Saturday, June 26, 2010

Apple Cake

This recipe is from my mom, the queen of baking.

1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened (Mom says no substitutes)
2c white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4c peeled, cored and chopped apples (I used 2 1/2 large Granny Smith apples)
2c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbls cinnamon (yes, tablespoon)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Optional (any or all): 1 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 cup of chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350. In lg bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in apples (along with nuts, chips and/or raisins if using). Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices together, and gently fold into the apple mixture. Pour batter into 2 greased 9" baking pans. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake about 40-50 mins at 350 til cake is done and tester comes out clean... Do not overbake.

Buttery, yummy, lightly-spiced, comforting cake. It would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but what cake wouldn't? ;-) This is definitely going into the make-again pile!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tahini Sauce

Falafelentils are excellent cold. I ate them for lunch yesterday on a lettuce wrap with plain yogurt and raw yellow peppers, sprinkled with a little extra chili powder. (I'm not typically fond of "Eat this, not that" type suggestions, but romaine lettuce leaves instead of pita or tortilla works for me.)

Lunch today was falafelentils with kale salad (raw kale leaves "massaged" with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt), grape tomatoes, and N's amazing tahini dressing.


1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
5-7 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
~1/2 cup lemon juice (juice from two medium-sized lemons)
3-4 tablespoons warm water (more or less based on your desired consistency)


Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until the desired consistency is reached.
Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


BB4 has made me much more conscious of using up my leftovers and cooking creatively, but I still have the sesame seeds in my pantry. Before I resorted to grinding them up and putting them in spaghetti sauce (isn't that what you're supposed to do to hide foods?), I decided to see if I could use them in a tastier fashion :)

Just Bento suggests rolling Spicy Lentil Snacks in sesame seeds (which is how I found the recipe), but I changed things a little. For seasoning, I used 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1.5 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, and the juice of half a lemon. Instead of brown rice, I used leftover rice (that had been seasoned with garlic-lentil powder and lemon). I reduced the oil to 2 T. And I added 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds to the mixture. Once baked, they came out similar to they're falafelentils!

Honestly, the sesame seeds didn't add a whole lot to the recipe, but that's OK :) Next time I make the recipe I'll probably reduce the lentils to 3/4 cup and keep everything the same. And I'll remember to oil the pan so that they don't get stuck and broken like the ones in the picture!

This goes to Nupur's BB4.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


(Don't ask me why -- muffins have always been moffins. That's just how it is.)

In the spirit of BB4, I decided to use up a couple of very ripe bananas. Yesterday, I attempted to make banana yogurt, but the sweetness of the banana didn't "balance" well with the harshness of the plain yogurt. A couple teaspoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla extract didn't really help, so I let it sit in the fridge overnight to see if the flavors would blend. Sadly, nope. It was also a very thin consistency. (I ate a few tablespoons with some fruit and granola this morning. It wasn't awful, but I wasn't eager to eat any more.) I had seen on a few blogs that yogurt diluted with milk could be a buttermilk substitute, so I figured that yogurt diluted with banana could also be used in baking. I had another banana to use up as well. I found this recipe, and here's my version. (Note: even when I'm baking, I'm more of a cook -- these measurements aren't exact.)

2 very ripe bananas
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1 T milk
2 T olive oil (just because that's what I have in the house)
1 egg, beaten
1.5 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour (I used TJs white whole wheat flour, similar to whole wheat pastry flour)
1/3 cup sugar
1/6 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Blend together (in a blender or food processor) the yogurt, milk, and 1 of the bananas. In a medium bowl, mash the remaining banana. Add the yogurt mixture, oil, egg, and vanilla. In a large bowl, mix together flours, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour batter into muffin pan (makes 12 muffins), sprinkle tops with sugar if desired, and bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Renters garden too!

This weekend, we bought a garden kit with seeds for several different types of fruits and vegetables. Once we got it home and opened the box, we found that the instructions read:

Asparagus plantings will last for at least 15 years, so be sure to locate your plants in a place where they will not be disturbed for many years. Asparagus plants are tall (6 feet) when mature; plant them where they will not shade other plants in the garden. Do not harvest asparagus for at least 2 years after planting.

