Monday, February 28, 2011

A Better Breakfast

I think it's no secret by now that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.   So when I heard of the Build A Better Breakfast with Eggs contest put on by Kitchen Play and the American Egg Board, I knew I wanted to come up with something delicious to enter!

My inspiration came from a recent (delicious) brunch at Zaftigs.  In my take on their Empire Eggs, a potato pancake is topped with spinach, smoked salmon and a poached egg.  The restaurant intends theirs to be served with a hollandaise sauce, but I opted to let the runny yolk be the sauce.  My taste buds were swooning again, and I'm glad I can recreate this at home any time I want :)

Potato Pancakes w/Spinach, Smoked Salmon & Poached Eggs
Recipe by Shannon, inspired by Zaftigs
Yield:  3 stacks

Feel free to use your own favorite recipe for potato pancakes, or use the traditional frying method if you prefer!

For the potato pancakes:
1 lg potato (Mine was ~14oz and I left the peel on)
1 sm onion (I used a ~4.5oz white onion)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1t kosher salt  (I might cut this back to 3/4t next time)
1/8-1/4t freshly ground black pepper
1/4t smoked paprika
1/2t baking powder
3T flour (AP or white whole wheat)

For assembly:
handful of baby spinach
3oz smoked salmon
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 400deg.  Bring a large pot of water to just under a boil over medium heat.

Using a box grater or your food processor, shred the potato and onion.  Using cheesecloth (or towel), squeeze out all the liquid you can from the potato/onion mixture.

Once the potato/onion mixture is good and dry, transfer mixture to a medium bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Form mixture into 3 patties (~1/2cup each).

Heat a cast iron skillet (or your favorite nonstick pan) over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is good and hot, add bit of oil (extra virgin, canola, coconut...) and once that has heated up, the potato pancakes.  Cook the pancakes 3-4min/side.  At this point, they should have a good crust on them, but as I formed them a bit thick I put them in the oven for another 3-5min to make sure they were cooked through.  (These potato pancakes can be kept in a warm oven until assembly)

While the potato pancakes are cooking, begin poaching the eggs in the water (should be barely simmering).  Add a little bit of white vinegar to the water (I didn't measure, this is supposed to help keep the white together).  Crack an egg into a small dish or ramekin, and slowly add it into the simmering water.  If your pot is big enough, repeat with remaining eggs.  For a nice runny yolk, cook for 3 minutes.  Remove eggs from the water with a slotted spoon.  If you do this ahead of time, the poached eggs can be transferred to cold water until you're ready to serve.

To assemble, transfer potato pancakes to a plate, top each with a handful of spinach, 1oz smoked salmon and then the poached egg.  Served with fruit for breakfast or a side salad for lunch or dinner!

Don't you want to dig in?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ridiculous II

Talk about the 11th hour...  My box of goodies from Marx Foods for the Ridiculously Delicious Challenge arrived when I was in Philly for work, so I returned with only a couple of days before I was supposed to post my creation.  And one of those I happened to be having some friends over for dinner.  A dinner which I was cooking...  oops.

A day to stew (and smell!) over the ingredients, most of which I had never used before!  I went back and forth between a few ideas, but eventually settled on one.  Oh wait, my ice cream maker bowl isn't in the freezer.  Oh, I need to chill the ice cream base ahead of time!  ...and I'm dog-sitting this weekend.  Eek.  Can I add some hours to the day??

I really wanted to play with the grains of paradise, which are described as being spicy, peppery grains with hints of citrus, cardamom or nutmeg depending on who was talking about them!  I decided to use them to flavor an ice cream, and then pair it with something sweet.  The sweet?  A blueberry crisp, studded with dried tart cherries and a little bit of Szechuan pepper just to make it a little interesting :) 

Blueberry Cherry Crisp with Grains of Paradise Ice Cream
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 2-3, easily doubled for an 8 or 9" sq pan

For the crisp filling:
2 1/2c blueberries (fresh or frozen, unthawed)
1/4c dried tart cherries
2T coconut sugar
pinch of salt
1/8t Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
2-3T flour (AP or white whole wheat)

For the crisp topping:
1/2c oats
1/4c flour (AP or white whole wheat)
1/4c coconut sugar
1/2t cinnamon
pinch salt
2T butter, melted
3T (heaping) yogurt (I used a goat's milk yogurt)

For the ice cream:
1 can light coconut milk
1/2c coconut sugar*(or white/brown sugar)
pinch salt
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1t-1T coarse cracked grains of paradise
1T arrowroot (or cornstarch)

For the crisp:
Preheat the oven to 400deg.

