Monday, May 30, 2011

Chickpea and Tuna Salad

After a long weekend hiking and backpacking at North Manitou Island (see pictures below), I wanted to prepare something healthy and light to take for lunch over the next few days.  I got home late today, so I didn't have time to go to the grocery store, so I was stuck with what I had in the fridge and the pantry.   I had some red peppers and carrots in the fridge, so I decided to combine them with a can of chickpeas and a packet of Herb and Garlic Starkist Tuna Creations. I tossed in some capers and some fresh parsley and added a dijon-lemon vinaigrette, and I ended up with something quite healthy and tasty.  The sweetness of the carrots and red peppers balances nicely with the tanginess of the capers and lemon juice.  I think this simple salad makes a great lunch when you want something healthy and filling.

Chickpea and Tuna Salad

For the salad:
  • 1-15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1-4.5 oz pouch of Herb and Garlic Starkist Tuna Creations
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced baby carrots (I used a mandoline, just be very careful because the carrots are so small)
  • 1/4 finely diced red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

For the vinaigrette:
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil

In a medium sized bowl combine the chickpeas, tuna, carrots, red bell pepper, parsley and capers, set aside while making the vinaigrette.  In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and the Dijon mustard together to form a smooth mixture then slowly drizzle in the olive oil to make a complete emulsion.  Pour the vinaigrette over the chickpea and tuna salad and toss to coat the salad.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Duo of Dips: Edamame Dip and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

For a friend's party I wanted to make something that was healthy, but still tasty, and I came across a couple of Ellie Krieger (the same Ellie of Craving Ellie in My Belly fame, of which I am a member) recipes on the Fine Cooking website. One of my friends who was attending the party cannot eat much dairy, so I wanted one of the dips to be dairy free.  I found a great recipe for an Edamame Hummus that was made "creamy" with the addition of silken tofu.  The other dip I made was a Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip.  It combines red peppers that you roast yourself (you could use jarred roasted red peppers, but doing it yourself produces sweeter, smokier peppers in my opinion) with feta and dill.  Both were great, and I actually liked the combination of the two together.  If I made the edamame dip again, I would cut back on the garlic because it was a bit overpowering.  They both last for days after you make them, and I used them both as sandwich spreads in the place of mayonnaise.  A great healthy alternative.  

Edamame Dip 
  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions 
  • 1 cup silken tofu, drained 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste 
  • Pinch of white pepper, plus more to taste 
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin, plus more for garnish 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.) (I would use 2 garlic cloves)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste (I added a few additional tablespoons of lemon juice)
Set 1 Tbs. of the edamame aside for a garnish. Place the rest, along with the tofu, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, oil and lemon juice, in a food processor and process until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if desired.

Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved edamame and a sprinkle of cumin

Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip

  • 3 medium red bell peppers 
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (about 3 oz.) 
  • 2 Tbs. plain dry breadcrumbs 
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh dill 
Position a rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high. Put the peppers on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet and broil, turning every 5 minutes, until the skin is charred all around and the peppers have softened, about 20 minutes. Put the peppers in a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove the skins, seeds, and stems. 

Put the peppers, feta, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, chopped garlic and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the dill. Season to taste with salt and serve.

Serve the dips with mini pita breads, fresh vegetables, or crostini. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

CEiMB: Muesli Parfaits

This is my week to pick a recipe for the Craving Ellie in My Belly, and I decided to go with something a bit different than my previous picks.  My other picks included Curried Chicken Salad, Salmon Cakes with Creamy Sesame Sauce, and Sesame Shrimp Fried Rice with Cabbage.  I decided to go the complete opposite way with this pick.  I picked the Muesli Parfaits from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger. Muesli, in case you didn't know is defined as a breakfast dish consisting of milk, uncooked oats, fruit, and nuts.  I have often seen it done with yogurt, and that is how Ellie makes it as well.  I often eat a makeshift muesli for breakfast.  I will mix some yogurt and some granola together, pack it in a container, and eat it when I get to work.  By that time, the granola has softened, and sweetened the yogurt.

I really liked this recipe, you can make it the night before, and have a healthy breakfast in the morning. I used a combination of blueberries and cherries.  They go well with the honey and vanilla that is in the yogurt.  It's not overly sweet, which is good because I used some plain granola instead of the just oats, so I didn't need a lot of added sugar.  I would recommend this dish for a quick, healthy breakfast.  Be sure to check out the Craving Ellie in My Belly blogroll to see what the other bloggers did with their recipe!

Muesli Parfaits
    serves 4

  • 1/2 cup unsalted raw almonds
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (I used some plain almond and honey granola)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups mixed berries, fresh or frozen, if using strawberries, hull and halve them

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Chop them coarsely.

In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, yogurt, oats, honey, and vanilla.  Divide the oat mixture evenly among 4 small dishes or parfait glasses.  Top each with 1/2 cup of berries, then 2 tablespoons of chopped almonds.  Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.  The parfaits with keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cherry and Peach Snack Cake

For a Mother's Day family gathering, I wanted to make something simple and not too rich.  I saw the first cherries of the season when I was at Whole Foods earlier this week, and I knew I wanted to include them in this dessert.  Since my dad isn't a huge fan of any kind of cherry that isn't in a pie, I decided to add peaches to the cake as well.  Another one of the reasons I wanted to use cherries is because I wanted to try out my new fancy Oxo Good Grips Cherry Pitter.  And let me say, it works really well, I know I will be making some pies this summer.  

I got the recipe for this cake from the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.  I really like America's Test Kitchen.  They take a scientific approach to each recipe they create, and I like to read about the steps they took to come to best recipe possible.  This is a really easy, quick recipe, great for weeknight or anytime you want a light cake that isn't too rich or elaborate.  It's great plain or with a dollop of whipped cream on top.  I think if I make this cake again, I might substitute half of the vanilla extract for almond extract or maybe top the cake with crystallized ginger for a different flavor.  Both would work well with cherries and peaches.

On a side note: I made a different cake originally, and it came out of the oven just like a hockey puck.  And I had made that cake before, so I was worried that my baking powder had become inactive, so I thought I would test it out.  A quick tip, to make sure you baking powder works, add a small amount to about 3-4 tablespoons of water, if it reacts and starts to bubble, then it still works.  This tip is the same for baking soda, but use vinegar instead of water (you know like the old volcano science experiments) :)

Cherry and Peach Snack Cake
     makes one 8 x 8 inch cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs  and 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature (I used non-fat plain yogurt because I didn’t have any whole milk, it worked fine)
  • 2 cups ripe fruit (any fruit would work, I used a combination of fresh, pitted cherries, and diced frozen peaches I thawed and drained thoroughly )

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter and dust with flour.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and 3/4 cup sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg white, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated.

Reduce the mixer to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture and remaining milk. beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated. Gently fold in the fruit with a rubber spatula. Note: The batter will be quick thick, so don't be alarmed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean with a few moist crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, about 30 minutes before serving.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.