Dishing It: High-Fiber Peanut Butter Bran Muffins

February 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm , by

High Fiber Muffins

Let me guess. You first saw the word peanut butter in this muffin recipe from our February issue and got all excited to make it. But you then saw that the first ingredient was wheat bran and grumbled. I can just hear you now…

I just know wheat bran will be SO hard to find.
OK, so this is might be true, depending on where you live. I went to my local supermarket only to turn up empty-handed, and even Whole Foods had just one option in their bulk grains aisle (which actually turned out to be quite a find, as you’ll see below). However, our trusty food editor Khalil tells me to look more closely next time among the Bob’s Red Mill grains and head to a health food store like GNC for more options.

Sure, but even when I do find it, I’m sure it will be expensive.
The total for my self-serve bag of wheat bran came to a whopping 32 cents, and I had leftovers! What else, I ask you, can you get for 32 cents these days (besides this cancer-fighting, heart-healthy grain!)? Plus, I guarantee you already have the rest of the muffins’ ingredients in your pantry, so you won’t break the bank.

You’ll never use the leftovers, though! What a waste!
How about stirring some into your morning oatmeal? Or adding it as a healthy boost to pancakes? Or – make more muffins!

But… but… WHEAT BRAN??
Stop right there. Try this recipe and I promise you’ll be singing a different tune, and be well on your way toward getting more of that little powerhouse nutrient we here at LHJ keep reminding you to eat (psst – the correct answer is fiber).

Baking these muffins is a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, which is exactly what I did. In a nutshell, you put the wet ingredients in one bowl, the dry in another and stir until combined (I also gave the peanuts a quick spin the food processor to chop them up – but don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with mush!). Totally easy for even the baking-phobic.Honey PeanutsPeanut Butter

Click “read more” below to see how they came out!

Read more

Dishing It: Brownies Made Healthier

January 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm , by

Who’s ever heard of a healthy brownie? Not me—at least not one that tastes good—until I saw this recipe in our February issue for “Brownies Made Healthier.” I love baking, and most of my favorite recipes include more butter and sugar than I’d like to admit, so I knew I had to give this whole healthy brownie thing a shot.

The ingredients certainly surprised me. The health boost mainly comes from a few sneaky ingredient swaps, including squash and olive oil instead of butter and whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. As for the recipe itself—it was a piece of cake! (Or brownie?) The only trouble I ran into was defrosting the squash. I forgot to leave it in the fridge that morning so it could defrost while I was at work, but if it weren’t for that little hiccup the prep probably would have taken me only about 5 to 10 minutes. Next, the brownie batter went into the oven at 350 degrees for 23 minutes.

Read more

Made With Love: Passing On The Traditions

December 22, 2010 at 11:52 am , by

717694202_09_15oprah-monicabhide_081_fullThree things the holiday season has us thinking about: family, traditions and food. Guest blogger Monica Bhide, columnist, blogger, foodie and author of Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen, shares her thoughts on the close ties between love, cooking and recipes passed down through the years.

This morning I was making a lentil soup for my family, almost exactly the way my grandmother in India taught me decades ago. Or so I first thought. Her recipe used six tablespoons of butter, onions, garlic, red lentils, about eight different spices, loads of cilantro and a touch of salt. I recall my mom making this but with much less butter, baby peas for us kids and no salt as Dad was watching his sodium. As I smelled the aroma of garlic from the soup that I was stirring, it occurred to me that my soup today was in truth a reflection of my life here in the states, far away from India: butternut squash, chicken stock instead of water and no cilantro as my hubby thinks it tastes soapy.

The changes to the recipe had occurred so slowly, so gradually, that I never really noticed that I had changed it. I have to admit I felt guilty at first, almost as if changing the recipe meant I was changing the memory of a childhood taste. Familiar childhood tastes give us a place to belong: They bear witness to our lives. Changing them seemed sacrilegious. Read more

Dishing It: Holiday Sugar Cookies

December 9, 2010 at 9:29 am , by

I go all out when I decorate sugar cookies (which only happens once a year, precisely because I go all out). Piping cookie after cookie’s worth of intricate patterns feels like a fun art project—and then of course there’s the tasty treat at the end. So I jumped at the chance to make the snowflake sugar cookies from our December issue. (I don’t have any snowflake cookie cutters, so I went with mostly stars as you can see, above.)

The sugar cookies themselves seemed pretty standard (with a little ginger kick — yum). But I’ve never made royal icing with lemon or meringue powder before, so I was eager to see how it would turn out.

I gathered my ingredients to make the dough and then chilled it for a few hours before rolling (which is key). I made a half recipe and needed a bit more liquid to hold the dough together (maybe my eggs were small?) but an extra half-egg did the trick. I recently inherited my mom’s pastry cloth and it makes rolling and cutting out cookies SO much easier. Just a little flour on the cloth and the rolling pin and you’re good to go.

After baking a few batches and letting the cookies cool completely, I made the frosting. The lemon was the only liquid in the icing which gave it a real lemony zing. I don’t have any in-process icing shots because I made a mess. I had blue and white frosting in two different consistencies each (a firmer one for piping and a looser version for flooding) so it was quite a production—and a time-sensitive one at that. My trick with flooding (which is where you pipe around the edge of the cookie and the fill with the looser frosting to give that pretty, smooth look) is to just skip the piping bag and spoon on the filler icing. I end up making a mess either way, and I usually need to smooth some of the frosting into the corners with the back of the spoon so it actually saves a step.

My piping wasn’t the neatest job in the world, but they still made for delicious treats, of course! I liked the ginger and lemon in this recipe because traditional sugar cookies can be a bit bland for my taste and these were a great, flavorful update on the classic.

Dishing It: Ina’s Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

November 18, 2010 at 10:02 am , by

I’d signed up to try out Ina Garten’s Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms from the November issue of LHJ, but before I’d chopped, peeled or stemmed a single thing I was already feeling a little anxious. Extra-large white mushrooms—the first item on the list of ingredients—had me stumped. At Whole Foods all I could find were white mushrooms. Was I supposed to be looking for a different type of shroom entirely—extra-large white mushrooms? Or should I just be looking for really big white mushrooms? Clearly, food is something I’ve yet to master. This is good news for you though—if I can do this, you definitely will be able to.

I tried to make things as easy as possible by putting out all my ingredients on the counter. I realized after I’d gotten home I’d forgotten mascarpone cheese, and I couldn’t find scallions so I’m using shallots instead, but everything else is the same. I have a very bad habit of starting on the recipe before I prepare the ingredients on the list, but after the first step I realized what a mistake that was. Prepare your ingredients first. There’s a good reason for it. I was all set to start cooking—heat on, oil cooking—when I realized I hadn’t removed the sausage casings. The recipe itself was simple—no hard steps and no words I had to look up!

The recipe didn’t say how long it would take to get everything in the oven, but I think it took me about half an hour, mostly because I like to be thorough (partially because I took a short Guitar Hero break), and I’m not a particularly quick cook. The baking, however, took less than 50 minutes. It was probably closer to 40, if not less.

DSC_4037When they came out the oven, I was initially saddened at the lack of green they sported compared to Ina’s originals, but they were really tasty and surprisingly filling! I think the mascarpone would have been a nice touch. The shallots were a good scallion substitute. On a side note, these weren’t the only things for dinner tonight. I think I’m a bold eater—I’ll try almost anything and I’ll put the oddest two things on my spoon. In my defense, I’m also a college student—sometimes I just have to make do. So tonight, I’d happened to serve guacamole and chips as an appetizer to this dish. Even then, I barely finished four stuffed mushrooms, and I sunk into a warm food coma right afterward. They made for a very cozy almost-winter meal.