In a large bowl, combine filling ingredients and mix well so the berries are evenly coated with flour.  Pour filling into a 4"square dish.

Add oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and mix well.  Stir in melted butter and yogurt and stir until mixture comes together.  Sprinkle over fruit.

Place baking dish in the oven and bake for 20-25min, until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden.  Let crisp set for ~15min after baking.  Serve warm or room temperature, with Grains of paradise ice cream.

For the ice cream:
Reserve 2-3T coconut milk.

To a medium saucepan add coconut milk, sugar, salt, vanilla bean and grains of paradise.  Heat slowly until mixture just comes to a boil.  To the reserved coconut milk, whisk in arrowroot (make sure there are no lumps).  Remove paradise coconut milk from the stove and stir in arrowroot slurry.  Let cool (refrigerate, can be prepared ahead of time...  if you have time!!).

When the base has cooled, it's ready to churn in your ice cream maker (according to manufacturers directions), making sure to strain the mixture before loading it into the bowl.  Serve with blueberry cherry crisp.

*If you're making this ice cream to eat on its own, I'd use 3/4c white or brown sugar

Anyone have fun plans for the weekend??

Friday, February 25, 2011

Things Are Heating Up!

Nick, Brandi, Sagan and Katrina are hosting another Peanut Butter Challenge (#10!), and I finally got around to submit an entry :)

Although it appears that I may have gone off the deep end...  I made a Spicy Peanut Butter Ice Cream.  I just had to try it ;)   Definitely interesting, I paired it with a cinnamon shortbread so it didn't swing too savory, and I could see it working at the end of a Thai meal!   There's a little heat, so it'll definitely warm you up :)

Spicy Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Recipe by Shannon

This came out with quite a kick, for a more subtle flavor substitute 1/2 regular peanut butter for the spicy variety.  You could also increase the amount of sugar in recipe, too!  For a textural contrast, I almost threw in some chopped crystallized ginger, but realized I was out, so feel free to use it if you have some!

1 can light coconut milk
1/3c spicy peanut butter (like this one)
1/4c sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/2t cinnamon
1T arrowroot (or cornstarch)
3/4t vanilla

Reserve 2T coconut milk.

Add the rest of the coconut milk, peanut butter, sucanat and cinnmon to a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium-low heat, until the sugar has dissolved and the peanut butter loosens.  Whisk arrowroot into reserved coconut milk until there are no lumps.  Just as the coconut milk comes to a boil, remove from the heat, stir in vanilla and reserved milk/starch mixture.

When the mixture has cooled a bit, run through the blender and then refrigerate until mixture is cold.  Run through your ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's directions.  Serve with a little something sweet ;)

Cinnamon Shortbread
adapted from Mare & RecipeGirl

1 stick butter, softened
1/2c mild-flavored oil
1/2c sugar
1/4c sucanat (or brown sugar)
1t vanilla
2c flour (all-purpose or white whole wheat)
1/4c cornstarch
1/2t salt
1T Vietnamese cinnamon (more if you're using another kind)

Preheat oven to 350deg.  Add butter to the bowl of a stand mixer (or other).  Beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add oil and continue to beat until well incorporated.  Add sugars and vanilla, and mix well.

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon).  Add to stand mixer and mix until a dough forms.  You can bake this off in a 9x13 pan or 2 8" cake pans, your choice.  I divided the mixture into two cake pans (sprayed with cooking spray).  Bake in preheated oven, 20-25min, until edges are beginning to turn brown.  Remove and place on a cooling rack until completely cool.  Cut into desired shapes and serve!  Store extras in an airtight container.

Would you try this ice cream?  Or should we just say that I've gone off the deep end?  :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

Continuing with the meyer lemon love this week, I've got another winning recipe!  I made mini cupcakes for a friend's baby shower and fell in love.  In fact, I've made a few batches :)

Due to the use of coconut milk, these are vegan, if you're looking for that sort of thing ;)  Light and delicate in texture, the flavor was bright and not too sweet.  I topped them with a little lemon glaze, but it's up to you!

