Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kofte and Yogurt Carrot Salad Part 2 of 2

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Köfte are a Turkish dish, a kind of a mix between meatballs and hamburgers.  Every region has their own specialty which usually include slight different spices and shapes. Some are flat and round like hamburgers (but smaller) some are shaped like sausages, some are skewered and grilled.  They are very tasty and quick.  With these köftes I veered off the traditional recipe because I was trying to make it lighter but keep the savory flavor.  



1 half pound of lean ground beef
5 carrots shredded (should be just about the same volume as the beef)
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 handful of parsley chopped
1  onion, chopped
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

The shredded carrots should be about the same volume as the meat.  You may have to adjust based on the size of your carrots.  Chop everything finely and kneed together (like meat loaf.)  I recommend then putting it in the fridge for an hour.  The tastes develop more if you let everything mingle and get friendly.  Then shape meat mix into small patties about the size of silver dollars and fairly thin. Pre heat a non stick skillet—you want  a little char.    If they stick use a little olive oil on the pan.  Cook up as many as you would like.   Serve with salad and bread. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Homemade Hot Dog Buns

OMG. I will never buy store bought hot dog buns again. These homemade hot dog buns were so tasty!!! Plus every time I buy store bought hot dog buns, half the bag gets moldy. This recipe made 9 hot dog buns, but I was told they are easy to freeze, so I'll try that with the leftovers. Yeah right. I'll probably make some excuse to fill them up tomorrow. Like making my Chicken Cheddar Hoagies, which I've been craving anyway.

(I found this recipe all over the internet so not sure who to give credit too.)
Hot Dog Buns

1 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet or 1/4 ounce)
1/4 cup warm water (105-110F)
1 cup warm milk (105-110F)
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
3-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white (for egg wash)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, yeast and warm water. Stir to dissolve and let set until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Add in milk, vegetable oil and salt. With the mixer on a low speed with the dough hook attached, gradually add the flour. Once 3 cups have been incorporated, add the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 2-4 minutes, until smooth and supple. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Punch down the dough and make a log. Cut the log into three pieces. Cut each piece into three more pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece at at time into a rectangle about the length that you want your hot dog bun to be. Fold the long sides of the rectangle in the middle overlapping. Round out the bottoms a bit and place on a cookie sheet. I used a stone cookie sheet (The Pampered Chef Large Bar Pan # 1445) and I sprinkled a bit of cornmeal on it so they dough wouldn't stick. Let the buns rise for 30-40 minutes covered with a towel. Brush the dough with egg whites and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
I made the girls their first "real" hotdog by cutting the hotdog meat in half lengthwise and placing that in half of a bun.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three Cheese Raviolis

I have a head of cabbage in the refridgerator that I really need to use. I bought it at the farmers market almost two weeks ago and it's staring back at me in the refridgerator. Cabbage is one of those foods that I do actually like, but only once in awhile. The thing is, I had just finished a head of cabbage a couple of days before purchasing this one at the farmers market. (I made Asian coleslaw, regular coleslaw and sauted cabbage with that one head.) These are enough cabbage dishes to last me a couple of months. I shouldn't have bought the one at the famers market except that it was such a pretty head of cabbage. Don't ask me. I'm weird that way. So today I spent brainstorming different dishes to use cabbage in to cook for dinner tonight. How I ended up making Three Cheese Raviolis is just part of my charm I think. There is no cabbage anywhere near this dish. Well unless you count that I served broccoli with it which is a distant cousin to cabbage.

2 1/2 cups of flour
3 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Mound the flour up on the counter top. Make a well in the center. Crack eggs in the well. Add the salt and the olive oil. With a fork whisk the eggs slowly incorporating the flour. When most of the flour has been incorporated start kneading with your hands. This is going to take a while but I figure you are burning off some of the calories you are about to eat. Keep kneading the dough until it becomes glossy and smooth. Form into a ball and seal in plastic wrap. Let rest for 1 hour, so it isn't too stretchy. Using a pasta machine roll out your pasta into thin sheets. (I only used 1/2 of my pasta, the rest I wrapped with foil and saved for tomorrow.) Fill with stuffing. Boil for 3-4 minutes.

While making the raviolis lay them out on a counter or cookie sheet that is lightly coated with cornmeal to prevent sticking.

1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 tsp italian seasoning & salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together and put in a pastry bag in order to squeeze out a small amount into your ravioli.

Monday, March 22, 2010

White Bean Chicken Chili

This recipe was posted on a message board I'm on by Amberly. She got it from Ame. I think everyone in my mom's group is trying out their variation of it! It is really good! I made the white beans from scratch a couple of weeks ago and froze them. So tonight I just pulled those out of the freezer and mixed them with the rest of the ingredients instead of using canned beans. (My beans had carrots, celery and a bit of bacon so it added a depth of flavor that is a bit different than canned.) But either would work fine. My twins ate this up and Izzie even asked for more!

