Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Tart

1 3/4 cups pecan halves
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus a pinch for the filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 lb semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream

1) Heat oven to 350F. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing once, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool, then roughly chop. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
2) Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture; mix until combined but still crumbly.
3) Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 4x14 inch rectangular (or 9 inch round) tart pan. Line with a large piece of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides, and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the edges of the crust are dry, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights, and bake until dry and set, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely.
4) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chocolate and pinch of salt. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a bare simmer; pour over the chocolate and let stand 1 minute. Stir gently until the mixture is smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the pecans. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell and sprinkle with the remaining pecans. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.

Review: This is delicious!! I feared this would be just a crumbly candy bar. However, the filling was actually pretty creamy - almost like fudge. The crust was really crumbly and made a mess, but it was totally worth it.

Adapted from:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chili With Sweet Potatoes (crockpot recipe)

1 medium red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 28oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 15.5oz can black beans, rinsed
1 15.5oz can kidney beans, rinsed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
sour cream & scallions for garnish

1) In a 4-6 quart slow cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato and 1 cup water.
2) Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
3) Serve with sour cream and thinly sliced scallions.

Review: This was an amazing chili recipe! The cocoa and cinnamon added an exotic flavor, though it melded perfectly with the sweet potatoes. It wasn't exactly a "chili" taste, but that may be what made this so exceptional!

Adapted from:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mushroom Potpie

4 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 lbs mushrooms (cremini or button), quartered
4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 celery stalks, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas
1 sheet puff pastry (half a 17.3oz package), thawed

1) Heat oven to 400F. Heat 2 Tbs of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, carrots, celery, thyme, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the broth and peas; bring to a boil.
2) Transfer the mushroom mixture to an 8-inch baking dish. Lay the pastry on top and cut several vents in it. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Review: I left out the celery, as I couldn't find the stalks sold individually and I didn't want a whole bag of celery! I imagine it would have added depth to this potpie, but it was pretty delicious even without it. The filling thickened nicely and just tasted hearty. A perfect dish for a chilly night!

Adapted from:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gnocchi With Fava Beans

2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 19oz can fava beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup prepared roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
1 13.75oz can water-packed artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and halved
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 lb pkg vacuum-packed gnocchi

1) Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add fava beans, red peppers and artichoke hearts, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cook 2 minutes more, or until heated through.
2) Meanwhile, prepare gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer gnocchi to large serving bowl, and spoon fava bean mixture over top. Serve hot.

Review: I've seen so many recipes for fava beans, but could NEVER find them in Idaho. So, last week I saw them in the produce section of Whole Foods (vacuum packed package of fresh beans). I bought them, and then couldn't find any of those recipes! I did an online search and found this recipe. My husband then made it for me tonight. He did a great job and the flavor combination was superb! I found I love fava beans and need to look for the rest of those recipes!

Adapted from:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mediterranean Campanelle With Roasted Red Peppers & Almonds

12 oz campanelle, penne or some other short pasta
4 red or orange bell peppers, cut into quarters and seeds removed
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper

1) Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
2) Meanwhile, heat broiler. Place the peppers on a baking sheet skin-side up and broil until blackened, 8 to 10 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, scrape away the blackened skins with a knife and discard. Cut the flesh into 1-inch pieces.
3) Add the peppers, olives, almonds, oil, thyme, 2 Tbs of the reserved cooking water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper to the pasta and toss to combine (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry).

Review: I bought a bag of six bell peppers at Costco (2 yellow, 2 orange, 2 red). They're smaller peppers than the grocery store, but 6 are still cheaper than 4 at the grocery store! I roasted them all. The flavor was absolutely amazing, especially combined with the olives and toasted almonds. Yum! And, I've roasted peppers on my own before and it was an absolute mess. For some reason, it was way easier this time. Maybe I'll be making my own more often and stop buying the jarred stuff!

Adapted from:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spaghetti With Garlicky Kale & Tomatoes

1 pkg spaghetti
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup grated pecorino, plus more for serving

1) Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the kale and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, tossing frequently, until the tomatoes begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes more.
3) Add the kale mixture, almonds, pecorino and reserved cooking water to the pasta, and toss to combine. Serve with additional pecorino.

Review: I was expecting to use more than 2 cloves of garlic, due to the name of the dish. However, garlic has a stronger taste than kale, so the flavor did stand out. This was a great, hearty dish that was filling. It was also super quick and easy to make. The flavor blended well and was so tasty, it didn't require cheese!

Adapted from:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pasta With Hummus, Tomatoes & Olives

1 pkg penne
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup kalamata olives, halved
3/4 cup plain hummus
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in mixing bowl.
2) Add all other ingredients and stir until mixed well. Serve warm.

Review: Tonight I hosted a party, courtesy of houseparty. It was designed to showcase Sabra Hummus. I got coupons for free hummus, an apron, a trivet and a spatula. I also got party favors, which were very nice keychains, coupons and recipe cards! The party was a hit. Everyone thinks of hummus as just a dip, but I got to showcase it as a more versatile ingredient. This was an easy pasta dish and it made a tremendous amount of food!

