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Cooking Inspiration for the Month

8 Jan

During this reset season, the competition between the abstinence commitments made in December and the lingering desire for comforting food, especially when faced with frigid temperatures across the country, can be fierce. Maybe it’s best to ride somewhere in the middle so here are a few ideas.

Please share in the comments section below what you’ve tried and how it turned out.

Happy New Year!

BREAKFAST

The Perfect Make-Ahead Waffles from Marion Cunningham

We all have our idea of what makes the perfect waffle. In our family, these are it. Lighter than pancakes, they are slightly crispy on the outside but fluffy within. As a bonus, they’re quick to prep the night before and finish up in the morning. Try them served with butter and berries, either fresh or heated from the freezer.

Marion Cunningham Waffles

NOTE:

  • If you’re wanting to up the nutrition factor, you can substitute whole wheat pastry flour for white.
  • A teaspoon of vanilla adds a nice flavor boost but is not necessary.
  • Don’t be surprised by the thin batter.
  • Any extras will freeze well for a toaster oven snack.

APPETIZER

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs from Cheeky Kitchen

Just in time for the Golden Globes this weekend or for the Superbowl on February 1st, these are a simple, sure hit. Ground turkey also works well.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

MAIN DISHES

Weeknight Porchetta from Bon Appétit 

To simplify this recipe, skip nestling the heads of garlic around the tenderloin.

Weeknight Porchetta

Spaghetti and Drop Meatballs with Tomato Sauce from Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman does it again with meatballs and sauce made easy in one pot.

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VEGETABLES

Roasted Carrots with Honey, Sage and Garlic from Cannelle Et Vanille

Something healthy and light to go with that pork. Good with or without the yogurt.

Carrots

SNACK or SIDE

Corn Muffins from Food 52

Great to serve alongside the Porchetta above or Butternut Squash Soup below and perfect with chili, these are a fun alternative to corn bread. I prefer the buttery flavor to the bacon fat called for in the recipe.
Corn Muffins

LUNCH

Butternut Squash Soup from Half Baked Harvest

If you haven’t discovered the blog Half Baked Harvest, it’s worth checking out. Tieghan took over cooking for her big family of nine in her mid-teens and hasn’t missed a beat since. Her creative, delicious recipes, excellent photography and youthful flare have brought her well-deserved success.

Below is a recipe inspired by her Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup. Next time, I’ll try her version, but for today, I lacked a few ingredients. Regardless, it was full of flavor.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Leeks

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 small to medium)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 1 Leek, white portion only, or 1 small Onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried Thyme, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 Garlic clove, skin removed and crushed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 4 ounces Goat Cheese, softened

Optional Toppings: Plain Greek Yogurt or Goat Cheese and/or roughly chopped Cilantro and Pistachios

PREPARATION

  1. To make peeling easier, cut off the bottom of the squash and put on a plate in the microwave for 3 minutes. Peel, remove seeds and cut into approximately 1-inch cubes.
  2. Add the coconut oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat.
  3. Once hot, add the leek or onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the cubed butternut squash, curry powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the garlic clove and stir for 10 seconds or so to meld the flavor but avoid scorching.
  7. Pour in the coconut milk and broth.
  8. Bring to boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender.
  9. Once the squash is tender, add the goat cheese (optional).
  10. Remove the pot from the stove and allow to cool slightly, then puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return the soup back to the stove and heat through.
  11. To serve, ladle the soup into bowl, topping with Greek yogurt or crumbled goat cheese and garnishing with chopped cilantro and/or pistachios.

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The Great Pancake Debate and The Quest for the Best

7 Nov

PancakesThere’s no question that making pancakes from scratch is well worth the limited effort. But a recipe debate has risen lately as a new contender has entered the fray. On the one side are the original Fluffy Homemade Pancakes, the most visited recipe on this site. And on the other, Fluffy Homemade Pancakes Version Two (recipe below) which has gained a position on the top of the rotation.

PancakesSo if you find yourself in the mood for pancakes in the coming couple of weeks, I pose a request that you give this new one a try and compare it to the original. Maybe you’ll find no discernible difference. Or perhaps regardless of the results, you’ll align with the kids’ Nana and prioritize the lower sodium content of the first.

