Saturday, November 10, 2012

Show Stoppin' Blue Cheese, Prosciutto, Apricot and Arugula Pizza

This pizza is unbelievable! I was reminded of its glory yesterday when my bestie called to get the ingredients for it. She is a little bit of a weinie with food. Her husband often gets mad at her because when he tries to get her to eat something a little more "exotic" and she refuses, he says, "Ugh, I know that you would eat it if Kristi offered it to you."

This pizza is one of these dishes. It sounds like something that you wouldn't want to eat, then you eat it, you can't stop sighing while eating it and then it becomes your go-to "fancy dinner for friends" meal.

I like to let my dough rise at least a few hours in advance, overnight is even better[I used my go-to recipe It yields enough for about 3, thin-crust 12 inch pizzas and is probably a little over a pound of dough], heat up my pizza stone and pound out 2-3 of these pizzas and let my guests, and myself, grab a slice from each pizza as they come out of the oven.

Blue Cheese, Prosciutto, Apricot and Arugula Pizza
*Yields 2, 12 inch pizzas 
1 lb. of room temperature pizza dough
6 T of apricot preserves
4 oz. of crumbled blue cheese
Approximately 10 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto [more or less is fine, cooked bacon crumbles would be delicious too], roughly chopped
2 heaping handfuls of baby arugula

Preheat the oven, and pizza stone if using, to 500 degrees.

Divide the dough in two and roll out each section of dough into a rough circle...rustic pizza shapes are just fine!

I have a cool pizza peel, so I assembled my pizzas one at a time on the peel, sprinkling a little bit of cornmeal on the peel before placing the dough on top to aid the pizza sliding off of the peel onto the pizza stone.

Spread half of the apricot preserves on each pizza.

 Sprinkle half of the blue cheese crumbles over the thin layer of apricot preserves.  Don't worry, the cheese layer will look very scant but it melts into a beautiful "sauce" with the preserves.

Place your pizza on the pizza stone and cook just until the cheese had melted, approximately 4-5 minutes. After the cheese has slightly melted, sprinkle the chopped prosciutto on the pizza and let cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle with a handful of arugula, slice and enjoy while hot!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Roasted Brussel Sprout and Lemon Chicken Spaghetti

This year, we decided to spice up our gardening lives a little bit and try our hand at growing brussel sprouts. We bought seedlings, I get nervous to try to grow anything but squash from seed. The brussel sprout plants got giant and held up through multiple frosts. Earlier this week, I decided to harvest my sprouts. 

The stalks were as thick and sturdy as branches, so I ended up pulling up the entire plants and hauling them over to my patio table. The leaves at the base of the plant had fallen off but I still had to pluck a ton of large leaves and carefully whittle off each little sprout. 

This was the carnage:
And this was the end result, which was only toppled over three times by my toddler:
Then came dinner time! I knew that I was going to use my laboriously gathered brussel sprouts but wasn't sure what would go well with them.

I searched high and low throughout my produce bowl, pantry, fridge and freezer and found some staples: garlic, parmesan cheese and whole wheat noodles. Luckily, I also discovered a couple boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the freezer, a lemon and half a bunch of fresh parsley. 

I had everything I needed to make one of my go-to pantry busting pasta dishes. I frequently make a quick lemon and herb pasta with whatever green vegetable I have in the fridge tossed in. Cook whatever pasta you want. Throw in fresh spinach or frozen peas or broccoli [throw the broccoli in with the pasta for the last few minutes]. While the pasta and cooked veggies are draining, I use the same pot and melt a little butter or olive oil. I add in lemon juice, salt, pepper, lots of garlic and fresh parsley. Add the pasta and veggies back with the addition of some parmesan cheese. Toss and eat!

I personally believe that it is a crime to eat unroasted brussel sprouts. The roasting caramelizes and chars them perfectly and gets rid of a lot of their bitterness. I jazzed up one of my fave pasta dishes by roasting my veggies first and adding some marinated and sauteed chicken [the marinade was made with all the flavors that would make my pasta sauce].

