Monday, April 7, 2014

Passover Favorites

With Passover a week away I wanted to re-share some of my favorite dishes I have posted about in the past two years.  My eating habits on Passover have changed a lot since I was a child (I used to think that it had to come from the Passover aisle or from the catalogue of candy I would sell for Hebrew school) and I now realize that most of what I make during the rest of the year can still be eaten during this time.  However, there are some things that I make specifically during Passover, usually using matzah meal or the Passover cake meal as a substitute for flour.  I can't wait to try new things this year!

Here are links to some of my favorite Passover dishes:

Veggie Kugel

Gefilte Fish

Fudge Brownies

Geshmearto Matzah

Matzah Meal Pancakes

Matzah Ball Soup

What are your favorite dishes to make?

Friday, March 7, 2014

S'mores Pie

When I sign up for a recipe swap, I usually look through my assigned blog and try to find something that would fit perfectly into my week's menu plan, usually as a main dish.  This was not that kind of a swap.  I fully admit that this recipe choice is a case of "why not to choose a dish on an empty stomach".  As I looked through The Cookaholic Wife's recipe index this S'mores Pie jumped out at me.  I knew that I needed to make this immediately.

This pie was so easy to make and was just as delicious as I expected it to be.  I would be more afraid of just how much of the pie I'll end up eating if it weren't for the fact that my husband already ate 2 slices.  So I think my waistline will be just fine....until the next time I make the pie.

Thank you again to Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting the swap!

S'mores Pie (from The Cookaholic Wife)

1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (approx 10-11 sheets)
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
marshmallows (either 1 cup mini, whole or 16 large, halved)

- Preheat oven to 325
- Put the graham crackers in food processor and pule until crumbs.  Stir the butter into the crumbs until combined, then press the crumb mixture into a 9" pie plate.  Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.
- Heat the heavy cream and milk in a saucepan over a medium-law flame until it simmers slightly around the edges.  Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted.  Whisk in the sugar and salt.  In a separate bowl lightly beat the two eggs, then add slowly to the chocolate mixture while whisking.
- Pour the chocolate mixture into the crust.  Bake for 25-30 min until set.
- Remove the pie from the oven and spread a layer of marshmallows on top.  Set the oven to broil and put the pie back in the oven until the marshmallows are toasted (approx 20 seconds).
- Let the pie cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
*** It's recommended to heat the pie in the microwave for about 10 seconds before eating for an extra gooey bite***

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gnocchi with Fontina Sauce

After having a lot of fun with the last Blogger's Choice swap, I was eager to join in for this round.  The blog I was assigned was The Cookaholic Wife.  There were so many yummy looking things on there, but after much deliberation I settled on trying my hand at homemade gnocchi,

I love gnocchi and if it's on the menu, 9 times out of 10 I will order it, but I had never made it myself.  ----- made it sound so simple that I knew this was the recipe to go with.  And it was definitely easy!  To save time I opted to heat my potatoes in the microwave, then while they were cooking I prepped the rest of the dish.  She said to use 1/2 - 3/4  cup flour.  I used 1/2 and thought the consistency was good but I think I'll use a bit more in the future, as the dough got sticky as I rolled it out.  I also was using a small cutting board to roll the dough, so I did it in a few batches and would toss each batch into the pot as I went along, removing them when they started to float..  Next time I will prep all of the gnocchi and put it in the pot all at the same time since I ended up with mostly cold gnocchi,  I don't know why I thought this way was  good idea!

The sauce was so rich and creamy.  I may, in the future, cut down a little on the butter and use skim milk instead of heavy cream just so it doesn't feel as heavy.  I think this was the first time I thought a sauce was too cheesy.  But I would totally try this sauce out on macaroni & cheese.  Maybe I'll make some homemade macaroni in a few weeks...hmm....

Honestly, if I knew how easy it was to make gnocchi I would have done it years ago.  Who knows what's in those prepackaged ones you buy at the store?  I think homemade is the way to go for this in the future!!  I have so many more dishes that use gnocchi that could benefit from this change.

