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  • Have a Spooky Halloween!

    Cheddar Witches Fingers - Cheese straws in the shape of fingers, complete with a black almond "finger nail." Delicious and totally spooky.

    Candy Apples - You don't need to go to the fair to get my favorite treat because you can make these at home. Black food coloring gives them a festive touch.

    Pumpkin Caramel Sauce - Having a not-so-scary Halloween party? Serve ice cream with this pumpkin infused caramel sauce on top.

Monthly Archives: June 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Chipotle Hummus

When Eric and I moved to Virginia earlier this year, having a Trader Joe’s nearby was one of the things we were most excited about.  There are several items I love getting from there, but their chipotle hummus has to be my favorite.  Since we were buying it so frequently, I decided to try making it myself.  I couldn’t be happier with the results!

This hummus is full of flavor from the roasted red pepper and chipotle.  It has a bit of a kick to it, but you could certainly add another chipotle if you wanted it spicier.  It also has a great smoky flavor, and it goes especially well with grilled vegetables.  You can use this for more than just dipping, too.  This hummus would make a fantastic spread inside a wrap or pita.  Just fill with your favorite vegetables, and you’ve got a healthy and delicious lunch.

Roasted Red Pepper and Chipotle Hummus
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained, 1 tablespoon of liquid reserved
1/4 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted red pepper, plus 2 tablespoons for serving
1 chipotle in adobo
1 1/2 teaspoons adobo sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
scant 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

-In a food processor, combine chickpeas, reserved liquid, tahini, garlic, red pepper, chipotle, adobo sauce and lemon juice until a paste forms.
-Scrape down bowl and add olive oil, cumin and paprika.  Puree until smooth.  Season with salt, to taste.
-Transfer hummus to serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Top with roasted red peppers and serve with pita bread and crudités.

Makes about 2 cups
Note: This hummus can be stored up to five days in the refrigerator.

Cook Like a Champion original

Mexican Pizza

Eric and I love making pizza.  With its endless combinations of dough, sauce, cheese and toppings, pizza can be whatever you want to be.  I can’t think of many dishes that can be made into breakfast, dinner and dessert.  Pizza is versatile, and I like that about it.  Having already given an Asian inspired pizza a try, I was excited to see the recipe for this Mexican one.

This pizza’s sauce is made from a flavorful black bean and roasted red pepper puree.  Spiced up with chili powder and cumin, it was good enough to eat on its own.  It tasted even better on the pizza, which was topped with Monterey Jack cheese, grape tomatoes, Anaheim peppers (from our garden!) and green onions.  This pizza isn’t the greasy, guilt-inducing kind, so there’s no need to feel bad about eating it.  That’s a good thing for me because I know I’ll be making it again soon.

Mexican Pizza
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
Kosher salt
1 pound whole wheat pizza dough
cornmeal, for dusting
1 cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 green onion, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup shredded lettuce
3 tablespoons low-fat sour cream

-Set the pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450º.
-In a food processor, combine black beans, red peppers, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Puree until smooth.  Taste and season with salt, if needed.
-Roll the dough into a 12-inch round and place on a cornmeal dusted pizza peel.
-Spread the black bean puree on top, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
-Top with cheese, tomatoes, green onion and Anaheim pepper.
-Slide pizza onto the preheated stone and bake for about 12 minutes, or until crust is crisp and cheese is bubbling.
-Transfer pizza to a work surface and cut into 8 slices.  Top each with lettuce and dollops of sour cream and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Adapted from Spike Mendelsohn, Food and Wine, July 2010

Herby Fresh Pasta Dough

For Christmas, Eric’s mom got me one of the best gifts ever – this pasta attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer.  We’ve made pasta several times since then, and there really is a substantial difference in taste between the pasta we make and the pasta we buy.  Although somewhat time-consuming, making fresh pasta yields a result that is well worth the time and effort.  Making it does not require any certain level of skill, just patience.

This recipe is definitely my favorite so far.  The pasta is as beautiful as it is delicious.  We used herbs from our garden (rosemary, basil and chives), which made making this pasta all the more exciting.  You can use any combination of herbs or any single herb you want.  Either way, you’re sure to end up with an intensely herby pasta that will be a fantastic vessel for your favorite sauce.

