Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Taste of Emeril

A crazy weekend in Philly that included 12hrs on the train left me with a nasty cold that is ever-so-slowly getting better. While I did some cooking, I couldn't taste it until this weekend :/ I've been meaning to give a shoutout to Foodbuzz's Tastemaker program, through which I recieved some Emeril goodies to try out. I used the organic Vegetable stock when I made Kalyn's Autumn Harvest Soup this past week. As I normally use chicken stock, I was very impressed with the flavor of the stock and would definitely use it again if the price was right! I don't know if it was my particular spices, but I felt like the soup could've used a bit more. That also might have been my taste buds ;) This was also a delight to eat texture-wise as it combined kale, butternut, and farro! Not quite chicken soup, I think it had enough nutritional goodness to help fight my cold ;)

Autumn Harvest Soup

Boston-area bloggers/readers/friends: Let me know if you're interested in an apple-picking adventure at Smolak Farms this Sunday morning!!

Anyone else have plans to do some apple picking this fall?? I may have to try my hand at making apple cider donuts...

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's raining figs- hallelujah!

Imagine my delight when I saw fresh black mission figs at trader joes? I picked up a 1lb container, and when I saw they were only $4, I went back and got 2 more :) ... I couldn't help it! Luckily I had a few to play with even after eating a few right away.

I busted out one of the cookbooks I got for my birthday, The Frugal Foodie, to find a recipe for Chicken w/Fresh Figs & Wine Sauce. You can actually find the recipe on the authors' site Two Fat Als here. The cookbook has a great premise (gourmet cooking on a budget), and if this dish is any indication, it's a winner! I'm guessing lean pork or tofu would also work well with this sauce.

Chix w/Figs & Wine Sauce

Another dish I tried was for pan-seared salmon paired with a caramelized onion and fig sauce from recipezaar (click here for recipe). This was delicious, although very rich with the salmon and sweet sauce. It may have been the fact that I was a little heavy-handed with the balsamic, though, so I wouldn't hold it against the recipe ;)

Salmon w/Caramelized Onions & Figs

My last treat was inspired by this ice cream. I wanted to try a few different things, and I ended up with a concoction that almost tasted like fig cheesecake! I like the flavors better when it wasn't too hard (fresh from churning), so don't try to serve it completely frozen.

Fig Ice Cream

Fig Ice Cream
Recipe by Shannon, adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini

1 lb figs, trimmed and cut into quarters
1/4c water
1 lemon
~1/4c honey
75g greek yogurt
75g goat cheese
1/2T lemon juice

In medium saucepan, combine figs, 1/4c water and zest of 1/2 lemon. Cover and cook for a few minutes. Add honey, stir to combine and continue to cook uncovered until thickens to a jam-like consistency, stirring occasionally. Let cool completely.

In a food processor, puree fig mixture, yogurt, goat cheese, and lemon juice. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately, or store in freezer. Allow ice cream to soften a bit before serving.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hanging on to Summer

I've been enjoying a lot of simple things lately that have been gobbled up before my camera even thought of coming out to play-- grilled cheese sandwiches with home-grown tomatoes (thanks mom!), pita pizzas (including one with green tomatoes and an egg which I loved), salads and even breakfast for dinner.

I did manage to catch a photo of the brownie batter buttons I made, drizzled with a bit of barney butter. Phew, that's alot of b's :) If you're looking for a unique way to use up some chocolate amazing grass, head over to Katie's site for the recipe!

Brownie Batter Buttons

I've also been hanging on to the last bit of summer, making burgers, muesli, and a grain salad chock-full of summer's bounty. The burger recipe came from grad school, when a friend of mine was trying to remember Weber's recipe off the top of his head. I've continued to make it this way since then, although I have since switched to ground buffalo or lean grass fed beef. Red meat isn't a huge part of my diet, but I do get cravings for a good burger :) These knocked my socks off, but I may have been swayed by the lettuce and tomatoes, which came straight from mom's garden!

