Saturday, March 28, 2020

ChezCindy: Simple Roasted Cabbage Planks

If you have never roasted cabbage planks you are in for a real treat.  Roasting vegetables brings out the best in all vegetables, including the humble cabbage.  The leaves soften and lose all bitterness, bringing out a gentle sweetness and golden buttery flavor.  I used green cabbage here.  Both red or green cabbage are equally delicious.  

I can eat the cabbage planks as a snack straight from the pan.  Or to be more civilized, they can be an unexpected side dish for roast chicken and mashed potatoes.  

If you want to stay lighter for a meatless meal, serve the roasted cabbage with fettuccini pasta tossed with crumbled feta cheese, chopped parsley and olive oil  All good.  

Roasted Cabbage Planks
1 medium head of cabbage, red or green
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  

Working with a large sheet pan, drizzle the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 

Cut the cabbage in half through the core.  Set each half flat-side down onto the cutting board.  Leaving the core in place, cut through the core for each half to make 3-4 wedges (6-8 wedges in total).
Place each wedge onto the sheet pan, drizzle the remaining oil over the planks, turning over to drizzle both sides.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and a bit of black pepper to taste.  

Place the sheet pan into the hot oven, roasting the planks for 20-30 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, carefully turning each plank over to brown the second side.  The first side should be nicely browned and crisp at the edges.  Roast for another 10 minutes to brown the second side.  If you have cut the planks into thick wedges, you may need more roasting time.  The planks are done when the leaves are tender and the edges are browned.  Serve hot or room temperature.

Monday, March 23, 2020

ChezCindy: Easiest Baked Bread

I made this bread.  It's gorgeous, right?  And it's not one of those products that looks great and tastes like cardboard.  This has great taste and texture.  The reason I am being so boastful is that you too can bake this bread.  The recipe comes straight from  King Arthur Flour .  I followed their recipe and process step by step, as so greatly illustrated on their web site.  At this time of staying at home, it is a good idea to complete a task that will make you feel proud and productive, and also nourish you and your loved ones.

The recipe is titled  the easiest loaf of bread youll ever bake .  And it is.  I have been baking bread for years.  I don't do it frequently, but I am always amazed at how simple ingredients come together and rise into a loaf of bread.  If you have never baked with yeast, kneading and creating bread from scratch, baking this recipe will surprise and delight you.  Give it a try.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

ChezCindy: Spanish Chorizo Brunch

This dish feeds a crowd and is packed with a lot of flavor.  Spanish chorizo, smoked paprika and roasted peppers are the key ingredients.  I served this as a brunch dish topped with an egg, but it can easily be dinner paired with naan bread or piled into lettuce cups.  I used cauliflower rice, but any rice preference works here, basmati or brown.  Have the rice cooked and cooled, then reheat it with the cooked chorizo to absorb all of the flavors and spices.  Make this when you want something that is quick to come together with big flavor.  

Spanish Chorizo Brunch
8 ounces fresh chorizo
1/2 large red onion
2 large roasted peppers, jarred
4 ounces chickpeas, about half a can - drained
2-3 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Fried or poached eggs

Working with a large skillet, add the fresh chorizo to the pan cooking over medium-high heat.  Stir the chorizo breaking it up into small pieces until browned and cooked through.  Add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil if the chorizo has not rendered much fat.  Slice the onion into vertical strips, add to the pan cooking until the onion slivers soften and begin to brown.  Remove 2 large roasted peppers from the jar, drain off the excess liquid onto paper towels.  Slice the peppers into strips, add to the pan stirring to combine.  Stir in the chickpeas and cooked rice, using the full 3 cups if you have a lot of people to feed.  Add in the fresh herbs, salt, pepper and smoked paprika, stirring to combine.  Stir in the remaining olive oil to loosen and flavor the mixture, cover and cook for roughly 5 minutes to allow all the flavors to come together.  Serve hot, topping each portion with a cooked egg.  

Saturday, March 21, 2020

ChezCindy: Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins

I ate four of these muffins in one day.  Maybe I was craving the comfort of carbs, but each muffin made by taste buds very happy.  They are kind of "healthy" but are so moist with great flavor of banana, chocolate and ground nuts.  The original recipe inspiration is from a cookbook titled Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.  Ms. Boyce is a talented pastry chef with her book focusing on using whole grains in her recipes.  Some of the grains featured are gluten-free, while others are ancient grains, with all recipes balanced and full of flavor.  She demonstrates tips and techniques for every level of baker.  It is a go-to book for me when I want to bake, but also am trying to bake something a bit less indulgent but tastes like a dream.  This muffins offer a dream come true.

