A Tribute

Perhaps you have wondered at our absence of posts this week. In truth, we have been grieving as one of our greatest inspirations slipped away. Our grandma passed away last night. It’s been a long week for us. Her health declined quickly and within one week she was gone. Nothing could prepare us for the depth of sadness – we have dreaded this day. She lived a full life – mother of 5, grandmother of 21, and great-grandmother of 36 (so far). We weep for ourselves – we will miss her. We rejoice for her – she awoke in her eternal home.

Our grandma was an amazing cook. We have fond memories of meals in her home, of wonderful cookies, and of milk poured from a pitcher. Some of our most memorable meals included vegetable beef soup, angel food cake, and molasses cookies. She taught us through her example, inspired with her letters and words, and loved us completely.

Next week, we plan to post some of her recipes as a tribute. In the mean time, we are taking this time to grieve, to remember, and to celebrate her life.

We love her. We admire her. We miss her.

We hope to be as strong and beautiful and loving as she was. She lived life with grace and love.

We appreciate your understanding, thoughts, and prayers.

 

Alaina & Stephanie

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Season’s Greetings

We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

May you have a wonderful day full of great food, beautiful memories,
and sweet family and friends!

Alaina, Andrew, & boys

Stephanie & Jeremy

We are so thankful for the chance to share recipes and photos with you. Thank you for making us excited to blog.

We look forward to continuing to bring you great food in 2012!

We will sneak back in this next week with a few new recipes, so stay tuned!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

We wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making our blog re-launch very successful! It has surpassed our expectations. We look forward to continuing to bring you recipes, photos, and ideas from our kitchens!

 Today we are thankful for our mom and our grandmothers – they each instilled in us a love of gathering around the table. They also taught us many kitchen skills. We are incredibly blessed to have all three of these women in our lives! And we are thankful for our supportive families who taste, critique, and encourage us in our blogging ventures.

Happy cooking. Happy gathering. Happy eating.

 All the best,

Alaina & Stephanie

Thanksgiving Recipes!

We just wanted to link back to last year’s posts for Thanksgiving recipes! There are some great twists on the Thanksgiving classics. Within those posts there are also links to other of our holiday favorites! We are planning and preparing for our Thanksgiving celebrations and anticipating some wonderful food this week.

Thanksgiving Sides

Thanksgivign Sides Part 2

Pies (includes a gluten free pie crust recipe!)

We will continue to feature recipes this week that are perfect for the holidays! Happy cooking and planning!

Just Desserts: Peanut Butter-Banana Mousse

You may have guessed by our more infrequent posting lately (especially from me) that things have been busy. We thoroughly enjoy cooking and blogging and sharing our recipes and posts with you however, we have decided that we need to take a break, re-evaluate, and plan for the blog future. There are 100s of recipes already here, so we hope you will keep stopping by! We do plan to return to blog world with exciting new recipes and format changes. We appreciate your support, interest, subscriptions, and most of all for making the recipes and giving us feedback! See you soon!

Happy Cooking,
Alaina & Stephanie, The Cooks Next Door

_______________________________________

(Stephanie) – This is a super quick, yummy little treat. Just three ingredients! Although I’ve never made what I’ve seen called banana soft-serve ice cream, I’m guessing this mousse recipe is quite similar. I copied this recipe down on a piece of paper sometime ago, I’m pretty sure that it came from Food Network, but now I can’t remember.

I love that this dessert can be considered healthy and can be made without planning ahead or turning on the oven. Hope you enjoy this prefect summer treat!

PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA MOUSSE
Print This Recipe

3 frozen chopped bananas
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons honey
pinch of salt

Puree in a food processor until smooth. Top with chopped peanuts and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Off the Shelf: June Magazine Reviews

Food Network Magazine (Stephanie): This issue is filled with an abundance of summery recipe goodness. Beverages, hotdogs toppings, condiments, desserts, grilling ideas. Some recipes that look particularly appealing to me are Chinese Beef and Broccoli, Cold Peanut Soba Noodles with Chicken, Warm Pasta-Bean Salad, Buttermilk-Pecan Ice Cream, Salted Caramel Milkshakes, and Fresh Peach Cake.

