Saturday, January 29, 2011

My New Kitchen Partner Makes Hummus


Just looking at this picture makes me hungry for hummus. I love this stuff.

Chris surprised me with a new toy - a food processor - for Christmas. I had been playing with the idea of getting one for a few years now, but living in a small space makes me really think before buying something. That said, Chris figured out how to make our space issue work so that this new Kitchen Aid would fit. Awesome!

I've been happily working through recipes requiring a food processor, and since I had never had the proper equipment to make hummus before, I had to try. The hummus turned out wonderfully, and the food processor made it happen with ease. I liked this hummus recipe, although next time I'm going to try it without the parsley just for simplicity's sake (the parsley tasted just fine in the hummus).

This is a great recipe for any Super Bowl parties next weekend since it makes a lot (3 cups worth)! Go Steelers!

Hummus Bi Tahini
(Courtesy of Elisabeth Rozin, "Ethnic Cuisine: How to Create the Authentic Flavors of 30 International Cuisines")

2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked chick peas (reserve cooking liquid), or 20-ounce can chick peas (reserve liquid)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 tsp. salt
dash freshly ground black pepper
1 T. olive oil
pita bread, for serving

Drain chick peas, reserving liquid. Puree in blender or food processor with lemon juice, garlic, and parsley. If more liquid is needed to blend properly, use some of the reserved chick pea liquid. (I didn't need much.)

Place pureed mixture in a serving bowl and stir in tahini, salt and pepper.  Mix to blend thoroughly.

Just before serving, pour olive oil on top of the hummus. This can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated. Serve with pita bread.

Makes 3 cups.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Who Needs Birthday Cake When There are Chocolate Covered Oreos?

In honor of my husband Chris' birthday today (Happy Birthday honey!), I'm posting a secret to a quick and astoundingly delicious dessert.  Chris and I have been feasting on homemade chocolate covered Oreos topped with Heath Bar crumbles (as if the Oreo itself wasn't enough) in the last few weeks.  Not only are they AMAZING and elegant but they are so simple to make.  What else is there to do when it's cold outside, right?

I also made some of these with my 3-year-old niece and 5-year-old nephew over Christmas, and they were as delighted with making these as I was (and the cookies got eaten rather fast).  We also topped the Oreos with multicolored sprinkles and sliced almonds, in addition to the Heath Bar crumbles (as shown in the photo above).  We made chocolate covered pretzel rods too.

Eat and enjoy!

Chocolate Covered Oreos
(Courtesy of Kelly Oliver)

1 package of your favorite Oreos
1 bag of milk or semisweet chocolate chips
1 bag of Heath Bar crumbles (or other topping of your choosing, such as multicolored sprinkles)

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the entire bag of chocolate chips, starting with 45 seconds, then stirring, and then 15 seconds, then stirring, and continuing in 15 second intervals until melted.

Dip the top of each Oreo in the chocolate and then in the Heath Bar crumbles.  Place on a waxed paper lined baking sheet until chocolate is firm, which takes a few hours.  Store at room temperature.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fresh Flavors: Lebanese Bean Salad

I've recently been working my way through a cookbook titled, "Ethnic Cuisine: How to Create the Authentic Flavors of 30 International Cuisines," by Elisabeth Rozin.  I tried her baba ghanouj recipe the other day -- which I'll add to this blog soon -- and it turned out wonderfully.  I'm going to try to make her hummus recipe in the next few days.  Another recipe, Lebanese Bean Salad, looked inviting since it combined very fresh flavors -- tomato, cucumber, parsley, mint -- with kidney beans, providing a great way to make my diet a bit more healthy.  (Gotta balance those chocolate chip cookies out!)  The salad turned out really well, and it was definitely best after the flavors were allowed to sit and meld together for a few hours.  I feel healthy just writing about it.

That said, on a related note, a news story about Lebanon's government collapsing this week caught my eye.  (Associated Press story:  I don't hear much about Lebanon normally, nor do I hear much about governments collapsing (I cannot imagine that happening in the USA), and so this post is dedicated to the people in that country who are living through this tumultuous situation.  I'm praying for the Lebanese people and hope you'll join me.

Lebanese Bean Salad
(Courtesy of Elisabeth Rozin, "Ethnic Cuisine: How to Create the Authentic Flavors of 30 International Cuisines")

2-2 1/2 cups cooked or canned red or white kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped, or 3-4 scallions, finely chopped
1 T. fresh mint, chopped, or 2 tsp. crushed, dried mint leaves
1 large ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine beans, parsley, onion, mint, tomato, and cucumber in a bowl.  Combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a separate bowl and beat together.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables, and stir together.  Refrigerate the salad for at least 2 hours.  Mix again before serving.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's a beautiful, sunny, yet cold day here in Arlington.  The minimal snowfall we got last night dusted the trees and rooftops enough to look make my neighborhood look like a peaceful and quaint winter village.  That scene calls for something a sweet treat that is classic and all-American -- chocolate chip cookies.  And not just any chocolate chip cookies.  I found a recipe on the Brown Eyed Baker blog about a year ago for chocolate chip cookies that has made me fall in love with these cookies all over again (which I didn't think was possible!).  So while I enjoy this winter scene outside my window today and while Claire is sleeping, I'm going to be baking these lovely treats.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Courtesy of Baking Illustrated/Brown Eyed Baker)

2 cups plus 2 T. (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 T. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Chris and I spent the week after Christmas with colds so by the time New Year's Day came around, I was craving something other than chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches -- both easy things to make when you're feeling under the weather and a parent of a six-month-old (gotta save what little energy you have for the baby, not cooking).  And since we didn't get to ring in the New Year with a champagne toast (yeah, we didn't even make it to midnight), I decided to celebrate with a bottle of beer (Shiner Bock, to be exact) by adding it to some homemade bread.  Yum!  If you have any leftover beer from your celebrations, this is a great way to use it (especially if you're on cold medication) other than drinking it, of course.  I paired it with some homemade beef vegetable noodle soup, a perfect complement.  I think it's best fresh out out of the oven when it's warm but it does reheat well in the microwave if you have any left the next day.

Beer Bread
(Courtesy of The Good Housekeeping Step-By-Step Cookbook)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 T. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 can or bottle (12 oz.) beer
4 T. margarine or butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease 9" by 5" loaf pan (you can use cooking spray).  In large bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt until evenly combined.  Stir in beer and melted margarine just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).

Spoon batter into loaf pan and bake 40 minutes, or until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack 5 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Your house will be filled with the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread!