March 27, 2015

Healthy Granola Bars

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Most often, granola bars are laden with lots of extra sugar and less-than-good-for-you ingredients. The "healthy" part of them all but disappears at that point. Sure, there are a few good ones out there now, but they can be expensive. For the same price you can make an entire batch or more.

The best part is that the recipe below can be tweaked to your liking. Don't like dates? Sub in raisins. Want to cut back on the honey? Go for it. Got a thing against peanut butter? Well then you're crazy and I just can't help you. Or use a nut/seed butter. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

Healthy Granola Bars

Yield: 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roasted
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
Cooking Directions
  1. Soak dates in water for 10 minutes.
  2. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should be able to roll into a ball, with a dough consistency.
  3. Toast the oats at 350 F in the oven until slightly golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  4. Place oats, nuts, and dates in a bowl.
  5. Warm honey and peanut butter in a small pan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates.
  6. Once mixed, transfer to an 8x8 or 7x11 dish lined with parchment paper.
  7. Press down until uniformly flat. Cover with parchment paper, and let set in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to harden.
  8. Remove bars from pan and chop into 16 bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or wrapped up in the freezer.

March 20, 2015

Flourless chocolate cake

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Flourless chocolate cake is one of those delicacies that seems difficult but is not. There are only a few ingredients, and the hardest part is letting a mixer beat the egg whites into stiff peaks. If you're gluten free, then you can have your cake and eat it too! Unless you eat the whole thing at once. And top is off with some fruit, whipped cream, and/or a caramel sauce. When it's this good, this becomes a judgement-free zone. Enjoy!

Flourless chocolate cake

Yield: 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 9 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Butter a springform pan.
  3. Put the chocolate and butter into a stainless steel mixing bowl and heat over (but not touching) about 1 inch of simmering water until melted, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until pale yellow in color.
  5. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  6. Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture.
  7. Pour into the cake pan and bake until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, about 20 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan.

March 13, 2015

Red wine braised short ribs

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This is such a powerful yet simple dish. The braising really tenderizes and brings out the flavor of the short ribs, like it does to so many other delicious dishes (e.g. Osso Buco). Serve this on its own, with potatoes, polenta, or, as pictured, risotto. Enjoy!

Red wine braised short ribs

Yield: 1 piece per serving
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • seasoned flour
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 14 oz. can plum tomatoes, broken up
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried herbs de Provence
  • salt and pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Coat the shortribs with seasoned flour and brown in the oil.
  3. Remove from the pan and add the onion, celery, mushrooms, garlic, and carrots.
  4. Sauté another 5 minutes, add the wine, and reduce by half.
  5. Add the tomatoes, stock, and herbs. Cover and braise covered in the oven for 1 hour at 400 degrees then reduce the heat to 350 F, uncover, and continue cooking for another hour or until tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

March 06, 2015

Roast asparagus salad with baked goat cheese

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This is a wonderful, fresh, and flavorful salad. Rich but not too rich. The asparagus gets tender, the dressing is outstanding, and the goat cheese is crispy yet smooth. Serve it as a starter or just as a light meal. Enjoy!


Roast asparagus salad with baked goat cheese

Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups frisee
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 slices goat cheese (3/4 inch slices)
Cooking Directions
  1. Place the shallot and olive oil in a skillet and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and stir well to incorporate. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  4. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus, and, if they're thick, peel them.
  5. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast the asparagus until tender but still crisp.
  7. Meanwhile, put the flour in one bowl, mix the egg and milk in one bowl, and put he breadcrumbs in one bowl.
  8. Dip the cheese slices into the flour, then the egg-milk wash, and then into the breadcrumbs, alternating your hands.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  10. When ready to use, turn the oven broiler to low. Place the goat cheese discs onto an oiled pan and place under the broiler on high. Broil until brown.
  11. Toss the frisee in the dressing until well-coated, then season with salt and pepper.
  12. Plate, and top each salad with a goat cheese disk and asparagus spears. Finish with extra salt and pepper.

February 27, 2015

Stuffed Peppers

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Stuffed peppers are incredibly easy, yet seem fancy and nostalgic at the same time. Of course you can have the filling be whatever you like, but the following recipe works pretty well. Some versions include and slightly watered-down ketchup that is poured over the filled peppers before adding the cheese on top, though we found that wasn't necessary and made it a little too sweet. Just keep the basic method for blanching the peppers the same, and you can go to town on whatever filling you want. Enjoy!


Stuffed Peppers

Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 bell peppers, tops removed, cored and seeded
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 12 ounces ground meat
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 5 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Boil 4 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot. Cook peppers until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove and drain peppers with a slotted spoon or tongs.
  2. Add the rice to the pot and cook until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain rice and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ground meat, breaking it into small pieces until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to the bowl with the rice.
  4. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of cheese, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Heat the oven to 350 F with the rack in the middle.
  6. In a 9-inch square baking dish, place the peppers cut side up. Divide the filling evenly among the peppers. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  7. Bake until the cheese in browned and the filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.