I made the Almost Famous Corn Salsa recipe. This is a copy-cat recipe for the Chipotle Restaurant’s Roasted Corn Salsa. We’re big fans of Chipotle around here, so the other night when I was making soft tacos, I mixed up this salsa to top them. It was tasty and a great addition to our tacos.

ALMOST FAMOUS CORN SALSA
(from Food Network Magazine, June 2011)
Print This Recipe

1/2 small poblano chile pepper, seeded
3 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt
1 cup fresh corn kernals or frozen corn, thawed
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons red onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat grill to medium high. Brush the poblano pepper with 1 teaspoon olive oil and grill, skin-side down, until charred, but still firm. About 5 minutes. Cool slightly; peel and finely chop.

If using fresh corn, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes; drain.

Mix the corn (if using frozen, add it here), poblano, jalapeno, cilantro, and red onion in a bowl. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, lime juice, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

COOKING LIGHT (Stephanie): I was pleased with all the seasonal, delicious sounding recipes featured in this issue, as well–Curry Chicken Wraps with Nectarine Chutney, White Bean and Sage Pita Burgers, Grilled Apricot Halves, Curried Potato Salad, Pina Colada Sorbet, Cherry-Almond Crisp, and Rich Chocolate Pudding Pie.

I chose the Mango-Coconut Sherbet recipe. I love using my ice cream maker and I like coconut milk ice cream. My one drawback is that I’m not terribly fond of mangoes. However, they were on sale for a $1 last week, so I figured it was frugal enough experiment. The sherbet turned out great, but the mango flavor was just too strong for me. So, if you like mangoes, you are sure to like this recipe. It’s super easy and the toasted coconut on top makes this dessert look fancy. I plan to experiment with other fruits to replace the mango, because I really liked this recipe.

MANGO-COCONUT SHERBET
(from Cooking Light, June 2011)
Print This Recipe

2 cups cubed peeled ripe mango
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted

Combine cubed mango, sugar, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and coconut milk in a blender; process until mixture is smooth, scraping sides as necessary. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions to soft-serve consistency. Spoon sherbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 2 hours or until firm. Before serving, sprinkle each dish with coconut.

BON APPETIT (Alaina) – This issue has some wonderful, seasonal recipes and an interesting article about Gwyneth Paltrow – by the way, is there anything she doesn’t do? There are some great looking recipes for crostinis and salads and strawberries. As always, the pictures are tempting and I have yet to have a recipe not turn out from Bon Appetit. You can’t go wrong with any of their tantalizing recipes.

I especially loved the section on lettuce, cherry, and chicken. It was from there that I found the recipe I wanted to try – Cherry Clafouti. Cherries are practically my favorite fruit and since I happened to have some, I couldn’t resist. This was delicious. Not too sweet and so pretty!

CHERRY CLAFOUTI
(from Bon Appétit, June 2011)
Print This Recipe

1 pound fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted, or frozen pitted cherries, thawed, drained
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
4 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Powdered sugar
10″ springform cake pan or eight 2/3- or 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups

Preheat oven to 375°. Butter cake pan or ramekins. Arrange cherries in a single layer in pan.

Combine milk and cream in a small saucepan; bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Set aside. Combine eggs, flour, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture; whisk until custard is smooth. Pour custard evenly over cherries in pan. If necessary, gently shake pan to allow custard to settle.

Bake clafouti until custard is set and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes for ramekins and 45-55 minutes for cake pan. Let cool 3 minutes, then run a knife around pan sides to loosen clafouti (if using a cake pan). Dust top with powdered sugar; cut into wedges and serve.

EVERYDAY WITH RACHAEL RAY (Alaina) – It’s been awhile since I have really liked an issue of this magazine but the June issue was great. There were so many interesting recipes and photos – just look at the cover!
 
There are many different burgers and sandwiches, popsicles, and many salads and sides. The Crispy Cheese w/Strawberry Salad, Antipasti Bowl, Thai Style Chicken w/Basil & Pineapple, Lemon-Scented Carbonara, and the Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Ice Pops are just a few of the delicious recipes! I decided to try one of the more unusual looking recipes – Spicy Cucumber & Blueberry Salad. It was suprisingly refreshing and delicious. The flavors really worked together!
 
