SK’s Spaghetti Pie (almost little-boy friendly)

A few weeks back I spied a tempting recipe on Smitten Kitchen. That occurs almost every time I look there, but this one was really too good to pass up, I just had to wait for a free Friday evening so that I had time to whip up this baby-brother-friendly, cheesy comfort food plus a side of lemony broccoli and snap peas. Unfortunately, the recipe required a lot of pepper and I put it all in before remembering my original intent. The results were delectable for those who like spice–if you have a little one, I’d suggest cutting back on the black pepper! You can find the recipe here (the only difference between mine and hers is cheese: I wanted Gavin to like it so I used cheeses he knows, cheddar and gouda, but the pecorino and fontina that she used look fantastic!)

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Please make this sometime, it’s easy and so satisfying. Lots of love from Oregon,

Faerynn M.

morning food

Breakfast has a pretty predictable look to it around my house. The toddler usually takes a bowl of plain yogurt with maple syrup drizzled on top (please don’t dream of stirring it in) while the Mama and the Papa top their slice of toast with a fried egg and perhaps some cheese and enjoy it with a mug of steaming hot coffee. But some days I’ve forgotten to make bread and we don’t have any toast so I whip up a batch of grapefruit and olive oil muffins to serve with a side of scrambled eggs (thanks Smitten Kitchen for saving my morning).*

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Other mornings we simply need a change of pace, I love my fried egg but sometimes it really needs a new face and when you have a nearly expired avocado sitting on your counter you have to get creative. Thus for breakfast you eat the Avocado Egg, wow WHAT A TREAT! We liked it so much that the next week I purposefully bought avocados for our breakfast eggs. (Note: make sure to scoop out the full 2 tablespoons of avocado or your egg will not fit. Don’t worry you can mash it up with your favorite hot sauce, some tomatoes, or salsa -we used piccalilli-  to top your avocado egg).

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And then there are mornings spent at the park in the nearly warm and sublimely sunny playground. And when you get home the baby is nearing a melt down because you woke him up an hour earlier than he actually wanted to be awake and, although the park was fun, you were gone during the morning snack (that yogurt wore off a good hour ago) and now it is lunch time but you don’t have anything ready. The solution: you whip up this Chocolate Raspberry Shake/Smoothie from the first mess and call it lunch. (I skip the mesquite powder, use regular milk, and swap the cashew butter for peanut butter).

Next time your morning calls for a mix up you know where to look.

Love from CO,
Bethany

*Notes on Grapefruit and Olive Oil Muffins: I actually made a half of the recipe from the SK cookbook with a few adjustments (noted below) and baked them off in a muffin tin which yielded 9 (1/4-cup) muffins

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) whole wheat flour (I measured by weight to compensate for the density of the whole wheat)
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoon grated grapefruit zest (approximately two large grapefruit)
1/2 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey (SK calls for 1/2 cup raw sugar)
1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (230 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed grapefruit juice)

For the syrup:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

For the glaze:
1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan (Or appropriately prepare muffin tins).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, rub together the sugars and grapefruit zest. Whisk in the oil until smooth and add the eggs one at a time. Combine the grapefruit juice and yogurt in a measuring cup and whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the olive oil mixture beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake for approximately 20 minutes

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup grapefruit juice and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm poke a few holes in the top of each muffin and pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (I used a pastry brush to apply the syrup). Let cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.

 

cottage herb loaf

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The philosophers had a game night on Friday, which was preceded by a potluck. I brought a loaf from the Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book to share. Although I bought this book over a year ago, I have so far made only two recipes from it: the basic whole wheat bread and an oatmeal bread that I’ve brought to department functions on several occasions. I love both recipes, and that’s largely why I haven’t been more adventurous: why fix what isn’t broken?

The game night, coupled with a full day at home, provided the perfect occasion for trying something new. This bread has cottage cheese, dill weed, parsley, and onion–an entirely novel bread combination for me. The dough was pretty challenging to knead, at least by hand, because it was so sticky. I’m sure I added at least a half cup extra of flour as I kneaded, and I could probably have done a little more (at some point, I just gave up and put it rise, since I was pressed for time). The results, however, were delectable. We ate the whole loaf alongside bowls of split-pea soup (a contribution from one of the other philosophers).

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Cottage herb loaf

1/4 c minced onion; 2 tbl oil

2 tsp active dry yeast; 1/2 c warm water

1 c cottage cheese; 1/2 c finely chopped parsely; 1 tbl dill

1 1/2 tbl honey; 1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 tsp salt; 2 1/2 whole wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in water and set aside. Saute the onion in oil. When the onions are tender, stir in cottage cheese, parsely, and dill. (I turned the heat off for this, since the goal is just to warm the herbs and cottage cheese). Add the honey and egg to the cottage cheese mixture. Stir salt and flour together, then add cottage cheese mixture and yeast. Stir/knead it all together to form a supple dough. Let rise for 45 minutes in a very warm place (should be about 90 degrees F; I heated my oven for this). When the dough doesn’t spring back at your touch, but before it starts to sag, punch down and let rise for 25 minutes. When the dough is ready, shape into a round loaf and put to rise (I put mine in a ceramic pie dish). The last rise should take about 15 minutes, if your dough is properly warmed. Heat oven to 350 F. When the loaf is very high and spongy, brush the top with olive oil and put in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes.

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I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

xoxo

Allison

 

a little late valentine

The snow is thawing in my neck of the woods, just in time for a little Valentine revelry, my first valentine and I ate heart shaped fried eggs for breakfast (butter a tin cookie cutter well and set it on a frying pan then plop your egg in there), while the little valentine enjoyed his oatmeal arranged in a heart shape with the cinnamon carefully shaken on top in a heart shape and drizzled with a heart of honey. For lunch the little valentine had red rice (rice cooked in tomato juice) also arranged in the shape of a heart, this was a great cause of concern for Lu who needed his heart reshaped after every bite. . .it was a long lunch!