Dishing It: I’m Crummy With Crust

November 11, 2010 at 9:08 am , by

ss_101628926_wlaurasmomMaking apple pie at Thanksgiving is something I’ve always left up to my mom. She is an absolutely amazing cook, but when it comes to baking she bakes one thing (and only one thing) really well: apple pie. I’m really the baker of the family. I make cookies, brownies, bars, cake, cake, cake… but for some reason never pie. So for “Dishing It” this week, I chose to make Ina Garten’s Deep Dish Apple Pie. Not only did I want to try my hand at pie, but I have to admit I have always joked that Ina Garten was my second mom — or at the very least, an aunt. So for this challenge I decided to pit Ina Garten’s apple pie against my dear mom’s apple pie. (That’s my mom on the left, and of course Ina on the right. You have to admit, they could be related, right?)

photo[1]First off just glancing at Ina’s recipe I see a few major differences. She uses lemon and orange zest as well as fresh lemon juice and orange juice! Whoa, I don’t think citrus in any form has ever entered mom’s pie, but I digress (sorry shameless Golden Girls reference there).

So, to begin, I started with Ina’s perfect piecrust. I followed the directions exactly, but when it came time to roll out the dough, the problems began. No matter how careful I was, the crust kept tearing. So I decided to ball it back up and add some more cold water…thank goodness this mostly did the trick. The recipe calls for 6 to 8 tablespoons of ice water, but I think it needs more, perhaps 8 to 10 tablespoons. Maybe this depends on the climate or my over-eager radiator, but mine was too dry on the first attempt. After I figured this out the rest of my pie making night went pretty smoothly. The only other change I made was after about 30 minutes of baking the top of the pie started to get too dark, so I just covered that section with a bit of tin foil.

photo[3]photo[2]After 60 minutes, it was time to take the pie out of the oven. I let it cool slightly, maybe 15 minutes, before I had to have at it. And the verdict is… Sorry Ina, mom wins this one. I’ll admit the crust was delicious and flaky, but I just found it way too citrusy and acidic. I think maybe a little orange zest would have delivered a hint of citrus to compliment the spice, but not with lemon zest and juice and orange juice. My mouth was on citrus overload!  Mom, I’m sorry for ever doubting you. And “Auntie” Ina, I’m sorry but this pie just wasn’t for me. (Don’t worry I still love you for your coconut cupcakes and every other baked confection). — Laura D’Abate, associate photo editor

Dishing It: Ina Garten’s Wild Rice Salad

November 3, 2010 at 9:07 am , by

IMG_3297 IMG_3298IMG_3308

This salad recipe (which ran in our November 2010 issue on page 150) intrigued my wife and me for several reasons, not least among which is that it seems to provide a wonderful side dish for many occasions. It would support any number of main dishes no matter the season and might very well stand on its own as the main event at a luncheon at any time of year—pair it with fresh-baked baguettes and the right complementary wine and no guest would go unsatisfied or underfed.

The recipe is not only a breeze to make but fun as well. This is the sort of recipe that any beginning chef ought to be able to master because its steps are so clear and its success is all but guaranteed. That said, it is also the sort of recipe that any pro should be able to make since its flavors are extremely complex: This Wild Rice Salad is as hearty and crunchy, owing to its rice and nuts and grapes, as it is subtle, owing to its varied sweet-salt-acid palate. To say that it is a wild ride on a thrilling roller coaster would be no exaggeration, for its flavors keep unfolding the longer you sample it. But first, here is how its assembly went.



Indeed, the only time-consuming part to this recipe (other than eating it, of course) is cooking the rice. Wild rice takes nearly an hour to prep (unlike the mere 20 minutes that white rice takes). After that, assembly is straightforward: You add the oranges to the cooled rice, then the olive oil, orange juice, raspberry vinegar, grapes (we used green per the recipe but you could also use Thompson Seedless or any other variety‚ even Concord), pecans, dried cranberries, scallions, salt and pepper. But forget about waiting 30 minutes before sitting down to eat this luscious salad. If you can wait 30 minutes you are either not hungry or your nose is not working. Read more