 
SPICY CUCUMBER & BLUEBERRY SALAD
(from Everyday with Rachael Ray, June/July 2011)
Print This Recipe 

2 lbs. english cucumbers, halved lengthwise
Salt
1 large jalapeño chile, seeds and ribs discarded, finely chopped
4 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup EVOO
1 1/2 pt. blueberries
1 cup cilantro leaves

Using a hand held slicer, slice the cucumbers into half-moons about 1/8 inch thick; season with salt.

In a large bowl, combine the jalapeño, lime juice, garlic and cumin; whisk in the EVOO. Add the cucumbers, blueberries and cilantro and toss to coat.

Baker’s Delight: Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

We are pleased to welcome back Sarah Pulliam Bailey with this guest post! These would be great for you weekend and summer picnicking!

Chocolate chip cookies provide the ultimate comfort food. If you’re serving chocoholics, consider baking double chocolate chip cookies, which offers a rich, moist, chewy dessert.

The cookies did not turn out terribly even because I was in a hurry and grabbed rounded spoonfuls of dough, which made them puffier. If you prefer more uniform, flattened cookies, you could roll the dough up on parchment paper in a log, refrigerate for two hours, and cut individual cookies. You could also substitute white chocolate chips for peanut butter chips and chopped peanuts. Some of the reviews suggested using 1 tsp. of baking soda and 1 tsp. of baking powder, so consider experimenting. The recipe takes about 30 minutes and makes about 3 dozen cookies.

 

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(Adapted from allrecipes.com)
Print This Recipe

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of vanilla
2 cups white chocolate chips or chunks (12 oz. bag)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets. In a large bowl (I used my KitchenAid), cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each one well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir the mixture into the other bowl. Fold in white chocolate chips. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (9 minutes was perfect in my oven). Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. If you have a smaller kitchen, consider investing in a tiered cooling rack.

Off The Shelf: May Magazines

Well, our month has not gone quite as planned so this will be a shorter review and it’s later than we intended (my fault completely!). It’s wonderful to see the spring and summer recipes featuring seasonal vegetables and fruits! Perhaps inspiration will once again return to kitchens everywhere.

FOOD NETWORK (Alaina)- This wasn’t my favorite issue of Food Network but still, they have so many recipes and so much variety. The Jumbo Maple Pecan Scone, Poppy Seed Potato Salad, Stawberry Blondies, and Sage Limeade were a few of the recipes that looked interesting and tasty! 

However, my kids are big fans of chocolate milk and it is definitely a treat. So, I decided to make the Salted Chocolate Milk. The homemade chocolate syrup could be used as a sauce for all kinds of desserts. This was rich and delicious! The salt was a wonderful addition that brought out the chocolate goodness. This totally made me feel like a kid again!

SALTED CHOCOLATE MILK
Print This Recipe

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups cold milk
Kosher salt

Make the chocolate syrup: Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool completely.

Spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the chocolate syrup into each glass. Add 1 1/2 cups milk and a generous pinch of salt. Stir until the syrup and salt dissolve.

COOKING LIGHT – (Stephanie) I never know each month whether or not I’ll find many recipes I’m excited to try within the pages of Cooking Light. This month’s issue had several tasty sounding recipes. As I’m trying to learn to enjoy shrimp, I was pleased to find a couple new shrimp recipes: Shrimp Cobb Salad and Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli. There was also a section with assorted muffin recipes–Bacon-Cheddar Corn Muffins, Cherry-Wheat Germ Muffins, Tuscan Lemon Muffins, Pistachio-Chai Muffins–don’t those sound interesting and delicious? I also thought the Ancho Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cream sounded yummy.

I decided to try the Strawberry-Avocado Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips. I love fresh salsas and the flavor combination in this one intrigued me. I enjoyed this, though unfortunately forgot to buy fresh cilantro and jalapenos, so I used dried instead. If you’re looking for a quick, seasonal snack, give this easy recipe a try.

