Friday, October 30, 2009

A Tribute Meal- Hot Dogs & Potatoes

The passing of a family member is always hard, but I think it's important to celebrate their life and enjoy the memories you will keep with you. At my grandfather's memorial service, I couldn't help but to be in awe of all he accomplished with his almost 89 years. A man of many talents, he was incredibly generous with his time and touched many lives. Now I know where my dad gets it!

Me & Poppy

When it comes to food, there are certain things that I'll always remember about Poppy. The ends of bread were always his, and liked things crispy. Crispy may be putting it lightly, as that usually meant charred and overcooked ;) One of his favorite meals was hot dogs and potatoes. This week, I made it for him--here's to you, Poppy!

The general idea is to fry up some thinly sliced white potatoes, season with salt, pepper and paprika, and add in some sliced hot dogs and hot peppers. I tried to minimize the oil and used turkey dogs, but... it wasn't as good as I remember it. What can I say, most things are better when Nanny (or mom) makes it! Regardless, I'm sure Poppy was eye-ing the nice crispy layer that formed on the bottom of my stainless saute pan ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Apple Cider Doughnuts

With the acquisition of a mini doughnut pan and some farm-fresh apple cider, I knew I wanted to create a healthier version of one of my favorite fall treats--cider doughnuts! After some field research ;) and online searching, I came up with a recipe that can be enjoyed a bit more often than its fried counterpart! I think the taste is pretty spot-on, but the texture was more like a muffin. My testers (thanks Elina and Kerstin) seemed to enjoy them, though!

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Baked Cider Doughnuts
Recipe by Shannon, adapted from Diana's Desserts and the Food Network
Yield: ~16 mini doughnuts

I filled mine a bit too much, and the top looked almost like muffins! I'd fill them a little more than half-way, as these little doughnuts will rise. You may get more out of them this way. A regular-size doughnut pan can also be used.

For the apple puree:
1 apple, peeled and diced (I used Cortland)
3/4c apple cider

Dry ingredients:
1c whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat)
3/4t baking powder
3/4t baking soda
1t cinnamon
1/4t salt
1/8t fresh grated nutmeg (I eye-balled this amount)

Wet ingredients:
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/3c turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)
1/4c apple puree (from above)
1 1/2oz maple syrup (I used grade B)
1 1/2oz apple cider
1 1/2oz greek yogurt
1 1/2T veggie oil (I use Smart Balance Omega blend)

For the topping:
1c apple cider
1/4c powdered sugar
cinnamon-sugar mixture (I used a premade mix from gosh knows when!)

Prepare the apple puree by simmering the diced apple and 3/4c cider over med-low heat until broken down. Puree with immersion blender (or regular one). You should have 1/4c puree. If you have more than this, return to heat and simmer until reduced. Let cool. This can be made ahead, if you'd like.

Preheat oven to 375deg. Spray doughnut pan lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. To prepare the glaze: add 1c cider to small saucepan and simmer over med-low heat until reduced to ~1/4c. Whisk in 1c powdered sugar until smooth and glossy. Use more cider or powdered sugar to adjust consistency if needed.

Combine the dry ingredients and whisk/stir well together in a small bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a medium bowl . Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined. In prepared doughnut pan, fill cavities halfway full. Bake ~10min, until they spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and turn onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Add cinnamon-sugar to plate. When cooled slightly, dip top (and/or bottom) of doughnuts in glaze and then into cinn-sugar mix. Serve warm.

These are best served the day you make them, but I stored some in the fridge overnight and they made for a perfect post-run treat! Just warm for a few seconds and dig in :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

And the winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway!! I have many new blogs to check out, hopefully I'll be able to make the rounds in the next week or so :) For those of you who visited Tri to Cook for the first time, I hope to see you again! To entice you back, I'll let you know that tomorrow I'll be posting some Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts...

without further ado, thanks to, the winner is...

Diana of Soap and Chocolate!!

Girl, shoot me an email (tri2cook [at] gmail) and I'll get you in touch with the right people ;) Hopefully you'll have no more ice-y concoctions!

Thanks again to everyone for making this a fabulous year (and 2 months)!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fun in the Sun - AZ

I think I need a vacation from my vacation! It's been quite hard to catch up and get back in the swing of things, but I thought a quick recap of my trip to Arizona would be a good distraction :) My parents and I went out to visit family and get away for a bit. After my luggage arrived (a day after I did :/), I was able to enjoy myself and have a great trip!

Some of the highlights...

