Friday, March 17, 2017

Savory-Sweet Gluten-Free Croutons with Surprise Ingredients

I love anything crunchy tossed into lettuce leaf salads. Some of my favorite crunchy additions are nuts, bread croutons, toasted sesame seeds and especially these super simple savory-sweet oatmeal croutons. It’s a simple and surprising combination of ingredients that seem unusual to add to a tossed green salad, but taste-testers have never been disappointed. Any leftover croutons will keep for several days stored in an airtight container.

Oatmeal Crouton with Honey and Garlic

1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
¼ cup neutral oil
¼ cup honey
⅛ cup minced garlic (about 3 large cloves)
Salt, to taste

      1.     Preheat oven to 350°F.
      2.     In a medium bowl, combine oatmeal with oil, honey and garlic. Stir until the ingredients are well distributed.
      3.     Transfer mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Using a metal spatula, turn oats and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until chestnut brown. Remove from oven, turn again and season with salt.
      4.     Allow oatmeal croutons to cool completely on baking sheet until crisp. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container.

About 1 cup

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Blondies with Chocolate = Huzzah!

Hard to go wrong when butter, peanut butter, sugar and chocolate are combined!

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup chunky natural peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1.     Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.     Generously oil a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
      3.     In a large bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter and sugar. Whisk until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt and combine until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan.
      4.     Bake for 25 minutes. Allow the bars to cool before cutting into squares.

32 (2 x 2-inch) squares

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Popover Pancake is Breakfast Magic

This pancake cooks in a cast-iron skillet in a very hot oven and puffs up stunningly, albeit briefly. Then, just moments out of the oven, it deflates. But the result is a crispy pancake with a custardy interior. It’s impressive and delicious, but to pull it off, you have to bake it in a cast-iron skillet and you must use skim milk (reduced fat translates to more crispiness). This, and the cornstarch (also known for its crisping ability), is what makes the pancake crispy. Serve with fresh fruit and cottage cheese, or with pork sausage, vegetarian sausage or bacon.

It’s important that the skillet is at just the right temperature. If you don’t think you can prepare the Popover Pancake batter in 10 minutes (the time it takes for the cast-iron skillet to get hot), prepare the batter first, then place the skillet in the oven.

4 servings

2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1¼ cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Butter and syrup


     1.     Preheat oven to 450°F.
     2.     Place oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Heat the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes.
     3.     In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and salt.
     4.     In a stand mixer, beat the eggs on medium high heat until pale yellow, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add milk and vanilla, and beat until well blended. Add about ⅓ of the egg/milk mixture to the flour mixture. Whisk until the mixture is free of lumps. Add the remaining egg/milk mixture and whisk until smooth.
      5.     Remove the skillet from the oven and carefully whirl the oil around the pan, and immediately transfer the pancake mixture to the skillet.
      6.     Bake for about 20 minutes. Cut into 4 wedges, transfer wedges to serving plates. Serve immediately with butter and syrup.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Vegetable Lasagna is a Taste of Childhood

In my rendition of vegetable lasagna, raw, moisture-rich shredded carrots and zucchini (or use whatever is in season, cooked broccoli, spinach or an abundance of fresh chopped parsley are also delicious and health-driven options) are included for their fiber content and nutrients, as well as for color. Because this has no prior cooking requirements, the lasagna can be assembled in less than 30 minutes. Happy Cooking!

6 servings
One (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2½ cups tomato sauce
6 pieces no-boil (also called oven ready) lasagna noodles
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

     1.     Preheat oven to 350ºF.
     2.     In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, carrots, zucchini, salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Place 2 uncooked noodles over the sauce, side by side. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over noodles.
     3.     Evenly distribute half of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta mixture. Top the mozzarella with 2 lasagna noodles and spoon 1 cup sauce over the noodles, spread the remaining ricotta mixture over sauce.
     4.     Place remaining 2 noodles over the ricotta, spread a thin layer of the remaining tomato sauce over noodles, top with remaining mozzarella and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
     5.     Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until bubbly. Remove cover, set oven temperature to broil, and lightly brown the top. Allow the lasagna to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

So Much Goodness In A Mother's Favorite Soup

Hard-boiled eggs are what make this soup unique and delicious. It’s the perfect comfort soup on a cold winter’s day. I hope you enjoy my mother's favorite soup as much as we have!

6 servings

5 cups water
3 cups cubed potatoes, (red or white skinned)
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup julienned carrot
1 cup chopped white onion
½ cup minced fresh parsley
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt, if desired
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 hard-boiled eggs

     1.     In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and add the potatoes and cook until just slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrot and onion to the potatoes. Reduce the heat slightly and cook until the potatoes and vegetables are fork-tender, about 5 minutes.
      2.     Add the parsley, vegetable cubes, butter, salt and pepper.
      3.     Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half. Remove the yolks and place them in a medium bowl. Chop the egg whites and add them to the soup. Ladle about ¼ to ½ cup hot broth over the egg yolks and stir until the mixture is creamy. Add the yolk mixture to soup and stir until well blended. Serve immediately.