Tag Archives: in-stock

Puppy Chow

18 Jan

Puppy Chow-2When I was growing up, I distinctly remember the mother of one of my classmates making “puppy chow” for slumber parties and other gatherings. And I distinctly remember loving it. If you have had “puppy chow” – which I have learned is called “muddy buddies” in some regions – you understand how wide my eyes opened on my first bite of the crunchy, sweet treat – and how quickly I reached my powder sugar-coated fingertips back in the bowl for more.

Puppy Chow-3I think I am glad, calorie-wise, that I did not realize puppy chow was so easy to make – it can be completed in under 5 minutes, with ingredients you can easily keep on hand. Because I had never seen a batch smaller than an enormous serving bowl, it just seemed like an ordeal. Well, it’s not, as long as you have a huge bowl to mix it in. But you also don’t have to make 9 cups of cereal at a time: I have broken the recipe down to a single serving – one cup – and this might be my new go-to treat when I am looking for something sweet and satisfying. And super-easy. The recipe can be scaled for any amount in between, too.

With every bite, you will get an even distribution of chocolate, peanut butter, a bit of sugar, and a bite of crunch. It’s addictive, so good luck with that.

Puppy Chow-15

The base for puppy chow is Chex cereal – rice chex is recommended, but probably any of them would work. A melted mixture of chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter is poured on top, and as you toss the creamy mixture all around the cereal, it will cling to the cereal pieces. A coating of powdered sugar helps to separate and hold each piece together. The resulting chunks, I suppose, look a little like kibble – but this treat, covered in chocolate, is decidedly not for dogs!

Puppy Chow-4Puppy chow is great to put out at casual parties for easy snacking – but make sure to have a stack of napkins on hand because powdered sugar’s reputation is well-earned.

Puppy Chow-5{Large batch} Ingredients:
– 9 c Rice Chex cereal
– 1 c chocolate chips
– 1/2 c peanut butter
– 1/4 c (= 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
– 1 t vanilla
– 1.5 c powdered sugar

{Small batch} Ingredients:
– 1 c Rice Chex cereal
– 2 T chocolate chips
– 1 T  peanut butter
– 1/2 T unsalted butter
– a few drops of vanilla
– 3 T powdered sugar

How do I make it?

  • Place the cereal in a large bowl.
  • In a smaller, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir until it’s smooth. If you can’t get all the lumps out, microwave for a few more seconds – but there is probably enough heat in the bowl to stir it all out gently. Once it’s smooth, stir in the vanilla.
  • Pour the mixture evenly over the cereal, and then use a large spoon to distribute it. Stir it well!
  • Once all of the cereal is covered in the mixture, dust it all with half of the powdered sugar. Stir to distribute, and continue to add a small amount of powdered sugar at a time, stirring until each piece is coated in powdered sugar. {Some people put the cereal and powdered sugar in a bag, seal, and then shake to distribute. I have never tried this option, the bowl is just fine for me, but that might be a fun task for little hands who want to help out in the kitchen!}

Puppy Chow-8

Puppy Chow-9

Puppy Chow-11

Puppy Chow-12

Original recipe: http://www.chex.com/Recipes/RecipeView.aspx?RecipeId=45860&CategoryId=342


New Year’s Resolutions

14 Jan

We are two weeks in to 2014, and I thought I would check in on how everyone is doing with their New Year’s Resolutions. How goes it?

I try more and more to not have to find a reason to make positive changes, but there is something about a crisp new page on the calendar that is conducive to new behaviors, attitudes, and … food! New ideas in the kitchen, new recipes, new ingredients, you name it: 2014 seems like a great opportunity.

I have a few food-related New Year’s Resolutions for myself and want to share them with you here, and then I will check those boxes, so to speak, in future posts. I even made a “New Year’s Resolution” tag, if you would like to follow along that way. We are more likely to stick to our goals when we share them with others, right? Well here we go!

