Friday, June 25, 2010

Bing Cherry Malts

Hi! I'm just popping in for a minute with dessert. I’m taking a two plus week hiatus from technology to ride bikes, swim and picnic with my kiddo. I also plan on spending time with favorite foodie friends doing some carefree summer cooking. It will be strange to cook and taste without writing a single ingredient down for a while.

My Mactop will be locked away during this time but I should be back to posting recipes the week of July 12th.

Unfortunately, spammers worship me so I’ve turned on my comment moderation for this break. You probably don’t want to read all the crooked and terribly perverted things they try to sell me. If you leave comments I’ll post them as I can from my phone and try to answer any questions. Just try to be patient with me please.

Hope you’re having a fun and exciting summer!

Bing Cherry Malts Printer Version
I adore my Ninja Blender. If you need a new blender these are worth checking out. They’re not too expensive and work better than anything I’ve used before.

2 cups Bing cherries, pitted
2 to 3 tablespoons malted milk powder (usually found by the hot cocoa in stores)
1/4 to 1/3 cup milk
4 cups vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
Whipped cream for garnish, optional

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender. Garnish with whipped cream for extra decadence.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rainbow Chard, Carrot and Cannelloni Soup

Food poising is horrible and I’ve been coping it all weekend. If it ever goes away I promise only to eat healthy things like this wonderful summer chard soup. Well, at least until I forget I how bad food poisoning is.

I’m not sure if it was the old pizza, or eating off trays that had been out for hours at an art walk. Either way, never ever again will I eat old food.

Rainbow Chard, Carrot and Cannelloni Soup
Printer Version
My CSA box this week had rainbow chard and carrots in it. It made fantastic rich vegetable soup. I think I’m starting to feel better already.

¼ cup olive oil
3 carrots, peeled, sliced long ways and cut into half moons
1 onion, diced
½ teaspoon salt
8 cups hot tap water
2 cubes Celifibr Chicken Bouillon Poulet (Vegetarian bouillon cubes, found in Co-Ops or Whole Foods)
2 cubes Celifibr Vegetables Medley Bouillon Legumes (found in same place as above)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
2 (15 ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
1 small bunch rainbow chard chopped into bite size pieces, stems and leaves
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano for garnish

1. Warm olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the carrots, onions and salt and cook until the vegetables are tender stirring occasionally.

2. Add the hot water, chicken bouillon, vegetable bouillon, parsley, oregano and basil. Bring to a simmer.

3. Next, add the beans, can of tomatoes, rainbow chard and lots of freshly cracked pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until chard is tender.

4. Spoon into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Vegan Version: Leave off Parmesan garnish.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Berry Raspberry Icebox Cookies

I know I say this frequently, but these are my new favorite cookies and not just because they’re red, white and blue! I love how each layer has a different flavor but go so well together.

And don’t they look like I slaved over them? No such thing happened. The dough went together in a few short minutes. Think old Rice Krispie Treat commercials where mom pats flour on her face before carrying out a tray of treats, sighing as if she’s spent all her energy baking. That’s exactly how these cookies are.

Of course being red, white and blue might just be my real favorite part.

Berry Raspberry Icebox Cookies Printer Version
The instructions look long, but it's just details in case you need them.

2/3 cup butter, nearly melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs
2 pouches (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
Red food or icing dye
Blue food or icing dye
1 tablespoon raspberry Jell-O
1 tablespoon berry blue Jell-O

1. Line an 8x4-inch loaf pan with waxed paper, extending paper over sides of pan.

2. In a stand mixer beat butter and eggs together. Add the sugar cookie mixes and beat until just combined.

3. Divide the dough into three equal parts and place in bowls. Set one part aside.

4. Add raspberry Jell-O and red dye for color (You’ll need quite a bit or they’ll be pink) to one part. Knead with your hands in the bowl until the Jell-O is mixed in then pick the dough up and finished kneading folding the dough over with your hands until combined. Repeat with berry blue Jell-O and blue dye.

5. Divide the doughs in half again to make 6 layers. Pat a red dough into the wax paper lined pan. Press gently with the back of a dry measuring cup to even out the dough. Next, pat a plain dough between your hands to form nearly the size of the pan. Press the plain dough into the pan over the red layer. Repeat with blue, red, white and blue.

6. Fold the wax paper over the cookie dough and cover with foil. Refrigerate for several hours until firm.

7. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

8. Once chilled, dump the dough out into a cutting surface.

9. Remove dough from pan and trim edges. Cut log into ¼” thick slices. Then cut slices in half to form squares.

10. Place cookies on sheets 1 1/2 inches apart. Freeze sheets for 10 minutes to retain shapes if desired.

11. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are no longer wet looking and are very lightly golden on the sides.