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes
slightly adapted from Love & Olive Oil
Yield:  12 cupcakes or ~32 mini cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup oil
1 cup full fat coconut milk  (full fat really is better!!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 2 meyer lemons
1 teaspoon meyer lemon juice
meyer lemon glaze, see below

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and brown sugar and mix. Whisk together oil, coconut milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth.

Prepare mini muffin tin with cooking spray.  Fill cupcake tins with ~1T batter (just about 2/3 full).  Bake for 10-12min or until golden (a toothpick inserted to the center should come clean).  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.  [For regular size cupcakes, fill with 3T batter and bake 20-25min]

For a lemon glaze, I just whisked together ~1/2c powdered sugar and the juice of 1/2 meyer lemon.  Adjust with more powdered sugar or lemon juice to achieve desired consistency and drizzle over cupcakes.

Have you jumped on the meyer lemon bandwagon?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meyer Lemon Curd

A hybrid lemon and mandarin orange, meyer lemons have such an interesting, complex flavor and I haven't been able to get enough!  My mom is a huge fan of lemon curd, so when I saw meyer lemons at costco, I immediately picked them up (without thinking about when I'd have the time to make it!).

Lemon curd might be the best way to showcase this flavor, and I especially loved this version I made using vanilla sugar.

Meyer Lemon Curd
adapted from Baking Bites

A versatile spread, try this lemon curd on toast, cheesecake, or your favorite quickbread!

1c meyer lemon juice (from ~5 lemons)
zest of 4-5 lemons
3/4c vanilla sugar*
3 eggs, RT
1/2T vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, zest and sugar.  Heat until sugar has dissolved, creating a lemon simple syrup.  Remove from heat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 3 room temp eggs.  s l o w l y drizzle in lemon simple syrup with the mixer on low speed (you don't want to scramble the eggs!).  Increase speed to medium and beat for 1-2min.

Strain mixture back into saucepan and heat over low heat until mixture becomes thick, whisking occasionally.  Just as lemon curd is coming to a boil, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Once cool, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge.

*To make vanilla sugar, I combined an empty vanilla bean pod and maybe 4-6c of granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor.  After a quick whirl, the vanilla bean had broken up and the sugar became finer (more akin to powdered sugar than granulated sugar).  If substituting regular granulated sugar in this recipe, you might want to increase the sugar up to 1c.

What would you put your lemon curd on?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Newtons: An Update

Alternate title:  My Hips Don't Lie :)

I know you guys come here for the food, but there was some interest when I introduced them almost a year ago so I figured I owed you an update!  If you're not interested, I promise there will be something tasty next time :)

If you followed my tale (Week 1, Week 2 and Weeks 3+4 recaps), you probably notcied that things went well as I began running in the Newtons.  I felt lighter, probably improved my gait/footstrike, and got a bit faster.  After a trip to Italy (and a week+ of not running),  I wound up with an injured foot.  I didn't mention it too much (apart from my two DNFs) as I wasn't sure what was going on and why it happened.  Was it the shoes?  My feet?  (Lack of) orthotics?

Image Source

After various appointments, an xray, PT, I think the story (or at least the story as I understand it) is this:  the 1st metatarsal joint of my feet (especially the right one) is too flexible.  This flexibility predisposes me to the overpronation that led to my injured right foot (which was just rubbing between the calcaneus & talus bones, if you're interested in that sort of thing ;))   This flexible joint means that I will always need support, or orthotics.

As Newtons promote a mid- to fore-foot strike (right around the 1st metatasal joint), they are not the best shoes for me.  It will take some trial and error once I get my new orthotics, but hopefully I'll find a shoe that fits ;)

Image Source

The other part to this story, the way I actually reached the above conclusions.  I may have mentioned before, but for the past few years (maybe 5+ now?), I've been dealing with various issues that have never been successfully treated (read:  they were treating the symptoms not the underlying cause).  After chatting with a BPC coach about my hips after a run, she recommended seeing Aaron Brooks, an exercise physiologist/biomechanist.   My first visit was particularly revealing, as it confirmed that the alignment and rotation of my hips was out of whack.  Furthermore, my old orthotics reinforced my hip misalignment and functional leg length discrepancy.  Thus the re-evaluation that led me to the above...

