Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Championship Beans

This is a terrific potluck dish. It can be made ahead, is healthy, and is inexpensive. Just make sure to allow for plenty of time for the beans to soak and cook.

Championship  Beans
Serves 12

1 pound dried pinto beans
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapeño chiles, seeded, pithed, and minced
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
Sour cream and tortilla chips

1. Rinse beans with cold water. Transfer to heavy large pot. Add enough water to cover by several inches. Let soak overnight. Drain beans. Rinse again in cold water.
2. Combine beans with water to cover by several inches in heavy large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer until tender, adding hot water as necessary, about 1 to 3 hours. Drain beans thoroughly.
3. Rinse and dry heavy large pot used for beans and use to heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft, about 8 minutes.
4. Stir in chiles, entire can of tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, oregano rubbed between palms of your hands, and some salt. Increase heat to high and stir until liquid mostly evaporates.
5. Stir in drained beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Place half of bean mixture in 3-quart casserole dish. Top with Jack cheese. Add remaining bean mixture. Top with Cheddar cheese.
7. Bake in 375°F. about 30 minutes or until heated throughout.

8. Serve sour cream and tortilla chips alongside beans.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Pasta Salad With Feta and Olives

The jalapeños may seem an odd addition to this pasta salad that otherwise seems Greek in spirit. However, as long as the peppers are pithed and seeded completely and then minced, many consumers of the salad may not even recognize them as being jalapeños. Also, note that salad should be served at room temperature for the fullest flavor.

Pasta  Salad  With  Feta  and  Olives
Serves 6

½ cup Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons drained capers, optional
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
2 large jalapeños, seeded and pithed
3 cloves garlic
1 large lemon
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 ounces reduced-fat feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
20 pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped
1 pound farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup sliced green onions

1. Put salted water for pasta on the stove over high heat.
2. Meanwhile, mince parsley, capers if desired, oregano, jalapeños, and garlic.
3. Place minced ingredients together in large serving bowl. Finely grate zest of lemon into bowl. Stir.
4. Add olive oil to bowl and stir.
5. Cut lemon in half and squeeze lemon juice into bowl, straining seeds and pulp. Stir.
6. Add pasta to boiling water and return water to slow boil. Cook al dente. Drain in colander and rinse with cool water.
7. Add feta cheese and olives to bowl. Stir.
8. Add drained pasta to bowl. Stir.
9. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in green onions. Serve at room temperature.

NOTE: May be garnished with tomatoes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Basic Vanilla Cake

It is tempting to use cake mixes. From-mix cakes turn out moist while from-scratch ones often do not. However, once one studies the ingredient list on a cake-mix box, one may vow to never go there again. That's what I did and thus began my search for tried-and-true basic vanilla and basic chocolate cake recipes. I have made this recipe only as cupcakes, but they were tasty.

Basic  Vanilla  Cake
Serves 12

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup water at room temperature
¾ cup heavy cream at room temperature

1. Butter two 9-inch-diameter, round cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper cut to fit bottoms of pans. Butter papers, and then dust pans with flour, tapping out excess.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium-sized bowl until combined.
3. Beat butter in large bowl, using stand-mixer on medium-high speed.
4. Gradually add sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5. Reduce mixer speed to medium. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed.
6. Beat in vanilla. The mixture may look separated at this point.
7. Mix water with cream in measuring cup intended for liquids.
8. Stir flour mixture into creamed mixture in three batches, alternating with half of cream-water mixture. Do not over-stir.
9. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake in 350°F. oven until cakes are lightly golden on top and centers spring back when lightly pressed, about 25 minutes. If anything, undercook slightly, since cakes will continue to cook in hot pans. Cupcakes will need 10 to 12 minutes.
10. Transfer pans to racks, and let cakes cool 10 minutes. Then run knife around the edges of pans, and turn cakes onto racks to cool cakes completely. Remove paper from cakes’ bottoms. You may trim tops of cakes with long serrated knife to make them level before frosting.

Recipe from Food Network Kitchen

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Faith Durand's Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Too many sugar cookies look nice but don't have much to recommend them as a dessert. This recipe makes a delicious cookie, and, another plus, the dough is easy to handle, important for a rolled cookie.

Any holiday is an excuse for making sugar cookies ... if you need an excuse. Older children can make and bake the dough. Nearly any child can decorate them.

Faith Durand's  Best  Cut-Out  Sugar  Cookies
2 to 3 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest, optional
1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese.
2. Beat in granulated sugar. Beat for several minutes or until light-colored and fluffy.
3. Beat in egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and, if using, orange or lemon zest.
4. Beat in baking powder and salt.
5. Gradually add flour until fully incorporated and soft dough is formed.
6. Divide dough in half and wrap flattened balls of dough in plastic wrap. To freeze plastic-wrapped dough, put in freezer bag and freeze up to 1 month. To thaw, leave in refrigerator overnight and then proceed with recipe. If not freezing dough, chill at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
7. Let chilled dough sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Cut cookies out of dough rolled to 1/8" to 1/4" thick and place on ungreased baking sheets about 1" apart. Cookies will rise when baked.
8. Bake in 350°F. oven for about 8 minutes, depending on thickness. Let cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to wire rack.
9. Cool completely before icing or decorating, and store in tightly covered container.

NOTE: The dough handles beautifully. The cookies are quite sturdy after baking. They are delicious without the zest. 

Sugar Cookie Decorating Ideas
    Ice with a sugar glaze; then sandwich with Nutella between two cookies.
    Glaze with warmed jelly; then sandwich with another cut-out cookie on top. (Valentines' Day hearts)
    Drizzle with melted chocolate.
    Ice with royal icing and stick on candy dots for decoration.

    Use a glaze made from sifted confectioners' sugar and milk. Paint it on with a pastry brush. It's easier than spreading a buttercream frosting and will not cause the cookies to get as soft. These cookies don't need softening.
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