  1. Take healthy lunches and snacks to work: It’s often a struggle for me, time-wise, to plan meals for the week, get to the grocery store, cook, pack lunches the night before, and remember to bring it the next day. I would love to get this down to a system! It seems like casseroles and other one-pot comfort foods might be a good option (one container – easy to transport; and filling – our work cafeteria closes at 2pm so healthy afternoon snacks can be challenging). For snacks, healthy, filling, and easy to transport are also key. On busy days, I maaaay be guilty of trolling the halls for unattended candy jars (sigh), and I would love to curb that habit.
  2. Eat filling and healthy breakfasts: Too often I find myself needing to hunker down and work hard between 10:30 and 11:30 on weekdays … not because of any particular deadline or project at work, but because 10:30 is about when my coffee buzz has waned, and 11:30 is when it’s socially acceptable to eat lunch. When I have a full breakfast, I can power through; when I skip breakfast, I feel it. I generally don’t have a ton of time to prepare breakfast in the morning, but oatmeal is one option; I would also like to get into a routine of make-ahead breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos, and other similar dishes that I can grab on the go or heat quickly right when I get to work.
  3. Eat less meat: I love meat. I do. But I would like to exercise more moderation. I can’t promise that I will have “Meatless Mondays,” but I don’t think that one or two days per week is unreasonable.
  4. Get to know a few herbs and spices better: How many spices are in your spice rack? I counted once, when a friend of mine was writing an article for a magazine on a related topic, and it was more than 60 – I have to guess I am over 70 or 75 now. Some I crank through, like oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes … others, like garam masala, tarragon, and even paprika I would like to find a few solid recipes for. And as fresh herbs become more bountiful in the warmer months, I am looking forward to picking up something pretty at the farmer’s market and exploring! Which herbs do you wish you knew more about or used more?
  5. Make my father proud: My dad wishes I had a Jewish food blog. I don’t. That niche is not really sustainable for me, but I like the idea of trying to make one traditional recipe per month. It will be worth it even if only to hear my dad do his impersonation of what he thinks it sounds like when I write blog posts. So cute.

If you have ideas for anything in this post, please leave them in the comments!

Mini Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cream Cookies

12 Jan

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Creme FillingI was in a pretty intense baking streak in December, and in preparation for an afternoon of baking with AWP, I came across this recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies. I love a good oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and who doesn’t love a fluffy cream filling … just thinking about the sugar shell that forms on a great cream … give me a minute …

Sandwich Cookies-7

And I’m back.

I usually cook with whole ingredients, and opt for butter and oil over margarine or shortening. But from time to time a recipe looks really good and calls for something I don’t normally use. I had a partially-finished can of vegetable shortening in my pantry from a few recipes in the not-too-distant past, and it had just enough remaining in it for this recipe.

As I lifted the head of the stand mixer and AWP and I dipped our fingers in for a little taste, AWP immediately commented on how fluffy, light, and creamy the filling tasted. It looked like buttercream frosting, but tasted like a fluffier version of the inside of an Oreo. We nodded at each other and decided that shortening gave it that taste and texture. I still prefer to bake with butter, but a bit of shortening from time to time won’t hurt – still better than buying something packaged and pre-made, to me.

These cookies were delicious when fresh out of the oven – check out those melty chips! – but also lasted for several days in an airtight container. And by “several days,” I mean, “until I finished them.” Which did not take very long. These are a great treat to give as a gift in a cute box or tin, and would be fun for small hands to help assemble. I liked making these mini-sized, so I didn’t feel that guilty about eating two cookies at a time.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Creme Filling

For the cookies:
– 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
– 1/3 c brown sugar
– 1/4 c sugar
– 1 egg
– 1 t vanilla
– 3/4 c flour
– 1/2 t baking soda
– 1 t cinnamon
– 1/4 t ground nutmeg
– 1/4 t kosher salt
– 1 3/4 c oats (quick or traditional)
– 1 c chocolate chips (any type)
For the cream filling:
1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
– 1/4 c vegetable shortening
– 2 1/4 c powdered sugar, sifted
– 1 T cream
– 1 t vanilla

How do I make it?

