Roasted Red Peppers

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Sometimes I’m really amazed at how the simplest of ingredients can make the best tasting dishes. These peppers are a true example of that. This past Christmas, my mom gave me Stanley Tucci’s cookbook. His recipe for roasted red peppers immediately caught my eye. They looked so soft and delicious, I knew I had to make them. I’m actually surprised it took me this long to try them.

Once these peppers got cooking, I was immediately disappointed that I only had five peppers to roast and kicking myself for not buying more. These peppers will fill your kitchen up with the most wonderful smell, I can’t even explain it you just have to try them! These are great on their own, with some bread and cheese or as an accompaniment to many other dishes.

Roasted Red Peppers Recipe adapted from The Tucci Cookbook
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1 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place the whole peppers on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast them for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning them slightly every 15 minutes to make sure they roast evenly.

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2. Remove the peppers and let them cool for about 30 minutes. Once they’ve cooled, carefully peel off the skins. Tear the peppers into strips, removing any seeds and place them in a bowl, trying not to get any excess liquid in the bowl.

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3. Toss the peppers with the olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Fries

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So I know last week I brought you a very healthy recipe that I was very excited about. But, given the upsetting loss of my alma matar, Syracuse, this weekend I found the need to drown my sorrows in food, orange food appropriately. I’m not usually big on french fries, but sweet potato fries are my one exception. I love their slight sweetness with a little crunch. I made two different dipping sauces for these, one a little sweet and the other a little spicy.

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3 sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra to grease the pan
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 and grease a baking pan with a little olive oil to keep the fries from sticking.

2. Peel your potatoes and cut them into thin fry shapes.

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3. Toss the fries in a large bowl with the olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Lay them in an even layer on the baking sheet.

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4. Bake at 425 for about 25 minutes until they begin to brown, turning every 10 minutes, enjoy!

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon chili vinegar

1. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

Sriracha Ketchup Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon sriracha

1. Mix the ketchup and sriracha together in a small bowl.

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Vanilla Plum Chia Seed Pudding

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One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about blogging is getting to see what trends other people are into and learn about new foods in the process. Lately it seems like everyone has been really excited about chia seeds, so I had to get some and try them out.

As much as I consider myself a healthy person, I’m always skeptical of new health foods. I always assume that they won’t taste good or I won’t like it and I’ll end up disappointed. So, naturally, I was hesitant to try these chia seeds but boy am I glad I did! This pudding is seriously good, you wouldn’t believe it’s made with such healthy ingredients. I had the intentions of making it for dessert, but I couldn’t resist taking a few too many spoonfuls throughout the day while it chilled. The plums also make it such a beautiful pink color, what’s not to like!?

And of course it’s Fiesta Friday! So I guess I’m that person bringing the healthy food to the party, but I think you’ll enjoy it!

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4-5 plums
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup chia seeds

1. Cut the plums up into small pieces. Place them in a plan with the water and sugar on low heat. Cook the plums on low heat for about 5 minutes, then bring the heat to medium until it starts to get bubbly. Then turn the heat back down and cook on low heat for 8-10 more minutes, until the plums are mushy and soft. Stir in the vanilla, then turn off the heat and let sit until cooled.

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2. Add the milk to a bowl and stir in the chia seeds. When the plums have cooled incorporate them into the milk mixture.

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3. Chill the mixture overnight, enjoy!

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Chocolate Whiskey Brownies with Caramel Drizzle

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Happy (early) St. Patrick’s day everyone!  And also Happy Fiesta Friday, The Novice Gardener’s blog party!  So much to celebrate today! Whether you’re going out, throwing a party or just staying in these brownies are the perfect way to celebrate.  The brownie is nice and chocolatey, while the addition of the whiskey gives you just a little kick. I decided the flavor of the whiskey in the batter wasn’t quite enough after they baked, so I brushed some more on top of the cooked brownies. You can adjust how much you add if you want more or less whiskey taste.

I also had trouble deciding how to frost these. I usually like a thick layer of butter cream on brownies but I didn’t want to outshine the whiskey so I opted for a caramel drizzle instead. I suggest saving some of the caramel and pour a little extra over each brownie before you eat it – but that’s just my idea!

Chocolate Whiskey Brownies Recipe adapted from Hershey’s Ultimate Chocolate Brownies
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Caramel Drizzle
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Combine the cocoa powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and mix well.

2. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl and mix. Next add the eggs mixing after each one. Then add the flour, whiskey and salt and combine until the mixture is smooth.  Finally, add in the chocolate chips.

3. Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  If you want a stronger whiskey flavor, poke the baked brownies all over with a fork and brush some more whiskey on top.

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4. Next make the caramel. Combine the heavy cream and butter in a pan on low heat. Then add the brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Let it cool. When the brownies have cooled and the caramel has thickened lightly pour the caramel over the brownies, enjoy!

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Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry

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So I went a little crazy this weekend…at the grocery store! We had a beautiful warm sunny day and I think that definitely affected my attitude while shopping. All of the vegetables in the store looked so fresh and delicious, I didn’t want to pass anything up. I just kept picking things up, and it wasn’t until I got home that I realized I probably had more veggies that I could use up in a week. After a couple large salads I still had quite a few left to use so I figured this stir fry would be a great way to do that.