Andre Agassi

We caught the last match of a Champions Tourney and it was great to see Andre Agassi in action again. Oh how I love him! I always liked watching him play, and once imagined my backhand to be like his (ha).

Pinnacle Peak

I dragged my dad on a couple of hikes, one day up Pinnacle Peak and another on the Lost Dog Trail. I forgot to find out where the name of the latter trail came from, but we didn't cross the paths of any dogs-- just lots of cacti!

view from the Lost Dog Trail

I know I was on vacation, but I actually went to PT while I was in Arizona! If you're in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, I would highly recommend Endurance Rehabilitation. I've been to a few physical therapists and various doctors about my knee/heel issues and orthotics, and I can't say enough good things about them. Except I wish they were back east!

Another unexpected treat was the chance to meet an awesome blogger and her adorable daughter! It was great to have a chance to chat with Averie, she's just as passionate and inspiring in real life as on her blog! Skylar's was a little picture shy for me, but luckily Averie had the good sense to snap a quick picture before we had to part ways.

Me & Averie

Later in the week we hit up the Pueblo Grande Museum to escape the escalating temperatures (our last day hit 100!) and I was quite fascinated to see how well the prehistoric Hohokam people cooked ;) By placing grasses and herbs around hot stones and agave hearts, they were essentially infusing their food cooked in their "ovens"! How neat is that?!

While we didn't try cooking like the Hohokam, we did have a few terrific meals. My parents indulged my peanut butter habit and went to lunch with me at a P.B.Loco Cafe. I've already recreated the sandwich I had (Curry/Spicy PB, cucumber and pineapple on wheat, toasted or pressed), and I think they enjoyed it, too! We won't talk about how much of the jar I bought (the Sumatra Cinnamon & Raisin was my fav) there is left...

Curry Spice Sandwich

Luckily our pb-filled lunches held our bellies over through the wait at Pizzaria Bianco. The food was definitely worth it-- their antipasto plate was a wonderful assortment of roasted veggies (butternut squash, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers...) that was quickly polished off. The brick oven is in the corner of the restaurant, and the bread and pizzas it produced were pretty amazing. Thin and crispy, we couldn't wait to dig in to our pizzas! Sudded with rosemary and pistachios, the Rosa took us by surprise, but the Wiseguy with roasted crimini's stole our hearts. Definitely a restaurant I would recommend, if you can get there at 4:30. Grab a drink at the bar next door, get in line, and enjoy each others company until the restaurant opens at 5 :)

My aunt also took us to a fabulous French place, Zinc Bistro, that took her back to the streets of Paris (I've never been, so I can't say ;)). Everything we had there was phenomenal, but the dish that is at the top of my list to recreate is their pistachio ice cream. The waitress we had was awesome, going above and beyond to try and find the recipe for me! She confirmed my suspicion--it had a coconut milk base. When I make room in my freezer, expect me to figure this one out :) As our "last meal" we went to White Chocolate Grill, which was also pretty good. They made their bread pudding with croissants, which won over a few of my dining companions!

I've probably missed something along the way, but it was great to go on vacation with my parents (it had been awhile!). It was also fun to meet my cousins' wives and their kids... crazy to think about how old that makes us! I leave you with one of my new buddies, we had fun flirting at lunch one day ;) Isn't he just the cutest??

Me & Tommy

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Exciting news

**Cue red bridge-shaped confetti**


I am very excited at the opportunity to attend the 1st-Annual Foodbuzz Festival as Nature's Pride Bread Ambassador :) There may have been a happy dance that took place when I found out... and my oh my was it hard not to say anything! Thanks for all the congrats ;)

I'll be back soon with a tribute meal and a recap of my trip to Arizona (including one sunny blogger and some amazing eats), but in the mean time, check out the recipe that did it, or my giveaway.

Who else is going to the Festival??

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A year gone by and a giveaway!

I knew it was coming up... and then all of the sudden I missed it! A year (and two months) has come and gone at Tri to Cook, and oh my how aweful my pictures were when I first started :) To celebrate, I have a pretty awesome giveaway for you, courtesy of CSN stores.

Tyler at CSN recently contacted me to tell me about the large selection of dinnerware and cookware they carry on their website. Boasting unparalleled customer service, selection and savings, CSN stores has rapidly grown into a top online retailer in the US, Canada, the U.K. and Germany.

CSN stores has graciously offered to give away something pretty amazing to one Tri to Cook reader...

are you ready for this??

A Cuisinart ice cream maker!!! I am quite excited to have this opportunity for my readers, and can't wait to have you making ice cream with me :) Thank you CSN!!