White Bean Chicken Chili

about 32 oz chicken stock
3 cans white beans undrained (I use homemade dried beans that had been previously cooked)
5 cups cooked chicken
1 - 16oz jar salsa or homemade salsa
1 - 8oz block pepper jack (I used colby jack because it was what I had)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tortilla chips (crushed), optional... makes chili thicker
 avacado to garnish

Place all ingredients in large pot over medium-high heat until cheese is melted. When chili is ready, add crushed chips, if using, and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Two Cakes, One Success

I baked both of those cakes.  Only one was edible.  Sometimes that is how the game goes.  My future mother-in-law had a “gün,”  literally a “day.”  It refers to a tea party or women’s get together.  She asked me to make “American Pasta,” or “American Cake.”  She had a vanilla cake at a military base once and has been searching for it ever since.  The closest explanation was it was cake, vanilla and had frosting.  I thought it might be yellow birthday cake.  So that is what I made.   I searched for a great recipe, and found it.  She said it was a wonderful cake, though not what she had an American military base.  I suggested since I had been trying to match this described cake from her memory for a year now --her best bet would be to appreciate the memory as I have NO IDEA what she is talking about.  I have exhausted all the possibilities of cake I thought it could be tfrom the description.
This cake is billed as the “Best Birthday Cake.”  The author is correct.  The Smitten Kitchen is an awesome blog.  She does amazing things with food.  (Hint: Check out her oatmeal raisin cookies.)
To achieve the mess on the left only use 2 cups of flour because maybe you were drinking wine while baking—not recommended.  To achieve the height on the right, use the right amount of flour.  In Turkey they do not sell buttermilk, so instead of adding vinegar to milk (“my normal substitute) I used Kefir, and the cake turned out great)

Yellow Layer Cake
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken (or kefir)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (Smitten Kitchen recommended this and I found it to work like a charm.  No weird bubbles. Bake until gold and a tooth pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Turn upside down onto rack cool complete. 
Makes two 9 inch layers

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Playdate Cupcakes

This afternoon, my son had a friend over to play. With 2 5 year old boys, I should have expected anything. And I did, mostly. But I was thrown for a loop when they asked if we could bake something. Really?

My mind immediately registered the fact that there was not a single egg in the house, and I'm not exactly well versed in vegan baking, so I had to improvise. Meaning, I called my mom to jog my brain.

She reminded me of any easy-peasy way to make cupcakes using soda. Yup, soda. So simple. Which is the only criterion I had at the moment. And since it's St. Patty's Day, I threw in a little food coloring for festivity.

I highly recommend keeping the few ingredients required on hand (hey, you probably do already), just in case a similar situation, or some other last minute baked good need arises. No, it's not capital H Homemade with freshly milled flour and eggs from your chickens in the backyard, but even Martha Stewart needs something in a pinch (OK, maybe not, but us normal people do). This whips up fast and delights all.

Playdate Cupcakes

1 Box Cake Mix (Choose your flavor)
12 oz. Soda Pop (I tend to go with a clear soda like 7Up or Sprite, but colas work well, too, especially in darker cake flavors)
1 Tub Frosting

Blend the cake mix and soda until combined. Fill muffin tins and bake according to the directions on the box. After cooling, let the kiddoes go to town with the frosting.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Whole Wheat Bagels

I'm not exactly sure how I got onto this baking kick, but I love making bread! Today I decided to make whole wheat bagels with oats. I thought they were going to be harder than they actually were. I did have to go to Sprouts a more specialty store to buy the barley malt syrup, but everything else is pretty standard. I got the recipe from Which has really good step by step photos.. you should check them out!

Whole Wheat Bagels
1 1/2 cups of warm water (110 to 115 F / 45 C)
1 Tbsp dry bread machine yeast
1/4 cup of honey
1 Tbsp barley malt syrup (Available at health food or bakery supply stores)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup of bread flour
3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
*1/2 cup of Oats + 1/4 Cup (Optional, to top bagels with)
2 tsp of wheat gluten
2 tsp of kosher salt
1/4 cup corn meal (Used to keep the formed bagels from sticking to the cookie sheet)

Note: Makes 12 bagels

Bloom yeast in 1 1/2 cups of water with the honey, barley malt syrup and vegetable oil. Add to 1 cup bread flour. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, and salt. Knead in machine for about 20 minutes. Bring water to a boil while bread is kneading. Also preheat oven to 450º. Divide dough into 12 balls. Place on a cookie sheet that is sprinkled with corn meal. Make a big hole in the center of each ball. Boil bagels for 45 seconds.(Dip in oats, while wet if you are going to cover the top with oats.) Replace on cookie sheet and bake for 2 minutes. Flip after 2 minutes and cook for an additional 10 minutes. 

 Bagels before they are boiled.

At first the bagels sink to the bottom, but then they float to the top.

One Pot Greek Chicken Bake

Sorry the photo didn't come out that great, I had really bad lighting the night I made this. I wanted to make homemade pita bread and hummus so I needed a "main" dish to go with my Greek sides. I also wanted something super easy because I figured the hummus and pita would be messy enough for one meal in the kitchen. So I came up with this one pot Greek Chicken Bake.

