Monthly Archives: September 2012

Oatmeal Cookies with Raisin, Dates and Walnuts

The transition into fall is in full force in some places, but it seems like in central Texas the apples are not quite in yet and it still seems to hot to pull out the pumpkin.  I really wanted a fall dessert, but decided on the next best thing. Oatmeal cookies.

The cookies are loaded with dried fruit.   I used raisins and dates, but you could easily swap those out.  I made it with figs once…. delicious!

Oatmeal Cookies with Raisins, Dates, and Walnuts
adapted from Bon Appetit

makes 3-4 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with foil; butter foil. Blend first 5 ingredients in medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in honey, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, raisins, dates, and walnuts. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, spacing mounds 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies slightly.

Bake cookies until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on sheets.  Enjoy!

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Scallops with Shaved Fennel and Citrus

Sea scallops.  Buttery, rich, sea scallops. yum.  I have a weakness for these little guys and every now and then I cannot help myself at the grocery store.  If I am having a rough week there is nothing like scallops to pull me out of it.

So with school in full swing and my first set of tests coming up this was just what I needed.  The perfect treat for myself.  This salad, which was in Everyday Food in July, was an easy, light way to serve them.  I added a little bit of wilted greens and some extra grapefruit juice and it made it just perfect!

Seared Scallops with Shaved Fennel and Grapefruit
adapted from Everyday Food

2 grapefruits, I used white flesh but any would work
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops
1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup English cucumber, thinly shaved crosswise on a mandoline
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 large fennel bulb, cut in half (root end trimmed but left intact to keep fennel together)
2 cups baby spinach
(I garnished mine with some micro-greens and mixed a little purslane into the spinach)

Finely grate enough grapefruit rind to yield 1 teaspoon zest. Peel grapefruits with a paring knife, removing all pith. Working over a bowl, cut the grapefruit segments from the membranes for 1 1/2 grapefruits, cut into bite-size pieces, and set aside. Squeeze juice of remaining grapefruit segments into bowl (you should have 2/3 cup juice). Also set up 4 dinner plates with 1/2 c. of greens on each one so that when your scallops finish you can transfer them right on top.

Heat 1/2 tsp. olive oil over medium heat in small nonstick skillet.  Add greens and wilt very slightly.  You still want some a tiny bit crunch but I feel a softer texture compliments the scallops more.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Pat scallops dry, sprinkle with salt, and season with pepper. Saute 1/2 of the scallops until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip, and continue to cook until barely opaque all the way through, about 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining scallops. Divide scallops between 4 plates on top of greens, and loosely tent with foil. I like to place them in the middle so you can still see the bed of green around them. Reduce heat to low, and add grapefruit juice. Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits, until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour sauce over scallops.

Combine cucumber, lemon juice, remaining oil, the grapefruit zest and pieces, chives, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Shave fennel into bowl, season with pepper, and toss gently to combine. Pile salad atop scallops. Enjoy!

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Eggplant and White Balsamic Salad

It seems like people I talk to either love eggplant or hate it.  I think people’s distaste of eggplant comes from its bitter flavor.  I find the Japanese and Chinese variety tend to be less bitter than purple eggplant. I also love the graffiti eggplant because they are so pretty and it makes me feel like a rebel when graffiti shows up on my grocery receipt.  To avoid bitter traditional purple eggplant I always try to buy the smaller ones, not a guarantee, but it seems to work for me.  Also I slice them, salt them, and drain them on paper towels.

I definitely fall into the love category so I cannot say my opinion of this salad is unbiased, but I think it is delicious and very easy to make.  If your nervous this is good recipe to try.  At least if you are still not fond of it, you didn’t slave away for hours in your kitchen.

Eggplant and White Balsamic Salad
serves 4 as a side

2 Japanese eggplants, sliced 1/4″ thick
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
pepper
1 Tbsp. white Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
salad greens
Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Slice your eggplant crosswise.  You want it fairly thin, but not so thin it falls apart. Maybe 1/4″ thick slices.

Drizzle both sides of your eggplant with olive oil. You want to make sure the eggplant does not stick to the pan (I brushed some olive oil on the baking sheet as well, just to be on the safe side). Also give the eggplant and little sprinkle of sea salt and pepper.

Once the oven is hot bake the eggplant for 10-12 minutes. I rotated the pan and flipped the eggplant half way through so it would cook and brown more evenly. Once it is brown remove from the oven and transfer to plate or cutting board to cool.

Once cool toss with the white balsamic and mint. I let the eggplant sit like this for about 10 minutes before I toss it with the greens. I didn’t specify how many greens you should add because it kinda depends on what you are trying to achieve. I add less greens if I want it as a side and more greens, maybe even some tomatoes, if I want it as a salad. Toss and Enjoy!

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Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

Yesterday was the last official day of summer.  This day to me is always bittersweet.  While I am totally ready for the weather to cool down and put on some boots and sweaters saying good bye to summer produce is always hard.