There are two ways to enter:
1. Check out CSN's site and let me know which product you're most interested in why (maybe some Counter Stools or Rachel Ray Cookware? I've had my eye on this).
2. Link back to this giveaway on your blog, and leave a separate comment here letting me know you've done so. If you don't have a blog, feel free to spread the old fashioned way and just have them mention you sent them!

Giveaway ends October 26th, 8:00AM

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guest Post: Salmon Burgers

I'm out of my kitchen for a bit, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity for a guest! I have the pleasure of bringing you a fellow triathlete who shares a love for healthy, flavorful food. Michael Bissanti is the owner of FOUR burgers, and has graciously shared his recipe for salmon burgers. It sounds absolutely delicious, and I can't wait to try it out :) I also asked Michael to share a triathlon tip with us, which you can find at the end of the post! So without further ado... here's Michael!

FOUR burgers is an all natural burger joint in Cambridge's Central Square. The concept is simple: four burgers are served along with house cut potato chips and french fries. The burgers are an all natural grass fed beef burger, a turkey burger served with a cranberry chutney, an organic vegan black bean burger and our wild salmon burger.

When I was developing the concept for the restaurant, I noticed how many burger places have their turkey and veggie burgers listed last, at the bottom of the menu as if it were an afterthought, making all of you non-beef eaters feel like second class citizens. You can have your turkey/veggie burger... if you can find it.

At FOUR burgers, all of our burgers share equal billing on our menu and we take them all rather seriously. There are no chuckles in the kitchen should someone order a veggie burger, that's for sure. I knew I wanted to offer beef, turkey and a veggie burger, but the last spot in the lineup took a cue from my other restaurant, the paramount on beacon hill. From time to time, we'd serve a salmon burger that was tasty, popular and easy to prepare, so I followed my love of salmon and this burger found its home as the fourth offering at FOUR burgers. Equally as important, I wanted to offer something for everyone, regardless of whether or not you eat beef. The salmon burger has been the surprise hit and we sell about 200 per week.

Wild Salmon Burgers w/Asian Slaw
Recipe by Michael @ Four Burgers
Yield: ~8 burgers

for the burgers:
2 1/4lb ground wild salmon (or fillets run through a meat grinder/food processor)
1/2c panko bread crumbs
1/2c minced scallions
2t minced fresh ginger
1 egg, slightly beaten
1t salbal oelek chili paste
1t minced garlic
1t salt
1 1/2t soy sauce

for the slaw:
6c shredded green cabbage
1/2c veggie oil
3T rice wine vinegar
2t toasted sesame oil
1/2t crushed red pepper
1T toasted sesame seeds
kosher salt, to taste

For the slaw: add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and combine. Refrigerate for 30min.

For the burgers: If starting with salmon fillets, cut into 1" cubes and pulse in a food processor until finely chopped. Be careful not to over-process, you want to leave some chunks. Transfer ground salmon into a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients. Mix salmon mixture well, then form into 4.5oz patties.

In a medium saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add some of the burgers to the pan and sear until golden brown. Turn over and sear on other side until golden brown (~3-4min/side). Repeat as needed to cook remaining patties.

Serve burgers on a toasted bun topped with Asian Slaw. These could also be served with lettuce, tomato and a simple tartar sauce, or over your favorite salad. These salmon burgers can also be prepared ahead and frozen for a quick meal. To defrost the burgers, simply put one or two in the fridge before you head to work and they'll be ready when you get home!

Michael's tri tip: If you want to get faster, train with people faster than you, they'll push you beyond your limits! Find an experienced traithlete who can teach you the in's and out's of training, resting, nutrition and my favorite, transitions.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pie... as a Side Dish?!?

As you may have caught at the end of a recent post, I recently went apple picking with some friends (Kerstin, Lauren, Elina, Kelly and Nicole to name a few). The weather, which threatened rain, cleared up for us and it turned out to be a fantastic afternoon. I was extremely excited, and had a smile plastered on my face the entire time we were there :) Fall is my favorite season, and I have totally been eating 3 apples a day when they're in season!

the loot

I came home with a bag full of Granny Smith, MacIntosh and Macouns, and I knew the first thing that I would make with some of them... PIE! I have actually made one apple pie from scratch, a couple years before I started a blog. I actually still have the picture I took to show my mom :) What can I say, I was proud!

