Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Chickpeas with Chard and Pan-Roasted Tomatoes

July 7, 2011
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This dish may not sound like much, but it is absolutely delicious and incredibly satisfying.  And it’s meat-free!

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 small plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small bunch Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed and leaves torn (about 8 cups)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cook the rice according to the package directions.

Twenty minutes before the rice is done, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, cut-side down, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until browned and starting to soften, 3 to 5 minutes; turn and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add the chard, raisins, garlic, 2 tablespoons water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the skillet. Cook, tossing, until the chard wilts, 2 to 3 minutes.

Return the tomatoes to the skillet, add the chickpeas and lemon juice, and toss until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve over the rice.

Serves: 4

Per serving: 357 calories, 9 grams of fat, 61 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein


Recipe: Marinated Grilled Apples with Mint

July 7, 2011
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This dessert was absolutely fabulous, and a great end to our vegetarian grilling adventure.  I used my new juicer and some really delicious fresh oranges, and I think it made all the difference (so shy away from the ol’ Tropicana if you can).  We served this with some vanilla frozen yogurt, and it was heavenly!

  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and each cut crosswise into 4 (1/2-inch) slices
  • Cooking spray

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add apple slices; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 to 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare grill.

Remove apple from bag, reserving marinade. Place apple slices on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side, turning and basting frequently with reserved marinade. Arrange apple slices on a platter; drizzle with any remaining marinade.


Recipe: Tandoori Tofu and Vegetable Kebabs

July 7, 2011
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For our vegetarian/grilled dinner party, I served these kebabs as the entree.  The marinade was great, but unfortunately the tofu didn’t seem to really absorb much of it.  Perhaps a longer marinating period would help?

We ommitted the rice, since we were having a bunch of other food, but we added some sweet potato cubes (par-cooked) to the skewers and they were actually the tastiest part of the dish.

  • 1 (16-ounce) package water-packed firm tofu, drained and cut into 16 cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 16 large mushrooms (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 small red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided

Preheat oven to 375°.

Arrange tofu in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until tofu releases 3 or more tablespoons liquid.

Prepare grill.

Combine chopped onion and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl. Add tofu, mushrooms, and onion wedges; toss gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

While tofu and vegetables marinate, prepare rice. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in raisins and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.

Remove tofu and vegetables from bowl; discard marinade. Thread tofu cubes, mushrooms, and onion wedges alternately onto 8 (6-inch) skewers. Lightly coat kebabs with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Serve with rice.


Recipe: Grilled Eggplant with Caramelized Onions and Fennel

July 7, 2011
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One of our favorite couples to go out with has a big problem – the Mrs. is a vegetarian.  I know what you’re thinking – they must be VERY cool for us to hang out with them in spite of such a glaring personality flaw.  ;-)

I kid, of course.  We wanted to have this dynamic duo over, so I took on not one but TWO culinary challenges.  First, I would make sure the meal was both vegetarian AND delicious.  And second, since the weather was warming up nicely, I would make sure that every course – including dessert – had some sort of grilled component.

This was the appetizer I served, and it was very light and refreshing.  For those of you who are not fennel fans, have no fear – caramelizing it with the onions mellows it out significantly.  Plus, there is so much good stuff going on in this salad, you won’t taste any licorice-esque flavors at all.

  • 1 (1 1/4-pound) eggplant (about 4-inch diameter), peeled
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 3/4 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 1 large bulb)
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cups trimmed arugula
  • 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Prepare grill to medium heat.

Cut eggplant crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 7 minutes on each side or until browned. Set eggplant slices aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fennel and onion; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Combine remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, arugula, vinegar, and oil in a medium bowl; toss gently to coat. Divide arugula mixture evenly among 8 appetizer plates; top each serving with 1 eggplant slice. Arrange about 1/3 cup fennel mixture on each eggplant slice; top with 2 tablespoons tomatoes and 1 tablespoon cheese. Sprinkle the chopped basil and thyme evenly over cheese.


Recipe: Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Pecan

July 7, 2011
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Think your family won’t eat brussels sprouts?  Well, you might be able to con them into it with this recipe.  Between the onion, thyme, and lemon, the sometimes harsh and cabbage-esque flavor of the brussels sprouts is lightened and brightened.  Then, the pecans and the caramelization add a nutty flavor that really works with the dish.  I thought I’d have some leftovers to keep for myself, but my family scarfed up the whole thing!

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups prechopped onion
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add thyme and onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth and Brussels sprouts; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in pecans, lemon rind, lemon juice, and black pepper.

You can see a photo here.


Recipe: Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas

May 11, 2011
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Wow, I cannot believe it’s been over a month since I posted anything.  Don’t worry – I haven’t been eating bad take-out.  In fact, the kitchen at TWT headquarters has been busy, and I have TONS of delicious new dishes to share with you.

My husband and I have been on a diet since late March.  Basically, even though we are good little exercisers, we weren’t feeling as healthy as we thought we could be.  We started using My Fitness Pal, a website/app that helps track calories (both consumed and burned), and we began paying a LOT more attention to the types and amounts of food we were putting into our bodies.  We also pledged to be more conscious of the calories we were drinking – so beer and wine consumption was significantly reduced.

