Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hummus



This is really fun to make, and delicious too. You will need a food processor in order to get the consistency right.

With the chopping blade in place on the food processor, put the lemon zest, salt



and garlic cloves



through the feed tube, then pulse about 10-12 times until minced.



Drain the chickpeas; rinse with water, and then drain again. Add them to the work bowl



then add the tahini,



water and lemon juice



and cumin.



Process this until it is smooth and creamy. With the machine running, add the olive oil



and parsley



through the food tube. Process until smooth. Enjoy with pita, crackers, crudite, and as a sandwich spread. There are a lot of possibilities!

I love bringing pita, veggies and hummus for lunch - easy to pack, good mix of carbs, protein and veggies. For more great ideas for lunch, visit the Ultimate Recipe Swap.

For more great recipes, visit Cooking Thursday, Foodie Friday, Food on Fridays, and Friday Food, Super Bowl Eats and Treats.

Hummus

2 strips lemon zest
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cloves garlic
1 - 28 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
5 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley

With the chopping blade fitted on a food processor, pulse together the lemon zest, salt and garlic until minced, 10-12 times. Add the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water and cumin to the work bowl. Process until smooth. With the machine running, add the olive oil and parsley through the food tube. Process another 30 seconds or so until smooth. Serve with crudite, crackers or pita, or as a sandwich spread.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fried Cauliflower



Fried cauliflower was the featured appetizer at a very chic restaurant I visited recently (and I wasn't paying the bill!). It was absolutely delicious, so I set out to re-create it at home. I was quite successful, and this is now my favorite way to eat cauliflower. Unfortunately, it is not the healthiest way. But it is a vegetable so that counts for something!

The amounts here are based for a small head of a cauliflower, or half a large head, so just adjust them accordingly to what you have.

First, cut the cauliflower. You want to make cut slices



so that they will lay flat in the skillet.



You'll probably have some pieces that break, or ends that won't work, or florets that are too small to slice. Simply put all those in a storage container, and use them to make roasted cauliflower or steam it or something else!



Once all the cauliflower is sliced, you'll need to blanch it. This will ensure that it is tender enough after it's fried. Add the cauliflower to boiling water



and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Pour the cauliflower into a strainer and immediately shower it with cold water so that it stops cooking.



Now prepare the dipping parts. First, whisk an egg with a couple drops of water til light and fluffy.



Pour the bread crumbs into a bowl.



I used panko for this - panko are Japanese bread crumbs that fry up beautifully, nice and crisp. I added a bit of Italian seasoning to mine.

Pat the cauliflower dry with paper towels.



This is an important step - the drying - because you want the egg mixture to adhere to the cauliflower, so you need it to be free from water.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When it starts to pop, dredge the cauliflower through the egg,



then the breadcrumbs, being sure to coat both sides.



Lay the pieces in the skillet, close together so you can fit a lot in!



Let them cook for about 2 minutes or until golden on the underside, then flip them over. A small fork works best for the flipping.



Cook 2 minutes on this side, then remove to a plate lined with a paper towel.



Keep these pieces warm while you do the next batch. I find it best to wipe out the skillet between batches, otherwise you may set off the smoke alarm. (!)

Salt to taste, and then serve hot!

Get more inspiration at Meatless Mondays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Seasonal Sundays.

Fried Cauliflower

1 small head cauliflower
1 egg
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
Oil for frying

Cut florets from cauliflower head, then slice each floret. (Reserve small florets or broken ones for another use.) Bring a large pot of water to boil, then drop in cauliflower slices and allow to simmer for about three minutes. Remove to a strainer and run cold water over the vegetables in order to stop the cooking process.

In a small bowl, use a whisk to lightly beat the egg along with a couple drops of water until fluffy. In another small bowl, combine the panko and seasoning.

Heat the oil in a skillet until hot, then dredge the cauliflower through the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Place in the oil-lined pan and repeat with additional slices until the pan is full. Let cook about 2 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel. Season with salt and serve hot.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake



Mmm Mmm Mmm. This is so good! I made this for a friend's birthday and it was a huge hit! And the two pieces leftover were still a hit in our house the next evening. This cheesecake uses lighter ingredients so it's not too guilty of a pleasure. It is extremely delicious and a fun, different take on cheesecake.

Start by making crumbs out of graham crackers. I used my food processor,



but you can use a rolling pin or your fist or whatever. Add the sugar and melted butter to the crumbs,



then stir well to combine. Press into the bottom of a greased 9" springform pan. (One way this recipe cuts down on calories is by using only a bottom crust. It gets nice and crunchy, and you won't miss having a "side" crust!)