After my last pie disaster, I knew I had to jump back in and not be afraid of pies. This time, I actually remembered to use the apple peeler-corer that my mom had given to me! Nice to use when you're peeling more than an apple or two :)

Of course I had to put some pressure on myself, this couldn't be just any apple pie ;) Morphing an idea from Simply Organic, I used a Rosemary-studded crust and added some cave-aged gruyere to a crumb topping. It smelled heavenly in my apt while it was baking, and I thought it was pretty incredible!! To prevent myself from eating the entire pie in an embarrassingly short amount of time, I sought out the opinions of some friends. I was humbled when it got top marks across the board... hearing how much they enjoyed it made my day :) Rebecca thought it was up there as one of her favorite of my baked goods, up there with her birthday cake! Daryl (who's an excellent cook I might add) had the brilliant idea of eating a slice of this pie with pork chops or a roast. Umm, apple pie for dinner? Sign me up! He certainly has the right idea :)

Without further ado... here's the recipe. Anyone else like to play with the lines of savory and sweet??

Apple Pie w/Rosemary Crust & Gruyere Crumble
Recipe by Shannon, adapted from two recipes (on Enlightened Cooking and in Simply Organic)

1 1/2 c white whole wheat (WWW) flour
1/4 t salt
4T cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2oz Nufatchel
2T neutral-flavored oil (I use a Smart Balance Blend)
3T tablespoons ice water
~1t fresh rosemary, chopped (I eyeballed this, fresh or dried thyme would also work)

~2.5lbs of apples (I used a mix of Grannys, MacIntosh, and possibly Macouns)
3/4c brown sugar, NOT packed
1T cornstarch
1/4t fresh nutmeg

Crumb Topping:
2/3c WWW flour
2T ground flaxseeds
2/3c turbinado sugar (or brown sugar, but I was out)
1/2t fresh ground pepper
2T cold butter
2-3T neutral-flavored oil
4oz cave-aged gruyere (Cheddar or Asiago are other good options)

Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender (or 2 forks), cut in butter and cream cheese until crumbly (you want it to look like pebbles). Add oil and stir until moistened. Sprinkle rosemary and water over flour mix and toss with a fork to combine. Knead dough in the bowl a few times, then press together into a disk and wrap in 2 layers of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 min (I made mine a day ahead).

Roll out dough in between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Have your pie plate out to make sure the circle is larger than the dish. Peel one sheet of parchment off your dough and invert over pie plate. Peel off the back piece of parchment, then press dough into the pan. Crimp the edges with your fingers, then prick the dough. Refrigerate the crust again while the oven is preheating.

*I prebaked my crust for 15min at 375deg in the lower third of the oven, but I thought my crust got a little dark. I might cut this back to 5-10min or not prebake at all next time* If prebaking, let crust cool before assembling.

Preheat oven to 350deg. In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients. To prepare the topping, combine flour, flax, sugar, pepper and cheese in a medium bowl. Grate butter into mix and add 2T oil. Using a fork, mix topping, adding more oil until the mixture is moistened. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Add filling to prepared pie crust and and spray the edges of the crust with nonstick spray. Bake (in middle of oven) for 20min, then add crumb topping and continue baking for 40min, or until crust is browned and apples are soft. Cool on a rack before slicing (the longer you wait, the better it sets up. I had to leave the house :)). Enjoy slightly warmed or at room temperature. Pick your side/topping!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Silken Chocolate Cheesecakes

A coupon made me pick up a package of Nasoya's new Silken Creations. I chose the chocolate, figuring if I got lazy I could just eat it as chocolate pudding :) Desperately wanting to use my new mini cheesecake pan, I decided to try and adapt a recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake. I had a few issues, as I wasn't sure how long to bake these (as I was using a new product and a new pan), but in the end they tasted great so I decided to post my recipe. I would use it as a template to tweak how you deem appropriate!

Chocolate PB Mini Cheesecakes
Recipe by Shannon
Yield: 9 mini cheesecakes

1c graham cracker crumbs
1-2T applesauce
1/2 pkg Nasoya Dark Chocolate Silken Creations
3oz Nufatchel cheese
1oz natural style nut butter (creamy or crunchy your choice, I had a crunchy PB open)
1 1/2T cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 deg.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and enough applesauce so all the crumbs are wet. Press 1-2T mixture into 9 wells of a mini cheesecake pan. Bake for 10min, then remove crusts and lower oven to 325.

While crusts are baking, prepare filling. Combine cream cheese, nut butter, silken creations and cornstarch in food processor (or blender) and mix until smooth. Divide filling amongst crusts. Bake, covered with foil for 20min, then another 10-20min until cheesecake has set. Remove from oven and let cool for a bit. Unmold cheesecakes and refrigerate for a hour or so (or more) before serving. I ate mine with a drizzle of peanut butter on top!