  • For the cookies: Place the butter and sugars in a mixing bowl, and mix until creamy (a few minutes).
  • With a silicone spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  • Stop the mixer, and add about half the flour, and all of the baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Start the mixer on slow, and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined.
  • Scrape the batter off of the beaters or paddle attachment, and fold the oats and chocolate chips into the cookie dough until fully combined.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or overnight.
  • While the cookie dough chills, make the filling. Place the butter and shortening in the bowl of a mixer and mix until they are well combined.
  • Turn off the mixer and add a cup of powdered sugar to the butter mixture. Mix until incorporated, and scrape the sides of the bowl. Then add the rest of the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, 2 tablespoons at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  • Add the cream and vanilla and continue to beat until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Using a small cookie scoop, scoop small amounts of the dough into your hand, and roll into a ball. I made the balls about 3/4″ in diameter. Line the balls of dough onto the lined cookie sheets.
  • Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes or until they start to brown. Let them cool for a bit on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack, or to a plate to continue to cool. They shouldn’t take that long to cool, but you want them to be pretty cool to the touch so they don’t melt the butter in the filling.
  • Try to pair each cookie up with another approximately the same size.
  • Spread some frosting – up to you how much! – on the flat side one cookie, and top with the flat side of its mate.

Sandwich Cookies-6

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Creme Filling

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Creme Filling

Original link: http://www.spoonforkbacon.com/2011/10/oatmeal-chocolate-chip-sandwich-cookies/

And a special thank-you to AWP for modeling this cookie with her pretty red nails!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

8 Dec

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese FrostingWouldn’t it have been nice to wake up this morning to warm, sweet, soft cinnamon rolls, straight out of the oven?

I agree, especially poring over these pictures on this snowy morning!

These Overnight Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting are perfect to serve when you are hosting a crowd; or make them a tradition to serve your family on a birthday or holiday morning.  Along with the Bagel Bake, they are on any brunch menu I have a hand in (given that I have time to prepare the dough the night before). They are perfect to bring to a friend who has just had a baby, or someone who is recovering from surgery. And I have never heard anyone object to keeping the leftovers!

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-3I love seeing the cinnamon and sugar bursting at the seams. It’s all I can do to not take a bite of the dough … the only thing stopping me is knowing how much better the finished product will be.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-4

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-5This batch is ready to go into the oven, in a disposable or reusable dish, destined for a colleague who recently had a baby. Note there are only 9 here – I saved 3 for myself, to experiment in a muffin pan. It didn’t go well. Stick with the larger pan.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls - SquareThe below picture is the same batch, baked, pre-frosting.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-6And therrrre’s the frosting.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-9

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-7

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-8

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-11… I baked and saved the uneven ends for myself.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls-12


For the dough:
– 4 egg yolks, room temperature
– 1 whole egg, room temperature
– 1/4 c sugar
– 6 T unsalted butter, melted
– 3/4 c buttermilk, room temperature*
– approximately 4 c flour, plus additional for dusting
– 1 package instant dry yeast
– 1 1/4 t kosher salt

For the filling:
– 1 c brown sugar, packed
– 1 T ground cinnamon
– pinch of salt
– 1.5T unsalted butter

For the frosting:
– 1/4 c cream cheese, softened (low-fat will work)
– 3 T milk
– 1.5 c powdered sugar

How do I make it?

  • For the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or, by hand), whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk.
  • Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined.
  • Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook.
  • Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed until the dough is soft and moist but not sticky, adding more flour if necessary. Knead on low speed a few minutes more, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. It’s ok if it doesn’t completely double in volume.
  • While the dough is rising, make the filling: Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated, and set aside until ready to use.
  • Butter a baking dish (either 9″ x 9″, or 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish).
  • When the dough is done rising, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface (I just use a clean granite countertop, but you can use a smooth cutting board or a special mat made for this purpose. Using a floured rolling pin (or a floured wine bottle, I don’t judge), shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Continue to roll it, pretty much as large as you can get it, or 12″ x 18″.
  • Brush the rectangle of dough with the 1.5 T of melted butter. Leave a small border at the top. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving the same border along the top edge.
  • Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight tube. Roll it so the seam side is down. Using a bench scraper or a serrated knife, slice off the little ends. Then slice into half. Slice each of those halves into half, so you have four equal portions. Then slice each of the four portions into three pieces, so you have 12 rolls.
  • Arrange rolls in the baking dish with the cut sides up (and down). Try to arrange them with the seam facing another roll, so those ends don’t get too crunchy when they bake.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.
  • The next day: Microwave a large Pyrex filled with water until the water boils, and then move it your oven, which should be off, on a law rack. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and place in the oven above the water. With the oven door closed, let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy, approximately 30 minutes, then remove the rolls and the water from the oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 350. When preheated, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.
  • Remove the rolls from the oven to cool.
  • While they are cooling, make the frosting: Whisk the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer (or whisk by hand) until smooth and creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the cooled rolls and serve immediately.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls - bite

More info please?

