Strawberry Buckle

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This is a really easy dessert to make. I didn’t have a lot of time tonight but I really wanted to make something sweet and fruity — hence this buckle was born. I think most people would call this a strawberry crumble, but I grew up in the south, and for some reason crumbles were always referred to as ‘buckles.’ I think this was mostly because it sounds cuter with our accent. The crumble v. buckle debate is certainly not one I wish to undertake; I’m only interested in a sweet crumbly fruit dessert to serve on vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

For the strawberry mixture:

– 2 pounds of fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed

– 1 tablespoon confectioner sugar

– 1 tablespoon arrowroot

– 1/3 cup brown sugar

– 3 tablespoons lemon juice

– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

– 2/3 cup flour

– 2/3 cup oats

– 1/3 cup brown sugar

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– 1/4 cup pistachios

– 1/2 cup butter, chopped into pieces.

Instructions

1. Grease a 9×9 square baking dish, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Take all the strawberry mixture ingredients and mix them together in a large bowl. Move to prepared pan.

3. Put all the topping ingredients into a food processor. Blend until it starts to stick together and look like a crust; this will take at least 1-2 minutes.

4. Place the topping on top of the strawberry mixture, spread evenly and press down. Bake for 45 minutes until the topping looks lightly browned and the filling looks saucy. Serve with ice cream 🙂

Smokey Chili Bean Hummus

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In addition to liking to cook, I also really enjoy couponing. There are so many useful things I get for free because I use coupons. A while ago, I got a bunch of free cans of Bush’s chili beans  and now I’m trying to figure out what to use them in. So far, I’ve tried soups and burritos, but I wanted to try to use them in a hummus because I’m a big fan of bean dips.

I played around with this a little bit, and I was worried that the chili sauce might negatively impact the flavor of the hummus, or potentially make it too soupy. However, I was very surprised at how good this turned out! It’s super easy, just toss all the ingredients into the food processor, process until smooth, and serve with whatever.

Ingredients

– 1 can bush’s chili beans, pinto beans in mild sauce

– 1/2 cup tahini

– 1/4 teaspoon of salt & pepper

– 1/2 teaspoon of smoked Hungarian paprika

– 1/4 teaspoon of cumin

– 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

– 5 cloves of garlic roasted lightly in two tablespoons of olive oil

– 1/4 cup either full-fat plain Greek yogurt or labneh

Instructions

1. Drain the chili beans, but don’t rinse! Rinsing them will take off the the chili sauce completely. You want to get some of that nice flavor; you just don’t need all the sauce that comes in the can. Add to food processor.

2. Roast your garlic over medium heat until lightly browned. Add both the garlic and the olive oil to your food processor.

3. Add everything else into the food processor and blend till smooth!

Vegan Saffron Rice Pudding (Shole Zard شله زرد)

sholezard

 

Like rice pudding? Okay good, then we can still be friends. Rice pudding is one of the most comforting foods on the planet. This vegan recipe, with super foods like saffron, cinnamon, and cardamom, results in a marginally healthy dessert (mazel tov!).  It’s easy to make, and fun to decorate. Mine is definitely not nearly as fancy as these usually end up being. Just google “shole zard” and go to images — you’ll see the work of people far more patient that myself.

Ingredients

– 2 cups, washed basmati rice

– 10 cups of water

– 1/2 cup earth balance (or butter if you don’t feel like doing it vegan)

– 2 and a half cups of white sugar

– 1/2 cup rose water

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon

– 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

– 1/4 teaspoon cloves

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– 1 teaspoon of saffron steeped in 2 tablespoons of hot water for 5 minutes

– 1/2 cup of pistachios, finely chopped

Instructions

1. In a large stock pot, add the washed rice and the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Scrape off the white foam that forms on top. Also, be mindful that you don’t accidentally burn your rice during this process, stir often just to check.

2. Add sugar, stir until dissolved completely. Then add the rose water, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt, pistachios, and steeped saffron. Stir well, and continue to simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Make sure to keep stirring often so that you don’t burn the bottom; it’s pretty easy to do if you don’t pay attention.