You may have read one of my previous posts that this household has no shortage of bananas that become too ripe for cereal eating.  Bananas  The frugal person I tend to be does not allow me to easily throw away the over-ripe bananas.  I often freeze them or bake with them.  I have frequently made Ms. Boyce's recipe for Banana Walnut Cake, which was my start for the recipe below.  This time I didn't want to commit to a cake.  I wanted something more snackable.  Her recipe could easily be turned into cupcakes.  Without icing, I am calling them muffins.

Don't be put off by the recipe calling for quinoa flour.  You can easily substitute whole wheat flour or use 100% all-purpose flour.  I used coconut oil in place of the butter called for in the original recipe.  Banana, coconut and chocolate go together very well in this recipe.  Just try to eat only one.  Maybe two.

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, or a mix of each
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup softened coconut oil or unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 ripe bananas, medium in size
2 eggs
1/3 cup yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Makes 18 muffins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the oven rack in the center of the oven.  Prepare standard cupcake trays with paper cupcake liners or spray with baking spray.

Place the toasted nuts into a food processor.  Pulse to grind the nuts into a fine-ground texture.

Place the dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl, quinoa flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix to combine.  Add the ground nuts to the flour mixture.  Set aside.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the softened coconut oil and both sugars to the mixing bowl.  Mix on medium speed to cream the ingredients together.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add in the peeled bananas mixing for a minute or so until the bananas are mashed and combined.  Add in the eggs, one at a time mixing until just combined.  Add in the yogurt and vanilla to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the flour/nut mixture to the wet ingredients mixing on low speed just until combined.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl to ensure all ingredients have been combined.

Using a 1/4-cup spring-loaded ice cream scoop, scoop out level scoops into each cupcake liner.  Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs.  Remove from the oven, allowing the muffins to cool in the trays for about 15 minutes.

The recipe can also be baked as a 9-inch single layer cake.  Grease the cake pan with butter or baking spray, line the bottom of the pan with a 9-inch round parchment paper.  Transfer the prepared batter into the cake pan, baking for 50-60 minutes until the cake is golden brown and fully baked in the cake center.  Cool in the pan for 30 minutes.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

ChezCindy: Coconut Rice with Chickpeas and Broccoli

I have become a rice convert and am fully committed to buying huge bags of cauliflower rice from Costco.  They sell it frozen in 5 1-pound bags.  Knowing that no one else in this house eats cauliflower, that is a lot of cauli-rice for one person.

I mentioned this dish in a post last month new recipes post that I picked up from Kelly LeVeque's web site.  Her recipe offers this with chicken, very good.  I have changed the recipe adding more coconut milk for a creamier rice, a few other tweaks, and substituted chickpeas.

If you are not a fan of cauliflower rice, you can make this with regular rice.  The regular rice, white or brown, will need to be fully cooked before starting this recipe.  So it is a great head start when you have leftover rice from another time, even from Chinese take out.

Creamy Coconut Cauliflower Rice
2 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons coconut milk
4 cups frozen uncooked cauliflower rice*
2 tablespoons butter
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Working with a large saucepan, blanch the broccoli florets.  Do this by filling the pan with 3 inches of water.  Bring the water to a boil, add the broccoli to the pan cooking it for about 4 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to lift and remove the broccoli from the water.  Place the broccoli on a towel to drain.  You may need to do this is 2 batches.  Set aside.

Drain the water from the large saucepan used to cook the broccoli.  Place the pan back onto the stovetop over medium heat.  Add in the coconut oil, swirling to melt and coat the bottom of the pan.  Add in the cauliflower rice, coconut milk and a pinch of salt, stirring all to combine.  Cook the rice for roughly 5 minutes to heat and cook through.  Add in the butter, chickpeas and soy sauce, stirring together.  Add in the still warm broccoli, stirring to combine.  Taste to adjust seasoning to your palette, adding salt and pepper.  Serve with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

*This dish can be made with regular white or brown rice, fully cooked for use in this recipe.

Cauliflower has just 25 calories per cup vs rice with 200 calories.  The carb count is 5g per cup vs 46g for rice.  It is very healthy, but mostly, it is delicious.  

Sunday, January 26, 2020

ChezCindy: Cinnamon Spiced Apple Crisp

I have a dear friend who makes a delicious Berry Crisp dessert.  When a group of us are coming together for a dinner gathering, she will offer to bring the dessert to which the answer is "Yes, please bring your awesome Berry Crisp!".  She does not use a recipe.  But it comes out fantastic every time.

Below is my recipe for Apple Crisp.  Like my friend, a recipe can serve as a guide, sending you in the direction of creating your own Fruit Crisp dessert.  Crisps can be made with any fruit or combination of fruit.  Frozen fruit can also be used, such as berries and cherries.  My preference is to go heavy on the amount of oatmeal used, cutting back on the flour.  I often add chopped walnuts and vary on the spices depending on what fruit is used.

Use this recipe as your starting point and then make it your own.  

