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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lemon Cream Tart

I got some mini tart pans as a birthday gift so I wanted to break them out for a dinner party. It's always fun to make each person their own individual dessert. I decided on a classic lemon cream tart because lemon desserts are generally some of my favorite. This lemon cream from Dorie Greenspan is no disappointment. It was tart and creamy and very good. While the process of making the lemon cream may seem intimidating at first, its really pretty easy and similar to any basic custard recipe. To make it easier, I used a pre-made refrigerated pie crust as a tart shell for these because I was short on time, but next time I plan to try a homemade sweet tart crust.

In order to make this filling you will need a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler, use a heat safe bowl set over a sauce pan. Fill the sauce pan with about an inch of water and set the bowl over the water, making sure the bowl doesn't actually touch the water. You'll also need either a blender or food processor.

Lemon Cream Tart Filling
Recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours

1 cup sugar
Zest of 3 lemons
4 eggs
3/4 cup lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
1 cup plus 5 T unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
Prepared pie or tart crust
Blueberry Coulis (see below)

Set pan of water over medium heat. In heat safe bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub the sugar and zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and grainy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and whisk as soon as the mixture begins to heat. Stir constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling as the mixture cooks. Heat the mixture to 180 degrees. The mixture will start off thin and foamy, but will quickly turn thicker. Once the whisk leaves a trail through the mixture, it is almost done. This process will generally take about 10 minutes. The cream will be thick and shiny when it's ready.

When the mixture has reached 180 degrees, pour through a fine mesh strainer into blender or food processor. Let it cool for about 10 minutes, until the temperature falls to about 140 degrees. Turn the blender on high and through the center of the lid, add pieces of butter a couple at a time. Occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl as it processes, until all the butter is incorporated. Once the butter is all mixed in, continue to blend an additional 3 minutes.

Transfer the lemon cream to a clean bowl and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly against the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Cover with lid and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven as directed on crust package or recipe. Roll out pie or tart crust on a well-floured surface. Transfer to tart pans and press lightly in place. Cover crust with a sheet of foil, pressed against the surface. Fill with dried beans or rice and bake about 7-10 minutes. Remove foil and beans and prick the surface of the dough with a fork several times and continue baking about 5-10 more minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Blueberry Coulis

1 cup fresh blueberries
1 T sugar

Empty blueberries into a food processor. Sprinkle with sugar and pulse several times until blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When cream is ready, spoon into tart shells. Top with blueberry coulis and serve.

Caribbean Jerk Turkey Burgers

First I have to apologize because I don't have a "finished product" picture because we had friends over for dinner and I forgot to get a picture once I put these together. However, don't let that stop you from trying them. These burgers are absolutely delicious... and healthy. Although the method seems a little unorthodox, it really does work. I thought the outsides of the burgers would be nice and seasoned and the insides would be dry and boring but that was not the case. This really worked out well. I topped them with a little guacamole and red onion and they were fantastic.

Caribbean Jerk Turkey Burgers
Recipe adapted from Good Things Catered
Makes 4 burgers

1 lb ground turkey breast
4 T soy sauce
4 T red wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp thyme
3/4 tsp garlic salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
4 hamburger buns
Red Onion

In a shallow bowl, mix together soy sauce, vinegar and brown sugar. On a plate, mix together all spices. Divide meat into 4 equal portions and form into patties, making them slightly thinner in the middle. Roll patties in spice mixture until coated on all sides. Dip patties into soy sauce mixture and transfer to a plate or rimmed baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate about 1 hour. Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of oil. Cook about 5 minutes on first side until browned. Don't try to flip to early or they will have a tendency to stick. Cook on remaining side about 5 minutes more until cooked through. Toast buns under the broiler for a couple minutes until golden brown. Top burgers with a tablespoon of guacamole and a couple slices of red onion.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dutch Oven Herb Bread

If you've ever had the herb bread at Bravo, this stuff is very similar. The rosemary and thyme give it so much flavor. Served warm, it is seriously good. It's also a very forgiving bread, so if you don't have a lot of experience with yeast, don't be afraid of this one.

For Christmas, I got this beautiful enameled cast iron dutch oven from my in laws.

I wouldn't have thought to use it to make bread but it seemed like an interesting idea and it worked really well.

Dutch Oven Herb Bread
Adapted slightly from Pioneer Woman

20 oz (about 4 cups) Bread Flour
1 cup room temperature water
4 T butter, melted
2 sprigs of rosemary
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive Oil
1 tsp active yeast

Sprinkle yeast over water and let sit for a couple of minutes while you measure out the remaining ingredients. Chop herbs and mince garlic and mix into melted butter. Add flour, butter, and water mixture to mixing bowl. If you are mixing with a stand mixer, fit the mixer with the dough hook. Mix together and knead about 10 minutes until dough can pass the windowpane test (tear off a small piece of dough and stretch it, it should be somewhat translucent instead of tearing).