Sabra Hummus Deviled Eggs

6 eggs
1/3 cup + 1 Tbs Sabra hummus
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp relish
paprika for garnish

1) Place eggs in pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat and let sit for 14 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and run cold water over the eggs. Cool eggs 10 minutes.
2) Remove shells when cool. Cut in half and scoop out the yolk and reserve in bowl of a food processor. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
3) Add hummus, olive oil, pepper and salt to the yolks and puree in the food processor. Add the relish and pulse 3-5 times to incorporate.
4) Put the yolk mixture in a piping bag. (Use a tall glass and fold the edges of the piping bag over the glass to make it easier to transfer the mixture.) Pipe about a teaspoon of the mixture into each of the egg white halves and sprinkle with paprika.

Review: I was chosen to host a Sabra sponsored party (see above post). I was supposed to have the party last week, but there was a family event conflict and we had power outage issues. I had everything lined up today, when once again, we lost power. My wonderful home in the woods of New England is proving to be a dangerous spot to be in, electricity-wise. Thankfully, my mother-in-law allowed us to host the party at her house, despite having international guests! It turned out to be a neat reception to their arrival, thankfully.

However, in all of today's chaos, I had little attention for details. Therefore, I thought the hummus completely replaced the egg filling. I tossed all the yolks into a bowl for my husband to make sandwich fixings (he mixes it with mayo, and tuna or salmon). Yet, simply having hummus and relish as the filling was a hit at the party! Everyone ate them and they were quickly gone. I wonder how they'd taste with the egg yolks mixed in? And, I topped these with smoked paprika, as it's just tastier than regular paprika.

Adapted from:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Amaretti Crust

1 lb of pumpkin or other fall squash, peeled, seeded & cut into 1 inch cubes
1 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pkg elbow-shaped pasta
4 Tbs butter
2 Tbs sage, thinly sliced
4 Tbs flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cups white cheese, shredded (I used Swiss, Gruyere & Parmesan)
1/2 cup amaretti cookies, crumbled

1) Toss the pumpkin/squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
2) Roast the pumpkin/squash in a preheated (350F) oven until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
3) Cook the pasta as directed.
4) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add sage. Cook until the butter is bubbling and has turned golden brown.
5) Mix in the flour and let simmer until it returns to a light golden brown.
6) Add the milk, mustard and cheese, and simmer until it thickens and the cheese has melted.
7) Mix the pumpkin, pasta and cheese sauce. Pour into a baking dish, topping it with the amaretti cookie crumbles.
8) Bake in a preheated oven (350F) until golden brown on the top and bubbling on the sides, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Review: We skipped the cookie topping, as the only place we could find amaretti cookies was Whole Foods and they were $10. But, the dish was fine without them! This was such a yummy combination of fall squash (pictured below), cheese and pasta. Of course, we had quite the carb slump afterwards, but our bellies were soooooo happy!

Adapted from:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Medley With Nori Strips

2 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 medium sweet potato, cubed
1 parsnip, sliced
1 turnip, cubed
1 1/2 cups whole baby carrots
10 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 Tbs olive oil
2 sheets toasted nori
1/3 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts
1 Tbs toasted walnut oil

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
2) Toss together Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, parsnips, turnip, carrots, garlic and olive oil in large bowl, making sure vegetables are coated with oil. Transfer vegetables to prepared baking sheet, and roast 35 to 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and browned, stirring halfway through.
3) Meanwhile, cut or tear each nori sheet into 4 rectangles (you should have 8 pieces). Stack pieces on top of one another, and slice into thin strips.
4) Transfer vegetables to large serving bowl, and toss with hazelnuts, walnut oil and nori strips. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Review: I bought a bag of prediced parsnips and turnips at Trader Joes. It said it was good until 11/11/2011, but my bag grew moldy inside and I had to toss them out. Even with that tossed, this dish made a lot of food! I also took a savings move by not buying a package of nori strips (about $6) and instead bought a package of seaweed snacks ($1). Trader Joes' seaweed snacks are just little sheets of toasted nori. It was the perfect amount, and I crumbled them over the top of the veggies. This was soooo good, though my Brussels sprouts were a little over cooked. Next time, I'll probably saute them and roast everything else. Yum!!!

Adapted from:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chickpeas With Chard & Pan-Roasted Tomatoes

1 cup brown rice
2 Tbs olive oil
4 small plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 small bunch Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed and leaves torn
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
salt and black pepper
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1) Cook the rice according to package directions.
2) Twenty minutes before the rice is done, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, cut-side down, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until browned and starting to soften, 3 to 5 minutes; turn and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.
3) Reduce heat to medium and add the chard, garlic, 2 Tbs water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper to the skillet. Cook, tossing, until the chard wilts, 2 to 3 minutes.
4) Return the tomatoes to the skillet, add the chickpeas, and toss until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve over the rice.

Review: I used instant brown rice, and cooked everything at the same time. It took quite a bit to manage 3 burners of cooking at the same time, but it all finished together and saved a lot of cooking time. This had a great savory flavor, but the tomatoes become a little mushy in this process. I also think this would be better served over couscous (especially Israeli couscous).

Adapted from:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shrimp Scampi

For years I've wondered why there are no fake fish products. I'd seen beef, turkey, chicken and pork products replicated with vegetable products. However, no fish, not once. Until tonight! We went to a new Whole Foods and found Yves Veggie makes two fish flavors! Shrimp Scampi and a Tuna Steak. So, I scooped up the scampi and tried it out tonight.

I've never had shrimp scampi before, as I became a vegetarian at a fairly young age, and shrimp scampi was a little too fancy for the SEMO I grew up in. But, my husband said this tastes pretty spot on. It definitely smelled fishy, so they must have made it right! Now, I need to convince my kitty it's not real, so she'll leave my bowl alone . . .