12. Let cookies firm up on the cookie sheets for a couple of minutes then move to a cooling rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Recipe & photographs by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gnocchi with Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Basil in Garlic Cream Sauce

I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of cooking for my family. I’ve been working on a couple assignments the last few weeks that had me creating and cooking fun food, but not our usual fare.

This last project was a week and a half of kid food. About halfway through Jesse informed me if I was going to keep doing this type of work he could only eat so much macaroni & cheese and chicken fingers. They were good, but I agree with him. It’s nice to have some adult food again!

My husband loves gnocchi and tomatoes so I tossed them into a mildly garlic cream sauce as a sorry I fed you toddler food for the last 9 days will you forgive me meal.

If I keep this up maybe he’ll forget he tested three pans of chicken fingers, two batches of macaroni & cheese, three tries with another pasta dish, four versions of carrots, endless amounts of corn and many other kid friendly meals.

On the other hand, my daughter loved it. She’d prefer I cook that way all the time and hopes I’ll get another assignment! I do too honestly. It was exciting to step out of my comfort zone and create something new.

Gnocchi with Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Basil in Garlic Cream Sauce Printer Version

This dish is quick to throw together on busy evenings. You’ll only need about 35 minutes tops from start to table.

2 cups mini tomatoes, any kind
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Annie’s Naturals Roasted Garlic Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for tomatoes
2 to 3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more for tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, plus more for tomatoes
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano
2 (16 ounce) packages potato gnocchi
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup reserved pasta water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

Place the tomatoes in the baking sheet and toss with a little garlic olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until skins pop and tomatoes are soft. Cut in half if you like smaller tomato bites.

Meanwhile, in a bowl toss the Parmesan with flour. Set aside. Bring a pot of salted water it a boil for gnocchi.

In a large saucepan melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn the heat to medium low and add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, half and half, and lastly cheese. Stir constantly until sauce simmers and begins to thicken. Do not boil.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water at the end of cooking time.

Drain gnocchi, toss with sauce, roasted tomatoes and basil. Add some of the reserved pasta water if needed. Garnish with more Parmesan if desired.

Serves 4 to 5.

Notes: For two people cut the recipe in half.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Weeknight Eggplant Parmesan

I found the coolest product at Safeway. Well, my version of cool. Frozen breaded eggplant without a bunch of garbage in it! I know, you’ve probably already heard of this amazing prepared food, but I’m in small town Idaho and don’t get out much.

I was even more amazed when I opened the box. Inside were big fat sliced and breaded eggplant, nothing more. No preformed weirdness and the pieces were all different sizes just like they should be.

This has to be the best convenience food ever. I should send the company a love letter. I wonder if they'd put a restraining order on me for being such a nut.

The sauce was just a doctored up jar of good quality marinara, but wow! This Eggplant Parmesan gives my homemade version a run for its money in about an eighth the time.

What a great healthy meal to have on a weeknight. Oh, I didn’t tell you this meal is healthy? It is! Especially if you bake the cutlets like I do and use just a thin slice of mozzarella on top.

Eggplant, I love you.

Weeknight Eggplant Parmesan
To make this dish vegan, use vegan cheese or leave it off entirely.

1 jar marinara sauce
1/3 cup red wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 pound box Dominex Frozen Eggplant Cutlets, Breaded Italian Style
1 ball mozzarella, thinly sliced
Shredded Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

Slow cooker method: In a small slow cooker add the marinara sauce, wine, olive oil, oregano, and sweet paprika. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.

Stove method: In a large sauce pan reduce the red wine by half over medium high heat. Add the marinara, olive oil, oregano and paprika and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Prepare eggplant cutlets according to package directions. If baking, flip cutlets over the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Add an extra 5 or 10 minutes if cutlets aren’t crispy and golden brown.

Place on plates, spoon hot marinara over the eggplant and top with thin slices of mozzarella. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Notes: If you have it on your oven, the convection setting works well for crisping up these eggplant cutlets.

Printer Version

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Grilled Tomato Garlic Pizza with Sweet Pimientos

I’ve been switching back and forth between grilling pizzas on a stone, and on my favorite Doughmakers Pizza Pans. Both methods produce consistently excellent pizzas with slightly different crusts.

The stone method makes a more crackly crust and the pan style has more of what I think of as traditional crust. Sort of like good take out pizza. I like them both so much I go between them as the mood strikes.

The only way I dislike grilling pizza is placing the dough directly on the grill, I don’t like how you really can’t cook the pizza as one unit, but have to have all the toppings cooked ahead of time. Sometimes the cheese doesn’t even have time to melt before the dough is burnt. Maybe I’m just not talented enough.