3. Check and make sure that the rice grains seem very mushy and that your rice pudding seems set. Pour into a 9×13 dish and garnish with pistachios and cinnamon (or whatever else you can think of!).

 

Spaghetti & Cheese Pie with Garlicky Roasted Butternut Squash

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I love macaroni and cheese, and my boyfriend has taught me that the secret to the best macaroni and cheese is this secret ingredient: sodium citrate. Never heard of it? Well, you can get it on amazon, and it will change your mac and cheese experience. It instantly transforms runny, drippy cheese sauce into the gooey kind that you get at restaurants but can’t ever quite seem to replicate at home.

Now, I love mac and cheese but I also love spaghetti pies. I thought tonight I would combine the two — when you bake spaghetti enough the outside becomes a crust which encases the rest of your delicious creation. Also, I think that when you use spaghetti instead of macaroni there is more sauce in the sauce to pasta ratio, which I prefer, because… obviously, because it’s a butter cheese sauce! This paired really well with the roasted butternut squash, and made me feel less guilty about eating half of the spaghetti pie… A little bit of vegetables goes a long way in assuaging my conscience.

Roasted Butternut Squash

1. Peel & cut a butternut squash into 1 inch cubes. Coat in olive oil, toss with 3 minced cloves of garlic, salt & pepper. Bake at 430 degrees for 40 minutes; or until soft and just beginning to brown.

Spaghetti and Cheese Pie

Ingredients

– 1/2 pound cooked angel hair pasta

– 1/4 stick of butter for the pasta, plus an additional 1/4 cup for the panko topping

– 1/2 a small onion, minced

– 3 cloves of garlic, minced

– 2 tablespoons of flour

– 2 and a half cups of cheese; I picked plain cheddar

– 2 cups low fat milk (or whole, why not? Go for it)

– 2 and a half teaspoons of sodium citrate

– 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

– Salt & pepper to taste

– 1 and a half cups of panko crumbs

Instructions 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a deep 9×9 inch pan. Melt 1/4 cup of butter into a large sauce pot. Add the onion and garlic, cook until translucent over medium high heat.

2. Lower the heat to the medium-low range. Add the flour, whisk until well combined. Whisk in the milk.

3. Add the cheese, stir very well until you have a nice, smooth sauce. Then, add sodium citrate, paprika, salt & pepper. Whisk well over the low heat for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the cooked pasta into the pot, toss well. Pour into the 9×9 inch pan.

5. Now for the topping, take out a small pan. Melt the second 1/4 cup butter in it over low heat, and toss in the panko to coat. Place on top of the spaghetti. Bake for 20 minutes.

Oreo Cookie Butter Cookies

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Yum! Are you feeling bad today? Do you feel like it’s time to just say to hell with everything, and eat like two dozen cookies? If so, these are the cookies for you. They are made from oreo cookie butter sold at Trader Joe’s (the container is in the picture)! It’s like regular cookie butter… but better because it’s oreo flavor, and everything oreo flavor is automatically number one in dessert land. These are very buttery, crispy, and chocolatey at the same time. They are also extremely easy and would be a good Valentine’s day snack to make for your friends/lovers/enemies.

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near by, you can always make your own oreo butter. I like this recipe here. However, I have not tried making these cookies with homemade cookie butter, only with the Trader Joe’s kind. I imagine it would work just fine, but that’s only my best guess. If you try making this with your own, homemade, oreo butter then you should leave me a comment and let me know how it goes 🙂

Oreo Cookie Butter Cookies

Ingredients 

– 1 container of Trader Joe’s oreo cookie butter

– 1/2 cup of butter, very soft

– 1/2 cup brown sugar

– 1/4 cup white sugar

– 1 egg

– 1 teaspoon of vanilla

– 3/4 cup flour

– 2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder

– 1 teaspoon of baking soda

– 1/8 teaspoon of salt

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line large baking sheet with a silpat

2. Mix the cookie butter, butter, brown & white sugar, egg, and vanilla together in a stand-up mixer with paddle attachment for several minutes (3-4). Make sure it is very well mixed.

