Sunday, November 11, 2012

(Award-winning) Mini Butternut Squash Cheesecakes w/Gingersnap crust

Mini Butternut Squash Cheesecakes w/Gingersnap crust

(I use a mini cheesecake pan for this recipe, but you could use a muffin pan w/liners if you don't have cheesecake pan available)

Yield: approx 36 mini cheesecakes

2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (pulse in food processor until crumbs)
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves

2 – 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened
3 cups butternut squash puree*
¾ c sour cream or plain greek yogurt
½ c half and half
3 eggs
3/4 c brown sugar
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray the insides of the pan.
In a medium sized bowl, mix crust ingredients with a fork. Scoop about a tbsp of crust mix into each cup in the pan and press crust down using a spoon or a pestal.
In separate bowl mix the filling ingredients with a hand blender/mixer until smooth. Spoon about 1 ½ tbsp of filling into each cup.
Place pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool (the cakes will puff up and then deflate). Once they deflate and are cool enough to touch, carefully push them up out of the pan and place each cake on a cooling rack.
Repeat process for two more batch.
Let cakes cool completely then serve or refrigerate.

Top with whipped cream & sprinkled cinnamon or habanero-cranberry sauce

*About 2 large whole butternut squashes. Cut squash in half lengthwise, place cut side down in a baking dish and cover halfway with water, bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until pierced easily with a fork. Remove, let cool, scoop squash out of shell and puree in food processor.

Habanero-Cranberry Sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 habaneros, seeds removed, minced (can adjust to desired heat level)
1 12 oz package cranberries
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated (or ground ginger if fresh is unavailable)
¼ c sugar
¼ c honey
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
juice of 2 oranges plus pulp
1 tsp zest of the orange peel

Saute garlic and habaneros for 5 minutes, then add cranberries and saute until they begin to pop. Add remaining ingredients except orange zest. Simmer for about 30 minutes- if too thick, add water. Blend with immersion blender, food processor or blender to desired consistency.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Eggplant-Portobello Parmesan

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch discs
1 portobello mushroom cap, stem removed, sliced into long strips
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
1 cup whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 jar pasta sauce of your choice
1/2 c chopped fresh basil
3/4 c shredded Italian cheese
1/2 pkg whole wheat thin spaghetti

Place eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle salt over, let sit for about 1 hour then rinse the salt off and pat dry. (This pulls excess water out of the eggplant and helps it not have the sour taste they can sometimes have.)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine eggs and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish.
Combine panko, 1/2 of basil, 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a little salt, pepper & garlic powder in a second shallow dish.
Dip eggplant in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Place eggplant 1 inch apart on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once halfway through.

Meanwhile, saute the mushroom slices in a nonstick skillet for just a few minutes each side, season with a little salt, pepper, & garlic powder.

Cook spaghetti according to package for aldente, then toss with 1/3 of the jar of spaghetti sauce. Cover & set aside.

To assemble, spoon 1/2 cup pasta sauce in bottom of a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Layer eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Sprinkle with a little more seasoning if desired. Then lay a few slices of portobello over each slice of eggplant. Pour remaining pasta sauce over everything, then sprinkle the shredded cheese & remaining basil over all. Cover tightly with aluminum foil & bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Remove foil & bake at 375° for 10 more minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts. Let cool a few minutes then serve over pasta.

This recipe could easily be doubled. It made about 5 regular servings, but you'll be wanting leftovers, so plan accordingly ;)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

So this is the first time I've tried making zucchini bread and it was a surprising success.
Even after I altered the recipe a bit (which I know can often lead to ruin when it comes to baking). 
In this case it didn't, which really helped my baking confidence because I've almost thrown in the towel too many times thinking I am NOT a chemist! I am a cook and I don't like to measure stuff! But every now and then I want something baked and so I keep trying.

I found the original recipe here:

The original recipe makes 2 loaves, but I didn't want to make 2 loaves of something I may not even like, so I cut the recipe in half.
Here's the recipe w/ the changes I made:

2 cups grated zucchini 
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour  organic whole wheat flour
1/4  1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (use natural unsweetened cocoa, NOT Dutch processed)
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cups granulated white sugar
1 egg
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted 3 Tbsp melted light butter & 3 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules  fresh ground coffee (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (kept this amount same as original 'cause I like the extra almond flavor)

1 Place the freshly grated zucchini in colander in the sink to let it release excess moisture, or in a colander over a bowl if no room in the sink.

