Tag Archives: Recipes

Breaking the Fast: Apple Coffee Cake

I am, admittedly, not the most serious Jew you’ll ever meet. I love celebrating the holidays, the culture and the food, but I am certainly not deeply religious. Every year on Yom Kippur, I fast, but not necessarily to atone for my sins. To be honest, I do it more to see if I can go a whole day without eating. Have you ever gone a day without eating, on purpose? It’s funny how your mind starts to play tricks on you, and you notice how food is everywhere! You kind of get past being hungry, but if you’re like me and love food, you start counting down to the bagels and lox pretty early in the day.

It’s almost 3 pm now and it’s going ok. However, I’ve got an apple coffee cake just coming out of the oven that’s about to start testing my willpower, hardcore.

My aunt asked me to bring something baked to break the fast (breakfast – break the fast, get it?), and I happily agreed. Since we’re getting into the heart of apple season, I decided an apple coffee cake would be the perfect way to welcome a sweet new year. A few years ago, I made one that was a big hit, so I pulled the recipe back up. Now, I’m not a big fan of Emeril, but I am a big fan of brown sugar and crumbly topping and apples so I decided to go with the tried and true. I skipped the brown sugar glaze he calls for, since the cake is plenty sweet on it’s own and I remember it getting lost last time. The recipe is incredibly easy – perfect for when you’re fasting and don’t have the energy for a complicated recipe, or want to throw together a quick but impressive brunch treat.

I, of course, used mostly organic and local ingredients. I love apple season! I got a variety – Gravensteins, and a few nameless ones with a surprising, gorgeous pink flesh (sorry, that’s a disgusting word. I certainly won’t talk about how moist this cake is. Oh, wait).


Apple Coffee Cake, from this recipe

Cake:
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with butter (this is a great time to use those leftover butter wrappers!)

Cream together your stick of butter and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating them in. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the butter-brown sugar mixture, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the buttered dish, spreading the batter to reach the edges of the dish.

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Make your crumble topping by pulsing your brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and butter in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the cake and bake until the cake is set and the topping is golden brown, around 40 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and break the fast!

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Peanut Soba Noodles and a Confession

Well, make that two confessions.

The first: I’m not a great cook. I like food, but I don’t always know what to put together, or have the patience or skill to use the right techniques. I certainly don’t know how to make it look pretty in photographs. But I’m working on it. I’ve made some wonderful foodie friends recently who inspire me to be a better cook, and a better blogger.

But the real confession is this – I’ve been in a rut. I love to write, and I just… haven’t been. I love to work out, and I haven’t been making the time. I’ve been eating weird concoctions of snacks from the market downstairs for dinner, instead of trying new recipes or making old favorites. I live, literally, on top of a wine bar, and I haven’t even been to it. What is that about? I just haven’t felt like me. I have no real good reason for this rut I’ve been in. I have a good job, with people I like, one that sends me to London and allows me to work from home or charming coffee shops quite regularly. I’ve got good friends, really terrific ones. My family is great, cool and quirky, and they live nearby enough that I get to see them a lot. I have a cute apartment in an adorable neighborhood, albeit one that might be just a little too yuppie for me, after all. I live in a fantastic city, and have access to the most amazing food and fresh produce. I have a machine to make my own fizzy water (more on that soon) for Pete’s sake. Life is good, really good.

I think what it comes down to is change. Way too much change. In a very short period of time, I changed jobs, got my own apartment for the first time, moved across the city, and sold my car. For someone who’s never been great with change, it was a lot, all at once. My routine has been thrown off, and I can’t quite get it back. Oh, and did I mention I have a pretty big birthday coming up? Yup, it’s been a lot to take. I like my life, but sometimes don’t know how to process it all.

But, I’m trying to shake it. I’m tired of being in a rut, or using the excuse of being in a rut to stay in a rut. The weather’s getting better, and I have a lot to look forward to – yes, even that big birthday. I had a wonderful weekend, filled with friends and fresh produce and family and yeasted waffles, and it reminded me of how good life is. And how fun it is, when you’re open to it.