This pizza was incredible but Dishboy Scott had some trouble with pimientos. He howled about my using them until I told him they're just chopped sweet peppers. Maybe more people would use pimientos if we renamed them. Like how prunes are now called dried plums!

We'll call it pimiento public relations.

Pizza Dough
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 cup lukewarm water, plus a bit more if needed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt

Place water, yeast, and honey or sugar into a stand mixer bowl. Stir to combine and set aside for 10 minutes.

Place the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and knead with a dough hook on low speed for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand on a clean surface for another minute. Pat into a circle.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside, flipping once to coat with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Makes two large pizzas.

Grilled Tomato Garlic Pizza with Sweet Pimientos
This recipe is written so you can add as much or as little topping as you like. It will taste the same as mine as long as you stick to the cheese proportions. Then again, feel free to change it to your tastes. That’s the fun of making pizza after all.

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic
1/2 pizza dough, recipe above
Olive oil
Coarse cornmeal
Mini tomatoes
Diced onion
Jarred pimientos, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced well
1/2 part mozzarella
1/4 part Asiago cheese
1/4 part Pecorino Romano cheese
Dried oregano
Salt & pepper

1. Turn grill to high heat. Temperature needs time to climb between 500 and 600 degrees. Set on a square pizza stone if using. If not sprinkle a good quality pizza pan with coarse cornmeal.

2. Drain canned tomatoes and puree in a food processor until smooth. Set aside. Halve or quarter mini tomatoes depending on size, place on a paper towel covered plate and salt well. After a few minutes pat dry.

3. Pat out pizza dough with hands rolling as needed. Move to cornmeal sprinkled pizza pan or to a cookie sheet with cornmeal covered parchment for the pizza stone. Make sure the parchment is cut to the size of the pizza stone or it will burn.

4. Lightly brush dough with olive oil and spoon on about half of the tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella and Asiago. Top with tomatoes, onions, pimientos and minced garlic to preference. Top with Pecorino Romano and sprinkle with dried oregano, salt and pepper.

5. Slide the pizza with the parchment onto the pizza stone or set the pizza pan directly on the grill. Close the lid and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes or until bottom is well browned and top is bubbly.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tapenade with Grilled Scooping Devices

There are 5.43 pounds of olives in my refrigerator I can somehow correlate to an impromptu Costco trip. Why the heck I thought buying so many olives was a good idea is beyond me, but maybe I’ll live off tapenade for the next month.

If a person turns orange from eating too many carrots, can one turn purple from too many olives?

I could live off this stuff! Oh wait, I am.

2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 ½ cups pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil from the kalamata olive jar or extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mince garlic in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until olives are finely chopped. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Tapenade Scooping Devices
Oooo I love carby scooping devices.

Any good quality French type bread, sliced
Olive oil

Turn grill to high. Lightly brush sliced bread on one side with olive oil. Place oil side down and grill until toasted. Move to a serving plate and top with luscious tapenade. Shovel into mouth before someone insists you share.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

London Fog Tea and Talks with a Skull Mug

“Why, why, why?!!” I cry as I bang my head against the tabletop. “Why do I have to run out of coffee the day I need to write a big article?” I’m a terrible writer without caffeine and barely passable with.

I grope around for my lucky pink skull mug and desperately seek out another source of caffeine and sugar. Tea... Earl Grey Tea, vanilla syrup and half and half. Yes! I can make a sweet London Fog.

So now you know why I’m missing in action. I have to pretend I’m a writer. Again. Pinky the skull mug will keep me company. Oh god, I’m talking to my mug. Help!

London Fog Tea
Ahhh caffeine and sugar, you will be mine.

1 skull mug, preferably pink
8 to 12 ounces boiling water, depending on the size of your skull mug
1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey Tea
1 tea bag or tea ball
2 tablespoons vanilla syrup
2 tablespoons half and half

Steep tea for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla syrup and half and half.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Banana Split Bars and Nervous Store Clerks

One of these days I’m going to be tossed out of my local grocery store. They think I’m mad in there. Crazy. Insane. The lady who stands staring at ice cream toppings for 30 minutes looking like she's lost her mind.

My muse is the grocery store, much to the dismay of nervous checkers and clerks. Someday I’ll tell them I’m just brainstorming another cookie idea. Someday. For now it’s more fun to make them fidget and look at me nervously.

They’d change their not-so-secret opinions about me if they tasted these banana split bars. Though, after all these years they’d probably be too nervous to eat anything I baked.