Pancakes

Whatever the case, if you seek a no-frills, go-to homemade pancake mix for the every day, you can feel you’ve done your due diligence and have what you deem to be the best basic recipe ready for the wanting.

You can cast your vote here and please share comments below. I will post the results before the holidays draw more morning time in the kitchen. Thanks for your input!

Tips for Quicker Pancakes

Here are a couple of strategies to streamline the pancake preparation process, particularly helpful on a weekday morning:

1) Keep a storage container filled with the dry ingredients in your pantry. Whisk 2 cups of the dry mix (which has previously been sifted as per the recipe) and then add the butter, milk, egg and vanilla.

2) Make extra pancakes and, when cool, refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. (If freezing, lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer. After two or so hours, transfer to a ziplock bag.) To reheat, lightly toast or heat in the microwave. Great for a quick breakfast or snack.

Fluffy Homemade Pancakes - Version Two

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a griddle or frying pan over low to medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Lightly grease with canola or vegetable oil.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together or whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  3. Melt the butter in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter.
  5. Crack the egg and vanilla into the measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork. Add to the bowl.
  6. Measure the milk in the cup and add to the bowl.
  7. Mix with a spoon until smooth with a few remaining lumps. Don’t over mix.
  8. Spoon the batter onto the griddle or pan. When bubbles begin to form on the surface, turn the pancakes and cook for another minute until golden brown.

Amazingly Nutritious, Perfectly Delicious Cottage Cheese Pancakes

14 Feb

This recipe is a must try. I felt it necessary to make the post title a bit promotional given that cottage cheese happens to be the key ingredient. This cheese curd product is not something that has ever found its way into my shopping cart until this impression-breaking recipe came along. Continue reading

Food for Thought and Recipes for the Week

18 Jan

Below is a weekly food roundup, locally and beyond, of ideas for what to cook, where to eat, things to consider and actions to inspire. If you have something to add to a future Friday Food list, please share it in the comments section below. Enjoy the weekend!

Continue reading

The Best of the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

11 Jan

Tout the superior merits of the chocolate chip cookie batter at the exclusion of the cooked cookie no more. This week was to be about chicken with goat cheese and pork chops with rosemary sauce as sugar is not a January ingredient post-holiday excess. And no doubt the Todd English cookies posted here previously are a best contender … unless you happen to find oatmeal or espresso powder less than traditional additions. Or if you prefer something on the softer side.

Continue reading

Friday Food: Links to Recipes, Restaurants, Gadgets, News and More

1 Nov

Wordle

Below is a weekly food roundup, locally and beyond, of ideas for what to cook, where to eat, things to consider and actions to inspire. If you have something to add to a future Friday Food list, please share it in the comments section below. Enjoy the weekend!

EAT

Gluten Free Flours                    

As alternative flours surface more and more, from coconut and corn to millet and amaranth, here is a helpful guide from Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic with information on those that are easy to locate or make. You’ll also find a recipe for her Gluten and Grain Free Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Continue reading

Friday Food: Links to Recipes, Restaurant, Gadgets and News

18 Oct

Below is a weekly roundup of ideas for what to cook, where to eat, things to consider and actions to inspire. To link to recipes, click on the image. If you have something to add to a future Friday Food list, please share it in the comments section below. Enjoy the weekend! Continue reading

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Banana Bread and A Word on Snacks

19 Sep

It’s a reasonable debate. Take the time and make the effort to unprocess the snacks or shortcut to the neat, individually packaged store boughts.  Continue reading

Peach and Strawberry Crisp

9 Jul

The Farmers Market is approaching its prime. Tomatoes are showing up and peaches and strawberries are bountiful.

Donut Peaches

You can find peaches for $2.00/pound during this high season and a flat (6 baskets) of strawberries for $13, making these fruits an inexpensive summer snack. And given that chocolate-based desserts have taken the back-seat to the juicy, colorful, fruit dominant, I suggest getting a bag full … some for now, some for dessert. Continue reading

Summer Strawberry Muffins

29 May

This is a “compilation recipe” that combines the elements I like in a muffin – no long wait between steps, an ingredient or two that provides a healthy balance (in this case, wheat pastry flour and Greek yogurt) and something to sprinkle on the top that provides some crunch.  It comes together really quickly and is doable on a weekend morning.  Just start right away with preheating the oven and letting the strawberries macerate.

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