And a big thank you to our trusty swap leader Sarah of A Taste of Home Cooking who does all the leg work for us so we can just cook and enjoy!

Gnocchi with Fontina Sauce (from The Cookaholic Wife)

Gnocchi  Slightly Adapted from Closet Cooking
1 lb. baking potatoes
1/2 - 3/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
 1 tbsp. milk  

- Scrub the potatoes well and prick with a fork. Use your desired method to bake the potatoes. (I cheat and use the microwave for the sake of time, but the oven is fine too.)
- Once the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, scoop out the insides of the potatoes into a medium bowl and mash with the milk.
- Add the egg and salt and stir with a fork until combined. Start with the 1/2 cup of flour and use your hands to combine until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add additional flour.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Roll the dough into long 1/2 inch wide rolls.
- Cut the dough into 1/2" pieces and dip in remaining flour, shaking off the excess.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a dish towel over a wire rack.
- Using a slotted spoon, drop batches of the gnocchi into the boiling water, making sure not to crowd the pot. Once the gnocchi float, about 2-3 minutes, remove with the spoon and transfer to the dish towel. Let drain before serving.

Fontina Cheese Sauce
Slightly Adapted from:

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. shallots, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
7 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
- Once the pot of water for the gnocchi is boiling, heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add the butter and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the butter is melted and the shallots are soft.
- Stir in the heavy cream and heat to an almost boil. Gradually mix in the Fontina cheese and Parmesan cheese, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
- Remove immediately from the heat.
- Serve the cheese sauce over the gnocchi. Garnish with oregano. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Crunchy Molasses Cookies - Great Food Blogger Cookies Swap

Last year I participated in a cookie swap from a message board I'm on.  I had fun with that swap, so when I heard about the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap I knew I wanted to be a part of it this year.  The concept of it is that food bloggers from all over join in for a small donation to Cookies for Kids' Cancer, then you are assigned three bloggers to send a dozen cookies to and you'll receive three dozen cookies in return from other bloggers.  Doesn't that sound like a great swap?!

There are so many food blogs out there, so it was nice to be connected to blogs I otherwise wouldn't have known about.  The bloggers I was assigned were:
The Crafty Foodie
Embracing Homemaking
Cardio Cats and Cooking

Knowing I needed to make at least 3 dozen cookies (with a few extras for us to enjoy here) and knowing that this was to raise money for Cookies for Kid's Cancer, I turned to my Best Bake sale Cookbook, which happens to give all proceeds from book sales to the same charity!  I wanted to make something "holiday"-ish.  One of my favorite holiday flavors is gingerbread, so these molasses cookies are the perfect holiday treat!  And my favorite part of these cookies is the sugar coating they get before going into the oven.  It helps bring out the sweetness from the otherwise spicey cookies.

I baked them, packed them up and sent them off to the recipients.  Then as I was on my way home from the post office I realized that I hadn't taken a picture of them!  What is a girl to do??  Bake more, of course!  I knew that I wanted to make holiday treats for our neighbors, so I whipped up another batch for them, and this time I remembered to take a picture before giving them away.  And another thing about making the extra batch was that I adjusted the bake time so they didn't come out quite as well done as the ones I had sent to my swap recipients.

Oh, and the best part of this swap?  Receiving cookies!  I was sent walnut sable cookies from La Peche Fraiche which I think lasted 2 days in our house, Ritzy Peanut Butter Crackers in Chocolate from Crackers on the Couch (when I opened this box the scent of chocolate and peanut butter wafted through the air...every box should have this scent!) and yummy jelly cookies from Mooshu Jenne.

I'm looking forward to doing this swap again next year!