Herby Fresh Pasta Dough
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup fresh herbs, minced
water as needed

Sift the flour onto a large wooden cutting board (or other work surface), forming a mound.  With the back of a spoon, make a hollow in the center of the mound.  Add the eggs, yolk, oil, salt and herbs into the hollow and, using a fork, whisk to combine.

Gradually begin pulling in flour from the edge and continue incorporating more flour until a viscous paste forms.  Using both hands, scoop the remaining flour onto the paste in the middle.  Work the flour into the paste.  Add water, a teaspoon at a time, if the paste does not absorb all the flour or if the ingredients cannot be easily worked.

Using both thumbs, work in the water.  Press the dough into a ball and continue working in the rest of the flour.

To knead the dough, push out with the heels of your hands, then reform into a ball.  Continue this kneading process until the dough has a firm but slightly elastic consistency and no longer changes shape when you remove your hands.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for one hour.  If you have a pasta press, follow manufacturer’s instructions to shape the dough.  Alternately, you can roll the dough and cut it by hand.

Cooking times will vary based on the shape of your pasta and length of time it was dried.  I cooked mine, immediately after shaping, for about 2 minutes.

Adapted from The Pasta Bible by Christian Teubner, Silvio Rizzi and Tan Lee Leng

Vegetable Fried Rice

Eric and I try to eat mostly healthy foods, but everyone has their weaknesses.  Apparently, one of mine is this fried rice.  It was so good that I kept wanting to go back for more!  I’m glad I didn’t because it tasted great the next day when I had it for lunch.

I’ve never made fried rice, and I was unsure how this would turn out.  After all, hibachi restaurants have an entire cooking area on which to make their fried rice.  All I had was a skillet, and I was positive the rice wouldn’t get that crispy texture I love so much.  I’m so glad to say I was wrong; this rice had the perfect texture.  The carrots, peas and eggs each added additional flavors and textures to the rice, and the soy and oyster sauces gave it just the right amount of richness and saltiness.  It was the ultimate side dish to the Soy Ginger Glazed Chicken Eric made that night.

Vegetable Fried Rice
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup frozen peas
2-3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups cooked Jasmine or other long-grain rice, chilled
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce

-Heat a large skillet over high heat.  When hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil.
-Add the onion and cook 1-2 minutes.
-Add the garlic, ginger and white part of the green onions.  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
-Add the carrot and cook just until it is crisp-tender, about 1 minute.
-Add the frozen peas and cook until just warmed through.
-Empty contents into a large bowl and set aside.
-Return skillet to heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil.  Add the eggs and whisk constantly until the eggs are just set.
-Transfer eggs to bowl with vegetables.
-Return skillet to heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.  Add the rice and, using a wooden spoon, break up any clumps.
-Stir evenly to coat rice with the oil and then allow to sit undisturbed for about 2 minutes.
-Stir the rice again, breaking up any clumps.  Add soy and oyster sauces and stir until rice is thoroughly coated.
-Add the remaining green onions, and then add the eggs and vegetables back to the skillet and toss to combine.
-Adjust seasonings by adding more soy sauce, if needed.

Serves 4

Cook Like a Champion original

Soy Ginger Glazed Chicken

Eric and I eat chicken quite frequently, so it’s important to me to have several recipes for it.  I don’t like having the same dishes over and over, and this dish was a welcome addition to our chicken repertoire.  The glaze is incredibly easy and only requires three ingredients.  Plus, it can be used on beef, pork, shrimp, salmon or turkey.  It’s great for grilling on short notice because the meat doesn’t need to marinate.  We left our chicken breasts whole, but you could easily turn them into kebabs.  The best part about this glaze is that it tastes fantastic.  It gets a bittersweet orange flavor from the marmalade, a fresh and spicy flavor from the ginger and a bit of earthy saltiness from the soy sauce.  We served this with vegetable fried rice, which went perfectly with the chicken.

We used our indoor grill for this, so cooking times may vary depending on what type of grill you are using.

Soy Ginger Glazed Chicken
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

-In a small bowl, mix together marmalade, soy sauce and ginger.  Set aside.
-Prepare grill or preheat grill pan.
-Cook the chicken 5 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 5 minutes.
-Brush each side with glaze.  Cook 1-2 more minutes on each side, or until chicken is cooked through.
-Remove chicken from grill and immediately brush each side with remaining glaze.

Adapted from Everyday Food, June 2010