Put a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a bowl, form the dough into a ball and place in bowl, spinning once to coat the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for a couple hours until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat a large cast iron dutch oven in the oven. Pour a tablespoon of oil or so in the pan. Punch down dough and knead for a couple of minutes. Form into a smooth round and rub olive oil over the top. Carefully transfer the dough to the hot pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt and cut a large "X" into the top of the dough. Cover and bake about 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking for about 15-30 more minutes until the top is crusty and golden brown.

The bottom of your bread will likely be crispy and dark, just slice this off with a sharp, serrated knife and then slice the bread.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blondies for Babies

A friend of mine recently announced she was pregnant. While it is still early and they won't know for a while what they are having, I decided to do bake something in her honor for girl's night. While she will be excited, girl or boy, I know she's hoping for a girl... plus I don't think they make bags of blue M&M candies. But since its almost Valentine's Day, pink candies are everywhere. Speaking of which, these would also be perfect for an easy Valentine's Day dessert.

I wanted something that wouldn't require a fork to eat so I was looking for cookies or bars. I've been looking at the recipe for blondies in Dorie Greenspan's books for a couple weeks waiting for an excuse to make them so I decided to go with it and swap out the chocolate chips for M&Ms.

I also subbed caramel chips/pieces for butterscotch chips because I had them in the pantry, but I think either one work equally well. If you had to make a choice between individually wrapped caramels and a bag of butterscotch chips, butterscotch chips win hands down but around Christmas I found a bag of caramel chips so the convenience was there. I don't know if they were a seasonal product or not. I left out the walnuts because I don't know if anyone has an allergy and there was plenty of other stuff going on already.

M&M Blondies
Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup M&M candies
1 cup caramel chips
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish with baking spray.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment), beat butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes until light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add in sugar and brown sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Again scrape bowl and add eggs, 1 at a time and beat about 1 minute after each addition. Scrape bowl again and add vanilla and continue beating until well incorporated.

Add in flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Using your rubber spatula, mix in about 1/2 of the M&Ms and all of the coconut and caramel chips. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and use spatula or your hands to smooth out the batter as evenly as possible. Sprinkle top with remaining M&Ms and lightly press them into the batter.

Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean when done. Cool about 15 minutes in the pan and then cover with a wire rack and flip to remove from pan. Cover with a second wire rack and flip back over so they are right-side up and cool completely. Cut into pieces of desired size. I got about 28 bars.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jalapeno Cheddar Bread

This stuff is ridiculously good. It takes about 10 minutes to put together and most of that is chopping up the peppers.

Quick breads are about the easiest form of baking imaginable. Mix together the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, barely mix and pour into a pan. That's about as easy as it gets and your whole house smells like fresh bread. In this case, a cheesy, spicy bread.

Jalapeno Cheddar Bread
Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Savory Baking

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8" x 4" loaf pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, pepper, salt, and cheese. Toss together and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, combine milk, oil, and egg and whisk together. Pour mixture into well in center of flour and stir mix together lightly with a wooden spoon. Add peppers and stir just until dry ingredients are all combined. The batter should be lumpy.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake bread for approximately 45 minutes until golden brown. Bread should spring back when touched. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, run a knife around all sides and turn out of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Tostado Pizza

Another healthier alternative to pizza... with a Mexican twist. These are a lower fat, lower calorie alternative for either Mexican night that still gives you plenty of Mexican flavor. The pizza sauce in this case is a black bean sauce mixed with enchilada sauce. I've also used black beans mixed with Rotel tomatoes and either one works. The enchilada-bean sauce is a little smoother.

Tostado Pizza

2 whole wheat flour tortillas (8" size)
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken or turkey breast
1/2 cup bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa or sour cream, if desired

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly spray 1 side of tortilla with cooking spray and place oiled side down in skillet. Heat about 1 minute until lightly toasted, spray the other side and flip the tortilla. (If you have a gas stove, don't spray over the burner.) Cook about 1 minute longer, until toasted and golden brown. Repeat with second tortilla and transfer tortillas to a baking sheet.

Preheat oven broiler on low. In a food processor, combine black beans and enchilada sauce. Pulse several times until a thick, smooth paste is formed. Spread sauce over tortillas. Add shredded meat, peppers, onion, corn, and cheese.

Place pan under the broiler and cook about 10 minutes, check every couple minutes to make sure the pizzas don't burn. Cut into wedges and top with salsa and sour cream as desired.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sweet Apple Cinnamon Chex Mix

This is one of those sweet and salty snacks... and it takes about 10 minutes of work to prepare it. Perfect for snacking on during the Superbowl or other party.

