Friday, March 27, 2009

Fudgie Brownies

Here is some chewy chocolate goodness in flapper form. Have you ever noticed how healthier versions of baked yummies replace the butter and fat with applesauce or bananas? It’s perfect for some recipes, but the problem with using fruit in brownies is that they end up tasting more like, well, fruit rather than chocolatey goodness. That’s why I like this version: instead of fruit, the naughty fats are replaced with sweet potato. The texture of pureed spuds give the brownies a nice, thick fudgie texture, and the mild potato allows the deep, dark chocolate to remain at glorious center stage, right where it belongs.
Fudgie Brownies
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 35 minutes

Instructions
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup sweet-potato puree
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee powder

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square pan; set aside. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Remove pan from heat, and stir in cocoa. Let cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Stir in sugar and sweet-potato puree, then egg. In a small bowl, stir together vanilla and coffee until coffee is dissolved; add to cocoa mixture.

4. Add flour mixture to cocoa mixture and stir until no traces of flour remain. Spoon into prepared pan; smooth the top. Bake until surface of brownies looks barely dry and an inserted knife comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

I love to eat mine warm with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt and a sprinkle of cocoa and cinnamon powder on top. :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Corned Beef Reynolds with Molasses Mustard “Ale-jus”

Crock pot magic again!

Corned beef was on mega-sale post St. Paddy’s Day, so I scooped up a hunk and brought him home.

This is so (times 20) simple, but so delicious – tastes as good as if a little Irish grandma spent the day basting it with all her love. The drool-inducing flavor comes from a savory sauce which infuses into the succulent, slow-cooked beef.

Corned Beef & Cabbage with Molasses Mustard “Ale-jus”

Ingredients:
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp. crushed black peppercorns
3 Tbs. molasses
3 bay leaves
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 12-ounce bottle amber ale

2-4 lb. hunk of corned beef
1 small head of green cabbage, cut into 6-8 large wedges
2-3 yellow onions, cut into 2-inch chunks
10 small new potatoes
3 large carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks (or a couple handfuls of baby carrots)

Rye or pumpernickel bread (if you can, buy an unsliced loaf from the bakery. Cut it at home into nice thick slices and spread it with butter (I like Earth Balance buttery spread)

Directions:
1. In a bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients. While whisking, slowly pour beer into the bowl and mix well.

2. Into the crock pot, layer from bottom to top the onions, potatoes, carrots and beef. Pour “ale-jus” over the top. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before you want to eat, add the cabbage hunks to the top of the crock pot, press them down into the hot liquid, and cover. Cook on high for 30 minutes or until tender.

When ready to eat:
Turn off pot, uncover and let it “rest for 15 minutes or so. Discard bay leaves.
Cut the meat on a board against the grain into ½-inch thick slices.

To plate:
Arrange meat and veggies in a wide, shallow soup plate and spoon the lovely jus over the top. Serve some Dijon mustard on the side to slather on the meat and veggies. Mop up the juices with the buttered rye bread. Wash it down with a cold ale. Have seconds. Smile.

PICS COMING SOON!
In the meantime, I substitute with an equally juicy, equally corny, equally beefy image (and it guarantees a lively dinner conversation). Bon appetite. :)

Hot Corny Beef Reynolds:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Warm Carrot Cake Pancakes with Creamy Vanilla Cream Cheese


I woke up on Sunday and realized I missed "my" food. I'd been doing a little too much baking (and eating) of unflapperlike foods recently (see “About FlapperFood” to the right). That said, I was more than happy to sit over coffee with my recipe box as if I were catching up with an old friend.

I always make brunch at home at least one day of the weekend, and decided to Flapperfy a wonderful carrot pancake recipe. They were so delicious and completely (thank you Will Ferrell) scrumptrelescent, that I don’t see why anyone would want the original version! I added whole wheat flour, Stevia sweetener, and soy milk instead of the original version's refined flours, sugars and fatty cheese.