Roasted Brussel Sprout and Lemon Chicken Spaghetti
For the chicken and marinade:
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and garlic powder
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 T olive oil
1 T chopped fresh parsley
For the roasted brussel sprouts:
3 T olive oil
1 lb of cleaned brussel sprouts
1 t each of salt, pepper and garlic powder
For the pasta:
10 oz or 3/4 pack of whole wheat spaghetti noodles
1 T butter
1 T chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/3 cup of grated/ shredded parmesan cheese 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the chicken thighs in a small mixing bowl. Top with the marinade ingredients and toss to thoroughly coat the chicken. Cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate for a half hour before cooking.
While the chicken is marinating, place the brussel sprouts on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the sprouts and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Toss to thoroughly coat each sprout.

Roast the sprouts in the 425 degree oven until slightly browned around the edges, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
While the sprouts are roasting, bring the pasta water to a boil and cook the spaghetti.

After the chicken has marinated, place the thighs and marinade in a frying pan over medium heat and sautee the chicken, covered, for about 7 minutes a side.

Once the chicken has cooked, remove the chicken thighs from the pan, place in a bowl, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing. Leave the juices from the chicken in the pan...this will contribute towards your delicious sauce!

While the chicken is resting, add the butter, additional parsley, garlic and lemon juice to the pan that the chicken cooked in. Warm the mixture slightly over low heat. 

Once the chicken has rested, chop it into bite size pieces. Add the chicken, any juice that came out while the chicken was resting, the sauce, brussel sprouts, drained pasta and parmesan cheese to the pot that the pasta cooked in and toss to combine.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Pork and Cabbage Wontons with Sesame Soy Dipping Sauce

A couple of years ago, I realized how easy it was to make sassy adaptations of egg rolls. The secret being....cornstarch. Once you buy egg roll or wonton wrappers, the world is your oyster. 

You can stir fry together anything you want and, once it has cooked, toss in a couple tablespoons of corn starch to bind the mixture together. I have sauteed corn, black beans, onions and chilies for Southwestern egg rolls [tossed a little cheese in before stuffing]. I have simply ripped open a bag of cole slaw mix and poured in a little sesame oil and soy sauce while sauteeing.

Once they are stuffed, feel free to experiment with different cooking methods: steaming, baking with an egg wash. I find that you really can't beat a good fry!

Pork and Cabbage Wontons
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
3/4 pound of ground pork
1/2 of a bag of coleslaw [about 8 oz]
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T corn starch
1 package of wonton wrappers
Small bowl of water [for wonton sealing purposes]
Oil for pan frying [Depending on the size, of your pan, pour oil in until your reach an oil depth of about a 1/3 of an inch...more is fine too if you are heavy-handed]

Wonton Dipping Sauce
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 finely chopped green onion
1 T toasted sesame seeds


In a frying pan, heat the tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the ground pork and cook until slightly brown.

Add the onion, coleslaw, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Cook, covered, for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the coleslaw has wilted.

Sprinkle the corn starch over the top of the wonton stuffing and stir for a couple of minutes until the mixture looks glossy and starts to clump together.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. During this time, mix together your dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
 Begin assembling your wontons. If you have a fancy way of making and rolling wontons,  insert here. I found that the easiest way was to lay a wrapper in the palm of my hand, place about a tablespoon or so of the mixture on one half of the circle, dip my finger in water and trace the rim of the wrapper with my wet finger, then fold the empty half of the wonton over onto the full half so that you have a half-moon and finish by pinching the sides together. 
Once you have all your wontons ready to go, begin heating your oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Once you can put a drop of water in the oil and it starts spitting, you are ready to fry.

Being careful not to crowd the pan [wontons can’t be touching each other], place your wontons in the pan. Fry for a couple minutes per side or until each side is golden.

This recipe made a large batch of wontons. We froze about 15 of them before frying so that we wouldn’t go hog wild at dinner!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Rollatini

This chicken was DANG good! 

