to try their cheese!! I almost went with goat cheese, since I love it so, but decided to go for something i don't get very often--brie. I'm not well-versed in how to discern a high-class brie, but I do know that this was mighty tasty. It had a nice, uniform white rind and a creamy, mild taste. It sure did melt beautifully!! Here's what I have done with it so far...

First up were some amazing grilled cheeses (April is National Grilled Cheese month after all). The first used a nice ciabatta roll with some sliced grilled chicken breast and avocado slices. The brie almost disappeared into the bread, so luscious! I meant to add some dijon or grainy mustard, but forgot when it came time for assembly.

Next was a Black Forest Grilled Cheese (although normally "black forest" conjures images of chocolate and cherries, this name stuck in my head when I came up with it!). For this sandwich I topped a nice russian rye with oats with some brie, deli ham, and spiced sour cherry spread. Holy moly this knocked my socks off!!! The spiced cherry spread was not homemade, but needs to be recreated as soon as it's sour cherry season! The ingredient list included: cherries (both fresh and dried), burgandy wine reduction, ginger, lemon juice and "spices". SO good.

The last recipe I have to share is for a Nutty Quinoa w/Brie, Asparagus & Sundried Tomato Pesto. I wanted something a little different to submit to the Ile de France recipe contest (click for details, you have until the end of the month to submit a recipe!).

Nutty Quinoa w/Brie, Asparagus & Sundried Tomato Pesto
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 1 as a main dish, 2 as a side

Feel free to use more or less asparagus or brie, another spring veggie, or different whole grain in this dish, depending on what you're feeling at the moment (or have in your kitchen)!

1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed and rinsed
1-2T lemon-flavored olive oil
1/2c quinoa
1c water
1oz brie, diced
2T Sundried Tomato Pesto, see recipe below

Preheat oven to 450deg. Toss asparagus with oil, salt and pepper, then transfer to baking sheet. Roast asparagus for ~20min, or until desired doneness. Cut asparagus into ~1" pieces (I left some pieces for garnish)

Toast quinoa in a dry pot over low or med-low heat until it begins to pop. Keep an eye on it to prevent burning. Once toasted, add water and continue to cook over med-low heat for ~20min or so. The quinoa is done when you start to see 'tails' separate from mostly clear grains. Fluff quinoa with a fork, then mix in brie, asparagus and pesto. Transfer to serving dish and top with whole asparagus spears, if desired.

Sundried Tomato Pesto
Recipe by Shannon

This can be adjusted to suit your tastes-- I almost included some basil or other seasonings, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese.

10 sundried tomato halves
2T chopped walnuts
2-3T extra virgin olive oil

Pulse tomatoes and walnuts in food processor until crumbly and combined, then drizzle in enough olive oil for the mixture to come together.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jicama & Butternut Salad

**Sorry for the repost, but I added a bit about jicama since so many of you asked! See the bottom of the post**

Well, I have been so busy I've been doing very little cooking :( All these ideas floating in my head for brie and herbs, and no time to implement them! Mom even had everything all set for Easter, all I got to do was throw together a mousse parfait for dessert :) I'm not complaining, and it was Easter bunny-approved!

This was really simple--I took the cupboard shortcut of some boxed mix (strawberry and lemon mousse) and fruit in the fridge (mom stocked up, she knows me so well!!) to create a nice dessert for our dinner. I crumbled up a gingersnap on top for a little crunch.

Right, so you're wondering about the title of the post?!? I did have a chance to throw something together that was fun and exciting... A combination of textures and flavors that really seemed to come together. I combined some maple, chipotle-roasted butternut squash with crisp jicama, then topped it with some roasted pecans and dried fruit. Yum!

Jicama & Butternut Salad
Recipe by Shannon

1 small jicama, cut into matchsticks
bulbous end of a butternut squash
maple syrup
cayenne pepper
1-2T chopped toasted pecans
~2T dried cranberries (I had a mix with dried cranberries, cherries, pomegranate seeds, raspberries and boysenberries--from Trader Joe's)

Preheat oven to 450degrees.

Cut butternut squash into half rounds and toss with enough maple syrup to coat (I didn't measure but it was prob ~2T for a big squash). Season with salt and cayenne pepper (use your judgement for amounts on this one!). Roast at 450degrees until nice and roasted, flipping after ~15min or so.

Combine jicama and roasted butternut on a plate, then top with toasted pecans and dried cranberries. Dig in!

Sorry for the lack of accurate measurements, but I was just flying by the seat of my pants! I am SO happy that tomorrow is Friday, anyone with me??

What is jicama you asked? It goes by Mexican potato or turnip, but I can assure you it tastes nothing like a turnip! Jicama is the edible root of a poisonous vine called yam bean (which the root can also be referred to). Nutritionally speaking, it's a great source of fiber, Vitamin C, and water (it's 85-90% water). Jicama is mildly sweet (from inulin) but doesn't have an overpowering flavor. Crisp and crunchy, it is great to much on its own or to use in salads... I have yet to try it cooked though!

Other jicama recipes I've featured
Jicama Fall Slaw
Shrimp, Jicama & Mango Salad
Grilled Corn, JIcama & Mango Salad

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Babka

Wow, what a week! I am busy trying to come up with some good recipes for my brie and herbs, so I am withholding from you guys ;-) Don't worry, I'm not leaving you empty handed in this post--I made you some bread!

This one is another family recipe, a traditional Babka, that makes excellent ham sandwiches!