The good news?  Not only am I down 10 pounds (and husband is down 12), but I have loads of healthy new recipes to talk about.  Not all of them were out-and-out successes, but I have found it amazing how satisfied I can be and still lose weight.  It’s all about planning, discipline, and understanding that while it’s okay to “cheat,” there are consequences to how you treat your temple, and if you can make good choices most of the time, you’ll really reap the benefits.

Let’s get to the food, shall we?

This recipe has now become one of my go-to dishes.  Empanadas are time consuming (especially when you make the dough from scratch), but you can make them ahead and freeze them for quick weeknight dinners or impressive party snacks.  This version shuns meat for (I think) equally filling beans and sweet potatoes, and baking rather than deep frying yields a golden brown result with all the extra fat and oil.

Note: Part of our lifestyle change involves watching portion sizes.  After all, who cares if something is only 100 calories if it’s only a bite!  In that vein, I am going to include key nutritional information in all future posts, to the extent that it is available.

  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine canola oil, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and egg in a medium bowl. Gradually add oil mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Knead lightly until smooth. Shape dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat broiler.

Place poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 8 minutes or until blackened, turning after 6 minutes. Place in a paper bag; close tightly. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel chile; cut in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membranes. Finely chop.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook the cumin seeds in a large saucepan over medium heat 1 minute or until toasted, stirring constantly. Place cumin in a clean spice or coffee grinder; process until ground. Combine cumin, poblano, sweet potatoes, and next 5 ingredients (through 1/2 teaspoon salt) in a large bowl; mash with a fork until almost smooth.

Divide dough into 10 equal portions, shaping each into a ball. Roll each dough portion into a (5-inch) circle on a lightly floured surface. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), spoon 3 level tablespoons poblano mixture into center of each circle. Moisten edges of dough with egg white; fold dough over filling. Press edges together to seal. Place empanadas on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut 3 diagonal slits across top of each empanada. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serving: 1 empanada

Per serving: 209 calories, 8.4 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbs, and 5.1 grams of protein


Recipe: Roasted Tomato and Garlic Puttanesca

April 6, 2011
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Unfortunately, our last Week in a Day dinner was our least favorite of the bunch – so much for going out with a bang!  This recipe had all of the makings of a successful pasta dinner, but it just seemed to fall flat.  The tomatoes and garlic smelled amazing while they were roasting, but once they were blended into the sauce, they lost their depth.  I thought that serving this dish last would allow all of the flavors to stew and mesh and intensify, but I think the opposite happened – so, maybe if you eat the sauce right away it will live up to its promise!  If someone tries that, please let me know how it turns out.

As far as the experiment as a whole, I was really pleased with the results.  I was able to spend more time with my hubby and critters while still putting satisfying, home-cooked meals on the table.  We didn’t eat out for the whole week.  We even wound up with leftovers (bolognese and lentil soup) in the freezer for a proverbial rainy day.  I will definitely continue to watch the show, and I hope she throws more menus out there that will work for our tastes.

  • 1 head garlic
  • 12 to 14 large Roma or plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked and chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup pitted oil-cured olives, loosely packed
  • 6 flat filets anchovies
  • 3 tablespoons drained Capote capers or stemmed caperberries
  • 1 small Fresno chile or Italian red cherry pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound penne or bucatini
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Arrange a cooling rack over a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet for easy clean up.  Cut the ends off the entire head garlic to expose all of the cloves. Season the garlic with a little salt, some black pepper, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, then wrap in foil.  Cut the tomatoes in 1/2 and place in a bowl. Lightly dress the tomatoes by drizzling with extra-virgin olive oil. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and marjoram, and arrange on the baking sheet cut-side down. Bake the tomatoes 20 to 25 minutes, then flip the tomatoes, and roast 20 minutes more. Roast the garlic 45 to 50 minutes alongside the tomatoes.  Place about 2/3 of the tomatoes in a food processor. Coarsely chop the remainder of the tomatoes, and reserve. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin, and add to the food processor pulsing until smooth. Add the mixture to a Dutch oven and add the olives, anchovies, capers, and chile. Cook for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Transfer to a small container for a make-ahead meal and refrigerate, or transfer to a serving bowl. Store the chopped tomatoes separately, or add to the serving bowl.  To serve, bring water to a boil, salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reheat the sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce for 1 minute, to coat. Serve in shallow bowls with lots of parsley, and drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil.


Recipe: Butternut Squash Mostarda

March 21, 2011
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Even though the olive oil poached salmon was a winner, I may have loved this side dish just as much.  It was sweet, acidic, salty, citrusy, slightly spicy – you name it, the flavor was there.  And despite all of the crazy stuff going on with this dish, it still felt really light and fresh.  Do note that it takes a LOT of butternut squash to make 4 cups diced – and there is a good amount of prep time associated with peeling and chopping those bad boys.  Plan accordingly, with your wallet AND with the clock!

