Friday, April 24, 2015

Enchilada Pasta

As regular readers know, I am a huge fan of the blog (and cookbook) Budget Bytes.  Beth's meals are always delicious, simple to prepare, and affordable.  This vegetarian Mexican-Italian mashup is no different.  Everything is prepared in one pot, and there's very little prep -- just chopping a little garlic, cilantro, and green onions, and opening some cans and bags.  And it really does taste like enchiladas in pasta form (with way less work)!  This is a great recipe for weeknights, and the leftovers also keep well for lunch the next day.  The pasta is super creamy and satisfying, with a nice kick from the green chiles.  If you like spicier food, you can add extra red pepper flakes or a minced jalapeno.  Next time I make this, I'll probably also chop up a bell pepper and add it with the garlic to up the veggie quotient.  If you're not vegetarian, some chopped rotisserie chicken would also not be out of place.

Enchilada Pasta (adapted from Budget Bytes, original recipe here)
Serves 4

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounce can green chiles
1 cup frozen corn
15 ounce can black beans
1 tsp cumin
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
8 ounces wide egg noodles
2 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/2 cup sour cream
3 green onions, thinly sliced
A handful of fresh cilantro, minced
3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, and then add the green chiles, corn, black beans, cumin, and red pepper flakes.  Stir well.
2. Add the pasta and chicken broth to the skillet -- the broth won't fully cover the noodles, but that's ok -- just get as much under the liquid as possible.  Cover the skillet and bring everything to a boil.  Turn heat town to low, and let simmer 10 minutes, covered, stirring every few minutes or so.
3. Check the noodles and make sure they are tender -- if not, cook a bit longer.  Stir well, and then stir in the sour cream, green onions, and most of the cilantro (reserve a little to sprinkle on at the end).
4. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the skillet, replace the lid, and let melt over the heat for a few minutes.  Then sprinkle with the reserved cilantro and seve hot.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Roasted Caulflower and Chickpeas on Homemade Flatbread with Avocado Sauce

This is one of those "happy accident" recipes -- I spotted it online and thought it looked amazing, but didn't quite manage to read all the way through the instructions before getting started!  By the time I realized the flatbread/pita dough was supposed to rise for an hour, I had a bunch of other components going and we were starving.  So, I decided to just go ahead with the recipe and see how it went.  This was a great decision -- the flatbread turned out super soft and delicious, despite my mistake.  If you have the extra time, feel free to let the dough rise at the end of step 3; if not, it will still be really tasty.

On top of the homemade flatbread is a super-flavorful vegetarian topping.  The base is a tangy, lime-spiked avocado sauce.  On top are crispy roasted cauliflower and chickpeas spiced with garam masala, Aleppo chiles, and chile powder. You could absolutely change up the spices here based on what you have on hand and what you like.  This flatbread kind of has it all -- soft, tender bread, a rich sauce with a kick of acid, protein-filled and hearty chickpeas, and crispy cauliflower.  Definitely a winner!


Roasted Caulflower and Chickpeas on Homemade Flatbread with Avocado Sauce (adapted from Pinch of Yum and Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
Serves 4 as a light meal, or 2 as a heartier meal

For the vegetables:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
Generous pinch Aleppo chili flakes (or other chili flakes)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the flatbread:
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup warm (but not hot) water
1/4 cup warm (but not hot) milk
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

For the avocado sauce:
2 medium avocados
1 clove garlic
1 T olive oil
A small handful fresh parsley
1/2 tsp cumin
Juice of 1 lime
A tablespoon or two of water, as needed

To serve:
Sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with foil, and place a cast iron skillet on the stovetop.
2. Pat the cauliflower and chickpeas dry, and then toss them with the chili powder, garam masala, and chili flakes.  Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and toss again until everything is well combined.  Arrange on the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through.
3. Make the pitas.  Combine the yeast, sugar, water, milk, olive oil, salt, and 1/2 cup of the flour in a large bowl. Stir with a rubber spatula until well combined. Add more flour gradually, switching to kneading with your hands when the dough becomes too stiff for the spatula.  Add enough flour to get a tacky but not sticky dough that forms a ball.  Knead for about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a ball, and cover the bowl with a dish towl.  Let rest for about 10-15 minutes.
4. Make the avocado sauce.  Place all the ingredients in a mini chopper, a food processor fitted with a small bowl, or a blender. (Note: I found that using a larger food processor just didn't work -- there wasn't enough of the sauce for the processor to effectively blend it.)  Blend the sauce until it is smooth, adding a little water if things seem to thick. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Cover and set aside.
5. Cook the pitas. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Meanwhile, cut the dough into four pieces.  Roll out one piece between two pieces of parchment paper as thinly as possible without ripping the dough.  Carefully transfer to the skillet, and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until nicely browned.  Roll out the next pita while first one is cooking.  Continue until all the pitas are cooked, keeping them on a warm plate covered with a dish towel to keep warm.
6. Assemble the dish.  Spread a quarter of the avocado sauce on a pita. Top with a large scoop of roasted veggies.  Finally, dollop on a little sour cream.  Enjoy!

