April 14, 2015

Cashew Granola

This recipe from Floating Kitchen doesn't take the top spot for granola in our house, but it's a close second for me. I wanted to make it so much that I made my own cashew butter, which tells you how much I wanted it. My variation omits the banana chips because that's just gross. Give me all the chocolate and cashews please!

Cashew Granola
4 cups oats
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
1/4 tsp. salt (Use just a dash if your cashews are salted.)
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

In a large bowl stir together the oats, cashews, cocoa nibs and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the cashew butter, coconut oil and maple syrup, stirring frequently until smooth. (This can be done by microwaving in intervals as well.) Remove it from the heat, and pour it over the oat mixture, stirring until everything is well coated.

Spread the oat mixture out onto your prepared baking sheet. Bake in your oven for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Turn your oven off, and leave the oat mixture in your still warm oven for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with chocolate and set aside to cool. Makes about 6 cups of deliciousness.

Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Pound cake was never a staple growing up, so it doesn't have any nostalgia for me. However, this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker is a solid pound cake recipe. I made it mostly as written, but I subbed in homemade strawberry rhubarb jam that I had in the fridge. I'm mostly posting this recipe because I want to keep the pound cake portion of the recipe for future trifles, strawberry shortcake dishes, etc.

Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Strawberry Swirl
1/3 cup finely diced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt

Combine the strawberries, sugar, water and cornstarch in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes very thick. Set aside, and allow to cool to room temperature before using.

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease, and flour a standard-size Bundt pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined and soft, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, and continue to beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl once or twice, until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour until it has all been combined. Add the vanilla and salt, and mix on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Spoon about 2/3 of the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Top evenly with the strawberry filling, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge of the pan. (This is important unless you want sticky, messy strawberry filling everywhere ... not that I missed this reminder.) Use a thin knife to gently swirl the strawberry filling with the cake batter just a few times – less is more. Spoon the remainder of the cake batter on top of the filling, and gently spread to the edges of the pan, covering the filling.

Bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving. Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Soy Sauce Noodles

This recipe from Love and Olive Oil became an instant favorite for us during our mostly meatless Lent. It's packed with flavor and reminds of us our favorite dishes from Noodles & Company. It requires slightly more time than one of our other favorite noodle dishes, but both are easy enough for a weeknight after work.

Here's the recipe with the tweaks we made with additional vegetables. We added the cabbage once, but we really liked the addition. Also, I doubled the recipe below to make it a filling vegetarian meal for two.

Soy Sauce Noodles
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. tamari soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. sriracha
1 Tbsp. peanut oil, divided
3 ounces thin spaghetti noodles
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, sliced into matchsticks, white/light green and darker green parts separated
2 large carrots, thinly sliced into matchsticks or ribbons
1/2 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
3 oz. bean sprouts

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, dark soy sauce, wine, sesame oil, sugar and sriracha. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles, and cook to al dente. Drain, and set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1/2 Tbsp. peanut oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Add noodles, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, without stirring, until bottoms are slightly browned. Flip over as best you can, and cook for another 2 minutes. Slide noodles onto a plate, and set aside temporarily.

Return skillet to medium-high heat with remaining 1/2 Tbsp. oil. Add garlic along with white and light green parts of green onion, carrots and cabbage. Cook until vegetables are desired texture, and return noodles to skillet along with soy sauce mixture. Toss well with a pair of tongs or chopsticks, breaking up clumps of noodles as you go, until noodles are entirely coated, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add dark green parts of green onion, and cook for 1 minute more or until  just softened.

Remove from heat, and divide among bowls. Top with sprouts, and serve immediately. Makes 2 side servings as written, so double for a full meal.

Baked Raspberry Oatmeal with Brown Butter Drizzle

This recipe from Seriously Delish makes oatmeal live up to the name of the cookbook. I just can't use the word "delish" in good faith myself, though. This recipe is not healthy, despite the oatmeal portion, but it's the perfect treat to start the day on a great note. The brown butter drizzle, which I halved when I made it, makes this oatmeal that much better.

Baked Raspberry Oatmeal with Brown Butter Drizzle
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sweetened almond milk
1/4 cup applesauce
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup frozen raspberries
2 Tbsp. butter, browned

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray two larger single serving (1-2 portions) baking dishes with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a smaller bowl, combine milk, applesauce, butter, egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry until combined, and then gently stir in the raspberries. Divide into the two baking dishes.

Bake 25 minutes or until the top of the oatmeal is set and golden. Remove from the oven, and let cool for a minute or two. Serve with a drizzle of brown butter. (Brown butter is butter that is cooked on the stove until it gets little brown bits and lots of delicious, nutty flavor.) Serves 2 generously.

Skillet Pasta Florentine

This Cooking Light recipe is one I made during our mostly meatless Lent. It earned a high enough ranking to be deemed acceptable to repeat, although it's not so tantalizing that I'd put it in our regular rotation if that makes sense. (Basically my husband said I could repeat this but not black bean lasagna.)

The original recipe called to cook it on the stovetop, but I prepped it ahead of time and popped it in the oven instead.

Pasta Florentine
3 cups uncooked spiral pasta
1 egg, beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups reduced fat ricotta cheese
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
14 oz. meatless spaghetti sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Cook pasta according to package instructions, and drain. In a large bowl, combine the egg, cottage cheese, ricotta, spinach, Parmesan and herbs.

Place a small amount of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Layer with half the pasta, half the cheese mixture and half the sauce. Repeat layers, and top with shredded cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serves 6.

Loaded Baked Potato Gnocchi

Gnocchi is one of those things I never ate as a child but grabbed once at the grocery store to try. It wasn't love at first taste, but it intrigued me enough to make it in my cart a few times. I think I will now have a package in my cupboard specifically for this recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod. I think I loved this much more than my husband, so it's more of a comfort meal for me when he's away or possibly a new side dish for a holiday meal. The addition of the garlic makes this a perfectly delicious comfort meal ... that would be stellar as a mac and cheese as well.

Loaded Baked Potato Gnocchi
1 lb. package potato gnocchi
2 Tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used mostly Colby with a bit of a stronger cheese)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 green onions, chopped
3 strips cooked bacon, chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9" x 9" baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside. Boil a pot of water, and cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain, and arrange in a single layer at the bottom of the prepared dish.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in garlic, and cook until lightly golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour until mixture thickens. Add the milk, and whisk until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of the cheese. Whisk until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in the sour cream. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour sauce over gnocchi. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, green onions and bacon. (Note: I prepped the recipe to this point, refrigerated it all day while I was at work and baked it when I came home.)

Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Remove from oven, and let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 4-6 servings.