Teehee...I didn't realize that I would have to put down roots before I allowed my plants to.

Ethiopian Veggies

2 medium onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
1 T butter
1.5 t ground ginger
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground turmeric
1/4 t ground pepper
1 t salt
4 carrots, sliced
2 cups green beans, cut into 1" slices
2 cups cauliflower florets (1/2 medium cauliflower)
1 can (or 2 cups cooked) chickpeas

Puree onion and garlic together in food processor. In a large pot, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add spices and salt, and cook for 30 seconds. Add onion-garlic puree and cook for about 10 minutes or until puree loses the sharp "raw" smell. Add carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, then add beans, cauliflower, and chickpeas. (You can also add a small amount of water if things start to get dry.) Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until veggies are soft.

(This was inspired by a recipe on AllRecipes but I didn't follow it very closely.)

I served this with rice that had been mixed with lentil-garlic powder, butter, and lemon juice.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Banana Bread French Toast

I'm not much of a "breakfast person" but we decided to do a special breakfast this morning: banana bread french toast with a banana-brown sugar topping.

6 thin (1/2" thick) slices of banana bread
2-3 eggs, beaten
2 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg
2 bananas, sliced

Dip the banana bread in beaten egg, and then fry in butter. Meanwhile, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in 1/4 cup water. Stir to dissolve. Fry bananas in a small amount of butter. When they begin to brown, add sugar syrup and cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes until thickened. Happy Saturday sugar high!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Black Bean Soup with Onion-Herb Bread

I'm really enjoying this month's theme; I actively went searching for things to use up in the pantry. I found a bag of dried black beans (not sure when I bought them or why) and decided to make crockpot soup. The recipe is a combination of Art is the Handmaid of Human Good's Slow Cooked Black Bean Soup and Sustainable Pantry's Black Bean Soup.

16 oz dry black beans
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 T chiles in adobo
2 T chili powder, divided
1 T ground cumin
2 tsp Better than Bouillon (vegetable concentrate)
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
Garnishes/mix-ins (optional but recommended): shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, tortilla chips

Rinse beans and put in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and let sit overnight. In morning, drain and rinse beans, and mix in crockpot with onions, carrots, celery, garlic, chiles in adobo, 1T chili powder, cumin, water, and Better than Bouillon. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until beans are tender. Puree, and add salt and remaining 1 T chili powder. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with garnishes.

The onion-herb bread is based on Baking Bites' Caramelized Onion Bread. I pureed leftover caramelized onions with the last of the fresh wilting basil and sage in the fridge, and added this mixture to the dissolved yeast along with the water. I substituted whole wheat flour for 1 cup of white flour but otherwise followed the recipe. Yum!

Two more for BB4. (And many thanks to Nupur for helping me rediscover my kitchen creativity!)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Super-Easy Sweet and Spicy Noodles

I love to cook. But I was thinking today -- over the past several months, I haven't done a lot of cooking. After our CSA ended last September, I had cooking fatigue for a few weeks. Then it was interview season (a lot of travelling), a month at my parents' house for an out-of-town assignment, my ER rotation (crazy schedule), then "almost time to go out of the country for 6 weeks", then "out of the country for 6 weeks", then "almost time to move". Now that we've moved (into a place with a gas stove, and plenty of counter space), unpacked the kitchen (first boxes to be opened, of course), and found the most awesome market ever, I'm super-excited to be cooking regularly again. (It helps that I'm on vacation for the next couple of weeks...)

I'm also impatient. I tend to take shortcuts and simplify recipes. Sometimes it works, but sometimes I need to have someone step in and follow a recipe on my behalf. N always cooks the tofu for this dish because I'm almost physically unable to wait for it to brown. So here goes.

4 T soy sauce
4 T brown sugar
Sriracha (rooster sauce)

The rest :)
veggies (we used mushrooms, broccoli, and carrots)
8 oz whole wheat spaghetti
4 scallions
6 cloves garlic
16 oz firm tofu, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
toasted sesame oil

Sauce: Mix soy sauce and brown sugar, then add Sriracha to taste.

To prepare: Cut veggies into bite-size pieces. Boil a pot of water; blanch veggies and remove from water with a slotted spoon. Put pasta into water and cook til al dente. Meanwhile, saute garlic and onion. Add tofu and cook until browned (seriously, it takes forever). When tofu is cooked, add half of the sauce and cook for about a minute so that the brown sugar caramelizes. Mix remaining sauce with pasta and veggies and top with tofu.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


My other guilt-inducing pantry item was a bag of besan. I had bought it to make patisa (an Indian dessert) but the only recipes that I found had terrible reviews. So the bag sat on a shelf -- unopened -- and came along when we moved. Most recipes I found called for only a tablespoon or two, certainly not worth opening the bag. But Tofu for Two's farinata recipe used 2 1/4 cups...and so the bag was opened.

It was different from anything that I'd made before, and I didn't really trust it. You mix the besan with water and oil, let it sit for 4 hours (I'm still not sure why), then add in seasonings, and bake it at a very high temperature. And somehow, the very thin batter turns into a smooth, almost quiche-like dish. It was absolutely delicious -- besan will never sit neglected in my pantry again.

I followed the recipe pretty closely; I used basil in place of rosemary because it was what I had on hand, and my converted measurements were probably a little different.

2 1/4 cups besan
3 cups water
3 T olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
5 cloves chopped garlic

Whisk together besan, water, and olive oil. Cover and let sit on counter for 4 hours. Add salt, basil, and garlic, and stir well. Pour into oiled pie plate. Bake at 390 F (I have a digital temperature-setter on my oven; if you don't, 400F should be fine) for 30 minutes, then turn heat up to 425F and bake for 20-30 minutes until it is center is no longer "jiggly" and top is well-browned. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

This is my second entry for BB4.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Pantry Granola

When Nupur announced Blog Bites 4: What's Lurking in the Kitchen?, I figured that there was no way that I could participate. Having moved (very, very) recently, my pantry was empty. But it turns out that a few items had moved with us, to languish in the new cupboards. This recipe was inspired by an unopened package of sesame seeds, bought for a recipe that just didn't sound as good when I looked at it a second time. Searching for "sesame seed recipe" brought up granola, which reminded me that I had a huge canister of oats (I hate oatmeal, but convince myself every few months that I should try it for a healthy breakfast...). Several recipes also called for chopped nuts, and I had a big bag of those left over from my sister. And dried fruit (bought just because it was yummy, then fell off the back of a pantry shelf) and dried sweetened coconut (2 unopened bags, no idea why).

So, inspired by Standardized Granola, here's pantry granola. And it actually -- almost -- ended up being counterproductive. N and I were out looking for a washer/dryer and passed by a grocery store. I asked him to stop so that I could pick up molasses -- the only thing that I needed for the recipe and didn't have. He reminded me that we actually did bring a half-full jar with us, so that ended up being a using-stuff-from-the-pantry item as well :)

1/2 cup sesame seeds
3 cups oats
1 cup chopped almonds (I used whole almonds and chopped them in a food processor)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 T molasses
2 T water
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a berry mix from Trader Joe's)

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat until browned - here's the before-and-after.

Mix with oats, almonds, and spices. In a microwave-safe container, mix sugar, salt, water, and molasses, and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and add to oat mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until browned, stirring every 10 minutes. Mix in coconut and berries.

Final product:
Not too sweet, it will be good with fresh fruit and maybe some yogurt. I'm sending this to BB4 and making a vow to better know -- and use -- what I have in the cupboards.

And while this one doesn't qualify -- it doesn't come from a blog -- it was a great use of going-stale bread, sage (leftover from yesterday's butternut squash puree), and eggs (which I never seem to know what to do with). I omitted the green onions and substituted caramelized onion (also leftover from the butternut squash) for the sauteed onion, but otherwise followed the recipe. This is definitely a make-again recipe!