Vats of feta were on sale. I had some lonely chicken breasts laying around and happened to have leftover dill from baby shower- tea sandwich making. I always have frozen spinach on hand. 

I thought about sauteeing the chicken and topping it with a little wilted spinach and feta sprinkles but then I remembered that I had bought a giant wooden meat mallet at an estate sale. I needed to use it. FYI, estate sales are awesome places to find cool kitchen stuff. $1 for a giant mallet? Okay!

These rollatini really are huge. I had awesome "leftover pizza" for lunch the next day by placing a few chicken slices, some spinach leaves, feta and a couple spoonfuls of the pan sauce on a whole wheat pizza and broiling until the feta was just starting to melt.

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Rollatini
*Yields 4 large servings
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 oz. defrosted and drained frozen spinach
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 t dried oregano
2 t fresh dill, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon, divided  
1 cup crumbled feta
1 T olive oil
2 T butter 
1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and garlic powder
1/2 c water

Mix the spinach, garlic, 1/4 tsp of black pepper, oregano, dill, feta and half of the lemon juice together in a small mixing bowl.
Prepare your chicken breasts by pounding them out to approximately 1/3" thickness. You can do this with a meat pounder or large rolling pin.

Place your chicken breast between 2 pieces of saran wrap, or in a gallon Ziploc bag, and begin pounding from the inside of the chicken breast outwards. ZIPLOC Double Zipper Bags, 10-9/16-in x10-3/4-in, 1 GL, 1.75 Mil, (Google Affiliate Ad)
Once you have your chicken pounded out, begin assembling.

Spread 1/4 of the spinach and feta mixture across the top of each chicken breast.

Roll each chicken breast up so that the stuffing is concealed. In the above picture, I rolled from left to right to yield a slightly thicker rollatini rather than a long, thin rollatini.
If you have toothpicks, this would be a good time to seal the "seam" of each breast with a toothpick or two so that the rollatini hold their shape while cooking and the stuffing stays intact. Unfortunately, my toddler discovered my box of toothpicks and "sprinkled" them all over the floor.

Needless to say, I did not use cat hair covered toothpicks and they still turned out great. I had to babysit them a bit more during the searing stage and make sure that I seared the seam first. They weren't quite as pretty but were still soooo delicious!

If you want to pre-assemble and cook later on that day, assemble your rollatini and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large frying pan [I used my 12 inch] heat your olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Coat the chicken in the salt, pepper and garlic powder mixture. 

Place the seasoned chicken rollatinis into the hot pan and sear for about a minute or two per side. Sear the seam side first as this will help the rollatini hold its shape.
Once all sides have been seared, pour the remaining lemon juice and the 1/2 cup of water into the pan [this creates a delicious sauce and some steaming liquid]. Cover your pan and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes, uncover the pan and let cook for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and let rest for approximately 5 minutes before serving. 

While your chicken is resting, place the pan with all of the juices on the stovetop and reduce slightly over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes to yield an awesome pan sauce.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Curry Chicken Salad Sliders

Curry chicken salad has been one of my mom's signature party dishes for a while now. She often "fancies" it up by serving it on top of mango and papaya slices. She also goes the extra mile by slowly poaching chicken breasts with some delicious aromatics.

The salad is so delicious. It is creamy but not heavy because of the Greek yogurt. It is really well balanced with a little sweetness from chutney and spiciness from curry. It has made friends say, "I don't like chicken salad, but I really like this" and "I don't like curry, but this is awesome!"

I wanted to serve this for a crowd and thought that it would be awesome as a slider.

I took a big shortcut [a store-bought rotisserie chicken] and made a couple adjustments.

They were good, dang good!

Curry Chicken Salad Sliders
*Yields 20 sliders
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and roughly chopped
2 T canola oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 T curry powder [if you want a little more heat, sub 1 T of powder with 1 T of yellow curry paste]
1 cup Greek style yogurt 
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup mayo
3 T fig preserves or Major Grey’s mango chutney 
Optional but highly recommended:
1/3 c. golden raisins
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
20 slider buns or dinner rolls

Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute over low heat until soft, approximately 8-10 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool completely. 

When totally cool, combine the curried onions with the mayo, lime juice, yogurt and preserves or chutney. Stir well. If using cilantro or raisins, you can also stir them in at this time.
Stir in the chopped chicken and refrigerate until ready to serve.
*This salad gets better the longer it sits. This makes it a great party dish. You can make it a few days before your party and recline in style knowing that your guests will be getting an easy and super flavorful dish.

When ready to serve, slice your buns in half and place a scoop of the salad on each bun. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More food for a party!

Yes, I know, it is very hard to top savory bacon biscotti. It was the star of the baby shower but the other hors d'ouevres were a close second!

Here are a couple of the other easy and delicious hors d'ouevres:
  • Fruit Salad tossed with lime curd and mint
  • Cucumber and Radish Tea Sandwiches
  • Individual crudites served in baguette slices with yogurt herb dip
 My hope is that you might try one or two and let them become an easy party staple.

Limey Fruit Salad
*Lime Sauce is enough for two large bowls of fruit
Any mix of cut fruit you like [I used canteloupe, peaches, nectarines and green grapes] 
1, 10 oz. jar of lime curd
Juice of 3 limes
2 T chopped, fresh mint

This simple sauce adds the perfect bit of acidity and sweetness to your fruit salad. I got a lot of compliments on this fruit salad!

Chop your fruit and try not to let a hungry toddler steal too many bites.
Mix the lime curd, lime juice and mint together.
About a half hour before serving, toss the fruit salad with the lime sauce. 

I divvied my limey fruit salad up into individual punch glasses so that the guests could grab and go!
*Party Trick: If you are in the habit of throwing parties and are tired of having to continuously explain the menu to your guests, go out and buy a couple of cheap picture frames with stands. Print the name of your dish on a photo-sized piece of paper, place in the frame and be free to mingle!

To the left of the fruit salad cups, I served my favorite go to shower food, cucumber and radish tea sandwiches. They are so dainty and freakishly delicious! There is something about the combo of salty and creamy butter with a nice crunch of vegetable on top.

Cucumber and Radish Tea Sandwiches
1 sliced loaf of your favorite wheat bread 
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced cross-wise [English cukes, the ones in the wrappers, are slightly more expensive but are SO worth can use the whole cucumber without having an excess of seeds and skin that tastes like chemical-like wax].
1 bunch of radishes, thinly sliced

Compound Butter
1 stick of butter, softened
1/8 tsp of ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 T chopped fresh parsley

Start by making the compound butter. [I made mine a week in advance, wrapped and froze it and let it defrost on the counter the day of the shower].

Place all compound butter ingredients in a bowl. Mix together with a spatula until well incorporated.
If using later that day, cover the bowl with plastic and leave on the counter to stay soft. If using in a few days, cut a length of plastic wrap about 1 foot long and spoon the butter into a log shape on the plastic wrap. Fold both side of the plastic wrap over the log and twist the ends to make a shape that looks like a butter Tootsie Roll. Pop in the freezer or fridge!
When it comes time to party, remove the crust from each slice of bread and then quarter the bread. 

Spread a little compound butter over each bread quarter and top with a cucumber slice or a couple of radishes. I kept my cukes and radishes separate but feel free to mix them up. 

And finally, totally inspired by Martha, I served individual crudite cups served in baguette slices. Martha's, of course, were prettier than mine []. I did make them my own by making a Greek yogurt based dip. 

Individual Crudite Cups in Baguette Slices
2 baguettes
Your favorite assortment of veggies [I used carrot sticks, celery and snow peas].
Approximately 2 cups of your favorite dip, feel free to make your own or go store-bought

Kristi's Yogurt and Herb Dip for Veggies
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
1 T chopped, fresh dill
1 T chopped, fresh parsley

Mix all dip ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Slice the baguette into 2 inch slices. Hollow out half of the baguette slice by pressing the soft inside against the walls of the baguette [we tried cutting or scooping out the insides and ended up with gaping holes in the bottom of our slices].