I never buy a carton of buttermilk; instead, use skim milk and a fresh lemon. I use a Pyrex measuring glass, and place 1 to 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice in the glass, and then fill it up to 3/4 c with milk.  Let it sit until it curdles and comes to room temperature, about 5-10 minutes.

Original link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/overnight-cinnamon-rolls-recipe/index.html

Challah {Four-Strand Braid}

29 Nov

Four Braid ChallahThanksgiving snuck up on me this year – does everyone feel that way every year? I had suggested to my parents that we embrace “Thanksgivukkah” and serve a Jewish-themed appetizer course, followed by the traditional Thanksgiving meal. They did not require much convincing. Any excuse to eat latkes, lox, and pastrami is welcomed around these parts.

I was not able to attend October’s Cooking Club (Hostess: SLSC; Theme: Thanksgiving Inspiration; Date: 10.27.13), but the menu included Pumpkin Challah expertly baked by EDL, which received rave reviews from the attendees, so I decided to include it in my family’s celebration.

However, I have a very traditional family, and as I braided the pumpkin challah, I could tell my dad would have preferred a regular old challah.  The pumpkin-flavored bread ended up being delicious and appreciated, but my dad was right. If you were expecting challah, it wasn’t “challah.”

I have made challah before, but looking through my recipe files, it may have been over 8 years ago – and I have never made a braid with more than 3 strands. The pumpkin challah turned out perfect, so I went back to the same source for her traditional challah recipe. Another winner! I particularly appreciated the tutorial on how to braid challah, and I decided on the four-strand braid. I wanted to use half the batch of dough to make dinner rolls, and didn’t think I would have enough dough to attempt anything more complex that would still have a wow-factor. I literally got “oohs” and “ahhs.” It is hard to deny that braided challah is indeed gorgeous.

– 1 packet active dry yeast
– 1/4 c water (100-110 degrees)
– 1 t sugar
– 1 egg (whole)
– 3 egg yolks {save the whites for breakfast tomorrow!}
– 1/3 cup honey
– 2 T canola oil
– 1 t salt
– 1 1/4 c water (100-110 degrees)
– 6 c flour {you probably won’t use it all, but should have it available}
– 1 egg yolk
– 2 t water

How do I make it?

  • Pour the yeast into a large mixing bowl. Add the 1/4  c water and 1 t sugar. Stir to combine and dissolve, and let it sit until it gets foamy (about 5 minutes).
  • While the yeast is doing its thing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the whole egg, 3 egg yolks, honey, canola oil and salt.
  • When the yeast in the large bowl is foamy and fragrant, add the remaining 1 1/4 c water and pour in the egg mixture you just whisked. Whisk it all together.
  • Add flour to the mixture, one half cup at a time. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead. Continue to add flour until the dough is smooth and pliable. {You can use a stand mixer with the dough hook, but it doesn’t take that long or use too much energy to do it with your hands. When you use your hands, you are very aware of whether it is too sticky. When the dough is ready, it should be slightly tacky on your fingers, but not stick in clumps.}
  • Place the kneaded dough in a large bowl that you have sprayed with cooking oil (if you want to use the same bowl, be sure to wash it out first). Spray the top of the dough with oil too.
  • Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel, and place in your oven (that is OFF) to rise. In a large microwave-safe container (like a 12-cup Pyrex), microwave water until it boils, and place that into the oven with the dough.
  • Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
  • Take the dough bowl out and punch it down to remove air bubbles. Re-microwave the water and place it back in the oven.
  • Cover the dough bowl again with the towel and place it back inside the oven and let it rise for another hour. At this point, it should have approximately doubled.
  • Take the dough out of the oven and punch it down a few times. Flour a smooth surface like a cutting board (or a clean granite countertop). Punch the dough down into the bowl a few times, and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from feeling too sticky on your fingers.
  • I used half of the recipe to make small dinner rolls*, and the other half for a braided loaf.
  • Separate the dough you will braid into 4 equal portions. I found it easiest to use a bench scraper to cut the dough into long pieces, rather than balls. You will be rolling the dough into rectangles (rather than a circle), so this served as a little shortcut for me.
  • With a floured rolling pin (or a floured wine bottle – whatever you have – but make sure it is well-floured and stays that way), roll one portion of dough into a rectangle. Now take that rectangle and, using your hands, roll it into a long strand (like a play-doh snake). Roll the strand around and try to work out the seam, and squeeze out any air bubbles. If you can, try to taper the ends a bit by squeezing them and then rolling to smooth them out.
  • Repeat this process with the other three portions.
  • Lay the strands out parallel to each other, with the tapered ends farthest from you.
  • Loosely pinch the strands together at the top. You are now ready to braid.
  • Starting all the way at the right, weave the strand OVER-UNDER-OVER. That is, OVER the first strand to the left of it, then UNDER the next strand, then OVER the final strand. Leave that strand all the way at the left, and repeat with the next strand. Continue this process until you are at the end of the strands.

Four Braid Challah

  • Pinch together and tuck under both ends.

Four Braid Challah-2

  • Step back and admire.
  • Place the braid on a rimmed baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  • Whisk the egg yolk and water together in a small bowl until smooth and uniform.
  • * To make dinner rolls, make more strands, and tie them each in a knot, pinching the ends together and placing that pinched seam down on the parchment-covered baking sheet.
  • Brush the dough (the large braid or the dinner rolls) with the egg wash.

Four Braid Challah-3

  • Let the dough rise, uncovered, for 30-45 more minutes.
  • Place a rack in the middle of your oven, and preheat to 350. You will be baking for 40 minutes total, in two shifts.
    • After the first 20 minutes, pull the challah out of the oven and re-brush it with the remaining egg wash, making sure to get in the little crevasses. {One of my favorite things about challah is that little part that gets exposed during baking – but you need to take this time to brush it with egg wash!}
    • Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. If the crust is getting too brown, place a piece of tin foil over it (the dough will still bake, but the crust will not get more brown under the foil).
  • The dough is done when it sounds hollow when you tap on it (easier to hear when you tap on the bottom).
  • Serve with pretty much anything – breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Four Braid Challah-5Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Original link: http://theshiksa.com/2010/08/25/challah-bread-part-1-the-blessing-and-the-dough/comment-page-2/#comments

our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly “link up party” called Our Growing Edge, which is an online way to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. Our Growing Edge is the brain child of Genie from Bunny Eats Design, and I am the hostess this month. The posts for November’s link up can be found here. New for me with this post: A four-strand braid for challah!

Roasted Potatoes

28 Nov

Roasted Potatoes-7

I am often asked what my favorite dish to cook is, but today I was asked what my favorite food is. Not something that I have been asked in a long time,  and it took me a minute to answer as the kid in the candy store that was my head ran around in circles.

“French fries.”

But as the words came out of my mouth, I found myself running through different cuts of french fries. If I went to a restaurant that offered thin cut, thick cut, steak cut, waffle cut … what would I choose? And what about thin and crisp potato skins? What about fully loaded potato skins? Twice-baked? So many options. My mind raced. And then it hit me …

I love potatoes.

“I take it back. Potatoes.” ZA and I shared a moment when she revealed that she, too, loved potatoes and thinking about it, would probably answer her own question the same way. So simple, so versatile, such a staple.

I used to get frustrated that I couldn’t get the texture I wanted from roasted potatoes – well-done inside, and crisp outside – until I realized two tricks: 1) You need to start with potatoes that are baked, rather than raw; and 2) The less you mess with them while they are cooking, the better!

Ingredients:- 6 medium russet potatoes, baked (can be altered, but I recommend using smaller potatoes, and budgeting more than one per person)
– 6 cloves garlic, peeled (smashed if you would like!)
– 2 T extra virgin olive oil
– 1 t dried oregano, or 1 T fresh oregano
– 1/4 – 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes

How do I make it?

