Flaky Flatbread and White Bean Hummus

I am in love with today’s recipes. A few weeks ago I read in Bon Appetit magazine the recipe for flaky flatbread I have shared below. I wanted to try it almost immediately. My husband and I made them together and devoured all of them that same day. The flavors may be simple, but it is still rich in flavor and texture. An absolute treat.

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Flaky Flatbread

From Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • olive oil

Directions:

Whisk kosher salt and 3 cups flour in a large bowl. Drizzle in melted butter; mix well.

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Gradually mix in ¾ cup water. Knead on a lightly floured surface until dough is shiny and very soft, about 5 minutes.

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Wrap in plastic; let rest in a warm spot at least 4 hours.

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Divide dough into 10 pieces and, using your palm, roll into balls. Place balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 15 minutes.

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Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out balls on an unfloured surface with a rolling pin into very thin rounds or ovals about 9” across. (If dough bounces back, cover with plastic and let rest a few minutes.)

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Brush tops of rounds with room-temperature butter and sprinkle with sea salt.

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Roll up each round onto itself to create a long thin rope,

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then wind each rope around itself to create a tight coil.

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Working with 1 coil at a time, roll out on an unfloured surface to 10” rounds no more than ⅛” thick.

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Heat a large cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Working 1 at a time, brush both sides of a dough round with room-temperature butter and cook until lightly blistered and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

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Transfer bread to a wire rack and sprinkle with sea salt.

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Top these delicious flatbreads with a dip of your choice or try this easy and tasty white bean hummus. What I love about white beans is the buttery flavor they have, they make for delicious dips.

White Bean Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can white beans (Canellini beans, Navy beans, etc.)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

Rinse and drain the white beans. Toss the beans and the remaining ingredients into a food processor. Blend until mostly smooth with just a few large chunks remaining.

Scrape bowl of food processor and put hummus into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 3-4 hours before serving (trust me this tastes great when the flavors have had a chance to meld together first).

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Flaky Flatbread

From Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • olive oil

Directions:

Whisk kosher salt and 3 cups flour in a large bowl. Drizzle in melted butter; mix well. Gradually mix in ¾ cup water. Knead on a lightly floured surface until dough is shiny and very soft, about 5 minutes.

Wrap in plastic; let rest in a warm spot at least 4 hours.

Divide dough into 10 pieces and, using your palm, roll into balls. Place balls on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 15 minutes.

Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out balls on an unfloured surface with a rolling pin into very thin rounds or ovals about 9” across. (If dough bounces back, cover with plastic and let rest a few minutes.)

Brush tops of rounds with room-temperature butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Roll up each round onto itself to create a long thin rope, then wind each rope around itself to create a tight coil. Working with 1 coil at a time, roll out on an unfloured surface to 10” rounds no more than ⅛” thick.

Heat a large cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Working with one piece of dough at a time, brush both sides of a dough round with room-temperature butter and cook until lightly blistered and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer bread to a wire rack and sprinkle with sea salt.

 

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White Bean Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can white beans (Cannellini beans, Navy beans, etc.)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Directions:

Rinse and drain the white beans. Toss the beans and the remaining ingredients into a food processor. Blend until mostly smooth with just a few large chunks remaining.

Scrape bowl of food processor and put hummus into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 3-4 hours before serving.

Lick Your Plate Clean Spaghetti Sauce

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Before we delve into this recipe there are a few things you need to know:

First, this recipe is near and dear to my heart. I grew up eating Italian food and loving every bite. It didn’t matter if it was made by my Mother, my Nana, or any other relative, I just couldn’t (and still can’t) get enough homemade Italian food. This recipe, to me, is a big part of my childhood. To the annoyance of many I have insisted that homemade sauce is ALWAYS better than jar sauce. To be honest, most have disagreed. Some have even scoffed at how long it takes to make sauce and claim it is not worth it. But despite the criticism and doubts, I still feel very strongly about making pasta sauce from scratch. I urge you to give it a try. It is not difficult recipe and to me, nothing provides more comfort than a belly full of homemade sauce.

For some of the ingredients listed below there are no measurements. Why? Because this is how I learned to make sauce, so this is how I’m going to explain it. Make this recipe just once and you’ll get a feel for it.

This makes a big ole’ batch of sauce. Why? Because I make sauce in big batches, freeze it in smaller containers and than defrost for quick weeknight meals. BUT here’s the beauty of this recipe, it can easily be reduced by cutting back on the tomatoes. Want to make a small batch? Just use 1 can of diced tomatoes and 1 can of crushed tomatoes. Want to make an even bigger batch than this? Increase the tomatoes so that you use 4 cans of diced and 4 of crushed. The key is to keep the varying texture of tomatoes even, so that there is always an equal amount of each.