Fill the hole with a dollop of the dip and then place vegetable sticks in the dip.

You now have a much sassier and more appealing option to a standard vegetable tray. No guest ends up with a half-eaten scoop of dip on their plate and everyone gets to enjoy a delicious baguette slice with dip once the veggies are gone!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bacon and Green Onion Savory Biscotti

A couple week's ago, I catered my friend Mollie's baby shower. I had a lot of fun brainstorming appetizer-y food and had even more fun because the momma-to-be has a tiny, almost non-existent sweet tooth. This meant that I got to make all savory food!

I will tell you more about the other hors d'ouevres in my next post but will feature the star of the show in this post...Bacon Chive Biscotti.

I knew that I wanted to serve slightly-larger-than-shooter size cups of my mom's beet vichysoisse []. It is delicious. Think pink potato leek soup. I thought that little glasses full of creamy, pink soup would be adorable for a baby girl's shower. I knew that the soup would be great but I wanted it to be a little sassier. 

I was peeking at Martha's Hors D'Ouevres Handbook and saw a picture of savory biscotti. I didn't even know that such a thing existed! She packed hers with things like capers and fennel. Martha's sounded delicious but the mama to be loves bacon and I hadn't included bacon in a single dish! 

What would pair perfectly with leeky, creamy, hot pink soup? Salty and smoky bacon chive biscotti! This biscotti recipe, because of the butter and bacon, has a shortbread quality. They are not rock-hard like typical biscotti. So scrumptious!

Bacon and Green Onion Biscotti
*Makes about 3 1/2 dozen
2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 T chilled butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 T olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 1/4 lbs of bacon
3 green onions, finely chopped 
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a tablespoon of water

Begin by frying the bacon until crisp. I like to bake mine on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet, with sides, in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, flipping the bacon once. The foil makes the grease very easy to clean up and I don't have to fuss over a frying pan.

Once the bacon has cooled slightly, chop it into small pieces [doesn't have to be perfect but maybe aim for 1/2" square pieces].
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, pepper, baking powder, and salt on low speed. Add the butter chunks until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. 

 In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs and milk. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dough and mix until just combined. 

Add in the green onions and bacon and mix until combined.

You could also do this in a food processor but be sure to turn the dough out into a bowl before adding the green onion and bacon. Mix the bacon and green onion in by hand because the processor blade would get rid of the yummy chunks.

Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each section into a log measuring 7 inches long and at least an inch thick.
Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In the last 10 minutes before removing the biscotti from the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the biscotti logs from the fridge and place the logs on a lightly oiled baking sheet. The logs will not grow that much during baking, so they can be placed pretty close together.

Brush the top of each log with egg wash and bake for approximately 25 minutes until light brown and firm to the touch.

Remove the logs from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

After the logs have cooled, slice them crosswise [you can also slice on a diagonal for longer biscotti] with a serrated knife into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place the slices on top of a wire rack resting in a baking sheet [this way the heat will circulate around the biscotti].

Bake for approximately 30 minutes until the biscotti have dried and turned golden brown.

Once cool, the biscotti will keep in an airtight container for about a week.

Serve with your favorite soup, dunk in your fave dip or eat like delicious crackers!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shoo Fly Pie

A few weeks ago we were invited to a BYOP [bring your own pie] first birthday party. I knew that, with it being the end of summer, there would be a ton of delicious fruit pies. Also, my pastry chef friend, Elizabeth, would be in attendance and I wanted to do something a little bit sassy and unusual for her.

I was brainstorming for a couple of days, when I remembered an AWESOME pie that my mom made....Shoo Fly Pie. Shoo Fly Pie is apparently a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. It is called shoo fly pie because the molasses used are sweet enough to attract flies that you need to shoo away.