Place the springform pan on a baking sheet, then bake for 10 minutes.



Cool on a wire rack. Next, place the peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 30 seconds on high or until softened and "mixable." Stir it up good, then pour it over the crust



and spread it to about 1/2 inch short of the edge.



Now, for the filling! Beat the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar



until smooth. Add the eggs



and beat on low until just combined, then add the vanilla.



Pour 1 cup of this mixture into a small bowl and set aside.



Pour the remaining filling over the peanut butter layer in the crust.



Next, heat up 1/4 cup of the hot fudge in the microwave for about 30 seconds until thin, then fold it into the reserved cream cheese mixture.



Pour this chocolate layer slowly over the cream cheese layer,



then cut in with a knife to swirl. To do this, I make long cuts in one direction, then turn the pan half way and make additional cuts the other direction.



Put the springform pan back on the baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cheesecake,



and then remove the outer ring to let the cake cool for one more hour.



Heat up the other 1/2 cup of fudge topping in the microwave, then spread over the top of the cheesecake.



Cut the peanut butter cups in fourths,



and decorate the top of the cheesecake with the candy pieces.



Refrigerate the cake overnight before serving, and store any leftovers in the fridge.

Get more yummy ideas at the Ultimate Recipe Swap, Cooking Thursday, Foodie Friday, Food on Friday, Food on Fridays, Would you like Chocolate with that?

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Filling:
3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) reduced fat cream cheese
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup hot fudge ice cream topping, divided
4 peanut butter cups, cut into fourths

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl and mix with a fork. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9" springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Heat peanut butter for 30 seconds in the microwave or until softened. Stir well, then pour over crust. Spread to within a half inch of the edges.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and beat on low just until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Pour 1 cup of this mixture into a small bowl. Pour the remaining filling over the peanut butter layer.

Heat 1/4 cup of the fudge sauce in the microwave until thin, about 30 seconds. Fold the fudge sauce into the reserved filling mixture, then carefully pour over the filling. Cut through with a knife to create swirls.

Place springform pan on the baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then remove the pan edges and cool the cake for an hour.

Heat the remaining fudge topping for 30 seconds; spread over the cheesecake. Garnish with the peanut butter cups. Refrigerate overnight before serving.
Serves 16.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cranberry Orange Cake



This is a festive-looking delicious cake that starts with a cake mix for speedy preparation. I keep bags of cranberries on hand in the freezer for recipes such as this. And, because of the fruit, this could easily pass for a coffeecake too! (This recipe originally called for dried cranberries. I like fresh so much that I used them; but you could easily use dried with good results.)

Start by combining the cake mix, orange juice,



oil,



eggs and sugar



in a large mixing bowl. Beat on low for 1 minute, then scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that all the ingredients get incorporated.



Now beat on medium for 2 minutes, scraping the sides occasionally. Fold in the cranberries



and then the orange zest.



Pour the cake batter into a greased and floured bundt pan.



Bake the cake at 350 for 45 to 47 minutes, just until it starts to pull away from the edges of the pan and is golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan, and then invert the pan to remove the cake. Return the cake to the wire rack to cool completely.



While the cake cools, you can make the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl,



and stir until smooth. When the cake is cool, place it on a serving platter and then drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake,



letting it run down the sides until the cake is covered.



For garnish, peel thin strips of orange zest from the orange,



and decorate the top of the cake with them.



You can store the cake, covered, at room temperature for about a week, or you can freeze it whole or sliced (wrapped in aluminum foil) for up to 6 months.

Get more inspiration at Mouthwatering Monday , Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, What's Cooking Wednesday.

Cranberry Orange Cake

Cake:
1 package yellow cake mix with pudding included
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup chopped cranberries, fresh or dried
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. orange juice
10 to 15 long thin strips of fresh orange zest for garnish

Combine the cake mix, orange juice, oil, sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat on low for one minute to incorporate all ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on medium for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl again if necessary. The batter will be thick and well blended. Fold in the cranberries and the orange zest.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 45 to 47 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake onto the wire rack to cool completely, about another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and stirring until smooth. When the cake is cool, place it on a serving plate and pour the glaze over the top, letting it run down the sides of the cake. Decorate the top of the cake with the slices of orange zest.

Store, covered, at room temperature for a week or freeze the cake, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 6 weeks. Serves 16.
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