What about my hips?  Well, seeing as they've likely been messed up since I had hip dysplasia as a kid, I wasn't going to be able to change it overnight.  I've been seeing Aaron since October, working through sets of exercises/stretches he has put together for me.  The programs seem to have aligned me, now I'm working at strengthening my hips in their new (correct) position.

Since I haven't been wearing orthotics, I spent some time in Vibrams

Downside?  I haven't run since October.  It's not pretty ;)  Luckily I have been able to swim, cycle and lift weights.  I'm trying to stay positive and think about what I can do...  like the one week I went for swim 3x!  I've never put in 3,000m in a week before!  And swim over a mile, at once?  Done and done.  That's gotta be something, right?  Whatever you do just don't ask what I'm signed up for this year.  The answer's nothing yet, as I'm still not running.  And I'm not thrilled about that either.  Moving on.

So the moral of the story, or why I'm sharing this with anyone who's still reading...  finding a good doctor/podiatrist/specialist, and one you like,  is important, and worth the time and money you may spend.  Make sure they take a detailed history and ask you lots of questions, and be sure to include any symptoms you may not connect, but may in fact be related.  Remember, too, that we're all unique, and solutions/treatments will likely vary as well!

Image source

Don't forget about Dem Bones: your hips are connected to your thighs, are connected to your knees, are connected to your ankles, which are connected to your feet!  When we walk or run or cycle, we load all our weight down this "drive train" and when something's amiss, it's best not to forget that it's all connected!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Fennel Affair

It began with Caramelized Fennel Flatbread and a Sugar-Crusted Fennel & Pear Salad.  A good source of vitamin C, fiber, folate and potassium, I thought I might be able to try some other ways to prepare fennel that I would enjoy.  Luckily for you I found two ;)

Image Source

The first was a unique side dish of Sauteed Fennel with Almonds and Cherries.  My picture didn't turn out that great (check out the original!), but I really liked it.  Definitely a unique combination of flavors, and one that I'd certainly make again!  I left out the optional cilantro but otherwise followed the recipe (ok perhaps I cooked it a bit longer to make sure it was nice and caramelized!).

Sauteed Fennel w/Almonds & Cherries

The second recipe that caught my eye was one from Dan Barber, whom I saw speak at Harvard.  I found his recipe for Fennel Soup over at Two Fat Als and knew I wanted to give it a try.  The apple adds a hint of sweetness to this creamy bowl of soup-- delicious!!  I happened to be out of fennel seeds and fresh thyme, so I substituted half the amounts with fennel pollen and dried thyme.  I added these with the other seasonings so they were sauteed a bit before adding stock.

Dan Barber's Fennel Soup

How about you, do you give veggies a second chance?  Do you like fennel raw?  Have a favorite fennel recipe?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mushroom Cabbage Tart

Remember my cabbage saga?  I made some delicious recipes, but I forgot to share one with you.   Originally a free-form galette, I took a different route to test out my new tart pan ;)

I liked the tart as-is, but I think I might play around even more next time, leaving the hard-boiled egg from the filling and instead serve topped with a poached egg!

Mushroom Cabbage Tart
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4-8, depending on what else you serve with it

The filling can also be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated until you're ready to assemble the tart.

For the crust:
1/2c oat flour (1/2c rolled oats, ground in a spice/coffee grinder or food processor)
1/2c spelt flour
1/4c ground flax seed
1/2t salt
.6oz gruyere, finely grated
2T coconut oil, melted
1/4c milk

For the filling:
2T butter
1 lg onion, finely diced
4oz shiitake, destemmed and caps diced
1/2t dried thyme
1T chopped fresh basil
1t dried dill
6c thinly sliced napa cabage
1t salt
1/2c water
fresh ground pepper
1/4c chopped parsley
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
1/4c greek yogurt
1t vinegar (I think I used cider vinegar?)

Preheat oven to 400deg.

For the tart shell, mix together flours, flax, salt and gruyere.  Add coconut oil and milk, stir until mixture becomes crumbly.  Press into tart pan (a springform would also work) and bake in preheated oven for 20min.  Remove and place on a cooling rack.