One Pot Chicken Bake

3 large chicken breasts
1.5 cups white rice
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped Kalamata Olives
3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach
zest one lemon
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper

Place rice in the bottom of a baking dish. Add chicken broth, lemon zest and juice and frozen spinach, salt and pepper. Bake covered at 350º for 40 minutes. Then remove from the oven, place chicken breasts down in the rice and add the kalamata olives. Bake another 30 minutes or until rice and chicken are cooked through.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Homemade Pita Bread

Tonight I made a Greek "feast." I only have time to post the homemade pita bread tonight, I'll post the One Pot Greek Chicken and Rice and the Homemade Hummus another night. Recipe found HERE.

Homemade Pita Bread

2-1/2 cups bread flour (I used Heartland Mill Organic Strong High-Gluten), plus more for sprinkling while kneading & rolling out dough
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)

In a large bowl combine 1 cup flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the oil and water.Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for three minutes, then stir in the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time.The dough should be a rough, shaggy mass that will clean the sides of the bowl. If the dough is moist, add a small amount of additional flour. 

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 6 minutes.Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Divide the dough into 8 pieces.I patted the dough into a circle and used my metal dough scraper to quickly and evenly cut it into eighths (as if cutting up a pie). Roll into balls, dust lightly with flour, and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rest for 30 minutes.

 Use the palm of your hand to flatten each ball into a disk. Finish with a rolling pin, (I used a tortilla press) flattening the dough into a disk about 6" in diameter and 3/16" thick. Their thinness is more important than making them perfectly round. Place each round on a thin cookie sheet. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they are puffed.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

10 Minute Toddler Dinner 2

Well, this one really is only 10 minutes because it combined a bunch of leftovers that were in my refridgerator, otherwise it would have taken longer to cook. I labeled this for toddlers, but it really is delicious and comforting for an adult too.

Creamy Mushroom Chicken Rice

1/2 cup leftover rice
1/2 leftover cooked chicken breast, diced
2 button mushrooms, diced
3/4 cup fat free half and half (or heavy cream)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup mozzarella
dash of oregano & salt

Stir cooked rice, chicken, mushrooms together in a pot. Add the cream, butter, seasonings and cheese. Stir until cream thickens and mixture is warmed through. I added leftover green beans, canned fruit and a smoothie that didn't get finished at snacktime to round out the meal.

Thai Steak

I don't know how authentic this is, but it sure was good! I was blog surfing yesterday (just discovered an evil way to waste a bunch of time...!) Anyway, I surfed right up to The site really intrigued me and I as I was browsing some of the recipes this Thai Steak caught my eye. One thing that is nice about this cooking site is that it has an entire meal planned out and tells you how to cook the entire meal in order step by step. I changed a few of the amounts and ingredients, but kept most of it the same.

Thai Steak, Cabbage and Lime Scented Rice

1/2 green cabbage
1 bunch cilantro
2 limes, preferably organic
1 jalapeno or other chile pepper
½ cup salted peanuts
2 tbsp Curry Powder
One 15 oz. can coconut milk
2 cups jasmine or other aromatic white rice
1-1/2 lbs. flank steak
1 tbsp + 1 tsp fish sauce, split
3 tbsp sugar, split
2 tbsp olive oil

Cook rice according to package directions. Zest one lime in the rice before it boils.

In a small pot mix coconut milk, curry powder, minced chili pepper, 2 tsp fish sauce and 1 tbsp sugar. Whisk together and let it reduce on a back burner. This takes time. This is the sauce to pour over your steak and rice. (After I finished cooking the steak, I added the steak "drippings" to this pot for more flavor.)

In a large bowl whisk 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice + zest, 3 tbsp chopped cilantro. Chop cabbage into small strips. Add to dressing you just made and toss. Add peanuts.

Salt and pepper your steak. Squeeze some lime on it if you have any leftover. Grill until cooked, about 6-8 minutes per side on a really hot grill skillet (or outside on a grill.) Cut steak against the grain. Serve with rice and coleslaw and drizzle coconut sauce ontop of steak and rice.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Orange Chicken

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This is my ultimate comfort food.   It is one of my favorite dishes that my mother cooks.  She does it a little differently with chicken thighs and legs on the bone, but my version tastes very similar and is a little quicker to make.  It is saucy and juicy and sweet and tangy.  My fiancé it loves it too—but is not a fan of sauce.  Which works out perfectly, I serve him the orange flavored chicken and veggies and reserve the sauce for my serving.  I want enough to be left in the bowl afterwards I can sip it with a spoon.  Yum!

Orange Chicken

1 liter of orange juice simmered and reduced by 1/3 (Or you could use orange juice concentrate and only add half the water recommended.)
2 tablespoons of hoisen sauce
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1 pound of boneless skinless chicken
3 large onions
1 package of mushrooms

Cut up chicken into smaller pieces (bite size makes it easier to eat)  Season with salt and pepper, maybe a little garlic powder.  Sear chicken in Dutch oven until browned. 

Roughly slice onions and mushrooms—sauté and add to chicken.  Add the orange juice, hoisen and ketchup to Dutch oven mix well.  Place pan in oven and cook on low heat (200 ish) until chicken is done and sauce has thickened. 

Serve over egg noodles.

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