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 orange, peel removed in strips with a veggie peeler and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard powder
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped

Coat a large straight-sided saute pan with olive oil. Add in the red onions, crushed red pepper, and season with salt. Bring the pan to a medium heat and cook the onions until they are soft and aromatic, 7 to 8 minutes.

Add in the squash, dried cranberries, sugar, champagne vinegar, orange zest, mustard seeds, mustard powder, and season with salt. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook another 15 minutes, stirring the squash frequently until the liquid has evaporated and the squash is a chutney-like consistency. Check to make sure the squash is cooked through and soft but can still hold its shape. Stir in chives.


Recipe: Butter-Braised Radishes, Kohlrabi, and Brussels Sprouts

February 28, 2011
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This is the side dish I served with the pan-roasted duck breasts, and truthfully, it almost upstaged the meat.  These vegetables are so delicious – if you know someone who claims to hate any of these specimens, I believe this dish would set them straight.

Speaking of, this was my first experience either eating OR cooking kohlrabi.  The “German turnip” is actually a member of the cabbage family, but don’t let that sway you from using it.  It is much milder and sweeter than cabbage, and it has a really nice texture (I likened it to a broccoli stalk).  You can see what it looks like below, both uncut/unpeeled and then prepped for the dish.

As with all recipes, make sure you read the whole thing before starting – there are a lot of steps, but if you prep smart, you can get this on the table within a reasonable timeframe.  Enjoy!  Oh, and you can see a photo of the finished dish with the duck at the link above.

  • 12 ounces Brussels sprouts
  • 2 bunches Easter or red radishes
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon champagne vinegar, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock, plus more if needed
  • 6 kohlrabi, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives or mint

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare an ice bath.  Meanwhile, trim the root ends of the Brussels sprouts and remove and discard any tough or bruised outer leaves.  Cut the sprouts in half through the root end.  Blanch the sprouts until tender, about 4 minutes.  Chill in the ice bath and drain.  Transfer to a tray and put in the refrigerator to chill.

Trim the greens from the radishes and wash the radishes under cold water.  Cut larger radishes into 6 wedges and smaller radishes into quarters.  Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat in a saute pan big enough to hold the radishes in a single layer.  Add the shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until softened.  Add the radishes, sugar, and vinegar, season generously with salt and pepper, and add 1/4 cup of the stock.  Bring to a simmer, cover the pan, and simmer gently for about 8 minutes, until the radishes are crisp-tender.  Cook uncovered, swirling the pan, to glaze the radishes, about 4 minutes.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, cut the stems and roots from the kohlrabi.  Stand each kohlrabi on a cut end and peel it with a sharp knife, cutting deep enough to reach the tender flesh.  Cut lengthwise into slices about 1/2 inch thick.  Trim the rounded sides of the slices and cut the kohlrabi into 1/2 inch-wide batons.  You need 2 cups of batons.  Add the kohlrabi to the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, or until tender.  Drain and transfer to paper towels to drain thoroughly.

Bring the remaining 1/4 cup stock to a simmer in a large saute pan.  Whisk in he remaining butter until emulsified and smooth.  Add the Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi and cook over high heat for 45 seconds.  Add the radishes and any liquid remaining in the pan and heat through.  If the butter begins to break, you can swirl in another couple of tablespoons of stock or water.  Toss in the chives and season with salt and pepper and a few drops of vinegar.  Transfer to a platter and serve.


Recipe: Farfalle with Golden Beets, Beet Greens, and Pine Nuts

February 21, 2011
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Howdy, howdy!  I’ve missed you, bloglets.  Here is the 30-second update: we stopped playing Fantasy TCAS because I was kicking my hubby’s ass so badly (and relatedly, that Target challenge was el stupido), I’ve been to Winston-Salem and back TWICE over the past two weeks, and now we are in NYC for the long weekend (thanks, dead Presidents).

In an effort to get back in the swing of things, I figured I’d write up this recipe while looking at the snow fall over Manhattan.  This is a nice winter dish, since the warm pasta is so comforting and it’s relatively easy to find golden beets (they had them aplenty at my local Whole Foods, where I was accosted by another shopper who wanted to know what they were and what I was going to do with them).  Husband and I both wished there were more greens in the dish – like all greens, they cook down a ton – but otherwise we really enjoyed the meal.  You could make the dish with regular beets, but the end result will be very pink pasta.

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large onions, quartered lengthwise through root end, sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bunches 2-inch-diameter golden beets with fresh healthy greens; beets peeled, each cut into 8 wedges, greens cut into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 12 ounces farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

Heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and stir until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons oil and onions to same skillet and sauté until beginning to soften and turn golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to sauté until onions are tender and browned, about 30 minutes longer. Add garlic and stir 2 minutes. Scatter beet greens over onions. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil over; cover and cook until beet greens are tender, about 5 minutes.Meanwhile, cook beets in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beets to medium bowl. Return water to boil. Add pasta to beet cooking liquid and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Stir onion-greens mixture and beets into pasta. Add pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten. Season with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Divide pasta among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve, passing additional cheese.


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