Cinnamon Spiced Apple Crisp
4 pounds Golden Delicious apples
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Crisp Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 sticks cold unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 6 small ramekins, place onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  

Peel, core and cut the apples into thin wedges.  Combine the apples with the orange zest, juices, sugar and cinnamon.  Toss together until the apples are well coated.  Spoon the apples into the prepared ramekins, dividing equally, leaving enough room for the added crisp topping, roughly 1/2-inch.  

Make the crisp topping in a food processor by adding the flour, sugars, salt and oatmeal into the bowl fitted with the blade in place.  Pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Dice the cold butter into small 1/2-inch pieces.  Add to the processor bowl.  Pulse 2-3 times until the mixture is crumbly with the butter still showing in small bits.  Using a large spoon, evenly divide the crisp topping over the apples.  

Place the sheet tray into the hot oven.  Bake for roughly 55-60 minutes until the tops are golden and the filling is just starting to bubble on the edges.  

Serve warm with ice cream.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

ChezCindy: Walnut Rosemary Bread with Golden Raisins

At the start of this new year, I gave myself a goal of trying 4 new recipes each month.  I didn't think this was too aggressive for me.  But life gets busy, so why add unneeded pressure.  Sure enough, I had made 4 new recipes by January 12 without even thinking about it.  Let's see how the rest of the year goes.

Early in the month I made a soup recipe that I had torn from a Cooking Light magazine from 2017.  The recipe was titled Immunity Soup using ingredients that help boost the immunity system.  The recipe was basically a homemade chicken soup with added ingredients to bolster the healthy factor.  You could start with my chicken soup recipe, here adding in 6-8 cloves of minced garlic - a powerful antioxidant, sliced mushrooms for vitamin D, chopped kale for vitamin C, and chickpeas for protein and zinc.

I also tried a new source for recipes going to Kelly LeVeque's web site.  Kelly is a social media wellness expert and nutritionist.  She has a really delicious Cauliflower Rice with Creamy Coconut Chicken and Broccoli recipe on her site.  I loved it.  I made brown rice for my husband who will not eat cauliflower.  Easy, healthy and super good.  You can find the recipe at here .

I did have one failed recipe from a very trusted source in one of my cookbooks.  I made baked chicken breasts with Tuscan bread crumbs.  It did not work out well.  Too heavy on the bread crumbs.  We ate it for one meal with lots of leftover chicken that the dogs enjoyed.  Lucky pups.

One of the recipes I tried was a yeast dough walnut bread.  I sought out a basic recipe knowing that I wanted to add fresh rosemary.  Inspiration came from a food memoir I was reading with the author referencing a walnut rosemary bread in one of the chapters.  Sadly, she did not include the recipe.  So I was determined to figure it out.  I started with a basic recipe from King Arthur Flour web site and added my own twists.  It came out lovely and delicious.  The recipe makes two golden brown loaves, which I shared with my nieces and their families.  Sharing was a must.  The bread is so delicious I could have eaten all of it!

Walnut Rosemary Bread with Golden Raisins
1 1/2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup agave sweetener
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5-6 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups toasted chopped walnuts
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the bread dough hook, add the warm water to the bowl.  Add the yeast to the water to dissolve.  Mix in 1/2 cup of flour and letting the mixture stand without mixing for 10 minutes.  This will wake up the yeast to get the action started.

Stir in the agave, oil and salt.  Add in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing with the dough hook running on low to medium speed for the entire time.  The dough will become formed into a shaggy mess and will be a bit difficult to stir at the end of the process.  At this point, turn off the mixer and turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter.  Continue kneading by hand until a smooth satiny ball is formed.

Prepare a large bowl by drizzling a tablespoon of oil into the bowl.  Using a paper towel, lightly coat the inside of the bowl with the oil.  Place the ball of dough into the oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it with the oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl in a warm spot so that the dough can rise until double in size.  This will take roughly 1 1/2 hours.

When the dough is puffy and double in size, remove the plastic wrap.  Using your hand, gently deflate the dough by pushing down in the center.  Add in the chopped walnuts, golden raisins and chopped rosemary.  Knead the dough to incorporate the walnuts, raisins and rosemary.  Transfer the dough to the counter to continue kneading and incorporating the chopped ingredients.  This will take 5 minutes or so.  Divide the dough in half.  Form each half into a smooth ball.  Place each ball onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I used 2 sheets that fit side by side in my oven on one rack.  Cover the loaves loosely with a damp towel.  Place the trays in a warm spot, allowing the loaves to rise.  This will take about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the towel.  Sprinkle a bit of flour on top of each loaf.  Cut 3-4 slashes across the top of each loaf, 1-inch deep.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the loaves are golden brown.  The loaves will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Place the loaves on a rack to cool for about 20 minutes.  It is very temping to cut in sooner, but be patient before cutting to enjoy.   Serve with salted butter.