Friday, February 5, 2016

Roasted Garbanzo Beans

Healthy Snack Alert!  High in fiber, fills you up and it's yummy.  Back in my food retail management days . .sometimes we had garbanzo beans on the menu (aka chickpeas).  If there was a lot leftover, I'd roast them up for the staff with a drizzle of oil . . .so easy!  I'd pop them in the oven and boom!  A few minutes later - a tasty, crunchy snack for the people who made my job easier.  
I found myself craving these the other week . . .I think it was all the upcoming food ads for the Superbowl and recipes and such.  I'm not a huge snack or munchy person.  However - all those ads in magazines and online for Superbowl this cracker and Superbowl that cracker . . .left me wanting something munchy.  So, I revived this oldy but goody recipe.  

It is so easy to make . . and they are great right out of the oven.  If you don't devour them right away, you can store them in an airtight container for up to a week.  However once stored - they tend to lose their crunch.  They are still amazingly delish . . .just not crunchy.  

Still not sold?  Well, let me tell you this:  I don't even really like garbanzo beans.  For real.  If they are in a soup or salad etc etc . . .I pick them out and avoid them like the plague.  I find the taste and texture completely vial.  However, something about roasting these  . . .completely turns them into something magical and yummy.  True story.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans
Serves Several as a Snack

2 (15.5 oz) Cans Garbanzo Beans
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Seasoning Blend of Your Choice (I like Nature's Seasoning)

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2:  Open up the cans of beans and drain them in a colander.  Rinse them well.  Then, you will want to dry them.  An easy way to do this is to line a baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel or some paper towels and pour the beans onto the towel(s).  By using a rimmed baking sheet - it will help prevent the beans from rolling around and escaping to the floor.  Once on the towel(s), rub them with the towels to remove the excess water.  

Step 3:  Remove the towel(s) from the baking sheet and leave the beans on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with the olive oil and give the beans a good stir with a spatula to get them coated.

Step 4:  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes . . . until dark brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with the seasoning of your choice.  Be sure to let them cool long enough so you don't burn yourself eating them.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Beer Bread

Why would anyone buy beer bread mix from a retailer when it is so easy to make?  Seriously, it is crazy easy to make yourself.  No lie.  Just a few simple ingredients . . .and voila!  Beer Bread.  Great with soups, stews, dips etc etc etc.  Or by itself . . .with a thick layer of butter.  Just sayin'.

Beer Bread
Yield:  1 Loaf

3 Cups Self Rising Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 and 1/2 Cups Beer (12 oz)
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted and divided (3 TB + 1 TB)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan.

Step 2:  In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients:  the flour and sugar.  Once blended, add in 3 tablespoons of the melted butter and the beer.  Stir until mostly smooth (don't worry about having it a little lumpy).

Step 3:  Pour the the batter into the prepared bread pan and spread out evenly.  Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter on top of the batter.

Step 4:  Place the filled bread pan into the preheated oven and bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top of the loaf comes out clean.  

Step 5:  Remove the bread from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Then, turn it out of the pan and let it finish cooling on a rack.  Once cooled, slice and serve!

I prefer a good dark beer and used Guinness for this recipe.  But, use what you like for beer.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Healthier Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yep, me and my oatmeal . . back at it again!  I'm beginning to think that my face should be on the oatmeal canister . . .but nobody wants to see that ;)  Any how, I ran across this recipe on Pinterest  and it intrigued me.  So, I modified it a bit to what I had in the house (regular oats, not quick cooking ones) - and it resulted in soft, puffy-yet-chewy, super yummy cookies.  I also used honey as the sweetener (which is different than the original recipe as well).  Furthermore, I portioned my cookies out with a tablespoon-sized scooper - and the recipe then yielded 21 cookies for me.  If you are an oatmeal raisin fan and love a more healthy alternative to the traditional recipe - this one is for you!  And truth be told  . ..I've been eating them for breakfast.  Hey, they are oatmeal and fruit!

Healthier Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Approximately 20 Cookies

1 Cups Oats
3/4 Cup + 1 Tablespoon All Purpose Flour 
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Honey
1/4 Cup Raisins

Step 1:  In a large bowl, combine the the oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir until well combined. 

Step 2:  In a separate bowl, add the melted butter, egg and vanilla stir until well combined.  Next, add in the honey and stir until combined.

Step 3:  Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients.  Mix until just incorporated.  Fold in the raisins. Place in the fridge and let it chill for 30 minutes.  This will give the oats time to soften and have the batter turn thick and more dough-like.

Step 4:  Preheat the oven to 325°Fahrenheit.  Prepare a baking sheet as needed.  Scoop out the cookie dough - 1 Tablespoon at a time.  They will spread a little, so don't put them too close together (no need to flatten them).  Bake at 325°F for 9-10 minutes, just until the edges are beginning to slightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan for 10 minutes before removing them.  Once removed, let them finish cooling before putting away.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon and Mushrooms

Carbonara . . you know the one..'s on every Italian menu but no one ever really knows what the sauce is made of . . .is it creamy?  Is it cheesy?  Well, I'm here to help you with that today.  This dish is incredibly amazing.  Carbonara pasta sauce is actually egg . . .yes, you read it right:  EGG.  Don't let it scare you . . .it will turn out very velvety and when you add the bacon and mushrooms - oooo la la!  Faaaaaaaaancy!  You mouth and stomach will thank you!

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon & Mushrooms
Serves 4

1 Pound Bacon
1 Pound Mushrooms, Sliced
6 Garlic Cloves
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 Cup White Wine
8 oz Pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
Black Pepper (optional)
Parmesan (optional)

Step 1:  Cube the bacon into small bits.  In a large fry pan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat.  Do not rush this - you want it to render the fat. 