The last thing you should know is that the title of this post has been inspired my my husband, who literally licks his plate clean every time I serve it.

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Clara’s Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • garlic, minced
  • 3 cans (28 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cans (28 oz) of crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • dried oregano
  • dried basil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Start out by getting everything ready to go, mince a few garlic cloves, chop the parsley, and open all of the cans and have them near the stove top ready to rock and roll. Trust me.

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Next coat the bottom of your sauce pan with olive oil. You want enough to coat the bottom of your pan so this will vary depending on the size pot you are using. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and when the oil is warm add your chopped parsley and a few cloves of garlic to the pan. Garlic lovers, feel free to load up on garlic here, otherwise 3-4 cloves ought to do it.

Stir the parsley and garlic frequently. The garlic should be toasted and brown, but not burned. Do not walk away from your pot, keep an eye on that garlic because it will go from browned and lovely to burned and acrid quickly. Burned garlic ruins sauce. If you burn the garlic, dump out your pot and start over.

Ok, so the garlic is nice and browned, now it’s time to add all of your tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Gently pour them all into the pan and set the cans aside.

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Now, take one of the empty cans of tomatoes and fill the can about 1/3 of the way with water. Carefully swirl the water around the can to rinse the excess tomato from the can.

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Then pour the tomato-ey water into each can and repeat the process to clean all of the cans.

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Pour the tomato-water mixture into the sauce and stir to combine.

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Now it’s time to add some spices. How much basil? About this much.

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How much oregano? Slightly more oregano than basil.

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Next add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook the sauce for 3-4 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. Stirring the mixture and keeping it on a low temperature is key, as tomato burns easily. Keeping the heat low and stirring the mixture will prevent that. There is no fixing burned sauce. If you burn the bottom of the pot, I’m sorry, but the whole batch of sauce will taste burned. Do not burn your sauce.

Taste the sauce about half-way through the cooking process to determine if more seasoning is needed. You will know the sauce is done when the tomatoes no longer have a raw taste to them and taste a little bit sweeter.

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Clara’s Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 3 cans (28 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cans (28 oz) of crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • dried oregano, to taste
  • dried basil, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:

Start out by getting everything ready to go, mince the garlic cloves, chop the parsley, and open all of the cans and have them near the stove top.

Next, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.

Next coat the bottom of your sauce pan with olive oil. When the oil is hot an easily coats the bottom of your pot saute the parsley and garlic. Stir the parsley and garlic frequently. The garlic should be toasted and brown, but not burned. Do not walk away from your pot, keep an eye on that garlic because it will go from browned and lovely to burned and acrid quickly. Burned garlic ruins sauce. If you burn the garlic, dump out your pot and start over.

Once the garlic is a golden brown add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Then, take one of the empty cans of tomatoes and fill the can about 1/3 of the way with water. Carefully swirl the water around the can to rinse the excess tomato from the can. Pour the tomato-ey water into each can and repeat the process to clean all of the cans and pour the tomato-water mixture into the sauce and stir to combine.

Add 2 tablespoons of oregano, 1 tablespoon of basil, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

Allow the mixture to come to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook the sauce for 3-4 hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. Stirring the mixture and keeping it on a low temperature is key, as tomatoes will burn easily. Keeping the heat low and stirring the mixture will prevent that. There is no fixing burned sauce. If you burn the bottom of the pot, the whole batch of sauce will taste burned. Do not burn your sauce.

Taste the sauce about half-way through the cooking process to determine if more seasoning is needed. You will know the sauce is done when the tomatoes no longer have a raw taste to them and taste a little bit sweeter.

Homemade Hummus & Crostini

My favorite holiday is almost here! Guys, I love, love, love Thanksgiving. It is by far the best holiday, and in preparation for this glorious holiday I have been whipping up some delicious posts for you this week!

This post is all about homemade hummus and crostini. This is an easy snack that can served before the big meal, so if you need to put something out for your guests to munch on, or if someone asks you to bring something to share, this my easy, make-ahead suggestion to you.

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This is the recipe my Mom uses. She makes hummus for almost all holidays and big family parties. I remember making it with her back when we thought it was better to skin the chickpeas first (trust me, it does not make a noticeable difference), and I always associate hummus with holiday times and special occasions (even though I eat it all year round!). So, let’s get this hummus started already!

Hummus

adapted from:

The Complete Middle East Cookbook
by: Tess Mallos

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2/3 cup tahini (available in some supermarkets and in most deli’s)*
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 can water (use the chickpea can)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt to taste

*A note on this ingredient, if you cannot find tahini, sesame oil will do, just add to taste, 1 tsp at a time.

Are you ready for these super hard instructions?

Directions:

Place all ingredients (except salt) in a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste. Add salt to taste.

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So here’s the thing about hummus, yes you can absolutely buy it at the store, and it tastes great, but homemade hummus tastes even better to me and I also like to make a chunkier hummus than you generally see in stores. So give it a try, and let me know how you think it compares. Additions such as roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts, or roasted red peppers are welcome!

Next, let’s make some crunchy homemade crostini to go with our hummus!

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Crostini

Ingredients:

  • 1 baquette, cut into slices
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, dried oragano

*A note on this ingredient; These can be seasoned many different ways and still come out delicious! The flavor combinations are endless and can be tailored to match whatever is intended to top the crostini.

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the baquette slices on a cookie sheet. They can be very close together. Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with spices.

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Bake for 30-40 minutes until level of desired toasted perfection is achieved. I like mine to be fairly dark and golden brown, but they are also good when only slightly toasted, so feel free to play with the bake time on this recipe.

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I love these because they are so easy to make and great make ahead snacks for any dinner party. They can be topped with hummus, or meat and cheese or pretty much any topping making them a very versatile snack, and a nice homemade touch to any party.

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Coming up later this week: Non-traditional Thanksgiving sides to accompany your turkey!


 

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Hummus

adapted from The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2/3 cup tahini (available in some supermarkets and in most deli’s)*
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 can water (use the chickpea can)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt to taste

*A note on this ingredient, if you cannot find tahini, sesame oil will do, just add to taste, 1 tsp at a time.

Directions:

Place all ingredients (except salt) in a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste. Add salt to taste.

 

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Crostini

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette, cut into slices
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices on a cookie sheet. They can be very close together. Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with spices.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until level of desired toasted perfection is achieved. I like mine to be fairly dark and golden brown, but they are also good when only slightly toasted, so feel free to play with the bake time on this recipe.

 

DIY Christmas Gifts Ideas: Part II

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Welcome to Part II of my DIY Christmas gift series. This is where I test out DIY Christmas gift ideas I would like to give this year and decide if the results are worthy of becoming Christmas presents.

In part I of this series I wrote about these simple and delicious cheddar cheese crackers. Check out the recipe here.

This week I’m going to test out a recipe I saw in the December issue of Cooking Light. I’m usually a big fan of this cooking magazine and I have to say this month’s issue is full of really great recipes. The recipe I’m going to show you is Intense Fruit Gelees (pronounced jellies). They are easy, delicious, and so very pretty!

Before I jump into this, a huge thanks to my mom and my sister, who not only helped me with making the gelees, but also agreed to be hand models for the post. Who knew, it was easier to take action shots when the one taking the pictures isn’t doing the action?

Intense Fruit Gelees

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine (click here to view the original recipe)

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Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup fruit concentrate*
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 (3-ounce) package liquid fruit pectin (such as Certo)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

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*A note on the fruit concentrate; Cooking Light suggested flavors such as tangerine, lemon, and pomegranate. They also recommended ordering some the puree or concentrate from www.perfectpuree.com. I used  grape juice concentrate and I think they turned out fabulous, and very rich in flavor. I am looking forward to experimenting with more flavors.

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After the ingredients have been gathered and the flavor of the gelee has been selected it’s time to prep the pan. Grab a loaf pan and line it with plastic wrap. Spray the plastic wrap with cooking spray.

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Next combine 1 1/4 cup sugar with the fruit concentrate, applesauce, and corn syrup in a large saucepan.

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Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook for 10 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer the temperature you’re looking for is 224 degrees F).

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After cooking the mixture for 10 minutes add the liquid pectin, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute stirring often.

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Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the lemon juice.

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Give it a stir.

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Then pour it into the prepared loaf pan.

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Tertius wants to know what’s going on up there and if he can have some.

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Let the mixture cool and then cover and let it sit overnight in room temperature. In the morning you have a delicious, gelatinous, fruity treat. Does that sound unappetizing? I promise these taste amazing, or as my sister put it; “It’s like a mini grape pie in my mouth.”

Now that the mixture is solidified, let’s cut them up!

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First, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on the top of the gelee.

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Next, tip your loaf pan upside down, the gelee will flop right out. Get rid of the plastic wrap. Then start slicing up the gelee. My sister recommends starting in the middle, then cutting in the middle of that half, followed by cutting down the middle of the two sections and so forth. Can ya’ dig it?

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They look pretty already!

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Next put the remaining sugar in a small bowl and slice the columns of gelees into cubes and toss into the sugar to evenly coat them. I suggest keeping the cubes on the small side, these are sweet, rich candies.

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The verdict: these rock! They are absolutely scrumptious and I will definitely be giving out little boxes of these as gifts this year.

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Intense Fruit Gelees

Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup fruit concentrate*
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 (3-ounce) package liquid fruit pectin (such as Certo)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray with cooking spray. Next, combine 1 1/4 cup sugar with the fruit concentrate, apple sauce, and corn syrup in a large saucepan.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook for 10 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer the temperature you’re looking for is 224 degrees F).

After cooking the mixture for 10 minutes add the liquid pectin, bring to a boil, and cook for 1 minute stirring often. Remove the pot from the heat and pour in the lemon juice. Give it a stir. Then pour it into the prepared loaf pan.

Let the mixture cool and then cover and let it sit overnight at room temperature.

To de-mold and cut up; first, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on the top of the gelee. Put the remaining sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Next, tip your loaf pan upside down, the gelee will flop right out. Get rid of the plastic wrap. Then start slicing up the gelee into cubes. I suggest keeping the cubes on the small side, these are sweet, rich candies.

Toss the gelee cubes into the sugar to evenly coat them.

 

Gazpacho inspired by Samuel L.

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Inspired by a commercial with Samuel L Jackson (the one for the iPhone 4/Siri), and the weather getting hotter and hotter here in Charleston, I decided this week was a good week to try making some gazpacho. I did a quick search for recipes online. Did you know that there are at least a gazillion gazpacho recipes online? I finally decided to ask my Mom to send me the recipe she used.

Now let me tell you something about the way my Mom cooks; firstly, my Mom is an awesome cook for many reasons but one of them being that she is flexible.

When she looks at a recipe she adjusts it to what she has in the house or what she thinks will taste better. So when she sent me the recipe she uses, she also sent me the modifications she has made. When I looked at both, I also decided to make some modifications of my own.

So here is my gazpacho recipe that has been twice adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller et all.

Gazpacho

Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller et all

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 3 c vegetable juice (such as V-8)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
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  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp rooster hot sauce
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • juice from 1 large lemon
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

If making in a food processor;

Cut all vegetables into large chunks and puree to the desired texture using a food processor.

If making in a blender;

Coarsely chop all vegetables. Add veggies and a small amount of tomato juice to the blender and chop into a smoother texture. Pour into a bowl when finished blending. With so many vegetables I had to do the blending in 3-4 batches.

Pour most of the vegetable mixture into a bowl and set aside, leaving 2 cups in the food processor or blender. Add garlic, salt, pepper, hot sauce, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, basil, and thyme to the reserved mixture and puree together until well combined. Combine the two mixtures in the bowl. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The soup can be served by itself or with a dollop of greek yogurt and/or diced avocados. 

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Gazpacho

Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller et all

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 3 c vegetable juice (such as V-8)
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
a
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp rooster hot sauce
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • juice from 1 large lemon
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Directions:

Coarsely chop all vegetables. Working in batches if needed, add veggies and a small amount of tomato juice to a blender or food processor and blend into a smoother texture. Pour all but 2 cups of the blended vegetables into a bowl when finished blending.

Add garlic, salt, pepper, hot sauce, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, basil, and thyme to the reserved mixture and puree together until well combined. Adjust seasonings to taste. Combine the two mixtures in the bowl. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The soup can be served by itself or with a dollop of greek yogurt and/or diced avocados.

Avocado Tomato Summer Salad

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I bought some plants a couple of weeks ago and in celebration of them still being alive I decided to eat them! Err, some of them. Ok, that sounds weird. Good thing I don’t have a pet pig or calf?

Anyway, 2 weeks ago I got myself a basil plant and a peppermint plant. I’m proud to report that they are both thriving. To celebrate the success of my basil plant I am making my favorite summer salad. It is a refreshing and quick salad that is great on a warm summer night. I know it’s not quite summer-time yet, but this sunny 80 degree weather here in Charleston has got me already thinking about summer. (And also how I’m going to start melting when July and August come around)

Avocado Tomato Summer Salad

Ingredients

½ cup chickpeas, drained

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced length-wise

1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed

1 slice of a red onion

½ cup cubed mozzarella (optional)

fresh basil leaves (as many as you like)

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp smoked paprika (regular is ok too)

2 tsp olive oil

Combine the chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado, red onion and mozzarella (if using) in a bowl.

Next stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll together. Slice the basil thinly, and this will create small, thin basil strips. Add the basil to the bowl.

Finally add the spices and olive oil and toss together. Voila!

Mmm Mmm Mmm Avocado Tomato Summer Salad and Balsamic Glazed Pork. YUM!

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Avocado Tomato Summer Salad

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
  • 1 slice of a red onion
  • ½ cup cubed mozzarella (optional)
  • fresh basil leaves (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika (regular is ok too)
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Directions:

Combine the chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado, red onion and mozzarella (if using) in a bowl.

Next stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll together. Slice the basil thinly, and this will create small, thin basil strips. Add the basil to the bowl. Finally, add the spices and olive oil and toss together.

Cranberry Relish

 

 

 

Today’s recipe is a family tradition; every year at Thanksgiving we make this cranberry relish that my Dad had every Thanksgiving when he was growing up. This recipe is fresh tasting and best when made a day or two before Thanksgiving to really allow the flavors to mingle.

 

 

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Cranberry Relish

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh cranberries, washed and drained
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 can crushed pineapple, drained
  • ½ c toasted pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 c organic sugar

Directions:

Wash the orange and lemon and cut up into small chunks (peel and all) and remove seeds. Pat dry the crushed pineapple with paper towels to remove any excess juice.  Put cranberries, orange and lemon pieces, pineapple, and nuts (if using them) into food processor. Pulse for 10-15 seconds and stop to scrape the sides. Continue to pulse and scraping the sides until all ingredients are chopped finely. Be careful not to over-process or the texture will be too mushy, the relish should maintain a course texture.

Pour the relish into a medium sized mixing bowl and using a spoon stir in the sugar a ½ cup at a time. Since cranberries can vary in tartness, taste the relish after adding the first ½ cup of sugar to determine if the other half is needed. Continue to add sugar until desired sweetness is achieved. Chill in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.

Mighty Chocolate Cake

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*This article originally posted on www.Somerville.Patch.com*

A chocolate cake you can depend on.

Who doesn’t love a tasty chocolate cake? Whether you are looking to satisfy a craving or please a crowd of guests, chocolate cake will get the job done.

This creation has basically everything you’re looking for in a chocolate cake: intense chocolate flavor, moist texture, and it’s ridiculously easy to make. Of all the chocolate cakes you’ve flirted with in the past, this is the one to take home to your parents.

This is also a versatile cake that can be made with many different frostings or variations. The absolute best part about this cake is that it can be made in one bowl. I lovingly refer to these kinds of cakes as “dump cakes” as in you dump all the ingredients into a bowl, give it a stir, and it’s ready to go!

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Mighty Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ c all-purpose flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 c warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl measure out the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and stir with a whisk.

Next stir in the wet ingredients; the oil, warm water, and vanilla.

Lastly add the chocolate chips and vinegar to the batter and stir gently with a spoon (do not use the whisk for this step).

Once the ingredients have all been incorporated pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before frosting.

Now for a fun fact; if you use a vegan sugar such as the Whole Foods 365 brand, or Domino’s, you just made yourself a vegan chocolate cake! It’s time to dispel the myth that vegan baking doesn’t yield tasty results. I’m a fan of butter as much as the next baker, but delectable desserts can be made without.

This cake is pretty tasty on it’s own, but for those of you who can’t bear the thought of a naked cake here are a few suggestions for frosting:

For me, I have always been a fan of the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, and luckily peanut butter frosting is actually pretty easy to make. So to make yourself a Mighty Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake follow the directions for making the above directions for the cake. For frosting select your favorite vanilla buttercream recipe or you can buy some from the store (it’s ok, I won’t tell anyone).

Next combine the buttercream with creamy peanut butter using a one-to-one ratio. Add a splash of milk and mix together using a hand mixer.

Not feeling the peanut butter and chocolate combination? How about a Mighty Mint Chocolate Cake? For this variation, bake the cake as directed above substituting chopped up Andes mint thins rather than chocolate chips. For the frosting mix a few drops of mint extract into your buttercream and a drop of green food coloring.

My last variation is for any coffee enthusiasts; Mighty Mocha Cake. For this cake follow the directions above except instead of using 2 cups of warm water substitute 2 cups of strong coffee.

For the frosting, rather than using vanilla buttercream select a cream cheese frosting. Add 1 tablespoon of instant coffee that has been dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water and 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder.