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Sunday
Jul102011

Mixed-berry Dutch baby

This is Week #27 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click on the above graphic to view all P&TC recipes. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

I was reluctant to turn on the oven for this recipe. It is finally hot outside, the kind of weather I adore, but I don't like using the oven unless necessary in these temps. Buuuuut I really wanted to make this. Our fridge is bursting with berries right now, and I was also very curious about the German pancake, also known as the Dutch Baby. I made this for myself for lunch, then dessert, then a snack, then dinner, but this would be an amazing recipe to make for a brunch. It has a definite breakfast-pancake flavor, but also would serve well as a light dessert.

I found myself stationed in front of the fridge, door open, about a dozen times that same day, cutting just one more slice to nibble on.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over moderate heat.

In a medium bowl, add:

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/3 cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

Whisk until combined.

Add:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup milk

Whisk until the batter is completely smooth.

Gently stir 1 cup each of raspberries and blackberries (have another 1 cup of each on hand to serve it with) into the pancake batter.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the cast-iron skillet and add the berry pancake batter, gently spreading the fruit in the batter so that it is evenly distributed.

Bake the Dutch Baby in the center of the preheated oven for about 22 minutes (mine took more like 30-33 minutes), or until the edge is browned and puffed and the center of the pancake is lightly browned in spots. Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust the Dutch Baby with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Cut into wedges and serve immediately, with the remaining fresh raspberries and blackberries.

I'm troubled about the fact that I have lived almost 36 years of my life not having experienced a Dutch Baby. This was delicious! I am now enlightened in the realm of German pancakes.

And this was totally worth turning on the oven for in this summer heat.

Click here for a printable recipe!

Thursday
Jul072011

Fudgy rocky road bars

My husband and I had some (fun, sweet, awesome) friends over the other night. We ate dinner outside, played the Wii (my husband has mad hula-hooping skills), acted silly and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. I wish every Tuesday night was that much fun!

We had figured out the menu for the evening ahead of time, drinks included, but I had to come up with an easy dessert at the last minute. You can't have good friends over and not enjoy a dessert together, right? I threw these fudgy rocky road bars together, and they were delicious! They tasted perfect after chicken and potatoes and a mai tai. Or two.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with graham crackers, breaking them to fit if necessary.

Bake in the preheated oven until the crackers are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 8 minutes. By the way, have you ever baked graham crackers in the oven? I urge you to make this recipe for the sole purpose of doing this. "Fragrant" does not adequately describe the scent that floated from my oven. I found myself wanting to eat my oven and the air surrounding it.

Sprinkle the deliciously-fragrant baked graham crackers with 1 1/2 cups toasted and coarsely chopped almonds.

Top that with a few big dollups of marshmallow topping (1 cup total).

In a small saucepan, combine:

1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Cook over low heat, stirring often, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the chocolate over the marshmallow topping. Swirl together with a thin-bladed knife.

Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until your guests are ready to consume dessert.

Cut into squares and serve! Eat! Enjoy! Yum!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Sunday
Jul032011

Mom's nutty granola

This is Week #26 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click on the above graphic to view all P&TC recipes. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

I talk to my husband about almost everything I make in the kitchen. "Guess what?! I'm making fruity ice cubes tonight!" He doesn't make me feel weird for being an obsessed foodie. Ok, sometimes he makes fun of my incessant cookbook-perusing, but it's all in good fun. A few days ago I made this granola recipe and I hadn't had a chance to tell him about it. The following morning he saw it on the counter and ate a big helping. It was cute how pleasantly surprised he was about finding it. I will admit that I'm not the hugest granola eater myself, but this stuff is good. Really really good. It is packed with flavor and nuts. I have many ideas for it in the very near future.

My first idea was to put it into a fruit parfait, which I will write more about in another post. My husband ate it as cereal. And we have also been snacking on it.

It is super easy to throw together.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss together:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts

1/2 cup unsalted roasted almonds

1/2 cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds (I used walnuts in place of these)

1/2 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup wheat germ

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 tablespoon of hot water.

Whisk in:

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Stir the liquid into the nuts and coat thoroughly. Spread the mixutre onto a large, rimmed baking sheet.

Bake the granola in the center of the oven for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until it is nearly dry. Turn off the oven and prop the door open halfway. Let the granola cool in the oven, stirring often.

Toss the granola with:

1/2 cup raisins

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Thursday
Jun302011

Grilled vegetable salad

I saw this recipe in my new Cooking Light: Way to Cook cookbook (thanks, hubby!) and knew that I had to make it pronto. Sometimes I wonder if I was wired incorrectly because the way I feel about veggies is the way most people feel about chocolate. I always wished Willy Wonka's chocolate factory was instead a vegetable factory filled with broccoli trees, green bean grass, mushroom benches and carrot juice rivers. Aaahhhh, heaven!

I basically enjoyed this entire salad by myself because my husband won't touch anything that has mushrooms in it. His loss! Those mushroom benches wouldn't last long with me in the room.

 

Light your grill and turn the heat to medium.

Prepare the vinaigrette. In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Set aside.

 

Prepare the salad. Coat the following ingredients with cooking spray:

8 ounces asparagus, trimmed

2 (4-inch) Portobello mushroom caps

1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 red bell pepper, halved and seeded

Place the veggies on the grill (also coated with cooking spray) and grill for 4 minutes on each side or until slightly blackened.

Remove the vegetables from the grill and let cool. Cut veggies into 1-inch pieces.

Add the vegetables to the bowl with the vinaigrette, along with:

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Toss gently to coat and sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese.

Feel free to replace or add veggies based on what is fresh and available. I also had the thought that this salad would be delicious when tossed together with pasta. Too bad I had that thought after it was all in my belly. Next time!

 Click here for a printable recipe!

Saturday
Jun252011

Strawberry chicken salad

 

I was on strict bed rest for the last four months of my pregnancy with Sammy, which ended just over a year ago. Here are some things that remind me of that particular period of time: lots of staring at the walls, watching Mystic Pizza or Can't Buy Me Love on tv when my contractions got out of control and I had to lie on my left side, the many many books I read, eating hummus, eating ridiculous amounts of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, the dinners my wonderful husband served me every night because sitting at the table was often too much activity for me to handle, and...the delicious strawberry chicken salad that I made myself for lunch almost every single day.

It was one of the only trips off the couch that I allowed myself. And it was always worth it. I fell head over heels in love with this salad. I still adore it, even though it reminds me of having my butt glued to the couch for months on end.

I have only ever made this recipe as a single serving, and here is what I do..

Put as much green leafy lettuce (use a variety of different kinds, or just romaine) as you want onto a big plate.

Top the lettuce with:

10 strawberries, hulled and halved

4 oz. grilled or baked chicken breast, cut into strips

1 tomato, cut into chunks

Toss everything together.

Sometimes I throw a handful of feta cheese over the top, if I'm feeling crazy.

My two favorite dressings to top this salad with are Newman's Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette and Newman's Own Lighten Up Sun-Dried Tomato. Both are DELICIOUS and both are very low in calories.

And when you are finished with the salad, don't do anything silly like eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I would ever know about such gluttony.

Click here for a printable recipe!