With the toddler safely for a nap (or so we thought ) I set about preparing a valentine tea for 2, featuring a Tuscan Salad (arugula topped with white beans, Parmesan, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar), Pear and Gorgonzola tea sandwiches, the Gougères from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, deviled eggs, and Almond Joys which I discovered last fall are a cinch to make at home. But, as is apparent by the rest of our V-day fare, they have to be heart shaped and so they were.

About three bites into our little feast a shout from the vicinity of the bedroom was heard “mama, I want to come out and eat with you!” So much for nap time, but hey the food was still delicious.

To make your own Almond Joy or Mounds Bars simply combine 1 c. shredded unsweetened coconut, 3 Tbl. Raw coconut oil, 2 Tbl. honey, 1/8th tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. vanilla in the bowl of a food processor (I suspect a blender would also work here, if you try it that way let me know).

Process the mixture until a thick paste forms and then shape your candies and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet that can fit in your freezer. If you want a traditional joy shape, scoop out level tablespoons (you will get about 11 but I suggest doubling the recipe) and then press and roll into logs. If you want a more creative shape you can press the dough out to 1/3 inch thickness and then use a 1-inch cookie cutter to cut out your candies. If desired top each candy with a toasted almond and then place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15-30 minutes.

Melt 4 oz dark chocolate chips (or a bar broken into pieces) in a bowl over nearly simmering water stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth. Remove chocolate from heat, take your candies out of the freezer, and dip the candies in the chocolate. I find it easiest to set the candies in the chocolate, spoon chocolate over the top, and then slide a fork underneath the candy and give it a good shake before sliding candy off the fork and onto your parchment lined baking sheet. Place pan in fridge or freezer to speed hardening of the coating and then store in the fridge.*

*While the coating sets at room temperature, depending on how warm you keep your home the candies tend to melt rapidly when not refrigerated due to the coconut oil used in the coconut paste.

Love from CO,

Bethany

bread and snow

It has been an unusal winter here. There was no settling into the depths of January, with its perpetually frosty temperatures and bone-aching winds. Instead, the weeks have felt like a pastiche of seasons. Some days are warm enough for a light jacket; others require my heaviest garb; I’ve regularly seen people running in shorts. And it was only two weeks ago that my snow boots became necessary.

The day the blizzard descended coincided with a grad student get-together. In the end, only a handful of us showed up. But, oh, it was worth it. There was a crackling fire, marshmallows to toast over it, an assortment of potluck dishes, copious amounts of wine, and my version of Smitten Kitchen’s coconut bread.

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My cooking notes:

  • I don’t care for the sharp flavor of white sugar by itself, so I did half brown sugar, half white.
  • Instead of 1 1/2 cups of shredded coconut, I did a scant cup because I didn’t have enough. I didn’t miss the extra coconut, and the lower quantity ensured that this was a pleasantly hearty bread (it wasn’t overpoweringly sweet).
  • I also swapped in coconut milk for the milk, partly to make up for the lower quantity of shredded coconut. I thought it added a lovely mellowness to the bread’s flavor.

I cut thick slices of this and brought it to the table on a cutting board. You should have seen it disappear! People loved it.

I loved it.

It was so good that when I had a gathering at my place the following weekend, I made it again.

The second time around:

  • I used the same quantities/proportions of sugar and coconut described above.
  • But this time I did half wheat, half white flour.
  • I also did half milk, half cream for the liquid, since both needed to be used.

The results were, once again, a hit (and I was asked for the recipe a second time!)

Having tried both, though, I have to admit that preferred the coconut milk version. The second version turned out much more crumbly than the first. It wasn’t too dry, but it was verging on it. I suspect swapping in the wheat flour was what did it. Any suggestions for how I could amp up the moisture without overdoing things?

Much love from snowy Connecticut (with more winter on the way tomorrow!),

Allison

 

Thursday’s Bread Pudding and (finally!) the brownie recipe

Yesterday was the perfect day for a baking adventure: I had a tight schedule of much to do and no time to spare. Why am I always compelled into the kitchen on the busy days? Well, we had half a loaf of Mom’s homemade craisin-pecan bread getting sad in the fridge, and since I had so much time on my hands I decided to search deep into Smitten Kitchen’s history and find this pudding. It was actually pretty quick, and was exactly what the cold afternoon needed. The differences between my bread pudding and Deb’s: I halved the recipe (except the eggs which I used two of), used honey instead of sugar, instead of bakery or Challah bread I used Mom’s, and I omitted the sliced almonds simply because we didn’t have any. And guess what! I still got all my school done 🙂

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Okay, Allison. Here is the brownie recipe (you won’t be disappointed):

Guittard Truffle Brownies:

1-2/3 C. Guittard 63% Extra Dark Chocolate Chips

3 Tbs. Unsalted Butter (I think I actually used salted and it was fine)

3 Tbs. Water

1 C. Sugar

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

3 large eggs

1/4 C. Unsifted all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat and, once again, it was fine)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving edges long enough to easily use as handles to lift the pan out of the oven once baked. Melt chocolate, butter and water till smooth and totally melted, then beat in sugar, salt and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until glossy. Stir in flour till barely combined. Spread batter in pan and bake 35-40 minutes. A crackly top crust will form, but the center will still be very moist. Place the pan on a rack and cool completely before serving, so the chocolate can solidify (will take at 2-3 hours at room temperature). Remove the brownies by lifting out the foil, divide into squares (16?) and enjoy!

Love from Oregon,

Faerynn M.