2 Preheat oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Spray a 9x5 in loaf pan.

3 Vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk until there are no more clumps and the ingredients are well combined.

4 In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until smooth, about a minute. You can do this with an electric mixer on medium speed, or by hand with a wooden spoon. Add the melted butter, coconut oil, coffee and almond extract. Beat until smooth.

5 Mix the shredded zucchini into the sugar egg mixture. Add the flour to the zucchini mixture in 3 batches, stirring to combine after each addition.

6 Work quickly, pouring the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Place into the oven. Bake for 50 minutes at 350°F, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and easily. Remove to a rack. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife around the edges to separate the bread from the pan. Remove from the loaf pan and let cool completely on a rack.
Note that if you try to slice the chocolate zucchini bread before it has completely cooled, it will be rather crumbly.
Yield: 1 loaf.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creamy Seafood Linguine

seafood linguine

4 cloves garlic  
1/2 cup onion 
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil 
1 1/4 c seafood stock
2/3 c & 1/2 c grated parmesan 
1/3 block of Neufchatel cheese 
2 T chopped fresh basil 
3 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 a fresh lemon 
1 set of crab claws or 1 can crab meat
1/2 pound of large shrimp
1 Tbsp butter 
2 c sliced baby portabella mushrooms
2 c fresh baby spinach 
1/2 pkg whole grain linguine 
1 medium tomato 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
creole seasoning, salt, pepper

Saute 3 cloves minced garlic & 1/2 cup minced onion in 2 Tbsp butter & 1 Tbsp olive oil until soft
Add 1 c seafood stock (or you can just use water you boiled the crab in) and 1 c milk (I used unsweetened almond)
Gently boil until it reduces and starts to thicken
Slowly stir in 2/3 c freshly grated parmesan (I also used some pecorino-romano b/c I had it on hand), then 1/3 block of Neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese) cut in small pieces.
Let the cheeses melt into the sauce
Add about 1 T chopped fresh basil and 1 T chopped fresh parsley
Squeeze in 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Season to taste with creole seasoning, fresh cracked black pepper & sea salt

Steam 1 set of crab claws in a little crab boil (if you have it) and salted water for about 10 minutes. 
Let cool, pick crab meat from claws, set aside. 
(Or use one can of crab meat if fresh is unavailable.)
Fold crab into sauce just before mixing sauce w/pasta.

Toss 1/2 pound of large shrimp (peeled & deveined) in 1 Tbsp melted butter1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley1 clove minced garliccreole seasonings & p, squeeze juice from 1/4 lemon on it.
Best to let them marinate for 15 min-30 min.
Heat a dry nonstick skillet. place shrimp in skillet, not touching each other & cook on high enough heat that it sears/browns them w/out burning. They only need a couple minutes on each side.
Set shrimp aside, cutting into bite sized pieces when cool.

(Using pan that the shrimp was in)
Deglaze pan with 1/4 c seafood stock, picking up all the stuck on yumminess the shrimp left behind.
Add to pan 2 c sliced baby portabella mushrooms and sauté until they start to brown, then add 2 c fresh baby spinach and continue to sauté until it wilts.

Boil in salted water 1/2 pkg whole grain linguine according to package directions for aldente. (mine was 7 minutes)
Drain pasta, toss with the mushrooms/spinach mixture and shrimp in a tall casserole or bowl w/a lid.
Pour the sauce/crab mixture over the pasta & gently fold it in.
Sprinkle 1/2 c grated parmesan on top of it all.
Let it sit covered for about 5 minutes or so (while you eat a salad ;) to let the noodles soak up some of the sauce.

Toss 1 diced medium tomato w/ 1 Tbsp each fresh basil & parsley, a little creole seasoning & garlic powder. Set that in the fridge until ready to serve so it's nice & cold. 
Top each bowl of pasta with a spoonful of this once you're ready to serve.

seafood linguine

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