Before I trade in my peaches for pumpkin, and berries for apples I want to post one more summer dessert.  There is nothing that screams summer like cobbler.  A simple fruit dessert that is so easy to put together it should be a crime.

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler
adapted from Martha Stewart

3 to 4 ripe peaches (1 1/4 pounds), cut into eighths
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine peaches and blueberries in a bowl. Whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and cornstarch. Add to fruit; toss to combine. Divide filling evenly among four 8-ounce custard cups (or one 2-quart baking dish); transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

Make the topping and bake: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; stir just until a dough forms. Drop dough onto peaches, using about 1/3 cup dough for each custard cup. Sprinkle dough with remaining teaspoon sugar. Bake until fruit is bubbling and biscuit topping is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes; serve warm.

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Zucchini Ribbon Salad

I saw a few of these salads floating around the blog world and from the minute I saw the first one I knew I had to try it.

I love a good hearty salad.  They are the perfect dinner accompaniment to leave you happy and satisfied.  The ribboned zucchini along with the crunch of the nuts gives you an amazing texture and the lemony vinaigrette gives it a little bite.  So get out your vegetable peeler and make this happen!!

Zucchini Ribbon Salad
adapted from the Proud Italian

1 Zucchini
1/2 cup nuts (sliced almonds, pine nuts, pecans)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Salad Greens
Any lemony Vinegarette

Ribbon the zucchini. To grill, brush or mist zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle ribbons with salt and pepper. If you are cooking it over the stove, you could add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large nonstick skillet or grill pan but make sure it is evenly distributed so your zucchini doesn’t get too oily. Either grill or sauté ribbons for just a few minutes, the ribbons do not take long to cook. set aside and allow to come to room temperature while preparing your salad. I like to put mine in the refrigerator so they chill slightly.
In a dry pan over medium heat, toast your nuts.
For the vinaigrette I just mixed a little olive oil, Dijon, garlic and lemon together.
Fill your salad bowl with your greens. Toss with some of the Vinaigrette reserving some to drizzle over the top. Add the zucchini ribbons to the top of the salad tossing if needed, then sprinkle on the nuts and cheese. Drizzle remaining dressing over and enjoy!

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Hatch Chile Cornbread

My mom came home the other day and all she could talk about was this cornbread she had at Whole Foods.  She prefaced the story by saying she was having one of those days when she was absolutely starving and had to stop at the grocery store on the way home.  I totally felt her pain, I mean there is absolutely nothing worse than being surrounded by food when your stomach is grumbling.  I usually opt for a box of cookies or something equally terrible and ridiculous, but my mom opted for a sample of their hatch chile cornbread instead.  Hunger can do crazy things to a person so I was a little skeptical about how amazing this cornbread really was.

Sooo… she rambled about this cornbread until I finally gave in and went and sampled it and she was right.  I immediately bought some hatch chiles and started experimenting with recipes until I got it right.

Hatch Chile Cornbread
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup flour
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup corn, frozen or fresh removed from the cob
2 medium hatch chiles
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat broiler. Lightly butter a 12-cup mini-muffin tin or coat with cooking spray. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Place hatch chiles on baking sheet and broil 6” from the heat source.  Rotate peppers to char on all sides.  Place peppers in a bowl and cover with saran wrap to steam for about 10 minutes.  Remove skins and seeds and dice.  Set aside and change the oven temperature to 375°F.
Combine buttermilk, egg, and oil. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until combined.  Add in corn and hatch chiles.
Fill cups of muffin tin three-quarters full with batter. Top each with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.  Bake until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes. Turn out muffins from tin. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Summer Berry Bundt Cake

One of my best friends just spent two years teaching English in Japan.  I missed her soooo much, so obviously her homecoming was a much anticipated event.  I strongly expected her to have a never ending list of places she wanted to go and things she wanted to eat.  I was fully prepared to engulf as much Tex-Mex as humanly possible.

And that we did. I was however surprised that her first request was not queso covered enchiladas, but a plate of fresh berries.  She talked about how fresh berries were unbelievably expensive in Japan and she had been thinking about summer berries for months.

This inspired me to get one last berry recipe in and this bundt cake is perfect.  So whip it up and eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Summer Berry Bundt Cake

slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups mixed berries
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a nonstick 10″ bundt pan with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about minutes. Then, with the mixer on a low speed, add your eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk in 3 additions ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides and be careful not to over mix. Toss the berries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and gently fold into the cake batter with a spatula. The batter is pretty thick so some of the berries may get crushed but it creates pretty colorful swirls in the cake.

Spoon cake batter into the prepared baking pan and spread the top smooth. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating the cake halfway through to make sure it browns evenly. The cake is done when tester in the center comes out clean.

Set cake pan on a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before inverting the cake onto a serving platter to cool completely. Once cool, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice and butter until smooth. I left my glaze a little on the thicker side, but if you prefer it thinner you can add additional lemon juice. I spread a generous amount of glaze on to the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides. Slice and enjoy!

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