My great grandmother was quite the cook and baker, but she lacked a knack for formal recipes. When it came time to make this bread, I had 3 of her recipes in front of me, all of them a little different :) Different amounts of butter or different ways of combining the ingredients, I tried to use my intuition but I think i'd make a few adjustments next time (i'll note them in the recipe below). This is a basic sweet dough, that can be used as the base of Poppyseed or Date Bread (which were also staples at our table). I haven't tackled those yet though, one thing at a time!

After the second rise

adapted from Babci's recipes

1c milk (I used Lactaid)
1/2c butter (I used salted here)
1/2c sugar
1t salt (increase if using unsalted butter)
2pkg yeast
1/2c warm water
scant 1T sugar
4-6c AP flour
1t grated lemon peel (can use dried lemon peel)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2c raisins (more if you want it to be more of a raisin bread)

In a small pot, combine milk, butter, 1/2c sugar and salt. Heat on low until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm. This is important, you don't want to kill your yeast (I did this at Christmas time... oops!).

Sprinkle yeast on warm water in a small bowl and add 1T sugar. Let stand ~5-10min (or more), it should be bubbly!

In the bowl of a mixer, add cooled milk mixture and beat little bit so it is well combined, then add the eggs and mix. Add 2c flour, lemon peel and raisins, beat well. Mix in the yeast. At this point you can change to the dough hook and knead in the bowl, or do it by hand. I chose to do most of it with the mixer (the dirty part) and finished it off by hand, on a floured surface. While kneading, add in enough flour so the dough starts to come away from the bowl and becomes smooth and no longer sticky. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until at least doubled.

Punch dough down after 1st rise. If you're making loaves, you can shape them however you want. If you were making Poppyseed Bread or other filled loaf, you would roll it out at this point and fill it accordingly. Let rise again 1.5-2hrs. Before baking, you can do an egg wash (I forgot for the first one, did for the second). Bake at 350deg for 30min + (depending on the size). The round free-form loaf I made took ~35min, while the tall one was done at 30min. They're done when they sound hollow when tapped. Then try really hard not to cut it before its cooled :)

Anyone else see someone smiling at you??

I've been so busy at work this week I'm behind on my blog reading, but I did come across a few contests... if you have any interest in Bob's Red Mill products, Barney Butter (just don't do this with it!!!), Everybody's Nuts, Mix My Granola, Zesty clothing, Jocolat and Glo bars, Honest Foods, or a Navan Foods gift certificate, you'd better get clicking! Phew, my fingers are tired, time to go rest :) Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oikos Greek Yogurt

I have to be honest, the very first time I tried Greek Yogurt, I didn't like it. It was the nutritionals that got me coming back for more, and now I really enjoy it! It's got a tang to it, which I wasn't used to. But I started by adding a little drizzle of honey (or agave), mixing in some fruit or granola, and have really come to love it, even on its own. Heck, crumble in a warm brownie or cookie and I'll bet you'll eat it :) And what a great protein-boost to that dessert!

As I mentioned in my last post, Kristina from Stoneyfield Farm was nice enough to offer up some coupons to try Oikos. Who am I kidding, I've definitely had it before, but I'm not one to turn down free greek yogurt :) It is the only organic greek yogurt on the market! For those unfamiliar with greek yogurt, it is thicker than regular yogurt as it has been strained to remove the whey. Which I'll be honest, confuses me, as I thought the protein was in the whey... yet greek yogurt has easily 3x the amount of protein than other yogurts. Can anyone clear this up for me? I did learn something from their website--strained yogurt stays fresher longer, and is less likely to curdle when cooked! Ok, on to the yogurt...

With my free coupons, I picked up one of each flavor: plain, honey (not pictured), vanilla, and blueberry. While the plain had the tart/tang normally associated with greek yogurt, the flavored variations did not. Those would be another good starting point if you're just trying them out for the first time. They were all thick, creamy, and delicious! The flavored ones weren't too sweet (the honey had a nice subtle flavor-- I didn't even realize there was actual honey on the bottom until i got there!) and all had under 20g sugar. I like the flavored ones when i'm on the go, or attempt to have it for dessert if my dinner isn't particularly heavy on protein. Otherwise I normally stick to plain and add whatever fruit I have around.

Besides wanting a few more actual blueberries in the blueberry yogurt, the only drawback is price. I usually stick to what's on sale, or Trader Joe's 2% (couldn't believe the difference from 0%!!), so Oikos is a splurge or coupon purchase for me. I really can't pick a favorite between Fage, Chiobani, Oikos, TJ's... I've come to love them all! Icelandic yogurt ( or siggi's) might win out if it weren't for the cost, but right now I'm a post-doc in Boston. (aka not swimming in it!)

Thanks again Kristina, I love your greek yogurt!! Ok everyone, what are you waiting for?? Once you go greek, you'll never go back ;-) Who's with me??

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Goodies Galore

I have recently gotten alot of goodies that I will be posting more about soon (reviews and hopefully recipes!). Here's what I'm excited about...

Matt from Daregal sent me some frozen herbs.

A chance to try some brie from Ile de France!

And some free Oikos from Kristina at Stonyfield Farms.

The excitement doesn't end there folks! There are giveaways for Erin Baker's Wholesome Goodies, Zoe's Granola, Mix My Granola, and I'll leave in suspense for the last one-- a goodie bag (you'll have to click on over to see the loot!)

Last, but not least, I leave you with another winning recipe from Susan- Chili Mac. I mixed up the proportions a bit to make 2 servings with what I had on hand, and really enjoyed this simple one-dish meal :) Have a great rest of the week everyone!

Chili Mac
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