I followed Deb's instructions for the filling, so check out her recipe.  Bake in preheated 400deg oven for 25min, until filling is lightly browned.  I served it with some horseradish mustard that I had been meaning to try, but you can make your own horseradish sauce if you'd like.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Trail Mix Cookies

In case you missed the crazy thing I did with my root veggie hummus, be sure to check it out!

When I was making cookies this past holiday season, a friend who's dairy-sensitive was on my list so I tried to come up with a few varieties that she could enjoy using Earth Balance or coconut oil.   To accompany the pumpkin cinnamon roll cookies, almond sugar cookies and oatmeal spice biscotti were these cookies that reminded me of trail mix.

Trail Mix Cookies
adapted from Culinate Kitchen
Yield:  3-4dozen

1/2c  Earth Balance (or butter), softened
1/3c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1/2c brown sugar
1t vanilla
1 lg egg + 1 white
2T applesauce
1 1/3c white whole wheat flour
2/3c AP flour
1/2t baking soda
1/2t cinnamon
1/2t salt
2/3c millet
2/3c chocolate chips  (dairy-free if desired)
1/2c goji berries, softened in boiling water and drained well
1/2c pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 375deg.

Combine dry ingredients (both flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt) in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Cream together butter and sugars in a stand mixer or large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add in vanilla, applesauce, egg and white and mix well.  Add the flour mixture in 4 additions, allowing the each addition to be incorporated before the next addition.  Fold in millet, chocolate chips, goji berries and pumpkin seeds.

Scoop by tablespoon-fulls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet (or baking stone), ~1" apart.  Bake in preheated oven, 8-12min (mine took 10), until they are just beginning to brown along the edges.  Cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then move to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.  Once the cookie sheet has cooled, repeat with remaining batter.

Store in an airtight container.  These freeze well, too!

Have you tried millet yet??  I first tried this seed/grain in some Toasted Millet Banana Muffins, and I loved the little crunch from the millet...  must keep experimenting :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ridiculously Delicious

Remember my Butternut Chocolate Cake w/Espresso Salted Caramel Sauce?  

*wipes drool off chin*

Enough reminiscing, I bring it up because it  got me the chance to participate in the Rediculously Delicious challenge hosted by Marx Foods!

Images compiled from Marx Foods

The first stage involves picking three items from a goodie list.  A rediculous goodie list that includes things like oysters and kangaroo and quail.    My mind started racing...  and ultimately I couldn't decide.  So here are my ideas, and I'll leave it up to you!

Heirloom Potato Gnocchi in a Saffron Vanilla Broth

Huckleberry Cobbler with Saffron & Vanilla

Baked Salmon with Balsamic Huckleberry Sauce over Heirloom Potatoes

Saffron Vanilla Panna Cotta with Huckleberry Sauce

Salmon with Saffron Vanilla Risotto and Huckleberry Sauce

Which dish would you most like to eat??

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hummus Pancakes

I told you I did something a little crazy with the root veggie hummus I had made.  And I don't even know whether this falls under breakfast, lunch or dinner.  Maybe it's best as brunch or breakfast for dinner!

I've had pumpkin pancakes, so I thought, why not put another type of vegetable puree in there?  Thus the birth of these root veggie hummus pancakes.

It took awhile to figure out how to serve them...  I wasn't quite sold on the idea of maple syrup (although you never know), so I drew on traditional hummus flavors instead.  Turns out, the Lemony Tahini Dressing almost stole the show!

Root Veggie Hummus Pancakes
Serves 2

1/2c + 2T flour (white whole wheat or AP)
3/4t baking powder
1/4t baking soda
1/4t salt
1/2c milk (dairy or nondairy)
1 egg
1T oil
1/3c root veggie hummus
Lemon Tahini Dressing, recipe below

Add dry ingredients to a medium bowl (flour through salt) and mix until well combined.  Add remaining ingredients and stir together (some lumps will remain, but you shouldn't see any dry ingredients).  Make pancakes on a preheated skillet or nonstick fry pan over medium heat.   I made pancakes using 1/4c batter for each and made 8.  If you do this in batches, you can keep extras in a warm oven, under foil, or in the microwave to stay warm.  Serve with Lemon Tahini Dressing.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

My dressing came out a bit thin, so I adjusted the recipe below to give it a little more body.  Feel free to tweak it according to your own tastes.

