July 31, 2011

Beet Hummus

To beet or not to beet, that is the question.

I'm not going to lie, I'm not really a fan of beets.  When we got them in our CSA box, I felt like they were just going to go to waste.  I googled beet recipes, and found beet hummus.  The beets were saved from the compost bin!

The hummus was delicious!  It was a little sweet with cumin coming through.  We ate it with pita chips and on crostini with goat cheese.  I highly recommend making beet hummus.

The only difficult part of the recipe was peeling the beets, I would recommend using gloves, so you don't end up with beet colored hands.  :)

Beet Hummus

1/2 pound beets (about 4 medium sized beets), scrubbed clean, cooked, peeled, cubed*
2 tablespoons tahini sesame seed paste
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
Generous pinch of sea salt or Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings and ingredients as desired.

Chill and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.

Eat with pita chips, or with sliced cucumber or celery, or crostini with goat cheese and shaved mint.

Makes 2 cups.

*To cook the beets, cut off any tops, scrub the roots clean, put them in a covered dish with about 1/4 inch of water in a 375 degree oven, and cook until easily penetrated with a knife or fork.  Alternatively, cover with water in a saucepan and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes.  Peel once they have cooled.

Hat Tip - simplyrecipes.com

July 22, 2011

Tuscan Kale Chips

When life gives you kale, make chips!

This is our first year having a CSA.  We get an email on Monday about what will be in our share for the week.  Mondays have started feeling like Christmas morning for me.  I can't wait for the email to come to my inbox to see what lovely goodies we will get.  :)  We have a medium share, but at times we have a bit more than the two of us can eat before the veggies go bad.  We got tuscan kale a few weeks ago.  I wasn't sure what to make with it so I googled tuscan kale.  Tuscan kale chips came up.  I was very intrigued by veggie chips.  I read the recipe and it was super simple.  I made the chips asap. 

After reading some reviews on Epicurious about the spices, I decided to add garlic salt to the kale instead of just regular salt.  It was a good choice.  They were supper yummy!  I almost felt like I was eating real (potato) chips, except these were very thin and green.  :) 

Tuscan Kale Chips

12 large Tuscan Kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise in half, center ribs and stems removed (I cut  mine into bite size pieces)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Toss kale with oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Arrange leaves in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets.  Bake until crisp, about 30 minutes for flat leaves and up to 33 minutes for wrinkled leaves.  Transfer leaves to rack to cool.

Hat Tip - Epicurious.com

July 11, 2011

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

A hobby of mine is looking at recipes online, in magazines, and of course cookbooks.  Sometimes I even mark the really good looking recipes with post it flags, but I usually end up with more pages that have flags than those that do not.  :)  I have been eying this cupcake recipe from Cooks Illustrated for quite awhile and I finally found a good reason to make it.  I made these cupcakes for a small neighborhood get together.  They were a huge hit!

These cupcakes are very rich, even without the ganache filling.  The cupcakes have bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and coffee in them.  These are not for your average, ho hum, chocolate fan, you need to be an "ultimate" chocolate fan.  Don't get me wrong, these are delicious cupcakes, but one at a time is enough for me.  I would like to make these again with the ganache filling, just to see the triple chocolate threat from the ganache, chocolate cake, and chocolate frosting.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling

Ganache Filling - 

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine*
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Chocolate Cupcakes -

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine*
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounce) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounce) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ganache Filling - Place chocolate, cream, and confectioner's sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds.  Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

Cupcakes - Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard-size muffin pan with baking-cup liners.  Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl.  Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth.  Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth.  Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups.  Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake.  Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch, 17 to 19 minutes.  Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.  Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack.  Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

To Frost - Mound 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting on center of each cupcake.  Using small icing spatula or butter knife, spread frosting to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center. 

Yield - 12 Cupcakes

*Use a high quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for this recipe.  The ganache filling is highly recommended, but can be omitted for a more traditional cupcake.  The cupcakes can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored unfrosted in an airtight container.   

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
pinch table salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of stand mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water.  Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 2-3 minutes.

Place bowl in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy.  (Frosting may look curdled after half of butter has been added; it will smooth with additional butter.)  Once all butter is added, add cooled melted chocolate and vanilla; mix until combined.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds, scraping beater and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary.

Yield - About 2 1/4 cups

*Cool the chocolate to between 85 and 100 degrees before adding it to the frosting.  If the frosting seems to soft after adding the chocolate, chill it briefly in the refrigerator and then rewhip it until creamy.  The frosting can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.  When ready to frost, place frosting in a microwave-safe container and warm briefly on high power until just slightly softened, 5 to 10 seconds.  Once warmed, stir until creamy. 

Hat Tip - Cook's Illustrated

July 3, 2011

Vanilla Granola

Vanilla granola with yogurt, strawberries, and blueberries - a healthy, festive 4th of July snack.  :)  

I have made another granola recipe, but I like this one better.  This one smells like cookies as it bakes, because of the brown sugar and honey in it.  It tastes like a yummy oatmeal cookie in a bowl.  The brown sugar gives the granola such a rich, deep flavor; it is delicious!  It goes really well with yogurt and fruit or milk.  I enjoy it either way. 

The recipe calls for 1/3 cup oil, I reduced it to 1/4 cup to make it a little more figure friendly.  :)  It turned out great with the reduction of oil.  The granola doesn't get crunchy in the oven, it gets crunchy as it cools.  

Happy 4th of July!

Vanilla-Scented Granola

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Mix oats, walnuts, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Combine oil, honey, and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Pour hot liquid over oat mixture; stir well.  Using hands, toss mixture until thoroughly mixed.  

Spread granola on prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.  Transfer sheet to rack; cool granola completely.  

July 2, 2011

Key Lime Pie

I'm a huge fan of key lime pie.  There is just something about a graham cracker crust, with tart, creamy pie, and a bit of whipped cream.  It is such a dangerously delicious combination!  For this recipe, I was lazy and used a store bought crust (I know, shame on me), but if you have the time, make your own crust, it is worth it.  If you are looking for an easy dessert, then this is it.  The pie comes together in just a few minutes and then a few minutes in the oven.  The hard part is waiting for the pie to chill, but it is worth the wait. 

Most key lime pies I've seen call for egg yolks, but not this one.  When I saw this one I was very interested in it.  I LOVE sweetened condensed milk!  Who doesn't though, right?  I remember when I was little, my Mom would be baking something that called for condensed milk, I would be there waiting with a spoon to "lick" the can.  :)  Of course, after making the pie, I had to "lick" the cans.  Guilty pleasure, I guess.  Or re-living childhood memories, either way condensed milk is still just as delicious today as it was then.

Key Lime Pie

1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
3 cups sweetened condensed milk (about 2 cans)
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup key lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lime zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice and lime rind.  Mix well and pour in to graham cracker crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of the pie.  DO NOT BROWN!  Chill pie thoroughly before serving.  Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream if desired.

Yield - 8 servings

Hat Tip - allrecipes.com