Has anyone used these mini cheesecake pans before?? Am I supposed to spray the inside of the molds? Mine stuck like crazy to the sides--don't know if it was the Nasoya addition or the pan. The texture definitely improved after refrigeration, and I'm not sure why. I may have overbaked mine, but I didn't know how "set" the Nasoya Creations actually get! It wasn't a completely failure, but you know what they say... if at first you don't succeed, try and try again! Guess I'll have to make some more mini cheesecakes :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Move over pasta, make room for the veggies!

I apologize for the slight randomness of this post, but I've tried some tasty recipes recently that I thought I'd share. The first two may be pasta dishes, but the stars of the show are not the noodles! To use up the last zucchini I had in my fridge, I made Soba Noodles with Zucchini Ribbons. I stuck to one portion, but kept the amount of veggies the same (thus doubling the veggies). Since I had no mushrooms, I used some diced red pepper. I love the hearty soba noodles, edamame, and zucchini, so this was a real treat for lunch :)

Soba Noodles w/Zucchini Ribbons

I also had grand plans for the bunch of kale I had picked up at the farmers market after reading Molly Wizenberg's article in Bon Appetit about how a recipe for Spaghetti w/Braised Kale made her fall in love with this highly nutritious vegetable. While I didn't need to be convinced (I already like kale), I thoroughly enjoyed this dish, which I made with some Lemon Chive Angel Hair!

Spaghetti w/Braised Kale

To finish off the kale, I also decided to try this recipe for a chickpea and kale stirfry. The recipe has been morphed from Heidi's site and I've also seen a version by Esi, so I knew this was probably a winner ;) Indeed it was-- the lemony zing went perfectly with the sauteed kale and crispy, hearty chickpeas!

Lemony Chickpea & Kale Stir Fry

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I've got a fun dessert coming up using this new(ish) product and a cute pan :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nature's Pride

I'm back with another Tastemaker opportunity from Foodbuzz! This time I received two loaves of Nature's Pride bread, Whole Wheat and 12 Grain. These were choc-full of goodness (5g protein and 3-4g fiber per slice) and devoid of artificial ingredients and high fructose corn syrup. While I liked both loaves (usually toasty), I think my preference was the Whole Wheat.

I also received an email tonight regarding Nature's Pride sponsorship of the upcoming 1st Annual Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco. In exchange for a winning recipe, Nature's Pride will sponsor six foodies as "Bread Ambassadors"!!!! So here's my recipe... i'm hoping it will be my golden ticket ;)

Savory Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Savory Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 2

This recipe can easily be scaled up or baked in different sized dishes, just be sure to adjust the cooking time! If your bread is fresh, dry it out in the oven before proceeding. I used a fresh chorizo chicken sausage with chiptoles from a local meet shop, but I've also tried it with a mild sausage and a chipotle and adobo thrown in. Pre-cooked sausage (like trader joe's spicy jalapeno chicken sausage) can also be used, just dice and you can save yourself a step!

2 1/2c stale bread, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2c pumpkin
1/2c sour cream (I used lite)
1/4c + 2T milk (I used Smart Balance Lactose Free Fat-Free)
1 egg
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4c fresh grated cave-aged gruyere
1/4-1/3lb chipotle chicken sausage
1T chopped fresh sage
a few (5-6) whole sage leaves, for garnish, if desired
butter or oil for frying sage leaves

Preheat oven to 350deg. Whisk together pumpkin, sour cream, milk and egg. Stir in bread, salt and pepper. Let sit while browning the sausage. The pumpkin-bread mixture can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you're ready to bake the bread pudding.

Heat skillet to med, then add sausage and break up as you're browning the meat. During the last minute of cooking, add sage and stir. Drain cooked sausage on paper towel. Add sausage, chopped sage and gruyere to bread and pumpkin mixture. Pour into a 4"sq baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 25min.

While the bread pudding is baking, prepare the crispy sage leaves. Melt butter (or oil) in a small skillet. When melted and bubbly, add sage leaves and cook a few minutes or so on each side, until crispy. Remove leaves and drain on a paper towel until plating.

After 25min in the oven, turn on your broiler and crisp up the top of the bread pudding (~5min or so). Let sit for a few minutes so you don't burn your mouth, then serve with crsipy sage leaves!

As there is some cheese in here (although gruyere instead of cheddar), I should submit this for the Cabot Giveaway over at Biggest Diabetic Loser! Mmm, cheese :)
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