STRAWBERRY-AVOCADO SALSA WITH CINNAMON TORTILLA CHIPS
(from Cooking Light, May 2011)
Print This Recipe

2 teaspoon canola oil
6 6-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup finely chopped, peeled ripe avocado (about 2)
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
2 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced seeded jalapeno
2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To prepare chips, brush oil evenly over one side of each tortilla. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over oil-coated sides of tortillas. Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges; arrange wedges in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes until crisp.

Combine avocado, strawberries, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt; stir gently to combine. Serve with chips. 12 servings.

Off the Shelf: April Magazine Reviews

Bon Appetit (Stephanie): The advent of spring is celebrated throughout the pages of Bon Appetit with recipes highlighting ingredients like asparagus, radishes, peas, strawberries, leeks. After the long winter months, it’s such a pleasure to cook with fresh seasonal produce again. So many recipes sounded tempting: Garganelli with Asparagus, Artichokes, Favas, and Peas; Soba Noodle Salad with Salmon and Asparagus Radish, Arugula, and Red Onion Salad with Tangerines; Orange-Flower Pavlovas with Strawberries; Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg; Ginger-Pecan Scones. Doesn’t all of that sound springy and delicious?!

My pantry ingredients enticed me to make the Chickpea Salad with Lemon, Parmesan, and Fresh Herbs. I didn’t have the fresh parsley or basil on hand, so I did substitute 1/2 tsp of the dried herbs, though I’m certain fresh would have been better. Still, this made a nutritious, delicious, inexpensive lunch. I served it on a bed of shredded romaine. This will definitely become a standby recipe.

CHICKPEA SALAD WITH LEMON, PARMESAN, AND FRESH HERBS
Bon Appetit, April 2011
Print This Recipe

1 15- to 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine rinsed and drained chickpeas, chopped fresh basil, chopped Italian parsley, fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and pressed garlic clove in medium bowl. Add grated Parmesan cheese and toss gently to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Season chickpea salad to taste with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

DO AHEAD Chickpea salad can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Serve salad chilled or at room temperature.


Everyday Food (Stephanie): Every couple of months I get my hands on an issue of Everyday Food, and while I’m not wowed by every page, there are always several recipes that pique my interest. In this issue I did find recipes I hope to try sometime: Sauteed Collards with Bacon; Raspberry Cornmeal Crumble Bars; Shredded Chicken with Kale and Lentils; Mushroom Risotto with Spring Herbs. Overall though, I felt like a Celebration of Spring theme seemed rather absent (other than the Easter Dinner menu: Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze; Salt and Pepper Rolls; Asparagus and Green Beans with Chili-Orange Oil; Balsamic Red Onions; Simple Lemon Cake). I would have enjoyed more lightened-up, spring produce featuring recipes.
We don’t eat much cereal in our house, but I love a bowl of granola now and then. So, I decided to try two variations of granola recipes: Pistachio-Apricot Granola and Cherry-Lime Granola. Both were quite tasty! (Though I didn’t have enough of the lime zest, so the lime flavor didn’t come through as strong as I would have liked.) I make my granola with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, so my husband can enjoy the bounty as well. These recipes are a little on the pricey-side as the nuts and dried fruits can be expensive, but it’s fun to experiment with different flavors. The basic quantities are endlessly adaptable to your pocketbook and palate.
PISTACHIO-APRICOT GRANOLA
Everyday Food, April 2011
3 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (I used 3/4 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup dried apricots, diced medium
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine oats and pistachios. In a small saucepan, combine butter, honey, cardamom, and salt over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, place ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes; stir until combined.)
Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss until oats and nuts are completely coated. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
Bake until oats are lightly golden, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool completely; stir in apricots. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 weeks.)
CHERRY-LIME GRANOLA
Everyday Food, April 2011
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup agave nectar or honey
1 packed Tablespoon fresh lime zest, finely grated
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup dried tart cherries
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine oats and pistachios. In a small saucepan, combine butter, agave, lime zest, lime juice, and salt over medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, place ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until butter melts, 1 to 2 minutes; stir until combined.)
Pour butter mixture over oat mixture and toss until oats and nuts are completely coated. Transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
Bake until oats are lightly golden, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool completely; stir in apricots. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 weeks.)
Saveur (Alaina): This is consistently a great magazine full of information and great recipes. They nearly always include international recipes which I really like.
Sandwiches was the tantalizing theme of this month’s issue. You may recall, that I am crazy about sandwiches. So, of course, I had to feature this magazine in the review. I made two of the over 40 sandwich recipes. It was a little hard to narrow it down! They were quite different but both were popular with my crew.
The first was the Elena Cruz – yes, I partly chose it because it shares my name and also because it sounded delicious – it was. The second was the California. Yum. I made it as written and then after I tried it that way and loved it, I added some bacon and loved it even more. Sigh. Sandwich Nirvana. There are so many more to try…
CALIFORNIA SANDWICH
Saveur, April 2011
Print This Recipe
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices multigrain sandwich bread
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup alfalfa sprouts
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 ripe tomato, cored and thinly sliced
Whisk together buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, chives, parsley, and garlic and onion powders in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and spread on all bread slices. Place 1 slice cheese each on 2 slices of bread and top with sprouts, avocado, and tomato. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with remaining 2 slices of bread.
Makes 2 sandwiches (You will have extra sauce, which would be delicious as a salad dressing.)