Step 2:  While the bacon is frying, fill a large pot with water (for the pasta) and bring to a boil.  Cook the pasta as directed on the instructions, but do not toss the water!  You will need some of the pasta water for the sauce.  I recommend reserving about 2 cups worth of water.

Step 3:  Once the bacon is nice and crispy, drain it on a cookie sheet lined with several paper towels.  Before dumping it on the cookie sheet though, reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease.  

Step 4:  In the same fry pan you used for the bacon, add the mushrooms and garlic along with the reserved bacon grease.  Add the wine and cook the mushrooms until soft.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to collect any of those tasty bits of bacon that may have stuck to the bottom!  Once the mushrooms are softened - add the bacon back to the pan and turn off the heat (burner).  

Step 5:  
Once your pasta is cooked and some water is reserved and the pasta is drained . . . it's time to temper your egg yolks!  In a bowl or large measuring cup, beat the egg yolks with a fork until broken up and a bit frothy.   Add a tablespoon of the still-hot pasta water to the yolks and beat with a whisk or fork until fully incorporated.  Repeat this a few times, until the egg yolks are warm and not too thick.

Step 6:  Add the drained pasta to the bacon/mushroom mixture and then pour the tempered egg yolks on top.  Mix or toss thoroughly.  The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs leaving you with a very velvety sauce.  If it seems too thick, add a little more water and toss until your desired consistency.  Remember, carbonara is not a sloppy sauce - it is something that should stick to the pasta, but not leave a puddle at the bottom of the dish or pan!

Step 7:  To serve, sprinkle with black pepper and Parmesan.  Enjoy!

Note:  If you are unfamiliar with how to temper eggs (or egg yolks as in this recipe) - here is a good explanation.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Potato Chip Crusted Cod

Here is a super simple recipe for cod.  The fish remains moist and the crunchy outside provides a tasty contrast of texture and flavor.  The saltiness from the chips seasons the fish nicely and adds such a yummy crunch.  I am very finicky when it comes to fish and this is so very, very good.

Potato Chip Crusted Cod
Serves 4

24 oz (1 and 1/2 pounds) Cod Fillets
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
2 oz Potato Chips, Crushed

Step 1. Preheat oven to 400°. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with non-stick spray.

Step 2:  Divide the fish into 4 portions (if not already portioned out).   Evenly divide and spread the mayonnaise over the top of each fillet.  Gently press the crushed chips onto each fillet.  

Step 3:  Place the prepped fish into the oven and back for 10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  

Serve this with a side of vegetables and you have one delicious meal!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

French Bread Toasts

French Bread Toasts are the perfect accompaniment to warm, steamy soups as well as tasty, spreadable, creamy dips.  They are so simple to make - I almost thought about not posting the recipe.  However, everybody loves them!  They are crunchy, a bit savory from the olive oil and store well in a sealed container.  You know what that means?  You can make them ahead of time before your big shin-dig and store them until you need them.  On the counter.  No refrigeration necessary.  And you serve them at room temperature.  You can thank me later.

This year on Christmas, we went with a self-service soup bar (how fun is that?!?!?).  We served 3 different soups along with these toasts.  They are just so much yummier than crackers.  Trust me.  And the neutral flavor of them goes well with all types of soups etc.  

French Bread Toasts

1 lb French Bread Loaf
Olive Oil

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  On a large baking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil. 

Step 2: Carefully slice the French bread with a serrated knife into 1/2 inch slices (rounds).  Place them in a single layer onto the baking sheet.  Drizzle with additional olive oil.

Step 3:  Once the oven is preheated, place the pan in the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops start turning golden brown.

Step 4:  Remove from oven and flip the slices over.  The bottoms are likely pale compared to the browned tops.  Once the slices are all flipped up, place back in the oven and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes - or until golden brown.

You can serve these warm, cold, or room temp.  Once they are cooled, you can store them in an air-tight container for up to a week.  Please note, these do not freeze well.

Friday, December 18, 2015

German Chocolate Truffles

Here is another sweet treat for the coconut lovers!  These German Chocolate Lovers combine caramel, coconut, chocolate and pecans.   I cannot lie, my inspiration behind this one was the German Chocolate frosting you find on a doughnut or cinnamon bun in the bakery.  This is a little more chocolatey than that - but it is oh so good and easy to make!  

German Chocolate Truffles
Yield: Approximately 50 truffles using a 1-inch scoop

1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Toasted
1 (13.4 oz) can of Dulce de Leche (I find it in the Hispanic section of our grocery store)
14 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1.5 LB Chocolate Candy Coating or Chocolate Candy Melts

To make the truffle centers:  
Step 1:  In a double-boiler, melt the the chocolate chips.  

Step 2:  Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, add in the Dulce de Leche.  Keep stirring until it is completely blended.  This may take a little work, but it will come together. Mix in the pecans and unsweetened coconut.  Cover and let rest for about a 1/2 hour.

Step 3:  Line two baking sheets with wax paper.

Step 4:  Pinch off small pieces of the chocolate dough or use a small scoop.  Roll it into a ball.  Experiment with a variety of sizes to decide what size you like best.  I have a small, 1-inch scoop that I've used for years.   With your hands, roll the dough into a smooth ball and the place on the wax paper.  Repeat until all dough is rolled into balls.

To Dip:
Step 1:  In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate candy coating until smooth.  Let it cool down until you can easily touch it without it being too hot.   You want it to be fluid and warm, not hot.  

Step 2:  Dip each chocolate ball into the melted chocolate coating (one at a time).  I like to do so by tipping the bowl slightly side-ways, tossing the ball in it, retrieving it with a fork and then tapping the fork to remove any excess coating.  Place on wax paper to set.  Top with a pinch of toasted coconut.  Repeat until are truffle centers are coated.