The warm cakes topped with cool, vanilla creamy cream-cheese taste just like real carrot cake in fun, FlapperFood form. When my boyfriend took a bite, he smiled and said “It’s like an amusement park in my mouth.” Coming from a roller coaster junkie, I’d say that was a compliment in its highest form.

Try it, you’ll like it.


Warm Carrot Cake Pancakes with Creamy Vanilla Cream Cheese

Ingredients:
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger or finely grated fresh ginger
Dash nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup packed brown or granulated sugar
¾ cup soy milk
¼ cup orange juice
2 cups finely grated carrots
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Topping
8 ounces Tofutti brand soy “cream” cheese
2-3 stevia packets
2 tablespoons soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dash ground cinnamon

1. Make the cream cheese topping: Using a whisk or fork, blend cream cheese, stevia, soy milk, dash cinnamon and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

2. Using the SMALL side of a box grater, grate the carrots into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
TIP: The small side is the side you would grate parmesean cheese with, not mozzarella. This way, the carrots will be a nice, tender texture in the cakes, just like real carrot cake.

3. In a large bowl, combine flour, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.

4. In the bowl of grated carrots, combine egg, brown sugar, milk, OJ and vanilla; mix well.

5. Stir the wet carrot mixture into the dry ingredients until moistened. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased, hot griddle. Flip the cakes when bubbles form on the top of pancake. Cook until golden brown.
[TIP: Try not to use too much oil in the pan; it will help the cakes not burn. I like to use spray can olive oil (like Pam), or brush a little oil into the pan with a basting brush)

6. To plate the pancakes: Lay a pancake on the plate, top with a dollop of cream cheese “frosting”; add another pancake and another dollop of cream cheese. Continue like this, making a tower as tall as you like. Finish with a dollop of cream cheese and sprinkle with cinnamon. If desired, drizzle a little bit of 100% pure maple syrup on the top if you like. (Doesn’t need it though!)


So, in other news...I've got this bowl full of verrry ripe bananas, and I'd like to make something other than banana bread (sure I love it, but I've already posted my favorite banana bread recipe!). Have a banana-happy request or suggestion? Let me know by posting a comment: Coffee, tea, a recipe?
I'll do my best to flapperfy any dish your little heart desires, with or without bananas. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies





My niece’s adorable baby chocolate cake recipe (see Dinner for One, please, James) inspired me to further explore small batch baking. After all, it’s just me and my boyfriend right now, and neither one of us wants to find ourselves digging into a half-eaten pumpkin pie right before bed (which, I guarantee you, is exactly what would happen if I were to give my feeble little will the opportunity).

I bought the book “Small Batch Baking” by Debby Maugans Nakos. Fantastic recipes, from little pies, tarts, cakes and puddings, to these scrumptious chocolate chip cookies. The recipe makes just 6-8 cookies, the perfect size if you want a cookie or two for dessert or to bring a couple in the lunch bag to work. Baking in small batches is so much fun, too: clean-up is a breeze, and the results are so cute and adorable and delicious. They make really nice “just-because” gifts for one, a couple, or if you want to just make something special all for you and you alone!

Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Small Batch Baking

*note: I sprinkled in a couple Tbs. of shredded coconut, because I was jonesing for an Almond Joy. I'm also wondering how whole wheat flour would fare in these. If anyone tries it, let me know!

Makes 6-8 cookies

Ingredients:
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbs plus 2 tsp butter (room temp)
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 Tbs. of 1 large egg, beaten
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, cream the butter and sugars till fluffy. Mix in the beaten egg and vanilla.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and blend. Mix in the chips.

5. Drop cookies using 2-tablespoons of dough for each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove baking sheet and leave in pan to cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove cookies with a spatula to the rack to finish cooling.

Tip:
To store cookies that are chewy: Lay a sheet of wax paper onto a sheet of tin foil. Pile cookies into a single-layer tower onto the wax paper. Wrap cookies up in the wax paper, then wrap the foil around that. The cookies will stay crunchy outside and chewy inside, as a proper choco-chipper ought to be!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dinner for one, please, James.