This might not be what you typically think of as stir fry. Instead of a sticky gooey sauce I prefer to let the vegetables be the star and season the chicken with paprika for a little more intensity. However, you could definitely add a little brown sugar to this to make it a little sticky if that’s how you like it. Another great thing about this meal is that it only takes one pot and one pan, making for quick and easy clean up!

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
3 chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
5 carrots
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup green beans
6-7 asparagus spears
5-6 kale leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 green onions

1. Preheat oven to 375. Place the chicken breasts in a baking pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom. Season the chicken. Combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 2 teaspoons paprika in a small bowl. Season the chicken with half of the spice mixture. Turn the chicken over and season the other side withe the rest of the spices. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until cooked through (cooking times will depend on the size of your chicken).

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2. Peel and chop your carrots. Place a pot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and add the carrots. Next chop your onion and add that to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Allow these to cook together until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes.

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3. Next chop your green beans and asparagus and add them to the pot. Chop your kale into bite sized pieces and add it to the rest of the vegetables.

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4. When the vegetables begin to soften add your stock and rice to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook at a simmer until the rice is cooked and the stock has evaporated.

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5. When the chicken has cooked use two forks to pull it apart. Place the pulled apart pieces in the pot and stir to combine with the vegetables and rice. Add more salt or pepper if needed and top with chopped green onions, enjoy!

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Half Moon Cookies

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Half moon cookies bring back great memories for me. My grandpa used to own a carpet shop in my hometown and the store was later turned into a bakery. Because it was once my grandpa’s, I always felt a big connection to that bakery.

Often on Saturday afternoons, after a day of running errands with my mom, our last stop would be the bakery and as a reward I got to pick out my sweet treat. Even though I have an almost insatiable sweet tooth, there was only one cookie in the bakery that I was interested in. My eyes saw right past the cakes, the chocolate chips and the muffins and were only focused on the chocolate half moon cookies. The moist soft cake and the mounds of chocolate and vanilla frosting made this cookie irresistible to me.

I don’t see half moon cookies in many bakeries anymore. Lately I’ve been thinking of these cookies and really craving one. I tried one recipe a few weeks ago and they came out terribly. I tried to make my own recipe, but couldn’t get the consistency right. So, after an extensive Google search for a well reviewed half moon recipe, I found this one from Saveur. The only thing I changed to the cookie batter was using almond milk instead of dairy milk. Instead of the frosting they show, I used a good old buttercream. Sinking my teeth into these frosting covered circles of goodness were well worth the three tries it took to get them right!

To make it even better, it’s Fiesta Friday! Check out Angie’s Blog and join the party!

Half Moon Cookies
Cake:
3 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 cup sugar
16 tbsp. butter cut into pieces
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups almond milk

Frosting
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter, sugar and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. One at a time, add the eggs to your sugar and butter, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl after each one. Then add the vanilla extract.

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3. Add half of the flour to the sugar and butter and mix to combine. Next add half the milk. Then and the remaining flour followed by the rest of the milk and mix until it has all combined.

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4. Spoon out tablespoon sized amounts of the batter and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. These cookies tend to spread quite a bit so leave a good amount of room between them. Wet your finger with a little water and gently press down each ball of batter to flatten it a little, this will help you get a flatter cookie instead of one with a huge bump in the middle. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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5. While the cookies are baking make your frostings. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. If you’re frosting is too thick add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove half of the frosting and place it in another bowl. Then add the cocoa powder and combine thoroughly.

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6. Cool the cookies after taking them out of the oven. Once they’ve cooled turn them upside down and frost the flat side. Frost the vanilla halves first, then the chocolate. Enjoy!

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Chicken, Quinoa, Pesto Bowl

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The inspiration from this dish comes from one of my all time favorite lunches. On nice sunny warm days I love taking the opportunity to walk to one of my favorite lunch spots, Protein Bar . While their menu is full of great healthy options, I’m particularly fond of their spinach pesto bowl. Given that the closest location is nearly a mile from my office, and the temperatures this winter have been absurdly terrible, I haven’t felt like making the trek there at lunch so, I decided to try to re-create the bowl myself.

I substituted kale for the spinach and added some grape tomatoes because I like their fresh bite. I used chicken thighs for the meat because that’s what I had but chicken breasts would work just as well if not better. This didn’t come out exactly like Protein Bar’s bowl, but it was pretty darn close and still pretty good!

Chicken, Quinoa, Pesto Bowl
4 chicken thighs or breasts
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 bunch of kale (about 6 leaves)
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup quinoa
3 Tablespoons pesto
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
salt
pepper
fresh parsley (optional)
fresh basil (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a baking dish and place your chicken on top. Season the chicken with half of the rosemary, oregano and some salt and pepper. Turn the chicken over and season the other side with the rest of the spices. Bake in the oven for about 45-60 minutes until cooked (cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces).
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2. While the chicken is cooking begin preparing your kale. Wash the kale and cut into bite sized pieces. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to a medium pot. Then add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook the kale until it begins to soften and wilt, about 7 minutes.

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3. Next, add the chicken stock to the pot with the kale. Then add the quinoa and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a simmer and let it cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. When the liquid is gone stir in your pesto.

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4. When the chicken is cooked, take it out and use two forks to pull apart the meat. Add the meat to the quinoa and stir to combine. Finally, turn the heat off on the pot and stir in your tomatoes. Season with more salt and pepper if needed and top with fresh parsley and basil if you want. Enjoy!