Crunchy Molasses Cookies (slightly adapted from The Best Bake Sale Cook Book)

1 1/2 sticks (6oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus additional for rolling
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup robust molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the egg, molasses, and vanilla, one at a time, beating well between additions.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Place the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a separate bowl and mix well.  Add to the butter mixture.  Beat until everything is well incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.
- To form the cookies, break off small pieces and roll into 1 inch balls.  Roll the balls in sugar and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Using your hand or the bottom of a water glass, press down until flattened.  Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies begin to brown at the edges (approx. 10 minutes).  Cook on the cookie sheet.  Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining dough.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Pasta

Remember the swaps I used to participate in?  Well, the format has now changed (and for the better!).  Instead of being assigned a recipe that I might not be too excited to make, we are now given the theme and a blog and we get to choose what recipe within the theme to make.  I love this change, because there have been one or two recipes that I had been assigned that I wasn't so thrilled about (and you could probably tell from my posts about them).  So I jumped at the chance to participate in this month's swap under the new rules.

The theme for this month was Vegetarian.  I was assigned A Taste of Home Cooking, which happens to be the blog of the swap organizer, Sarah (no pressure, right?!).  I went through her vegetarian recipes (love that she has a "vegetarian" label, hopefully the gal who was assigned my blog knew to look at anything labeled dairy or parve for an easy search!).  A few jumped out at me, but after a little deliberation and an e-mail of my top choices to my husband, we settled on Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Pasta, which is a recipe from Marcus Samuelsson.  We're big Marcus fans from watching him on Chopped and have eaten at his restaurant Red Rooster, so we were excited to try this out.

Neither of us are huge roasted red pepper fans, but we decided to give this one a shot since we liked everything else about it.  I wasn't 100% sure how much "3 peppers" was, so I just bought a 12oz jar and used that.  Maybe that wasn't as much as I was supposed to use, but for us it was the perfect amount.  As my husband wanted me to say - if you usually don't like roasted red peppers, don't shy away from this recipe!

And the pasta was even better the next day for lunch!  I warmed mine up, but my husband ate his cold (I've mentioned before his fear of using his office's microwave, yes?) and he said it was just as good right out of the fridge.

I'm very glad that I chose this recipe to make.  And I'm even more excited to see what I get to make in the next swap!

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Pasta (recipe by Marcus Samuelsson, submitted to the swap by Taste of Home Cooking)

1/2 lb pasta (I used fettuccine)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 cup half and half
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
3 roasted red bell peppers , coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 handful basil
8 oz artichoke hearts, cut into quarters

- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
- Add the half and half, goat cheese, Parmesan and roasted red peppers and simmer until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and add the basil. Puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Add in the chopped artichoke hearts.
- Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cornmeal-Crusted Flounder Sandwich with Tarter Sauce

I enjoy fast food as much as the next person, though I have never been a fan of hamburgers.  When I want a fast food fix my usual meal is a Filet-o-Fish from McDonald's.  My husband is not a big fast food person but he enjoys a good fish sandwich.  Whenever we go see the Mets play at Citifield, our go-to meal is a flounder sandwich from Catch of the Day.  When I came across this recipe in a cookbook I knew that I wanted to try this out since it would probably be 100x healthier than getting a fish sandwich at any of these places.

Not only was the fish delicious (and less greasy than their fast food counter part) but the homemade tarter sauce was surprisingly tasty.  When I get my fish sandwiches when I'm out I normally add ketchup to the usual tarter sauce.  This combo of flavors was so good as is that I actually have mixed this sauce up and added it to deli sandwiches since I made this dish.

These were so ridiculously easy to make that I'll definitely be making them again soon.  Even reheating some leftover fish tasted great!

Cornmeal-Crusted Flounder with Tarter Sauce (from Kosher by Design: Short on Time)

6 large flounder or sole filets
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with 2 tbsp water
1 cup ground yellow cornmeal
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed (***I used grapeseed oil, as it has a higher heat tolerance)
1 cup mayonaise
2 sour pickles, very finely chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce

- cut each filet on either side of the spine and remove the spine; you will be left with 2 long pieces of flounder from each filet
- season both sides of each piece of fish with salt and pepper
- arrange 3 bowls on your work surface (I find it easiest to use deep dishes like a pie dish for this)
- place the flour in one bowl, the beaten egg in the second bowl, and the cornmeal in the third bowl.
- take the fish, one piece at a time.  Dip it into the flour; shaking off the excess.  Dip it into the egg; shaking off the excess, and then dip it into the cornmeal; shaking off the excess.  Repeat with the remaining 11 pieces.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the fish in a single layer, working in batches if necessary.  Cook for 4 minutes per side, or until a crisp crust forms and the fish is slightly firm to the touch.  Remove to a plate or platter.  If you are doing this in batches you will need more oil.
- Meanwhile, prepare the tarter sauce:  In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, pickles, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.
- Serve the fish on rolls with the tarter sauce.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Butternut Squash Lasagna

When most people think of fall flavors the #1 thing that probably comes to mind for most people is pumpkin.  I'm pretty sure 99% of my newsfeed on Facebook was dedicated to the arrival of the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks on the day they made their return appearance.  However, when I think of fall I immediately think of butternut squash.  I seriously can't believe that before 2011 I don't think I had even tasted it.  I now want to put it in everything!  My butternut squash soup made an appearance on our table a few weeks ago.  But I'm always looking for different things to do with it.

So I was incredibly excited when I flipped through this month's issue of Food Network Magazine and in their weekend meal section featuring different lasagnas they included a recipe for one using roasted butternut squash.  I basically started salivating as soon as I read the title of the recipe.  I knew that I had to make it in the near future.

I was able to get this done on a Sunday night, when my husband was home to help with the baby.  Though I will say, although this recipe straightforward probably does take the 2 hours listed, it's easy to do some of the parts earlier than others.  For example, I put the squash and onions to roast and then went to feed the baby.  When I returned to the kitchen maybe 30 min later (my husband was on oven duty and had taken the pans out when they finished cooking) I then did the sauce.  I like when a more time consuming recipe doesn't leave time constraints.  Much easier to handle making a dish like this while I can't give it my undivided attention.

Although I typed out the recipe below as printed in the magazine, I adjusted the recipe slightly to suit our tastes:
- I used a red onion instead of a basic "cooking onion" as I usually do.  Roasted red onions may be another new favorite of time
-  I didn't use sage leaves just a sprinkle of dried sage. While I'm not the biggest sage fan my husband absolutely hates it and wouldn't touch a dish with sage leaves
- I used skim milk instead of whole
- I changed the size of the pan and made 2 pans. Since there are only two of us and I'm heading back to work in a few weeks I want to start stocking up the freezer.  One pan was plenty for dinner 2 nights and now we have some in the freezer to enjoy later.

This came out so delicious, I am sure it will make a return to my fall menu next year!

Butternut Squash Lasagna (from Food Network Magazine)

for the vegetables:
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 onion, halved and sliced

for the bechamel:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
10 sage leaves
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

for the lasagna:
unsalted butter, for the baking dish
1 cup grated fontina cheese (about 4 oz)
1 cup grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 oz)
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
9 no-boil lasagna noodles

- Make the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the squash with 1 tbsp olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt.  Toss the onion with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil on a separate baking sheet; season with salt.  Roast, rotating the baking sheets once, until the vegetables are tender, 18-20 minutes; set aside.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350.
- Meanwhile, make the bechamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sage and cook 1 minute.  Whisk in the flour until smooth, cook, whisking, until the flour is lightly golden but not brown, about 2 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the nutmeg.
- Assemble the lasagna: Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Toss the cheeses and the flour in a bowl; set aside 1/2 cup for topping.  Evenly coat the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup of the bechamel.  Lay 2 noodles side by side on top.  Cover with one third of the remaining bechamel.  Sprinkle with half o the remaining cheese mixture, then top with half of the vegetable mixture.  Arrange 3 more noodles on top and repeat the layers (bechamel, cheese, vegetables).  Top with the remaining 3 noodles, then cover with the remaining bechamel; sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup cheese.
- Loosely cover the dish with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes.  Turn on the broiler.  Uncover the lasagna and broil until browned, about 2 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.