Sweet Apple Cinnamon Chex Mix
Recipe adapted from General Mills

3 cups wheat chex
2 cups corn chex
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 T light corn syrup
1 cup whole almonds
1 cup yogurt-covered raisins or cranberries
1 cup dried apples, coarsely chopped

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine chex and almonds and set aside. Add butter, sugar, vanilla and corn syrup to a 2 cup measuring glass and microwave for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Pour mixture over chex mixture and toss until well distributed. Microwave for 3 minutes, uncovered, stirring every 45 seconds. Add apples to the mix and continue microwaving for another 2 minutes, stirring every 45 seconds.

Spread mixture onto a large sheet of waxed paper and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container or serving bowl and stir in yogurt-covered raisins or cranberries.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spice Rubbed Roasted Turkey Breast

Frozen turkey breasts were on sale a couple of weeks ago at the grocery store so I picked one up. Even on sale, turkey breast is generally about twice the price of a whole turkey but since we don't really eat the dark meat, its more economical for us. You can easily use this recipe to make a whole turkey though.

While it takes a little prep work and a few hours in the oven, a turkey breast is a great time saver for healthy, weeknight meals. Prepare it on Sunday and you can have a classic Sunday night dinner and package up the leftovers for tacos, chili, salads, etc during the week. Substitute it for what you would normally do with a rotisserie chicken.

Spice Rub:
2 T ground cumin
2 T garlic powder
1 T allspice
1 T chili powder
1 T rosemary
1 T thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
4 T butter, slightly softened

You'll aslo need a lemon, onion, and 2-4 cups of chicken stock.

Mix together all the spices in a small bowl and combine with 4 T softened butter.

To cook turkey breast, thaw in the refrigerator as directed on the package (generally at least 24 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I use a roasting pan with a rack but you can also use a regular roasting pan. Rinse turkey with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub all over with spice rub, including inside the cavity. Quarter 1 lemon, squeeze juice over the turkey. Quarter 1/2 an onion and place both onion and lemon wedges in the cavity and the bottom of the pan. Add about 1 cup of chicken stock to the bottom of the pan and add more as necessary to baste while cooking. I cook the turkey breast side down on the rack because I think it results in a juicier turkey, albeit, slightly less pretty but I don't carve it at the table anyway. Cook according to package directions, approximately 15 minutes per pound, basting approximately every 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure turkey is cooked to 170 degrees. If skin starts to become too brown, cover with a sheet of foil. Once the temperature is reached, cover with foil and let rest about 15 minutes before carving.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Streusel-topped Blueberry Muffins

I've wanted muffins for a while... first I didn't have any blueberries, then I forgot to buy butter, etc. Finally on Friday I was able to make some. These blueberry muffins are pretty classic, but the streusel topping adds a little something extra. You can use frozen blueberries to make these muffins, but if you do, use them directly from the freezer. If you let them thaw, you'll have blue muffins.

Streusel-topped Blueberry Muffins
Recipe from Vintage Victuals

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 18 muffin cups with liners or spray with baking spray. Mix together butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add flour mixture in 4 additions, alternating with milk, mixing until just combined. Stir in blueberries. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way full.

In a separate bowl, mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut butter into small pieces and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture forms a crumbly topping. Top each muffin cup with a spoonful of topping mix until evenly distributed.

Bake about 25 minutes until the muffins are golden brown.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Scotchies

These were created in an effort to use up some leftover baking supplies from my Christmas baking but I think they may be added to my list of cookies to make more often. My husband liked these better than traditional Oatmeal Scotchies made with only butterscotch chips. I had a little less than half a bag of both butterscotch and milk chocolate chips in the pantry so I thought I would use both. I usually make the Vanishing Oatmeal Cookie recipe from Quaker and just add butterscotch chips instead of raisins but modified it slightly for these cookies. I also only had 1 stick of butter on hand so I used half butter and half butter-flavored Crisco for these. It worked out fine but the cookies spread a little more and turn out thinner than with all butter so I would recommend using all butter but if you're in a pinch feel free to substitute.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Scotchies
Adapted from Quaker Oats
Yields about 4 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T light corn syrup
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate but semi-sweet would work too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and corn syrup and mix well. Add baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flour and mix until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in oats and chips. I chill the dough for about 20 minutes and then scoop cookies onto baking sheets and bake about 10-12 minutes. Cool on the pan for about 1 minute and then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.

A couple of tips (that apply to almost any drop cookie recipe):

  • I generally bake a test cookie unless its a cookie recipe I have made a million times just to be sure there is enough flour. I would hate to ruin a whole dozen cookies.