So the old Nat King Cole tune goes. The boy had martial arts practice after work and I had the apartment to myself. These are the types of nights I find myself eating a piece of leftover chicken over the sink and grabbing a swig of juice out of the carton. But tonight, I was feeling a little indulgent, and decided to treat myself to pasta and meatballs, and a cute little teency chocolate cake! I set the table, bought a nice baguette and a bottle of wine (which, of course I shared with the boy once he got home, as I did the cake).

The cake recipe came from my amazing cook of a niece, Jessica. She does a lot of cooking and baking, modifying many recipes to feed just one or two. She even has cute, little tiny cake and pie pans. Believe it or not, you can bake this cake in empty tin cans if you don’t have special bakeware, which is exactly what I did. Thank you, Jessica!

Check back for uploaded pics in the next day or two!

PASTA AND MEATlessBALLS MARINARA

1 or 2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
1 cup of cooked pasta (I love whole wheat penne rigate!)

Directions:

1. Open the bottle of wine to let it “breathe.” By doing this, the oxygen will touch the wine and the flavors will open up. Such a little thing but makes a huge difference in the taste. Set the table, laying out your nicest table setting. :) Put on some tunes (highly recommended: Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Trust me on this one.)

2. Put water on the boil for the pasta.

3. Make Meatballs

Meatballs for One or Two People

½ a tube of Litelife brand Gimme Lean - beef style (or 4 oz. real ground beef or turkey)
1 egg white (save the yolk in a cup for the chocolate cake!!)
½ tsp. dried basil
Two shakes of dried thyme
1 shake of dried oregano
1 shake of garlic powder
3 grinds of black pepper
A pinch of salt
4-5 leaves of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1 slice of the baguette, crust removed, soaked in soy milk (or 1 Tbs. breadcrumbs)
1 Tbs. of grated parmesean cheese
Olive oil

a. Squeeze out the milk from the bread and add that to a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands.
b. Form into cute, little 1.5-inch balls (might as well keep the "mini" theme going here ;) )
c. Fry balls in two swirls of olive oil, in a heated frying pan on medium heat.
d. Cook for a couple minutes on each side till browned.
e. Lower the heat to medium-low and pour the sauce over the meatballs. Simmer on low, stirring gently so the bottom doesn’t burn and the balls cook all the way through.

4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente, following package directions.

5. Drain pasta and add to the cooking pot of sauce and balls. Gently stir to combine.

6. Scoop the pasta into a dish, sprinkle with a little fresh, chopped parsley and lots of grated parmesean. Lay a hunk of bread on the side. Pour the wine. Smile. Feel special. Mangia!


I made the cake after dinner (as opposed to before) because I was doing it more for the joy of baking than for the need to have a piece of cake. (Of course, once the cake is baked, I always need to have a piece of cake!)


MINI CHOCOLATE CAKE
Feeds just one or two
NOTE: These little cakes make wonderful gifts! They are so tiny, that a wine glass turned upside-down can serve as an adorable cake stand. You can find give-away wine glasses at the dollar store. If you give two of these with a bottle of dessert wine, it would make a fantastic housewarming or dinner party gift.

½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup water
Yolk of 1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla
3 Tbs. melted and cooled butter
2 ½ Tbs. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
Two 14-ounce cans or one 28-ounce can

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease and flour insides of two 14-ounce cans or one 28-ounce can. Set on baking sheet for easier handling.
3. Combine water, egg, vanilla in small bowl and whisk. Slowly pour melted butter in, whisking constantly.
4. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in medium-sized bowl. Blend well, add sugar, blend well again.
5. Slowly add wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just moistened.
6. Divide batter between the two 14-ounce cans or all into one 28-ounce can. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Cool 15 mins, run knife along inside of cans to release cakes, cool upright on rack.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 oz. milk chocolate or choc. chips (1 cup)
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (dark chocolate bar works) (1/2 cup)
3 Tbs. sour cream, at room temp
½ tsp. vanilla
pinch salt

1. Microwave 2 minutes or until melted. Cool 5 minutes.
2. Add sour cream, vanilla, salt, and blend well. Cool completely. Refrigerate to thicken if needed.
3. Be sure cakes are cooled completely before frosting. Cut cakes in half and frost between layers and on top.