I may still not be a great cook, but I’m starting to figure out what I like. Like these peanut soba noodles I threw together tonight. I made Orangette’s recipe a few months back, and loved it, but decided to mix it up (literally!) tonight, not follow a recipe, and see what happened. What happened was good. I was inspired to add asparagus and tofu from this 101 Cookbooks recipe. So, tonight, I threw together:

1/2 cup chunky natural peanut butter
A few splashes of organic soy sauce
The juice of one small lime
The juice of 1/2 a Meyer lemon
A dash of white wine vinegar
A glug or two of olive oil
A generous dash of Sriracha

And whisked them together. Then, I cooked up half an 8 oz package of soba noodles for about 6 minutes, and added some chopped asparagus into the boiling water for another minute or two. I rinsed and drained the noodles and asparagus, added them to the peanut sauce, and threw in some thinly sliced carrots and radishes, strips of yellow and red bell pepper, and Super Firm Wildwood tofu, pan-fried in sesame oil.

It was really tasty, and so easy. Next time, I’d add some whole or chopped peanuts on top, like the 101 Cookbooks recipe suggests. But all in all I was pleased with how it turned out. I’m really thinking of going back for seconds. But I’m wondering if that feeling, like the rut I’ve been in, will pass if I just let it.

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A “Grate” Idea (In Theory)

On my to-do list the other night: baking a batch of my favorite chocolate “crinkle” cookies to take in to work. I had all the ingredients in stock, or so I thought. I had almost exactly enough sugar, but unfortunately a bunch of it had hardened into large chunks (chunk is like my least favorite word. Why did I use it? Twice, now. Anyway). Instead of running to the store to buy a new box, I Googled and came across a suggestion to grate it. I seriously said out loud, “that’s a great idea” and then cracked up. Get it…”grate” idea? Yeah, I’m a geek for puns, I guess. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Spy the vanilla bought in bulk in the background?

Anyway, my “grate” idea didn’t turn out to be so terrific in the end, but it was worth a shot. Instead of wasting the leftover sugar chunks (ack! I need a better word! Clump does not, in any way, sound better), I decided to save them and cut them into cubes to use for coffee and tea. Just a little reminder to myself (and to you, hopefully!) that there’s no reason to waste something when you can find a way to use it. I must admit, though, I am using regular cane sugar, not organic, and feel guilty about it. I’ve tried baking with organic sugar before, and it honestly wasn’t the same – cookies came out flat, and things tasted a bit “off.” The kind I used last time was bought in bulk and was a slightly yellow color, so I definitely need to do some research for a better organic sugar that behaves in a similar manner to the cane sugar I’m used to using. Any suggestions?

Oh, and if you’re interested, here’s the cookie recipe. These cookies are awesome – always a huge hit at parties and with my coworkers. Halfway between a brownie and a cookie, they are slightly chewy and perfectly chocolatey. I particularly like using Lake Champlain organic, fair trade cocoa powder. I don’t see it listed separately on their site, but I buy it at my favorite co-op. Incidentally, I hope to visit Lake Champlain and it’s chocolate factory on my potential trip to New England next month!

Chocolate Brownie Cookies, adapted from All Recipes

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cups white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash teaspoon salt
Confectioners’ sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, sugar, and oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and place in freezer for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat pad. Roll dough into one inch balls and roll each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool and then place on wire racks or plates. Enjoy!

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My Perfect Summer Meal

There’s nothing I love more in the summer than panzanella with a nice glass of white wine. I discovered this Italian bread salad a few years ago, and I look forward to the weather getting warm every year so I can enjoy it, preferably near an open window with sun streaming in and a light breeze.

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I’m not big on exact measurements and usually just adjust to taste, so I recommend you do the same! For myself, I used about 2/3 a demi baguette, 1.5 small tomatoes and probably about 12 ciliegine mozzarella balls (cherry tomato size), cut in half. I made too much, and will have soggy leftovers tomorrow!

Delicious Summer Panzanella
Italian bread, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces (day-old is best, but not required!)
Good extra virgin olive oil
Garlic
Salt
Pepper
Tomatoes*
Fresh mozzarella
Basil (dried will work but fresh will take this over the edge!)

*Don’t you even consider using regular grocery store tomatoes! Organic, local, heirloom, etc. is the only way to go!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix bread with enough olive oil to moisten (ugh, hate that word! But it really gets the point across, ya know?), and season with minced garlic, salt and pepper. Tonight, I actually used Stonehouse garlic olive oil which was fab, but reg. extra virgin and fresh garlic works just as well.