It's flavor is hard to explain but is so flippin good. It has all the molasses goodness of a ginger snap, a little bit of the gooey texture of a pecan pie and crumb, lots of crumb. What could be better?

I tweaked my mom's recipe just a little bit by adding ground pecans and a little cinnamon to my crumb. The result was amazing!

In typical Kristi-fashion, I rolled my eyes when my Mom advised me to use a deep dish/ 10 inch pie pan. "Ughhh Mom...I can figure it out and I refuse to use something that I don't already own."

Well, a house full of smoke from overflowing pie guts later, I found out that Mama knew best.

So, use a deep dish pie pan or cut down on the crumb and liquid mixture by a third if using a normal pie pan.

Shoo-Fly Pie
Use your favorite pie dough recipe or buy a frozen pie shell.

6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1  cup brown sugar

1/2 cup pecans [walnuts would work well too]
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 cut hot water then cooled
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dark molasses
2 egg yolks, beaten well
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse the crumb ingredients together until the pecans are coarsely chopped.
 Briefly whisk the egg yolks to break up the yolks. Whisk the molasses into the yolks. Whisk until combined. Whisk in the remaining ingredients for the liquid portion of the pie.
Pour 1/3 of the crumb mixture into the base of your pie shell [hopefully a shell that is within a deep pie dish]. 

Pour half of the liquid on top, followed by another third of the crumb mixture, then the rest of the liquid and the remaining third of the crumb mixture on top. So pretty!
Place your pie pan on a cookie sheet and bake at 400º for about 10 minutes. Turn oven to 325º and bake until the center is a bit firm about 25-30 minutes.
Remember, my pie ran WAY over the sides of my dish because I did not listen to my mama! It still tasted amazing and yours will be much prettier than mine.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Zucchini Pancakes or "How to feed a toddler an easy breakfast"

I will never plant four zucchini plants again. We are mid-way through September and still have zucchini coming out of our ears. Here is some evidence [pardon the "morning fresh" look].

As you know, I have been getting creative with zucchini recipes and trying to unload as many zucchini as possible on unsuspecting visitors. For example, Sam is not allowed to leave for band practice without a bag o' zucchini per band member.

A few weeks ago I thought, "Zucchini bread is so good but I cannot have loaves of rich zucchini bread laying around or I will eat them all." I then thought," I bet that I can transfer the flavors of zucchini bread to a pancake batter but make the pancakes way healthier than a big ole' loaf of desserty bread."

The wee one LOVED them and the syrup and Greek yogurt served on top of them!
Some day this poor child might loathe me for posting pics like this!

After seeing the rave review that these pancakes got, I had a motherly stroke of genius! I made a batch one morning and found that it yielded about 20 smallish pancakes. I served Emm and I a few for breakfast, let the remaining pancakes cool and then placed them in a large Ziploc. 

I refrigerated them and every morning, for close to a week, had a quick, healthy and easy breakfast ready for Emm. I would grab a pancake or two, heat them up in the microwave for 30 seconds and serve them topped with a little applesauce and cinnamon [using applesauce as a topping instead of syrup made me feel a little better about the wild child's sugar consumption].

Zucchini Pancakes
1 small zucchini, grated
3/4 cup of applesauce
2 large eggs
1 cup of milk
1/4 cup of brown sugar or honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
1 1/3 c flour 
Butter or oil for greasing the pan

Mix the zucchini, applesauce, eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.

Stir in the cinnamon, salt, baking powder and flour.
Preheat a skillet or griddle over medium high heat. My mom gave me her old stovetop, double burner griddle. It is awesome and I love it. It helps me whip out pancakes in just a couple batches.
Lightly butter or grease your hot pan.

I use my soup ladle to dole out my pancake batter. I use about 3/4 of a ladle of batter for each pancake. This is the easiest method I have found for pancake pouring, but use whatever method you like.

Flip each pancake once the top has covered in air bubbles.

In between batches, you can keep pancakes warm by placing them on a heat safe plate in an oven set to warm or about 200 degrees.