ELENA RUZ (Cuban Turkey Tea Sandwich)
Saveur, April 2011
Print This Recipe
1 Cuban roll or brioche bun
2 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. strawberry jam
3 oz. sliced turkey breast
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Split roll, spread cream cheese on bottom half, and top with turkey. Spread jam on top half of roll and close sandwich. Heat butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook sandwich, weighing down with a cast-iron skillet and turning once, until golden brown and heated through, 3–4 minutes. Cut in half, and serve hot.

Off the Shelf: March Magazine Reviews

Cooking Light (Stephanie): Usually I either love Cooking Light, or I’m disappointed by it. This month, though, I felt so-so about it. A few recipes jumped off the pages for me: Black Bean Hummus, Meyer Lemon Curd Tart, Tropical Sherbet, Chicken Souvlaki Pitas with Tahini Sauce. But most of the other recipes were just kind of forgettable.

I decided to try the Vegetable Korma as Jeremy likes Indian food and I haven’t been very proactive about making it in my own kitchen. The dish was good, but not quite as flavorful as either of us expected. The dish definitely needed some salt and maybe if I’d added a little curry powder, it might have packed more punch. I used chickpeas in place of the edamame, mostly because if we’re eating a meatless meal, chickpeas rank high on Jeremy’s preferred protein list. It was good and something I might make again, but with a little tweaking.

VEGETABLE KORMA
(from Cooking Light March 2011)
Print This Recipe

1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 c. chopped onion
1 Tbsp minced peeled ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c. frozen shelled edamame
1 12-oz baking potato, peeled and diced
1 c. chicken broth
1 tsp flour
1 13.5-oz can light coconut milk
3 c. cauliflower florets
2 c. hot cooked rice

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute for 2 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp ginger and garlic; saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste and spices; saute for 1 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in edamame and potato. Combine chicken broth, flour, and milk, stirring until smooth. Add broth mixture to pan , and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3 c. cauliflower, and simmer for 9 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.

Bon Appetit (Stephanie): Bon Appetit was filled with lots of great sounding  recipes, many of which I hope to make. Potato and Yam Soup with Bacon and Spinach; Pork and Lemongrass Meatballs in Lettuce Cups; Roasted Pears with Blackberries, Ricotta, and Lavender Sugar; Savoy Cabbage Rolls with Halibut, Browned Butter and Capers Espresso Pound Cake with Cranberries and Pecans. Don’t these sound amazing?!

But my pantry supplies dictated that those recipes would have to wait until a later date. Chocolate Puddings with Orange Whipped Cream won out for my recipe testing. It came together very quickly (besides the 3 hours for cooling in the fridge, of course). Now I don’t have any orange liqueur, but the recipe suggested Kahlua or amaretto as alternatives. So I dolloped Kahlua whipped cream on my chocolate pudding. I think the best chocolate pudding I’ve ever eaten. Delicious!