3. Add the arrowroot, baking soda, and salt — mix very well for another 2 minutes.

4. Slowly add in the flour, mix for another minute until you have a well-formed dough. If the dough seems to goopy to you, add another tablespoon or two of flour until it looks thick enough.

5. You can chill the dough if you want for an hour or so, but I didn’t. Roll into small balls (these will spread ALOT), and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, and you will have thin, crispy, delicious, oreo cookie butter cookies.

Vegan Fesenjoon AKA The Greatest Pomegranate Walnut Stew (خورش فسنجان‎)

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Yum yum yum! Ever try fesenjoon? It’s a sweet & sour Persian delicacy guaranteed to become your newest food obsession. It’s easy to make and it will impress your friends, they’ve probably never tried anything like this before… unless they are Persian, in which case they will just be surprised you learned how to cook this.

Generally this recipe, like most Persian dishes, is not vegetarian/vegan. It’s often made with chicken, however, my house is a meat-free zone so I veganized it! Without the chicken, it’s much tastier and healthier. You get all the benefits of the pomegranate and walnuts without the added cholesterol and sat. fat. However, if you can’t handle the thought of eating soy protein, you can just sub in chicken for the Gardein meat replacement (but you should really try it vegan first!).  Gardien is the best choice for replacing meat in stews. It tastes delicious and it’s strong enough to hold up to the stew — it won’t disintegrate. Also, their beefless tips and chicken scaloppini are not heavily seasoned so they can easily take on stew flavors.  However, if you don’t want to use Gardein meat, you can try other things like tofu, plain seitan, or just a can of kidney beans.

Fesenjoon

Ingredients

– Gardien Beefless Tips (pictured above)

– 1 tablespoon of turmeric

– 2 tablespoons of olive oil

– 1 large onion

– 3 large cloves of garlic

– 8 ounces of walnuts, ground to pieces in your food processor (pictured above)

– 3 cups vegetable broth

– 1 teaspoon of Hungarian smoked paprika

– 1/2 teaspoon of pepper

– 1/3 pomegranate molasses (usually you can find this in the ethnic section of most major super markets, if not, middle eastern groceries always have it, and so does amazon)

– 2 tablespoons of sugar

– 1 teaspoon tomato paste

– salt to taste

Instructions

1. Heat the Gardien beefless tips in your microwave for about one and a half minutes. Take them out and put them in a large ziplock bag with a little olive oil ( 1 tablespoon or less) and the turmeric. Shake to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes in a skillet on medium high heat. Transfer to a plate.

2. Take a large pot, and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and . Add onion and garlic, cook for about 5 minutes until translucent.

3. Add the ground walnuts, cook for about 2-3 minutes until walnuts look toasty, but not burned! Stir very frequently!

4. Add the broth, paprika, and pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally.

5. Add the cooked beefless tips, cover, and continue to simmer on medium low heat for another 20 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally.

6.  Add the pomegranate molasses, sugar, and tomato paste. Simmer UNCOVERED for another 20 minutes on medium low heat. Add salt to taste. Serve over basmati rice!

 

Mast-o-Khiar (Yogurt & Cucumber Sauce)

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I love yogurt, especially paired with cucumbers. This Persian recipe is great on rice, kabobs, salad… pretty much anything. You can even eat it plain, if you want. I just take big spoonfuls all the time, so this never lasts very long. To make this vegan is very easy, just don’t use dairy yogurt. Use soy!

Must-o-Khiar 

Ingredients

– 1 medium seedless cucumber, skinned and finely chopped

– 1/4 cup Labneh (pictured above! But if you don’t have it, just use all plain yogurt)

– 1/4 cup plain yogurt

– 2 teaspoons of dried mint

– Salt & Pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Mix all the ingredients together very well in a bowl… and boom! you’re done! Serve with pretty much anything.

Cornbread Rosettes

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Need something quick, easy, and beautiful to spice up a boring meal? Try making cornbread rosettes. They are so cute, and, this silicon rosette mold creates many more crusty edges than the standard muffin pan — it’s amazing! Go try this right now!