Spread bread on baking sheet and place in preheated oven for 5+ minutes, until bread is crispy but still chewy. Remove from oven.

While bread is cooling, chop tomatoes and mozzarella into bite-sized pieces. Mix a few glugs of olive oil with a splash of balsamic (I told you I’m not big on exact measurements!) and add basil, tomatoes and mozzarella. Add bread and let sit for about 10 minutes, if you can stand it! You can also eat this immediately, but it’s nice to let the flavors mingle a little.

Enjoy!

I recommend making a small amount, because 1) you’re not going to be able to stop eating it or 2) if you have any willpower whatsoever, the bread will get soggy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Tonight, I enjoyed this with a glass of Handley Gewรผrztraminer, a great Gewurtz that isn’t too sweet. I’m a member the Handley wine club and anxiously awaiting their members BBQ in a few weeks. I’d also recommend Toulouse Pinot Gris or La Crema Chardonnay, my other current favorite whites!

What’s your quintessential summer meal?

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Cookie Time

Gather round you friends of mine,
I’m Pretty Green Girl and it’s Cookie Time!

Sorry, had to throw a little Troop Beverly Hills in there. One of my favorite movies of all time! Who remembers it? I’m actually trying to figure out a way to play it for all my friends when we go glamping next month, but I can’t figure out how to do it without any electricity (15 girls gathered around a laptop might be too much). Any ideas? We’re not going to be close enough to the car to run power from it…

Anyway, as promised, here’s that cookie recipe I alluded to the other day! They’re kind of like halfway between a cookie and a muffin, with a bit of the taste of a thumbprint cookie (must be the whole stick of butter…mmm).

Strawberry-Blueberry Muffin Cookies

I started with this recipe for blueberry oatmeal cookies, but kind of just threw together what I had.

Preheat oven to 350

1 stick butter, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Few splashes agave nectar
1 cups oat bran
1 cup white whole wheat flour
Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Handful blueberries
Handful sliced strawberries

I totally forgot to cream the butter with the sugar – you’d think I’d never baked before! So here’s what I did, though it might not be the best method. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mix sugar, flour and oat bran in a mixing bowl
Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the fruit and agave.
Add a little agave nectar, tasting the batter to make sure it’s sweet enough, but not too sweet. Be careful not to overstir so the batter doesn’t get dry or tough.
Add the fruit and stir to combine.
Bake at 350 on parchment or a Silipat (more eco-friendly!) or a sheet greased with butter!

They took about 14 minutes, but I set the timer for 10 and then just kept checking them. I’d guess it made about 22 cookies or so.

And they were delicious, if I do say so myself. Not exactly healthy (though whole wheat), but real butter is what makes them good! I think I’d experiment with cutting some of the butter and sugar in the future, but I was really pleased with how they turned out, and they were perfect for my family camping trip!

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Speaking of camping, how cute is my little brother? He’s 7 – big age difference, huh? He’s a half-brother. ๐Ÿ™‚ Our campsite was just down the road from this great apple farm. Unfortunately apples aren’t in season yet – and I really wanted some because I LOVE apples – but they did have amazing organic apple juice and other apple products. And the old man working there was so adorable! You leave your money in a little cash box and take the change – honor system. I love that!

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After our last day of camping, my sister and I met my mom, who lives nearby, at a winery for a picnic. My Mom is an amazing cook and hostess and this picnic was fabulous, of course! We met at Toulouse Vineyards which had amazing wine. We actually went wine tasting the day before, and while I really liked those places a lot, Toulouse blew me away! I loved everything I tried – a Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and two Pinot Noirs. I thought I didn’t like Pinot Noir, but I am slowly changing my mind, thanks to the Anderson Valley.

Anyway, here’s the Farmers Market-filled spread my Mom brought for us – organic baby carrots, farm-fresh deviled eggs, asparagus, LOCAL sea salt (amazing), sliced radishes (divine when sprinkled with said sea salt), wraps filled with hummus, havarti, roasted red pepper and roasted garlic (both of which she roasted), organic sparkling pear juice, and her first homemade cherry pie. YUM!

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Thanks, Mom!

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Check out that view!

So, what did you do this weekend?