  • {To bake potatoes, either toss a few in the oven while you are cooking something else (prick them with a fork first) – 45 to 60 minutes at any temperature between 350 and 400 should do it. Or, prick with a fork and wrap in paper towel, and microwave one at a time for 6 minutes. Cook before handling!}
  • Preheat the oven to 400 and, if you have a heating element on the top of the oven, set a rack in the top 1/3. If your heating element is only on the bottom, set the rack in the middle of the oven. You will want your pan to be close to the heating element, but you don’t want to over-brown on the bottom of the pan.
  • Cut the potatoes into 1″ cubes. This is why I like to use medium potatoes – you can cut them in half once the long way, then in half again the long way, and then easily chop into cubes that will cook at a good rate (and most importantly, all of the pieces will have skin on them!).Roasted Potatoes
  • Transfer the potatoes to a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Make sure they all fit in a single layer.
  • Add the garlic cloves to the pan.
  • Drizzle the oil over the potatoes and garlic. Add the oregano and red pepper flakes. Top with freshly ground pepper, if you would like.
  • Using your hands, toss the potatoes, garlic, oil, and spices together in the pan, making sure to coat the potatoes with the mixture as much as possible.
  • Roasted Potatoes-2Roast for 20 – 25 minutes, without stirring the potatoes around. After this time, give them a good flip. You should start to get a nice golden crisp on the potatoes.
  • Return the potatoes to the oven and roast for another 20 minutes.

Roasted Potatoes-5


If you like this, you may also like:


Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-3







Product Review: COCOZIA Organic Coconut Water

11 Nov

COCOZIA Review-4Coconut water is “in.”

I was a bit behind the curve on this one and had not tried it until I was contacted by the marketing department from COCOZIA, who offered to send me an Amazon gift card, with which I was to purchase a 12-package case of their product. In return, all they asked was that I review the product on Amazon and on my blog. This is my first product review where I was contacted by the product’s representatives, and I am looking forward to more!

This post is 100% my own words and thoughts; the only compensation I received was the gift card I was sent, the full amount of which was spent on the product.

We eat (and drink) with our eyes first, so let’s discuss packaging briefly. In short: Clean and cute. No pictures of palm trees or coconuts, just stylized font and a focus on the certified organic nature of the product. And who doesn’t love a good “USDA Organic” stamp? I don’t know the technical term for the packaging, but it feels like a thicker, almost cylindrical juice box – complete with an expandable straw on the back. There is also an option to peel back a silver tab for a wider-mouth opening, to drink or pour directly from the package.

Now, coconut water is completely distinct from coconut milk. This NPR blog post offers that coconut water “contains two minerals that help balance fluids in the body, sodium and potassium.” As a coconut ages from a young green coconut to a mature brown coconut that you probably are picturing, the coconut water “morphs into the white coconut meat that’s often pressed to produce coconut milk or oil.”

To show you the difference between coconut water and milk, in an 11.1 oz package, COCOZIA coconut water has 70 calories, 0g fat, 65mg of sodium, 730 mg of potassium, and 14g of sugar. But an average (full-fat) coconut milk  has – in one cup, which is 3.1 oz less than the above stats – 557 calories, 57g of fat (51 g saturated), 36g of sodium, 631g potassium, and 8g of sugar.

They are just not the same product.

Now how about taste? Well, the taste is a bit unexpected. I would describe it as a watered-down juice of some fruit I have never had before (and that I would not particularly seek out again). It leaves a slight aftertaste, too. I have not tried other coconut waters, so I am not comparing them, but I don’t think that I would purchase coconut water to drink in the future, based on this experience.

NOW, let’s talk cooking. When I was researching the product before I agreed to test the product, I saw enough articles and blog posts about cooking with coconut water – in smoothies, using instead of coconut milk in recipes, and as a substitute for water as well – that I definitely wanted to try it out.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS: I decided to try substituting COCOZIA coconut water for tap water to make brown rice. It was great, and I recommend it! The coconut water gave the rice a really subtle coconut flavor that pairs well with stir-fry and curries. Just substitute it cup for cup, ounce for ounce. Coconut water is expensive – each package costs a bit over $2 on Amazon – but it is worth picking up a smaller quantity and trying out a basic rice recipe. I used regular (non-microwave) brown long-grain rice, and just followed the directions on the package.

COCOZIA Review-3It doesn’t look different from other rice, but the taste is there. This picture features brown rice cooked in COCOZIA coconut water, with a simple stir-fry of chicken, broccoli, garlic, shallots, ginger, and soy sauce – quantities are totally variable according to your tastes!