CHOCOLATE PUDDINGS WITH ORANGE WHIPPED CREAM
(from Bon Appetit March 2011)
Print This Recipe

1/2 c. + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 1/2 c. whole milk, divided
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 c. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c. chilled whipping cream
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (or Kahlua or amaretto)
1/4 tsp finely grated orange peel (omit if using a different liqueur)

Whisk 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp salt in a saucepan to blend. Add 1/2 cup milk and egg yolks; whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining 2 cups of milk. Bring mixture to a boil over medium/high heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove pan from heat; add chocolate chips and butter. Whisk pudding until melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Divide pudding evenly among 6 dessert cups. Place plastic wrap directly onto surface of each, covering pudding completely. Chill at least 3 hours.

Beat whipping cream, liquer, zest, 1 Tbsp sugar until peaks form. Dollop whipped cream on puddings.

Cook’s Illustrated (Alaina): One magazine I have not reviewed often (or maybe ever?!) is Cook’s Illustrated. It is a fabulous magazine! My gift subscription is just coming to an end and I will be sad for that. The recipes are amazing, the product & brand reviews are excellent, and the articles & technique explanations are incredibly understandable and helpful. The magazine contains fewer recipes than most cooking magazines but the recipes are well chosen and you know they will turn out well.

They included Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread, Boston Cream Pie, and Spaghetti with Mushrom and Tomato Sauce among other delicious-looking recipes. I decided to try the snow peas. There was an article on how to use them and several variations to make a wonderful side dish. They were so good!

SAUTEED SNOW PEAS W/LEMON & PARSLEY
Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2011
Print This Recipe

1 Tb. vegetable oil
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 Tb.)
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt & Pepper
1/8 tsp. sugar
3/4 lb. snow peas, tips pulled off and strings removed
1 Tb. minced fresh parsley leaves

Combine 1 tsp oil, shallot, and lemon zest in small bowl. Combine 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and sugar in second small bowl.

Heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add snow peas, sprinkle with salt mixture, and cook, without stirring, 30 second. Stir and continue to cook, without stirring, 30 seconds longer. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until peas are crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Push peas to sides of skillet; add shallot mixture to clearing and cook, mashing with spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Toss to combine shallot mixture with vegetables. Transfer peas to bowl and stir in lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Food Network (Alaina): This magazine was once again great! I must have looked through it 20 times trying to decide which recipe to try. I had several marked like Rosemary Chips, Chicken, Sausage & Peppers, Tilapia Milanese, Citrus Salad, and Gorgonzola Polenta. It was an Italian themed issue and there were a lot of great pasta recipes, too. And the pull-out of 50 recipes for this month was pesto based recipes – yum. I will be sharing one of the pesto recipes next week – it was so good! 

They had a wonderful section on bruschetta with many variations. So inspiring! I decided to try a couple of the sweet ones and they were fabulous! They would be perfect for a tea, shower, or brunch especially. They were no-too-sweet and so pretty and they had eight different ideas for the sweet bruschetta and six ideas for the savory.

ORANGE CREAM BRUSCHETTA
Food Network Magazine, March 2011
Print This Recipe

Segment a blood orange (I used regular) over a bowl: reserve juice. Toss the segments with 1 Tb. superfine sugar (I used regular). Simmer the juice and 1 Tb. of sugar in a saucepan until syrupy. Spread whipped cream on the toast rounds (I used a french baquette and toasted both sides of the bread in the oven); top with an orange segment and shaved chocolate. Drizzle with orange syrup.

BANANA-HAZELNUT BRUSCHETTA
Food Network Magazine, March 2011
Print This Recipe

Toss 2 sliced bananas with 1 Tb. melted butter; spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 425 degress until golden, about 10 minutes (mine never really were golden but they were definitely roasted). Spread hazelnut butter (I used a chocolate hazelnut spread) on the toast rounds. Top with the toasted bananas, whipped cream, and chopped hazelnuts (I used toasted almonds).