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Like Butta

Here’s proof you can reuse anything – four ways to reuse your butter wrappers. I love it! It never even occurred to me, but they are perfect for greasing a pan, separating hamburger patties and more!

Thanks to bestgreenblogs for Tweeting the link!

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I’m actually baking some strawberry-blueberry-oat bran-agave-cookie-muffin hybrids (enough hyphens for ya?) right this very minute, and was about to toss the butter wrapper. Not so fast! I’m totally saving it to grease pans, use in place of cooking spray, etc. Just this morning I was thinking how I really hate using cooking spray. I hardly ever use it, but I have some in the house and totally was guilty of it this morning. No more! To the fridge my wrappers will go.

Here’s a preview of the cookies, baked on my Silpat. Hope they’re good! If they are, you’ll get a recipe soon – plus the delish German champagne vinegar potato salad I just made, chile pea puffs and more!

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I leave to go camping with my family tomorrow – 3 days with no computer and hardly any phone service.How will I survive? Wine tasting, that’s how. We know how to camp in style! It’s the perfect warm-up to my summer birthday glamping trip. ๐Ÿ™‚

ETA: Just tried the cookies. YUM! Recipe coming soon!

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I Gave Peas a Chance…

And they exploded all over the microwave. Keep reading for the details. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Seriously, though, I got a bunch of fresh peas from my CSA last week, and have made some absolutely delicious meals with them. Despite what some of my friends say (ahem, Jaime C. and Bethany), fresh peas are so delicious, especially with asparagus in a “cream” sauce, or in a walnut “peasto.”

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Image source

Pea and Asparagus Cream Sauce
This was so good, I made it two nights in a row. The second night, I sauteed red and orange bell peppers in with the asparagus. Also a winner. YUM!

You need:
Shallots
Leeks (you could use either/or but I like both)
Asparagus
Peas
Olive oil
Cream cheese
Butter
Milk
Parmesan (optional)

Wash asparagus and trim woody ends. Cut each spear into two or three pieces. Sautee in olive oil until they begin to soften, then add shelled fresh peas, until they begin to soften as well. Do not overcook, as you will be letting them simmer in the sauce later, but make sure they aren’t too raw either.

In another pan, sautee sliced leeks and shallots (to taste – I like a LOT) in a dab of butter until they begin to become translucent. Add a large spoonful or two of cream cheese, stirring or whisking until melted, then add approx. 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%). Whisk until sauce is smooth, then add asparagus & peas and let simmer. Add parmesan if desired. If the sauce starts to thicken while you are waiting for the rest of your meal to be ready, add a little more milk, heat and whisk.

Serve over a chicken breast. I like to sear it for a minute or two on each side, and then stick the whole pan in the oven at 400 degrees, for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the breast. I’m sure it would be delicious over pasta as well. Seriously, the combo of asparagus + cream (or milk, as the case may be) + peas cannot be beat!

Walnut Cream “Peasto”
My friend Jen once watched an episode of Rachael Ray where she made a pea pesto and could not stop saying “peasto.” “It’s like a pesto… with peas! Peasto! Get it?” We get it, Rachael. Anyway, I looked up the recipe and didn’t have any of the basic ingredients on hand, so I just kind of winged it. I wanted to use pecans, but am all out – must have been that last batch of pecan butter. So walnuts it was! I also decided to make this a creamy pesto at the last minute.

You need:
Handful walnuts (could prob sub in pecans or another nut. Pine nuts would be great, too)
Shelled peas (about 1/4 cup)
Olive oil
Leeks/shallots
Cream cheese
Milk

To cook the peas, after shelling, I put them in a little water, and microwaved for a minute. This is where the explosion came in! They were popping like popcorn after only about thirty seconds. So, beware: cover the dish or cook for a shorter period of time!

In food processor, blend until combined but still slightly chunky:
Peas, cooked
Handful walnuts
Glug of olive oil

In a pan, sautee leeks and shallots in olive oil, add a spoonful of cream cheese until melted, then add milk (this is similar to the cream sauce above, but I used oil instead of butter, and smaller portions).

Combine “peasto” and cream sauce.

I enjoyed this over organic garlic-gorgonzola ravioli, but bet it would be delicious over chicken or fresh fish.

As you can see, my recipes are not exact. I like to taste and add – the only problem is when you find that perfect combination, you might not remember exactly what was in it!

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