  • My new favorite thing are Silpats... no more cooking spray and they keep the bottoms of your cookies from getting dark. Parchment paper works too but if you bake a lot of cookies, Silpats will be more economical and environment-friendly.
  • Put your cookie dough back in the refrigerator between batches to keep it from getting too warm.
  • If you bake more than one sheet of cookies at a time, rotate the pans from top to bottom rack and side to side halfway through the baking time.

  • A cookie scoop works really well to make sure all your cookies are similar in size so they bake up evenly. I scoop them out and then press them down slightly so the edges don't crisp up too much before the middles are done.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Baked Eggplant and Turkey Rotini

For a healthier alternative to baked ziti, I made this with ground turkey instead of ground beef or sausage and added some eggplant because vegetables are a lot better for you than pasta. I also used whole wheat pasta instead. Because I thought I had homemade pasta sauce but then realized I only had meat sauce, I used Prego Heart Smart Traditional marinara sauce but you can use any marinara sauce you like.

Baked Eggplant and Turkey Rotini

1/2 pound lean ground turkey
6 oz whole wheat rotini or other short cut pasta
2.5 cups marinara sauce
1 cup onion, diced (I used red but white works just as well)
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 eggplant, chopped (mine was pretty large so I only used half)
2 T olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp salt (plus more for salting pasta water)
1/2 cup cheese, shredded (I used a mix of 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. Add salt and pasta and stir. Cook until just al dente, do not overcook since you are going to continue baking. Drain pasta and add to a large bowl.

While water boils, heat a skillet over medium high heat. When hot add ground turkey and brown, crumbling with a wooden spatula as it cooks, add 1/2 tsp fennel seed while it cooks. When cooked through, remove from heat and transfer to large bowl and add marinara sauce.

In the same skillet, heat 1 T olive oil and add garlic and onion. Cook about 2 minutes and add green peppers. Add about half of crushed red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning and cook about 2-3 minutes more. Transfer to bowl with ground turkey. Add remaining olive oil to skillet and heat. Add eggplant, salt, and remaining fennel seed and Italian seasoning. Cook about 5 minutes until slightly softened and transfer to bowl. Toss mixture together gently until well combined and transfer to a baking dish (I used an 8x8 square pan but any similar size baking dish will do just make sure its 2-3 inches deep).

Top pasta mixture with cheese and bake for about 15 minutes until cheese begins to melt. At this point, I switch the oven to broil and let the top brown for a few minutes. You can also just continue cooking an additional 5-10 minutes if you prefer. If you do broil it, watch it carefully so you don't burn the tips of the pasta.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sweet Chili Pork Tenderloin

Sweet Chili Pork Tenderloin

1 lb pork tenderloin
1/4 cup + 1 T orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 T + 1 tsp apricot preserves
1 T + 1 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T soy sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 T olive oil

Combine 1/4 cup orange juice, lime juice, 2 T apricot preserves, 1 T chili powder, garlic, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper in a large food storage bag and add pork tenderloin. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat. Add tenderloin and cook about 5-6 minutes on each side to form a crust. Resist the temptation to turn the meat too early.

Transfer the pan to the oven and finish cooking for approximately 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Combine 1 T orange juice, 1 tsp preserves, and 1 tsp chili powder in a small bowl, brush on tenderloin for last 5 minutes of cooking. Let meat rest covered with foil for about 5-10 minutes before cutting to let juices redistribute. Pour any remaining glaze over sliced tenderloin.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Healthier Flatbread Pizza

Pizza can be as good or as bad as you want it to be. You can have deep dish, meat lovers with extra cheese or you can have a veggie pizza with thin crust and light cheese. You can make homemade dough, buy a pizza crust at the store, or use frozen bread dough. All of the options work out well. However, if you want an easy weeknight dinner ready in 20 minutes, that won't blow your diet for the whole day, these flatbread pizzas are a great solution without sacrificing flavor.

The flatbread that I used is called Naan bread. I can usually find it in the bakery section and it conveniently comes 2 rounds to a package and cost me a whopping $1.50. (Not only is it healthier, its also cheaper than buying a prepared crust as Boboli is usually around $5 at my grocery store.)
Since these don't really require a recipe, I'm just going to tell you how I did ours. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and dust very lightly with cornmeal. Top each flatbread with pizza sauce. I add a clove of minced garlic to a traditional store bought variety.
I added a combination of red and green bell peppers and pineapple to mine and a combination of sliced button mushrooms, sliced black olives and bell peppers to Todd's.
Then top them with a mix of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. I use about 3 parts mozzarella to 1 part Parmesan. Sprinkle with some oregano and crushed red pepper flakes and bake for about 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the flatbread is crispy. As prepared, these pizzas were about 400 calories.

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