Monday, March 30, 2015

What's On the Side: Oven-Baked Potato Crisps

Dustin and I were in Madison on Saturday as he was enrolled in a whole hog breakdown class at Underground Meats in the afternoon, and I was there to, uh, get my shop on and run errands while he learned the art of butchery. Once we arrived in town, we stopped for brunch at Weary Traveler Free House. Along with two eggs and toast, D's breakfast came with garlic fried potato slices. And, oh, were they good. (And yes, the egg-wich I ordered was also delish, but sadly potato-less.)

As much as I enjoy fried food, I figured I could bake some just-as-good -- or, okay, perhaps in the very least, nearly-as-good -- garlic potatoes in the oven.

These potato crisps get a toss in olive oil, dried herbs, and minced garlic followed by a sprinkle of salt and pepper before roasting in the oven for 30 minutes. We ate our potato crisps alongside a green salad and oven-roasted salmon.

It's been about a million years (slight exaggeration) since we last had salmon at home-- the salmon at our local grocery store's seafood case is typically the poster child for "what not to buy" when it comes to fresh (or, okay, more likely "recently thawed") fish. So, during my requisite visit to Whole Foods in Madison, I was stoked to see some gorgeous wild-caught coho salmon fillets for sale in the seafood department; I quickly snatched up two fillets for our Sunday dinner. Nothing like a little fish and chips (er, crisps) to end the weekend on a good note!

Oven-Baked Potato Crisps (printer-friendly version)
make two hearty servings

1-2 cups thinly sliced russet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 cloves garlic, minced
fine sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sliced potatoes, olive oil, herbes de Provence, and minced garlic. Toss to coat.
3. Place the potato slices on the wire rack; it's okay if they slightly overlap. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
4. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden and slightly brown on the edges. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What's For Dinner: Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese

I have to admit that when we are strapped for dinner ideas, more than once I have headed to the pantry and come back to the kitchen with a box of macaroni and cheese. I try to justify the choice in that at least it's the "organic" brand, but, still, powdered cheese? Probably not the most wholesome dinner choice. Even if it is delicious and filling.

But, honestly, making macaroni and cheese from scratch really isn't that difficult. The only real difference is that, in lieu of using a packet of cheese powder, you have to make a simple b├ęchamel sauce instead. While a classic b├ęchamel sauce requires butter, this recipe (adapted from a recent issue of Real Simple magazine) uses olive oil.

This macaroni and cheese gets a big lift in flavor from the addition of roasted vegetables. I'd say it could be one of those "fool your kids into eating vegetables" kind of meals, except, aside from the cauliflower, nothing is really hiding out in this dish.

While, of course, the typical pasta in macaroni and cheese is elbow macaroni, there's really no reason why you couldn't use a different pasta shape. I'd recommend using something with plenty of nooks and crannies to hold onto as much of the cheesy sauce as possible -- for my version, I used campanelle.

This recipe comes together in less than 45 minutes, making it ideal for a weeknight dinner. Looks like I have no more excuses when it comes to eating macaroni and cheese from a box -- particularly since this veggie-stuffed version is quite a bit more wholesome.

Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

2 cups small broccoli florets
2 cups small cauliflower florets
1 pint grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 ounces dried pasta (shells, campanelle, penne)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups organic 1% (or low-fat) milk
1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, toss together the broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables onto the prepped baking sheet. Roast until tender, (flipping halfway through), 14 to 16 minutes. Remove from the oven.
3. While the vegetables are roasting, cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drain and set aside.
4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and, while whisking, cook for 30 seconds. Then slowly whisk in the milk. Cook until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese, vegetables, and pasta. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
6. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square (or 2-quart) baking dish. Top with the remaining half-cup cheddar cheese and broil under golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

(adapted from this Real Simple recipe)

Monday, March 16, 2015

What's For Dinner: Broccoli Slaw Stir Fry with Miso Dressing

This broccoli slaw stir fry dish has been on our dinner menu three times in the past two weeks -- I'm pretty sure that means this recipe is a winner. 

Like many of the meals I make, this recipe is super-adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand. In lieu of broccoli slaw, we've used broccoli florets; instead of a rice base we've used rice noodles. I'd recommend slicing and dicing whatever veggies you have on hand to make the stir fry -- in my mind, the more the merrier, especially in terms of color and flavor! 

The thing that brings this whole dish together is the miso dressing. If you haven't purchased miso before, you should do it! It has a salty and savory flavor that adds just the right umami to this dish. This recipe uses white miso, which has a mellower flavor than yellow or red miso -- I think it's a good place to start when trying miso for the first time.

What are your favorite ingredients to add to a stir fry?

