Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts tagged ‘picnic’

This recipe uses raw corn and zucchini, which I wasn’t brave enough to try!  I boiled my corn on the cob for 9 or 10 minutes and then removed the kernels … and I blanched the zucchini for a quick minute.  I also made the vinaigrette (olive oil and lemon) in a separate small bowl and added it into the salad (I didn’t use it all).  I would definitely double this recipe as it only serves 2.  This would be great for lunch or a BBQ dinner while fresh corn is still available.

Quinoa with Zucchini, Corn, Parsley & Basil

Recipe from blog Gourmette NYC.

Quinoa with Zucchini, Corn, Parsley, and Basil

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced (use a mandoline for best results)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup minced basil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl, toss the quinoa, corn, zucchini, parsley, and basil. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and toss, adding more olive oil and lemon juice if desired. Salt and pepper to taste.

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I love the Orzo and Spinach Salad that Whole Foods makes and thought about replicating it at home.  A quick search on the internet brought me to one that sounded promising, and I made a few modifications.  This salad can be served cold or at room temperature and would be great to bring to your next BBQ.

Orzo & Spinach Salad

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked orzo pasta (can be whole wheat)
  • 1 (10 ounce) package baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb crumbled feta cheese (2 cups)
  • 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in spinach, feta, onion, pine nuts,olives, basil, salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.
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I know what you’re thinking.  “You really think I’m going to take the time to brown butter for some homemade cookies?”  I know it seems like one more step, but it’s worth it!  These cookies are amazing!  Crunchy, nutty, buttery, salty, sweet, and wholesome.  What I do as a time-saver is I make a double batch, roll up all of the cookie dough balls, and freeze half in a freezer ziplock bag.  The balls won’t stick to each other and you’ll have them ready to go for when you need a fresh, baked dessert.  Just bring them to room temperature and follow the same baking directions … and it’s like you’ve just been slaving away on them!  Note: I use dark chocolate chunks because I prefer dark chocolate.

 

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies

Recipe from the blog How Sweet It Is.

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies

Makes about 15-18 cookies.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cups rolled oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup chocolate chunks

optional: 1- 2 tablespoons milk, if dough is crumbly

Directions:

Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter until bubbly and until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan – about 5-6 minutes. Watch closely and immediately remove the butter from the heat, whisking for an additional 30 seconds or so. Set aside and let cool COMPLETELY. Note: It does not need to solidify at all, but it should not be warm to the touch.

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, oats and cinnamon, mixing, then set aside.

Once butter has cooled, add to a large bowl. Whisk in sugars, stirring until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla, whisking until smooth once again. Slowly begin to stir in dry ingredients, using your hands if necessary (I always do) to bring dough together. If you find that the dough still won’t come together, add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time (I rarely have to do this.) Fold in chocolate chips, distributing them evenly. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an ice cream scoop or your hands, form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on a nonstick baking sheet, then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms and edges are golden. Let cool before serving.

 

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This is hands-down my favorite chocolate cake recipe.  It’s rich and moist and delicious.  Apparently, the cake is better when made the day before (so I’ve always done that).  The chocolate frosting is delicious too (although not pictured below).  This recipe makes two 8 inch round cakes, which you can stack with a layer of frosting in between – or one single layer rectangular cake.  Enjoy!

Mom's Chocolate Cake

Recipe from Food & Wine (contributed by Marcia Kiesel.)

Mom’s Chocolate Cake

This is a real old-fashioned American chocolate layer cake. It’s very moist, very chocolatey, a snap to make and best baked the day before serving. Marcia Kiesel acquired the recipe from her friend Joyce Cole, who got it from her mother.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with wax paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; then pour into a large bowl. Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until melted and slightly cooled. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture at medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat at medium speed until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for about 25 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
  4. Set one cake, right-side up, on a serving platter. Using a metal spatula, spread one-third of the Chocolate Frosting evenly over the cake. Top with the second cake and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Chocolate Frosting recipe also from Food & Wine (contributed by Marcia Kiesel.)
Servings: Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

The inspiration for this frosting technique comes from dessert maven Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Alfred A. Knopf).

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 stick (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces slightly, about 6 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the chocolate, butter, vanilla and salt. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted.
  2. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the frosting on medium speed, scraping the sides occasionally with a rubber spatula, until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Use at once.
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These cupcakes are delicious and because of their all-white coloring and coconut topping (which looks like confetti), they are perfect for a special celebration (birthday party, baby shower, engagement party, Easter, etc.)  They are always a hit.  I did learn a lesson while making these once though.  While making my batter, I was cracking the eggs directly into the bowl, and I got a little shell in there.  For the life of me, I could not fish it out.  I just continued on, forgetting all about it… My husband ended up bringing in some cupcakes to work (so we didn’t end up eating all of them ourselves) and later that day, his future boss appeared at his door.  He said he really enjoyed the taste of the cupcakes, but next time would prefer them with no egg shell.  I was pretty mortified when this got relayed to me!  Ever since then, I’ve taken the time to crack my eggs into their own little bowl before adding them to my mixture!

Note: if you don’t like the taste of almond extract (I don’t), you can substitute with more vanilla extract.

Coconut Cupcake

Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

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I am obsessed with this salad dressing.  My whole family is.  Once you get all of the ingredients, it’s not hard to make and it keeps in the fridge for a week.  We love it on top of mixed greens and my boys love it as a dipping sauce for raw veggies (peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocados).  I’ve even tossed it into some leftover quinoa.  It’s good on everything!  This was the first recipe I tried from Gwyneth’s cookbook “It’s All Good” and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Dressing

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good“.

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons light raw honey or xylitol (I just used regular honey)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Purée everything together in a powerful blender until absolutely smooth.

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