Banana Split Bars
(Printer Version)
2/3rds of a (14.4 ounce) box Chocolate Graham Crackers
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1 (5.1 ounce) box Jell-O banana cream instant pudding
2 eggs
2 (8 ounce) boxes full fat cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons strawberry sundae syrup
½ (12 ounce) jar pineapple topping
1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped

1. Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Crush Graham crackers in a bag with the back of a spoon until crackers are crushed, but not uniform in size. Don’t do this in a food processor. Place cracker crumbs in a bowl and mix with melted butter.

3. Set aside ½ cup for topping and press the rest of the crushed crackers into the pan. Bake for 5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, beat together Jell-O, eggs, cream cheese, milk, vanilla extract and salt slowly until mixed. Then beat on medium high for 4 minutes. Pour mixture over hot crumb base.

5. Swirl in strawberry sundae topping and pineapple topping. Sprinkle with remaining cracker crumbs then lastly top with peanuts.

6. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. For easier cutting freeze bars in the pan, then pull out by the foil and peel it off, cut off the very ends, and cut into strips and then into squares.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

P.S. The weekly post for Clara’s Cold Lunch Corner is over for now. School is coming to a close and I’m repeating lunches. I’ll likely post it periodically as I collect new ideas so don’t give up on it yet please!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bison Potato Soup with Bacon & Jalapenos

Whew! I needed to take a couple days off to catch up from my weekend. It was madness I tell you.

Friday afternoon a very fun editor from Virginia put me in touch with another very fun editor from California. They were in a bit of a crazy bind. Well more like a panic really. They needed new rib, chicken, kabob, and pizza recipes with photographs. Oh and maybe a cover if I could swing it. Oh and everything had to be styled specifically so, but not fussy.

I sort of blinked and read it again. They wanted all this by Sunday night and it was Friday afternoon? I had two thoughts. This is absolutely insane, and heck yeah I’m in! All I can say is I’m very lucky I have a bunch of people around me willing to put up with my 100mph brainstorms. Thanks to all their support I not only got it done while having a good time (although I don't know yet if any of my shots worked for their cover),

but was able to give her two extra recipes just in case.

I don’t know if you realize this, but when you look at my blog you aren’t looking at food styling. I’m giving you the real deal. My goal here is specifically to make real food, take pictures of that real food we’re actually eating, and not spend much time fussing about it. In other words, this is my place to unwind.

On the other hand, when I’m working for a magazine, newspaper or corporation I’m creating a product for their business. Food styling and planning is a must and the creative process is much different than my homey little blog. Admittedly, I thoroughly adore that process. I love to make food beautiful! It’s my art and passion.

What typically happens in those types of situations are recipes get planned and tested beforehand and then cooked again in an um, nicer way to photograph. The point is to make us all drool, and to do that food has to be fussed with quite a bit. Sadly, most of that food can’t be enjoyed and ends up in the trash, which makes me feel shameful.

Thoughts aside, I can tell I’ve been neglecting my happy place here because I’ve been giving you a lot of dessert and soup recipes. When I toss the meat and potatoes to the side so to speak, it means I’m just sharing the end pieces. I’ll spend some time catching up on a few meals. Hopefully on ones with lots of vegetables.

All I’ve got to offer you today is soup, again. Bison soup that I took a quick shot of a couple weeks ago. I hope it’ll be enough for now.

Bison Potato Soup with Bacon & Jalapeños
Here in the Northwest we're still coping with rain while the rest of you are
enjoying the sun. Soup season might run through July at this point.

8 ounce package sharp cheddar, shredded
¼ cup flour plus 2 tablespoons, divided
½ pounds (about two large) russet potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 pound ground bison (ground beef works too)
3 cups chicken broth
1 (12 ounce) bottle beer
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups milk
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup jarred jalapenos, diced
2 tablespoons liquid from jalapeño jar
½ pound crispy cooked bacon, chopped

1. Toss the shredded cheese with 2 tablespoons flour, set aside.

2. Scrub potatoes and cut into large dice. Cover with water in a large pot, salt well and bring to a boil. When nearly fork tender strain the water and add the potatoes back to the pot.

3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high. Add the carrots, onions, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder and cook until softened some, about 5 minutes. Add the bison and cook until no longer pink. (If there’s a lot of fat you can strain some out here.) Add 1/4 cup flour and cook for 3 minutes more minutes. Pour the mixture in with the potatoes.

4. Add the chicken broth, beer and parsley and bring the soup to a high simmer for a few minutes. Add the milk and bring back to a simmer, but do not boil for 5 more minutes stirring often. Turn off heat and stir in cheese until melted. Stir in the sour cream and jalapeño juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Garnish bowls with diced jalapeños and crispy bacon.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Printer Version

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