Hello, Fall

Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcome to Fall.
Yes I am excited, despite the fact that it will be 90 something degrees this weekend- so not Fall.
I am ready for sweaters, hot coffee, boots; oh how I missed my boots, CROCKPOT!, butternut squash soup, an excuse to bake because pumpkin is in season, changing trees, heated mattress pads...I could go on.
Please remind me of this list when I have to replace my windshield wipers and my backpack is drenched on the way to class and I'm tired of eating soup for dinner and I've gained 5 lbs. because I can't run in 30 degree weather, get sad about it and shove 1200 pumpkin muffins into my face all day long.
But that is later.
For now I am sharing my first fall baking experience.
Yesterday I made chocolate chip banana bread with a special ingredient (I'll share in a couple of days) and Pumpkin scones. Yeah you read that correctly and they are as good as they sound.
I got the recipe from my favorite recipe blog, http://inpraiseofleftovers.com/2009/05/22/2-batches-of-pumpkin-scones-in-one-morning/ but I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, and low fat buttermilk.

I also turned them into complete magic with a topping. I debated drizzling a powdered sugar/squeezed orange icing on them, but opted for this instead:cinnamon sugar glaze.
Soften 1 tablespoon of butter and mix with 1 tablespoon table sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. (You can play with the ratios, depending on what you like.) Mix with a fork and spread over each scone with a knife. When you're ready to eat, put the scone in the microwave for a bit- 15 seconds-ish, so the scone will get warm and soft and the butter-sugar combo can melt a little. Helloooo, Fall.

Eggplant Hummus

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Apparently all I eat is hummus, which is not true (I have a pasta salad recipe on Friday to disprove that), but here I go with a hummus recipe, nonetheless.

My neighbor gave me some homegrown eggplants and green peppers; the latter were used for chicken fajitas on Monday- yum! I reserved one eggplant (Chinese variety, I think?) for a grilled eggplant sandwich and used the other for this hummus.
The one down fall: I made this at work, with a blender from 1999, and it just doesn't work like my fancy schmancy vitamix. I honestly will never make this hummus in a blender again because the eggplant is just a little too tough to pulse it's way through that blender blade. And really, how can you top that smoothness the glorious vitamix gives you?

Nevertheless, follow my same ingredients from the zucchini hummus, just use an eggplant instead, and this time I added a little red pepper flake, which really hit the spot.

Slice that lovely eggplant and prick every slice with a fork.

Then, add it to a baking dish and drizzle it with some EVOO. (Roast the eggplant at 400 degrees until it is brown an)d slightly soft.

Then, use these lovely ingredients to make the hummus.

Run: September 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I did not do a run in July (gasp!) Life got busy and I have no other excuse. I forgot to take pictures of my race in August, but I swear I did one.
Then came September and I actually did a race AND took a picture to prove it. Well, technically this is just a pic of Erin and me before our race, but we really did run.

The race benefited the Me: One foundation, which provides camps for families afflicted by cancer. The best part is that the race was 2 blocks from Erin's house- that never happens!

It was a 5k, with a really profound and motivational speech before the race. As we ran in the hot Sunday morning weather, with more hills than I expected, I tried to think of how lucky I am to have a body that lets me run, day after day anytime I want. And what's more, one that lets me take a break and eat bad food, drink wine, go to bed late, wake up early, sit in comfy chairs with bad posture and watch tv like it's good for me...be thankful for what your body does for you.

Me: 1
Cancer: 1 (that's the little slogan)

Grilled zucchini hummus

This is zucchini.

And it's grilled.

Please say hello.
It is from a beautiful garden, sliced, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and cooked on the grill until soft and tattooed with those lovely grill marks.

This is zucchini hummus.
It deserves a bigger hello than that plain zucchini.

How do you make it?
Drain 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)- does anyone know why they have two names? And toss them in a blender/food processor/vitamix. Add a good squeeze of fresh lemon, one clove garlic, salt, pepper and about 3 small grilled zucchini, or one monster one. If it's a really large zucchini, eat some of it while you're making the hummus- there is little better than grilled summer veggies enjoyed right off the cutting board.
If you have tahini, add about a tablespoon, but I didn't have any and it turned out just fine. Grind everything together and add a stream of olive oil until it reaches the consistency, and flavor, you like. This is an art, not a science. Taste and decide when it's ready.

Then, throw it on veggies.

And place it on a plate with a grilled portobello mushroom topped with basil yogurt sauce. (More on that later in the week.)

Easy Caprese

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I can't believe I went this long without a post...again. But school just started and the last couple of weeks have been a lot of "I already posed that on my blog" and "this isn't real cooking" meals, so anyway, those are my excuses.
This is a traditional caprese salad.
Yes, that is cheese. Real cheese. And when I say real, I mean real. Not that crap mozzerella they give you in plastic and try to pass off as real, despite how salty and firm it is. REAL mozzerella is sometimes packed in water or at the very least its packaging isn't as airtight- you can feel it is a little slippery and it is pretty soft.
I don't eat a lot cheese when I have this, but I usually fancy a little slice becuase it is pretty darn good. I reccommend using tomatoes and basil fresh from your garden, but we all can't be lucky enough to live with our parents and have a mom who will plant us an endless supply of those things, but at least get them from a Farmers Market. This salad is so simple that you really do need quality ingredients.

Caprese Salad
serves 4

3 roma or regular tomatoes
12 basil leaves
1/2 ball of mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a medium skillet. Place vinegar in and stand back- the smell is strong. Let heat until it bubbles and turns into a syrup- you'll know what I mean. You can skip this step, but it really makes this salad special.

While the vinegar cooks, slice the tomatoes and cheese (you want the cheese pretty thin).
Roll the basil leaves like a cigar (like I know how to do that?! That's just what everyone always says) and chiffonade. Here's a demonstration: http://veganyumyum.com/2007/01/how-to-chiffonade-basil/

Place tomatoes on a serving platter and top with thin slices of cheese.
Sprinkle basil on top.
Drizzle EVOO and balsamic syrup.
Throw on a dask of salt and pepper.