Happy Patriot's Day to those celebrating -- here we are viewing the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pina Colada Granola

I love homemade granola for breakfast.  My go-to recipe is this one that was passed along from a former roommate, and this pina colada-inspired version is actually a variation on that one.  But, this combination of flavors was so good that I felt it deserved its own post!  The starting point for this granola was dried pineapple that Tim picked up at the grocery store.  From there, I added coconut flakes, coconut oil, and ground vanilla -- although you can of course use vanilla extract, I adore ground vanilla for the more intense flavor and the little black vanilla specks.  For crunch, pecans and raw quinoa (which crisps up enough to eat in the oven) are perfect add-ins.  This granola doesn't make big "clumps" like some recipes, which I think makes it the perfect yogurt topping.

Pina Colada Granola
Makes 3-4 cups of granola

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
3 T coconut oil
2 T maple syrup
2 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground vanilla (or vanilla extract)
Big pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup dried pineapple, diced if the pieces are large

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil.
2. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the pineapple.  Use your (clean!) hands to make sure everything is evenly distributed.  Spread out on the baking sheet in an even layer.
3. Bake 20 minutes, or until everything is toasted to your liking.
4. Sprinkle the pineapple over the granola, without stirring.  Let everything cool, then gently stir to combine everything.  Keep in an airtight container.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

California Bowl

This hearty vegetarian bowl actually comes from a breakfast cookbook, but I probably couldn't handle this much food first thing in the morning (maybe for brunch!).  We actually had it for dinner, and found it to be plenty filling as it's got whole grains, protein, and healthy fat from the avocado and almonds.  The base is quick-cooking barley from Trader Joe's -- I love this product as it makes serving whole grains so much quicker.  Of course, you could sub in farro, quinoa, brown rice, or any similar favorite.

On top of the barley goes my favorite super-simple massaged kale with lemon. This is probably the most common way I prepare kale, and I love it because it's tender but still substantial, with a great bright flavor from the lemon.  Luxurious toppings finish the bowl -- soft-boiled egg, sliced avocado, crumbled Mexican cheese, and toasted almonds.  These components combine together really nicely to make this a really satisfying meal.  You can serve one or two eggs per person depending on your appetite, or cut back on one or more of the toppings if you're looking for a lighter meal.


California Bowl (adapted from Whole Grain Mornings)
Serves 2

For the lemon-yogurt sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 T minced fresh chives
Kosher salt

For the salad:
3/4 cup quick-cooking barley (such as Trader Joe's brand)
Kosher salt
4 eggs
1 bunch kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
Olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/3 cup crumbled Cotija cheese or queso fresco
1/4 sliced almonds, toasted

1. Make the dressing.  Whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chives.  Season with salt to taste.  Set aside.
2. Prepare the barley.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the barley and a generous pinch of salt.  Cook according to package directions (about 10-12 minutes).  Then drain and keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, set up a steamer basket over water, and bring to a boil.  Add the eggs to the steamer basket, cover, and steam for 6-1/2 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, or 12 minutes for hard-boiled eggs.  Run under cold water and carefully peel.
4. Prepare the kale.  Place the kale in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Add a generous pinch of kosher salt, and then massage until the kale becomes tender and begins to break down.  Squeeze over the juice of 1/2 lemon, and set aside.
5. Assemble the salad.  Toss together the barley and kale, adding another drizzle of oil if things seem too dry.  Divide among two bowls.  Top with the sliced avocado and soft-boiled eggs.  Then drizzle over the lemon-yogurt sauce.  Finally, finish with crumble Cotija cheese and sliced almonds.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Giant Cheddar-Cornbread Biscuit

This giant biscuit is one of those recipes that is total, genius-level indulgence.  Basically, picture making a biscuit dough full of cornmeal and sharp Cheddar cheese, but then baking it in a round pan to create a giant biscuit.  Amazing!  After baking, the biscuit can be cut into big wedges for serving (or small wedges if you're not feeling gluttonous -- this is pretty rich).  Leftovers kept pretty well, wrapped tightly, since the dough is very moist.  Fair warning -- you'll need to plan ahead because the dough should chill for about and hour in the fridge and then bakes for quite a while.  You could speed things along by baking this as regular-sized biscuits...but that just wouldn't be anywhere near as fun, would it?

Giant Cheddar-Cornbread Biscuit (adapted from Food52 and A Periodic Table)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup coarse cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
5 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
2 sticks cold butter, cubed
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Heavy cream, freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt, to finish

1. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and Cheddar cheese.  Add the butter, and cut in with a pastry blender or your fingers.
2. Add 3/4 cup of the buttermilk and gently fold into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Add more buttermilk if needed so that the dough is just moistened.
3. Cover the bowl, and chill 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
5. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and use your hands to pat it down so everything is even.
6. Brush the top of the dough with heavy cream, and then sprinkle with sea salt and lots of black pepper.
7. Bake 30-45 minutes, until the top is brown and a tester comes out clean.