Serve your pancakes with the usual accompaniments or, if you are like me, with a smorgasbord of whatever might work on top of a pancake: peanut or almond butter, butter, yogurt, syrup, jelly, applesauce, cinnamon, sliced fruit. I like to have options!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Late Night Date Night with Stuffed Mushrooms and Homemade Pasta

Since having our cute goon of a child, we have had to get creative with dating. We have awesome friends who often volunteer to watch Emmett but sometimes we realize in the middle of a crazy week, "Crap, I haven't really talked with you in a couple of days and it is too late to get a sitter for tonight!"

Enter the late night date night. 

Step 1: Enjoy a glass of wine and some light snacking whilst letting the toddler play with trucks or watch Thomas the Tank Engine until bedtime.

Step 2: Put said toddler down to bed.

Step 3: Make a romantic, at-home meal with your boo. Yes, you may not eat until 8:30 or 9 but you have been snacking up until this point and the meal will taste SO much better when you don't have to eat it lukewarm because you are cutting kid-size bites and wiping ketchup smears off of the table.

You can always make something easy so that you have more time to chill together but, at the Spitzer household, we love a little bit of fanciness in our date night eating!

This week we made stuffed baby bella mushrooms and homemade pasta with Pomodoro sauce.

*Warning: The pictures in this blog were mostly taken after the sun had set since it was late night date night. Please pardon the dark pics!

We had a bunch of heirloom tomatoes from the garden that we needed to use!
I wanted a sauce that didn't mess too much with my pretty tomatoes, so I chose a basic Pomodoro sauce. 

For the pasta, we used my $85 pasta machine that I found, unused, at Goodwill for $5 [sorry for the brag, but I couldn't resist].

We followed Jamie Oliver's recipe for pasta but made it in the food processor rather than by the "well method."

We only used half of the dough and it made more than enough pasta for four people.

It was really fun to make together and really easy, especially with the help of our food processor and $5 Goodwill find.

Pomodoro Pasta Sauce
Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, chop tomatoes [however many you have, I used about a pound and a half] and added them to the saucepan along with a couple cloves of chopped garlic. Sprinkle the mixture with a pinch of both salt and pepper.

Let the tomatoes saute until the juice starts to come out [approximately 5 minutes]. 

Remove from the heat and stir in at least 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil.

Once our pasta was ready [only took about 4 minutes to cook]. We tossed it with the sauce and served it with Garlic bread.

The pasta and sauce was awesome but the best part of the night was our stuffed mushroom appetizer.

This is SUCH an easy stuffed mushroom recipe but it made one of the best stuffed mushrooms that I have ever had!

Pecorino Romano Stuffed Mushrooms
*yields approximately 15 mushrooms
1/3 of a small load of good, crusty bread [I used one of the Costco brand rosemary olive oil loaves] 
2 T olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of dried oregano
1/2 c. grated pecorino romano cheese [feel free to use parm or asiago]
1/3 c. water
15 baby bella or button mushrooms

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Place chunks of the bread in a food processor and pulse into the bread turns into crumbs. [It helps if the bread is stale. If not feel free to slice and toast lightly before processing]

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the bread crumbs, garlic powder and oregano and saute over medium heat until golden brown, approximately 6-7 minutes.

Remove the bread crumbs from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir to combine.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the water to bind the mixture. The mixture should still look fairly crumby.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Stuff the caps with about one teaspoon of the mixture per cap.

Place the stuffed mushrooms on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until the crumb mixture is golden brown, approximately 15-20 minutes.

Cheesy, salty and awesome!

Whoops, how did our mushroom caps fall into the leftover gravy boat full of pecorino romano cream sauce that we served over roasted veggies the previous night? Please don't try this at home. It was gross and you will probably have to force down every mouthful!
I hope this inspires you to think outside the box when it comes to date nights. You don't have to plan ahead, make a reservation and find a sitter all the time. Sometimes all it takes is a little willingness to be intentional and creative when you have some alone time.