COCOZIA Review-2

Butterscotch Granola Blondies

8 Nov

Butterscotch Granola Blondies-4Do you go through food phases, like me? For weeks or months at a time, I can’t get enough of smoothies, or egg white and cheese sandwiches, or green tea. For a period during law school, granola was my jam. One day I reached for one of the specialty brands that are sold on the highest shelf in the cereal aisle, and a love connection was made.

Heartland Granola is not sold everywhere, but I buy it locally at Harris Teeter. I hope, for your sake, that you can find it locally (or online). If not, any granola that isn’t too cluster-y would work. But because I found this recipe on the side of the Heartland Granola box, I am partial to that brand. I recently found that they post a whole list of recipes using their granola – I can’t wait to try them out!*

I have said it before and will continue to repeat it – recipes “on the side of the box” showcase the product you are buying, and can be some of the best you will find. Not every recipe will suit you of course (and sometimes the cross-branding with other products is irking), but I assure you I have put many of these recipes into my rotation.Butterscotch Granola Blondies

I brought a batch of these blondies in to work this week, and although many people seemed to be initially skeptical of butterscotch, you should have seen how eyes lit up at Bite #1! My colleagues commented on the doughy center, and the almost oatmeal cookie taste (“but different”). The granola bakes in, and loses its crunchy texture, but still lends the blondies some structure. I would not generally say that I like butterscotch, but try butterscotch baking chips. They mostly just taste like sugar, and a bit like white chocolate (which is mostly just sugar). If you are looking for something just a little different to bring to a party or to work, or to have around the kitchen for the weekend to snack on, and don’t have a ton of time, may I recommend this recipe. I can assure you that you – and anyone who takes a bite – will not be disappointed.

And, if I do say so myself, they are quite photogenic.

Butterscotch Granola Blondies-3

– 1/2 c butterscotch chips
– 3 T butter
– 1 c brown sugar, packed
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 t vanilla
– 1.75 c Heartland Granola Cereal (original variety)
1 c flour
– 1 t baking powder
– 1/2 t kosher salt

How do I make it?

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a heat-proof medium or large bowl {be sure to check your bowl for its intended usage!}, melt butterscotch chips and butter together. You can do this in the oven as it’s warming, in the microwave, or on the stove top. Cool a bit.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and granola.
  • Then stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Spread batter in 8″ x 8″ pan.
  • Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Set the timer for 25 minutes, and take a look. When it’s done, the edges will get a bit firmer than the middle and will seem to swell up a bit.
  • Cool before cutting.

Butterscotch Granola Blondies-5


Butterscotch Granola Blondies-2

Original link: http://heartlandbrands.com/page/recipes/granola-recipes/

*Although, as with all printed recipes, it’s important to read them carefully. This recipe online states that an 8″ x 8″ pan of blondies, cut in to 2″ squares, will make … 36 bars? I am NOT a math person, but cutting an 8″ square pan in to 2″ squares should make 16 blondies. The cardboard remnant I have from the side of a box from over a decade ago does not have such measurements on it!

Marinara Quinoa with Chicken

2 Oct

Marinara Quinoa with Chicken-1

When I first learned that quinoa can be cooked directly into a chili or stew {like with this recipe}, I was hooked. Sure, it is not difficult to make a pot of quinoa on its own, but one less step, and one less pot? Yes, please.

This Marinara Quinoa with Chicken is such a satisfying dish after a long day; it is also an easy weeknight recipe that you can vary to your tastes. But my tastes are pretty pure in the marinara realm, i.e. any method to eat marinara sauce works for me, so I have kept this recipe pretty straightforward.

I try to keep these ingredients on hand so I can assemble this dish quickly for a craving. If I don’t have fresh chicken, I move a package of chicken from the freezer to the fridge the night before or on my way out to work. If you don’t keep these ingredients in your pantry and haven’t planned your grocery list (or forgot it – isn’t that the worst?) and find yourself in a grocery store scanning your memory for easy dishes to throw together, this one works well. You would probably just need to pick up some quinoa, chicken, and a few cans of tomato products.

– 1 medium sweet onion, diced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 3 oz tomato paste (1/2 of a small can)
– 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
– 1 14.5 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
– 1 t dried oregano
– 1 t dried basil
– 1/2 t dried parsley
– 1/8 t red pepper flakes
– water – fill one of the 14.5 oz cans
– 1/2 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
– 2 cooked chicken breasts (I have been using poached, but you can also cube it and saute, or roast), sliced thinly or cubed

How do I make it?

