Savory Autumnish Crepes

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So Autumn is upon us today and that means a time of apples and pears! That means trying to find a way to use all those apples and pears that isn’t the traditional pie and applesauce. (Don’t worry, fall is my favorite time of year and there will be a giant apple post once I get my yearly bushel+ of apples.) Here is a crepe recipe I made up after Chris and I drove past a crepe cafe in Southfield. MMMM. It’s basically just a good ol’ fashioned crepe, filled with grilled chicken, spinach, fresh pear and a tarragon bechemel sauce. You wrap it all up and top with a sprinkle of parmesan, you’ve got yourself a tasty dinner.

CREPE:

Use whatever recipe you like best. I use the one from Alton Brown’s “I’m Just Here for More Food”. It’s a fantastic read filled with geeky humor and useful tips.

FILLINGS:

Grill some chicken breast and cut it up into little pieces, throw in some fresh spinach and a bit of sliced pear.

TARRAGON BECHEMEL SAUCE:

This is basically an alfredo sauce, minus the cheese. Make a roux by melting about 2 T butter and then mixing in enough flour to make a thick paste. Then add in about a pint of half and half or cream (depending on how much you are watching your figure) and whisk together until smooth. Let it simmer over medium to medium high heat, whisking often so as not to burn the sauce, until thick. Throw in a bunch of tarragon and some salt to taste.

Stick all the ingredients together, put the crepe on a plate and top with a little Parmesan and have yourself a autumnish french inspired dinner and enjoy!

Shanno

Red Beans and Rice

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Here is my twist on a classic side dish. I actually ate this as dinner every day for a week.   The best part, I never got tired of it! It’s a great, simple, recipe that is really a one-pot dish. You just throw in all the ingredients and cook basically. I added in some pre-cooked chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s to make it more of a main dish. This is not necessary and you can change the type of meat if you choose. So I guess this makes it a maximum of two-pot recipe. Anyways, here’s how to cook it.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup brown rice
3 Cups water
1 small can crushed tomatoes, include all the juices
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can red kidney beans
Chicken sausage, cut up into chunks.
1 t oregano
2 t chili powder
cayenne to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
Put everything into a pot. Mix around a bit. Bring to boil, uncovered. Cover and put down to medium heat. Let it simmer and cook until the rice is nice and tender. Enjoy!

Black Bean and Zucchini Summer Salad

I came up with this salad when contemplating how best to use the farmer’s market basil and zucchini leftover from the week before. It was partly inspired by a black-bean and corn salsa I made earlier in the summer. I didn’t have any jalepeno peppers on hand, but 1 or 2 seeded and chopped jalepeno would give it an extra kick. As is, it’s a refreshing and healthy salad to pair with a barbeque.

Ingredients:

2 15oz cans black beans

1.5 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 in thick circles

1/2 c basil leaves

1/3 cup cilantro

12-14 grape tomatoes halved

Juice from 2 limes

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the black beans and place in a large bowl.

2. Grill or bake the zucchini circles. I used a grill pan and cooked them until they were soft but not yet translucent. (3 mins or so on each side). Let cool slightly before adding to bowl.

3.  Coarsely chop the basil and cilantro and add to bowl.

4. Crush garlic into the veggies in the bowl and add the lime juice. Sprinkle in the cumin and mix thoroughly. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

5. Cut the grape tomatoes in half and toss with the veggies in the bowl to combine.

6. Chill in the fridge for 1 hr.

Enjoy
Zast!

Tuscan Bean Soup with a Twist

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I came across several recipes for Tuscan Bean Soup in the past few days. It sounded like something simply, delicious and oh so tasty to make for dinner this week. It also helps that it’s pretty healthy as well. Pretty much every recipe I came across called for spinach. I like spinach, but I’m picky about how I like it and I don’t really like it in my soup. It’s a texture thing. Food is as much about texture as it is about flavor and this is also why I hate tapioca pudding. I digress, yet again.