Randy's Burgers

2lbs ground meat (I used ground buffalo)
~20ml ketchup
~7.5ml worchestire sauce
~1/2t salt
few grinds of fresh ground pepper
cayenne pepper (how much depends on your taste buds!)
~1/2-1t dried thyme

Burger tips: Bring the meat to room temperature. Don't handle it too much when mixing it together. When forming the patties, a depression in the center will help to prevent a puffy center (keeping the burger flatter). I seem to recall the recommendation to cook these at med-hi heat, 3.5min/side.

My muesli kick started after getting a sample in my last race packet. For my own version, I combined 1/2c thick cut rolled oats, unsweetened coconut, dried cranberries, chopped almonds, ground flax and some cinnamon. At night I'd mix an individual-sized greek yogurt and a splash of milk, stir it together, and pop it in the fridge. In the morning, a little more milk and some cantaloupe or a peach made a fantastic, filling breakfast.

Muesli w/cantaloupe

I also gave a new grain a try--farro! It's alot like wheat or spelt berries, and cooked kinda like pasta (in a pot of boiling salted water, then drained when plump). Like similar grains, I loved the chew. Paired with some of my favorite things (corn, fresh green beans and goat cheese), this salad was a winner (click here for the recipe)! While I added some poached chicken, I could see chickpeas or some roasted tofu going perfectly as well. I didn't have marjoram, so I used about half the amount of oregano (I read they're in the same family, with marjoram being the mellower member).

Chix, Green Bean, Corn & Farro Salad w/Goat Cheese

I'll leave you with a picture from the weekend, from an awesome hike in NH with the owners of this pup :)

from the top of Mt. Monadnock

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Musselman's Healthy Picks

*chirp chirp*

Sorry about the absence over here... while i'm trying to get my mojo back, there's something I've been meaning to get to-- a review for the new line of Musselman's applesauce. I'd seen it on a few blogs, but was excited for the chance to try it myself (Thanks Krista!!).

The Healthy Picks line of applesauce is designed to be a healthy, portable snack for us busy folks. It comes in three flavors: Blueberry Pomegranate, Raspberry Açaí and Key Lime Cupuaçu. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to try these was that there is no added sugar--apples are sweet (or they should be when you make applesauce!), no need to add anything extra. I also am attracted to flavored applesauce, as the plain varieties don't hold my attention unless they're homemade. The nutritionals aren't bad at 70 cal/cup and 3g fiber, and an ingredient list that is pretty respectable.

My impression? I think these are a great snack option! I found that one of these and a handful of almonds (i have the dark cocoa roast ones at work now) were able to keep the hunger at bay for a couple of hours. Packaged applesauce will never have the consistency of the homemade stuff I love (which I thought I had posted but couldn't find?). But these are great options to have around whenever and wherever you might need a pick-me-up. I liked each of the flavors, my favorite probably the Blueberry Pomegranate. I didn't think the Key Lime tasted like lime... what it was, I couldn't put my finger--er, tongue-- on. Still good, and none of them were too sweet.

I often use applesauce to replace some of the fat in baked goods, but it's never a large volume. These smaller containers would be great here as well, so long as it was a fruity loaf. Musselman's also suggests popping the applesauce in the freezer for 30min for a slushy treat. I bet this would be great in the summer heat! Want to try it yourself? Click here for a coupon and tell them I sent you!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Versatile Dip

Thanks for all your comments on my race :) I may have dried out from last weekend's events, but my legs have been a bit slow to recover! That's ok, it'll give me time to bring up something I made... oh, I won't try to remember! I had roasted an eggplant and decided to make Hungry Girl's Creamy Eggplant Dip. My proportions were a little off as my eggplant wasn't as big as called for, but it was still yummy! I enjoyed it a few ways over the week:

Over heirloom tomatoes...

with homemade pita chips (seasoned w/salt, pepper, cumin, little cayenne)...

And maybe my favorite way...

This was a concoction almost entirely made in the microwave! Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do :) Brown and wild rice from a microwavable pouch, canned chickpeas (well-rinsed), broccoli and beans that I steamed... in the microwave with one of those steamer bags. Combined with the creamy dip, this made for an amazing lunch! Especially when the broccoli was from a family friend's garden and the beans from the farmers market were purple :)

Aren't they gorgeous? Even though they turned green after cooking, they still made me happy! I can't wait to get more eggplant... what's your favorite thing to do with it?
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