NOTE: You can also use the glaze recipe from my Red Velvet Black & White Cookies (which is exactly what I did, because I had no sour cream!)

Monday, March 9, 2009

bright orange soulshine



I had a sweet, simple weekend, filled with tiny pleasures that added up to a cumulative bright orange burst of soul-shine: watching a film at home with the boy on a drizzly afternoon...sweet vanilla candles... a steaming mug of ginger tea... my new cocoa-scented hand cream...warm, fuzzy pink socks... a recording of acoustic Brazilian guitar music... things like that. Simple joys appreciated alone and shared that give one the truest sense and joy of being alive.

I saw this spectacular little mineola orange at the grocery store last night (I go shopping late on Sunday nights and have the place all to myself -- I really savor the unhurried, uncrowded, calm shopping experience!) I brought the orange home, and it is now sitting on my desk at work. Everytime I look at it, I'm reminded of how grateful I am to have love, a cozy home, family, a soothing escape from a chaotic world... and a lovely little orange to enjoy later this afternoon after lunch.

There is so much in this world that is complex...but when I can embrace the simple pleasures, and radiate a bit of gratitude, my whole perspective tranforms from drizzly to dazzling, bright orange joy.

So my recipe today is this:

Ingredients
1 beautiful piece of fruit

Directions:
1. Enjoy

Have a great day!
xo


The Orange
by Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all my jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rock the Pot Chili



Thank you, oh great and powerful inventor of the crock pot, for all you’ve done for me on those freezing winter nights at 8pm when I come home from work with a grouchy, growling belly…for those nights I open the door to the savory, spicy smells of homemade chili that’s slow-cooked all darn day long.

The thing that rocks about the crock pot, is that even if you are off a bit on spices or measurements, somehow the many hours of slow-cooking will make it taste amazing anyway.

Here is an easy, foolproof weeknight feast. I enjoyed this particular meal with my feet up, watching my favorite show on DVR, and washed it down with an ice-cold lager. Tuesday nights aren’t so bad now, are they? :)


Rock the Pot Chili

INGREDIENTS:
1 pound of ground turkey
1 large onion
2 fresh jalapenos, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
½ a 7 oz. jar of sweet, red roasted peppers
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro
8 oz (or so) of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 28-ounce can of whole tomotoes in juice, roughly chopped
½ a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 16-ounce can of red, pinto or kidney beans
1-2 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. pure cocoa powder
A couple dashes of ground cinnamon
Two swirls of olive oil in the pan
Salt & freshly cracked black pepper

I think some people just throw everything in the pot and turn it on low, but I’ve never tried that. I like to prepare it a bit first.

Here is what I do:

1. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Sautee the chopped onion for a few minutes, stirring till it softens. Add garlic, cilantro, jalapenos and stir for a couple minutes, making sure garlic doesn’t burn. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, coriander, cumin, oregano. Stir. Add mushrooms, and stir till softened. Add red roasted peppers and cilantro.

2. Now add the turkey and stir all together, browning the meat and breaking it up into bits with a wooden spoon.

3. Add the skillet contents to the crock pot. Stir into the crockpot the tomatoes, beans, cocoa and cinnamon. Gently stir to combine all ingredients, cover and cook on low for 6-10 hours. Have a nice day and, every few hours, remember that your chili is home and very happy in its pot, filling your home with yummy smells.

To serve:
Turn off crock pot, stir, and take a taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Ladle chili into nice big bowls, and top with your choice of shredded mild white cheese, chopped scallions or onions, fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado slices, or a hunk of corn bread….or all of the above. :) Eat, smile and feel the happy snack warmth.

 
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