  • Heat a medium-sized dutch oven over medium-high heat. When warm, add extra virgin olive oil.
  • When the oil is heated, add the onion and cook until it softens and starts to brown.
  • Add the garlic and stir. Cook just until it starts to brown.
  • Add the tomato paste, and stir. Cook for one minute.
  • Add the two cans of tomato. When you add the whole tomatoes, gently crush them with your hand before they go in the pot {be careful, they squirt!} and continue to break them up with a wooden spoon as you are cooking. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the dried herbs and stir.
  • Add a can of water, and stir. Make sure to dissolve the tomato paste.
  • Add the quinoa, and bring back to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, and cook uncovered until the quinoa is done {the little tails come out – see photo above!}
  • Stir in the chicken and sprinkle with some Parmesan-regianno.

Original recipe: This recipe is loosely based on Protein Bar’s “Healthy Parm” Quinoa Bowl.

If you like this, you may also like:

Meat SauceBroccoli Chicken Quinoa Casserole-7Chicken Stroganoff

Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Whole Wheat Flour}

9 Sep


Isn’t it interesting how everyone’s chocolate chip cookies turn out differently? One hundred people using the same recipe – Nestle’s Tollhouse for example – will turn out one hundred variations … never mind the infinite recipe options for a good ol’ fashioned chocolate chip cookie using butter, flour, sugar, and egg.

But my own chocolate chip cookies always turn out the same as my last batch, and I have always been fine with that. Sure I have tried some variations – browned butter coming to mind – with success, but I have found myself revisiting my standard recipe time and time again.

I am pleased to announce that I am ready to shake things up a bit, with both whole wheat flour and hand-chopped chocolate chunks.

I have a non-local friend who was in need of a pick-me-up; when I asked if I could send cookies, he mentioned that he is not eating white flour but would love whatever I sent (… and that his partner is partial to chocolate chip. Good man!). I thought I would give a wheat flour recipe a try, just for something a little different, before trying a non-traditional cookie recipe. I hoped I would find a cookie to fit the bill – I did not imagine I would find a chewy, chocolatey new addition to my repertoire!

My search turned up a straightforward recipe, which intrigued me with its simplicity. I was at first skeptical, so I made my first batch a half-recipe’s worth. The batter (of course I snuck a bite) had a deep molasses flavor. I was a little worried, it was a little strong for me. But the flavor baked out evenly, and with my first bite of one of these freshly-baked cookies, I was immediately kicking myself for not making a full batch. Another half-batch followed quickly after.


My favorite part is the chocolate chunks (see, e.g., that square right above this sentence). The chocolate chip selection at my local grocery stores is not as awesome as I would prefer (I am not sure what I am looking for – but some variety would be nice). I never thought to make my own! Thanks to this recipe, I tried it out. How had I never heard of this method before? I used a thin Ghirardelli baking bar and chopped each square into smaller squares with my 7″ chef’s knife – make sure to sweep all of the shards that result from the chopping in to the batter, the flecks will only add to the cookie.

– 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
– 1 c packed dark brown sugar
– 1 c sugar
– 2 eggs
– 2 t vanilla
3 c whole wheat flour
– 1 1/2 t baking powder
– 1 t baking soda
– 1 1/2 t kosher salt
– 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into small squares

How do I make it?

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat until just blended.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add the vanilla and briefly mix.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until just blended. It’s a lot of flour, so do it in small increments so it doesn’t poof out of the bowl!
  • Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again until blended.
  • Add the chocolate and beat on low speed just until evenly distributed.
  • Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoon. Roll each scoop into a ball with your hands and flatten it gently on the cookie sheet using your hand. Place them a few inches apart on the cookie sheets, as they will expand to large chewy awesome discs.
  • Bake for 15 minutes (check at 12 minutes) until the cookies are golden brown on the outsides, and smell delicious.

Original link: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2011/10/whole-wheat-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly “link up party” called Our Growing Edge, which is an online way to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. Our Growing Edge is the brain child of Genie from Bunny Eats Design, and this month is hosted by Marnelli from Sweets and Brains. The posts for September’s link up can be found here. New for me with this post: whole wheat flour in (delicious) cookies, and hand-chopped chocolate chunks!