Broccoli Slaw with Miso Dressing (printer-friendly version)
makes 4-6 servings

For the miso dressing:
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari sauce)
juice of 1 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons white miso
1 teaspoon brown sugar

For the broccoli slaw:
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 medium red pepper, small dice
3-4 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups broccoli slaw
1 cup cooked edamame
2-3 cups cooked rice
chopped peanuts and/or cilantro, for garnish

1. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, miso, and brown sugar to a small jar with a lid. Shake vigorously to combine the ingredients. Set aside. (Alternately, whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl.)
2. Add the sesame oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper and green onion and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.
3. Add the broccoli slaw and cook until tender, 1-2 minutes. Then stir in the edamame and cook until warmed through (if necessary). Garnish with chopped peanuts or cilantro if desired.
4. Serve the broccoli slaw over (or stirred into) rice.


Monday, March 9, 2015

What's For Dessert: Blackberry Cobbler

We invited a friend over for dinner last week, and while my usual dessert selection is typically in the chocolate family, this time around I thought something a little more wholesome might be in order.

I decided something fruit-filled would be perfect for dessert. A pie was out as it was a weeknight and I didn't want to take the time to make a crust, so cobbler it was. Though blackberries are more commonly associated with late summer, I had a hankering for them that just couldn't be quelled -- incited perhaps by a recent sale on organic blackberries at the market. By the time I got around to picking up ingredients for my cobbler, however, the sale was off, so I ended up using a mix of fresh and the more-economical frozen berries.

This blackberry cobbler, served alongside a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, was delicious and the perfect ending to a great meal shared with a friend.

Blackberry Cobbler (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

For the fruit filling:
4 cups blackberries, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

For the cobbler topping:
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup 1 percent milk, plus additional for brushing
1 egg, lightly beaten
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1. Add the blackberries, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cornstarch to an 8x8 square baking dish. Stir to evenly coat the blackberries. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Add the cubed butter and use a pastry blender or two forks to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles  coarse crumbles.
4. Stir in the milk and egg until the dough just comes together.
5. Scoop the dough into large spoonfuls and place on top of the blackberries. (You should get between 6 and 8 scoops of dough.) Lightly brush each scoop of dough with milk, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the blackberries are bubbling and the cobbler is golden brown.
8. Serve warm or room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

(adapted from this recipe from Simply Recipes)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What's Baking: Blood Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

Another day, another blood orange recipe. There's just something about that pink orange juice and bright red orange zest that I just can't get enough of. 

This time around I replaced the lemon with blood orange in my favorite lemon poppy seed muffin recipe. I love the sweetness and crunch in these bright citrus muffins. And paired with a steaming mugful of strong coffee? Now that's a match made in heaven. 

I made these muffins a little bit healthier by subbing in Greek yogurt for some of the butter and decreasing the amount of sugar. However, these muffins are still just as tasty as ever.

My favorite way to eat them? For second breakfast, of course. Or as an afternoon snack with a hot mug of green tea -- a delicious pick-me-up for that mid-afternoon slump.

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Muffins (printer-friendly version)
makes about 12 muffins

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon blood orange zest
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, browned, and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, use the back of a spoon to rub the sugar with the blood orange zest until fragrant.
4. Use a whisk to mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt into the sugar mixture.
5. In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, blood orange juice, eggs, vanilla, and cooled browned butter.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate. Stir in the poppy seeds.
7. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
8. Top each muffin cup with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar.
9. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
10. Let the muffins cool for five minutes in the tin before removing them and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.


Friday, February 27, 2015

On the Radio: Two Ways to Roast the Perfect Chicken

My latest WXPR segment is now available online. This month I discuss my favorite ways to make a roast chicken. You can listen to (or read) the story by clicking here

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What's Baking: Blood Orange Bundt Cake

I think I'm in love with a cake. That's totally normal, right? Yeah, maybe don't answer that question.

But this blood orange bundt cake has it all -- a moist, tender crumb and a bright citrus and rich buttery flavor. The addition of an orange glaze over top, dotted with fresh orange zest, seals the deal on this cake's deliciousness. Oh man, now I really want another slice. Cake for breakfast is totally legit, right? Maybe don't answer that question, too.

This cake is best served the day it is made; wrap any leftovers tightly and store at room temperature for up to three days.

Blood Orange Bundt Cake (printer-friendly version)
makes 10-12 servings

For the cake:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh blood orange zest
1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed blood orange juice
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice

For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the oil. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract.
4. On low speed, stir in 1/3 of the flour, then 1/3 of the orange juice. Repeat until all the flour and orange juice has been added and no flour streaks remain. Do not overmix.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepped pan, using a rubber spatula to even out the batter.
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
7. After the cake has cooled, make the glaze: in a small bowl, stir together the sifted powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest until smooth. Spoon or drizzle the glaze over the cake. 
© A Less Processed Life. All rights reserved.