Anyways, I replaced the spinach with basil instead. This gave it a nice burst of flavor. I also added in a couple tablespoons of cabernet to give it a nice little pep in flavor without overpowering the basil or other flavors. Here’s the full recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 carrots, peeled, and diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 32 oz Vegetable broth
  • 2 15oz cans cannellini beans (with juices)
  • 2 T red wine
  • salt, pepper, oregano, parsley to taste
  • 1 1/2 C very roughly chopped basil leaves

PREPARATION

  • Heat up some olive oil in a large pot. Sautee the onions, carrots, and garlic until the onions start becoming transluscent.
  • Add in the tomatoes, cover and cook on medium for about 5-7 minutes, until the tomatoes are mushy and everything in the pot looks incorporated.
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients except for the basil. Make sure you include the juices from the cans of beans. This helps thicken the soup a bit. Let simmer on medium and covered for about 10 minutes
  • Add in the basil, cover again, cook for about 2 minutes, until the basil is wilted.
  • Serve with a topping of Parmesan or Asiago cheese. Enjoy!

Shanno

Chai Cookies – A comparison

I had a spur of the moment idea about a month ago to make chai flavored cookies. Basically I the shortbread cookie recipe from joyofbaking.com:

http://www.joyofbaking.com/shortbreads/shortbreadcookies.html

and jazzed it up a bit. I added in cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and some honey. I then sent them off in a birthday package for my best friend.  Shortly after I made these, I discovered granualted honey at our awesome local spice store. I got some and decided to remake the cookies (albeit in bar form rather than cookie cutter form) and granuated honey instead of the real stuff. Overall I preferred the chai cookies with the real honey.

I think if I used the granualted honey as the only addition to these cookies or a cake, it would have worked just fine. However, once you start mixing in the other spices, its flavor is simply not strong enough to make a huge difference in the flavor. I think it’s a good idea, but I real honey has a stronger, for lack of a better word, honey flavor.

The moral of this story, is granulated honey is good, especially if you want to add in a honey flavor without affected the texture of the batter too much. However, be careful to not use strong flavors next to it, otherwise the milder honey flavor will be drowned out.

Here is the site for our local spice shop. They ship!

https://secure.spicemerchants.biz/sm/

Shanno

Pesto, the taste of summer

My favorite part of summer, is the easy (and inexpensive!) access to fresh basil. Luckily this is something I’ve inherited from my mother (along with a love of garlic). So, when she was up visiting A^2 this weekend and purchased a big bunch of it, I knew exactly what to do with it: Pesto! This recipe requires a food processor and to be honest, this recipe is the reason I purchased a food processor.

Ingredients:

4 to 5 c. fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried

4 cloves of garlic

1/2 to 3/4 c. pine nuts

3/4 to 1 c grated parmesean cheese

1/4 c. olive oil, may need more depending on preference

salt and pepper to taste

First, crush the garlic cloves and place in the food processor. Grind 1/2 tsp of pepper in and pulse once.

Add the basil and pine nuts (start with the smaller amount) and pulse until finely chopped. You may need to pause the processor and scrape down the sides of the processor.

Turn the motor on and add the cheese and the olive oil. You may need to add more olive oil to reach the desired consistency. Taste and add salt as needed. I usually add more more garlic (crushed) as well at this point.

I prefer the pesto to be a thick paste, so that it can be tossed into pasta or thinned with balsamic vinegar and a little more oil for a tasty salad dressing.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Cinnamon Cookies with a Honey Glaze

Chocolate Cinnamon CookiesMmm…chocolate and cinnamon. Perhaps my favorite flavor combination of all time, at least for now. You take that along with my new pasty brush, you get chocolate cinnamon cookies with a honey glaze. This recipe would probably go well with my liquid verision of this, hot chocolate with cinnamon and honey mixed in. Like I said, I love this flavor combination. Don’t be shocked if this comes up again. So, I’ll just go straight to the recipe because all I can’t really describe how much I love these cookies in words.

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs or 3 small eggs ( I used 3 small because that’s what I got from the CSA)
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1/3 C water

Preparation:

  • Sift together the dry ingredients. This is really important, at least when dealing with cocoa. The cocolate powder tends to clump and sifting really helps this.
  • In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add in the eggs, one at a time and mix thoroughly.
  • Add in the flour mixture about a 1/2 cup at a time.
  • Bake the cookies at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Watch them carefully! Since they are chocolately, it’s hard to tell when they are golden brown. I usually go with the “are they still shiny?” method.
  • Let them cool.
  • While the cookies cool, make the honey glaze. This is just whisking the honey and water in a saucepan and letting it simmer on medium heat until it the mixture thickens. The resulting glaze will slightly less thick than honey, but will brush onto the cookies a lot easier than straight honey.
  • Brush the glaze onto the cookies (or drizzle it with a spoon).
  • Enjoy!

Shanno