As for the cornbread recipe, I’ll be honest, the only kind of cornbread I ever make is Krusteaz. Yup the kind from the box. I make almost everything from scratch, but I just can’t seem to find a truly great cornbread recipe. Instead, I just spice up the box mix by using butter instead of oil, adding 2 teaspoons of honey, and using half-and-half instead of milk. Spread some honey butter on these and you’re good to go!

And now, it’s time for the family to settle in and watch the Good Wife. Aren’t they cute?

the fam

Leek & Potato Soup with Thyme Infused Croutons

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My boyfriend’s favorite soup is leek and potato, so I thought I’d be nice and make it for him. He’s really obsessed with soup. He once told me that if his legal career didn’t work out, that his backup plan would be to open an all-soup restaurant. I think he’s be pretty good at it, honestly. Anyway, every now and then I toss my hat into the soup-making competition and with this recipe, I think I won! Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Leek and Potato Soup

Ingredients 

For the Soup:

– 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil

– 2 large russet potatoes, washed, peeled and diced

– 1 large onion, chopped fine

– 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

– 4 medium leeks, washed well, and sliced thin

– 5 cups of vegetable broth

– 1 vegetable boullion cube

– 1 teaspoon of thyme

– 1/2 teaspoon of Hungarian smoked paprika

– 1/4 teaspoon of pepper

– 1/3 cup half and half

– Chopped scallions for garnish

For the thyme croutons:

– Phyllo dough

– egg wash

– Thyme

– Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

1. In a large pot, over medium heat sauté onions and garlic for about 5-8 minutes until softened.

2. Add potatoes and leeks, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add broth & spices; simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are very soft.

4. Remove the pot from the heat, add cream. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup into a thick, smooth soup. Blend until there are no chunks left. Garnish with chopped scallions.

5. Now, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a silpat on a large baking sheet. Cut phyllo dough into shapes (cookie cutters are great for this!). Brush on egg wash. Sprinkle with thyme and parm, bake for about 10 minutes, and serve in the soup.

 

Enjoy!

– G.

Dark Chocolate Milka Brownies

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The cats are so so sleepy! Well, except for Gita who’s working on her best panther imitation. Today in the DMV (aka the District, Maryland, Virginia area, if you aren’t from around here) you can’t really see much – there is a thick blanket of fog everywhere. I live on a higher floor and it feels like grey flannel blankets are covering my windows, even though they are open. Also, it’s only about 20 degrees outside. Needless to say, it’s kind of depressing.

I’m from Florida, so for me, this is all relatively new. While I like this area a lot, it’s hard not to miss Florida. I got to grow up where everyone goes for vacation, and it’s easy to understand why. But on the flip side, it’s also easy to understand why people choose to leave Florida after a few weeks. The trade off for the nice weather is having to deal with crazy people, swamp people, swamp creatures, cockroaches, so many deadly animals, and of course, rampant crime. Every time I turn on the TV at home, it seems that someone new has been eaten by some strange snake/alligator/rabid bat/rapid person/you name it. So, while I’m thankful to now live in the DC region, where I most assuredly won’t become anaconda food, I still really miss Florida’s weather.

Being kind of homesick, I thought today I would make something that reminded me of Florida and so, I decided to make my favorite brownie recipe that uses ghee. My good friend at home, Dave, gave me the idea. These always hit the spot; perfect with a latte or a tall glass of milk.

P.S. The secret to these brownies is the ghee, at least give it a shot before you sub in regular butter! You won’t be disappointed.

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Dark Chocolate Mocha Brownies

Ingredients

– 2/3 cup ghee (clarified butter)

– 2 cups white sugar

– 2 eggs

-1/2 cup boiling hot dark coffee

– 2 teaspoons vanilla

– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1 and 1/3 cup flour

– 1.5 cups chopped Milka dark chocolate bars (you can use another chocolate bar or chocolate chips, but you should really use the Milka bars. They’re 100% the best with this)

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×11 inch pan.

2. Mix the ghee and the sugar together first until very well blended. The add the rest of the ingredients. Blend for about 2 minutes until very well combined.

3. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

– G.