1T finely diced scallion or red onion
1T chopped parsley (or cilantro)
1 small garlic clove, pressed or minced with a pinch of salt
1 1/2T lemon juice
1T tahini
1T warm water
1T extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until well combined.

What are the craziest pancakes you've ever had? 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

PB Chocolate Cheesecake

I teased you with photos of this dessert when I reviewed the cheesecake pan (only 2 months ago), so I thought it was finally time to share the recipe before a weekend you might be entertaining!   Rich and delicious, a small slice was sufficient to satisfy most!   No need to mention where I fell ;)

I sliced it at home with a warm serrated knife, making sure to get enough slices for our everyone in our ever-growing lab, so I tried it two ways.  At work I served it unadorned, and you could pick up notes of the salty peanut-y pretzels in the crust.  However, peanut butter being one of my favorite things, I loved it dressed up as in the photo below :)   Your choice!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake
slightly adapted from coconut & lime
Serves 12-20

A cheesecake that's not too sweet, you can play up its chocolate-y-ness by serving as is or bringing out the peanut butter flavor with a swirl of peanut butter on top or chopped peanuts-- your choice!   Or swap out the PB pretzels for chocolate cookie crumbs in the crust and top it with fresh raspberries...  ooh, the possibilities!

1 1/2c peanut butter pretzel crumbs (1/3-1/2 bag of TJ's brand)
2T butter, melted
1-3T unsweetened applesauce

2/3c cocoa powder
1 1/4c sugar
2 pkg Nufatchel (1/3rd less fat cream cheese), RT
1t vanilla extract
4 1/2oz 70% dark chocolate, melted & cooled slightly (I might use less next time)
1 16oz container 2% greek yogurt, RT
4 eggs, RT (I used egg whites/substitute for 2 eggs as I ran out of eggs!)

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Mix together pretzel crumbs and butter.  Add in enough applesauce until the mixture is fully moistened and it holds togetherwhen you squeeze a small amount between your fingers.  Press into the bottom of a springform pan.  Bake for 10min, then cool completely on a wire rack.  Turn oven down to 250deg.

In a stand mixer, slowly cream together cocoa powder, sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract.   While this is mixing, melt chocolate in a double broiler over med-low heat.  Once no chunks remain and all chocolate has melted, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Add to sugar and cream cheese and mix well.  Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat thoroughly.

Pour filling into cooled crust and let sit a few minutes.  Tap the pan on the counter to encourage any bubbles to rise to the surface.  Bake for 2hrs at 250deg.  Remove and place on a wire rack.  Run a knife or spatula around the outside edge of the cheesecake to help prevent any cracks from forming as the cheesecake cools.  Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for a few hours.  Serve with a drizzle of peanut butter or chopped salted peanuts, if desired.

What's your favorite flavor of cheesecake?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Root Veggie Hummus

I keep meaning to let you know that I finally wrote an About Me page!  Check it out and let me know if you have any questions.  My recipe index has also been updated, including the more recent recipes I've created and links to others I've tried and enjoyed.

Ok, on to today's recipe, which happened to be born from a kitchen goof.  I was steaming some butternut squash and parsnip while doing a few other things (what's new?), and let them cook too long, to the point of mushy.  No longer good for their original purpose, I came up with this root veggie hummus. 

Root Veggie Hummus
Recipe by Shannon

2c cubed (peeled) butternut squash
1c cubed (peeled) parsnip
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (peel them if you want a really smooth texture)
1/4t kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2t cumin
1/4t freshly grated nutmeg
dash cayenne
1-2T liquid (cream, coconut milk or extra virgin olive oil)

Steam butternut squash and parsnip cubes until they are soft and have lost integrity, or they fall apart when you test them with a fork.  Combine cooked squash and parsnips with remaining ingredients (except liquid) in food processor or blender and process, adding liquid until hummus is smooth and has reached desired consistency.

This dip was good as a traditional hummus, with crudite or tortilla chips (although I'd advise against Red Hot Blues).   It also worked extremely well as an omelet filling, and I'd imagine it'd make some killer ravioli.   Hmm, hummus ravioli...  that sounds awesome.

I did something else a little crazy with this hummus, but you'll have to wait for that to show up in a later post ;)
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