Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mediterranean Ceci Beans and Spinach

I have adapted this amazing recipe from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite blogs. It was originally inspired by a Spanish dish, which I changed a ton based on my own preferences and general kitchen laziness

This can be served both as a hearty side and as a light main dish over toast or with pita bread. It's crying out to be served with a dry red wine. The leftovers are even better, I tend to just eat them plain, which is saying something because I don't really like leftovers.


Ingredients
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to coat bottom of large skillet)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced (depending on size)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or whole seeds if you have them)
1/4 tsp whole fennel seeds
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Red pepper flakes to taste

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (could additionally use a splash of dry red wine here if you'd like)
3/4 cup tomato sauce (I used tomato basil marinara from a jar in my fridge, any tomato sauce would work I think)
1/2 pound dried ceci beans (aka chickpeas) soaked overnight and cooked until soft (or from two 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
1/2 pound baby spinach or other baby greens, washed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used some smoked sea salt for extra smokey kick)

Heat oil on low in a large skillet. Add garlic and spices, stirring to keep them from burning. Saute garlic and spices on low for a minute or two until garlic is fragrant, watching closely to make sure it does not brown.

Add the vinegar and turn up the heat to medium until it starts to bubble, then add tomato sauce and ceci beans, stirring thoroughly to coat the chick peas in sauce.

Simmer until the sauce is slightly thickend and the chick peas are hot and have absorbed some of the sauce, 5-10 minutes.

Add spinach and cook just until it is wilted. Take off heat and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 3-4, depending on whether it is a meal or a side. Reheats wonderfully in the microwave.

Distracted Dish © 2013-2017

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sausage Roll

Sausage Roll is the ultimate party food. It is a crowd pleasing finger food appetizer that holds up well for a couple hours at room temperature. It is not likely to last that long, though. It's also good reheated the next day for breakfast.


Ingredients
1 lb bulk ground medium Italian sausage
1 small red pepper, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
Hot red pepper flakes to taste
4 eggs
1 lb refrigerated bread/pizza dough
12oz-16oz shredded cheese (I use half mozzarella and half pepperjack, but cheddar, provolone, etc would work)
1/4 cup Romano (or Parmesan) cheese

1 Tbsp butter (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

Heat oven to 350

In a large skillet, saute the sausage and peppers until the sausage is browned. Season with hot pepper flakes, garlic powder and oregano. When brown, move all the sausage mixture to one side of the pan, crack the eggs into a cup and beat them lightly with a fork, same as making scrambled eggs. Pour the eggs into the other side of the pan in a thin layer. Cook them until about half set, stirring them with a spatula to keep the bottom from sticking. Then mix the half-cooked eggs and sausage together while the eggs finish setting. Remove the pan from the heat, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Measure a sheet of tin foil (or parchment paper) slightly larger than a cookie sheet. Roll the bread dough into a rectangle that will fit inside the cookie sheet (it will expand when it bakes so leave room on the long side). Be careful not to roll too thin or the dough may break when rolled up and cause a mess. Spread the sausage and eggs evenly onto the dough, leaving an inch on all sides clear.

Shred the cheese and sprinkle it evenly on the top, finishing with the Romano. Start with 12 oz of cheese and shred more if necessary to cover to your linking. It depends on the size of the cookie sheet/dough rectangle. Carefully roll the dough up from the long side into a log of rolled up dough and filling. This works best with an extra set of hands to hold one end of the roll in place while the other end is gently tucked under itself. Pinch the seam and ends of the roll sealed.


Roll the sealed up dough roll onto the tin foil, seam side down, and lift the foil onto the cookie sheet. Gently cut 3 or 4 small slashes across the top of the roll to release steam. Optionally you can melt the butter on low heat in the skillet and gently saute the minced garlic until it is fragrant and just barely starting to color. Brush the garlic butter on the top of the sausage roll just before putting it in the oven. This step is not necessary for a great sausage roll and I often don't do it, but it adds a little extra kick.

Bake for 30 - 45 minutes or until lightly browned and the dough is cooked through. Tapping on the roll should produce a hollow sound. Cool until safe to touch, then transfer to a cutting board and slice into 1/2" - 1" slices for serving. Best served warm or at room temperature. Leftovers reheat well and keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Variations on this recipe can substitute crumbled bacon, chopped mushrooms, greens, chopped broccoli, or mixed peppers for the sausage. Saute the alternate ingredients, season as desired, add eggs, and proceed with the recipe from there.

Distracted Dish © 2013-2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Baked Ricotta Macaroni and Cheese

Ricotta makes a quick baked macaroni and cheese with a light and delicate texture.


Ingredients

1/2 lb (2 cups dry) medium pasta shells/elbows, cooked, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water

12 ounces fresh mozzarella/pepperjack/cheddar, grated
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (full fat is best)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp ground mustard (optional)
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
pinch of mace or nutmeg (optional but highly recommend)

1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Romano cheese
2 tbsp butter, cut into small cubes, plus more for greasing


Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter an 8x8 or 9x9 casserole dish.

In a large pot of boiling well-salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and then drain the pasta.

Stir together the shredded cheese, ricotta, black pepper, and desired seasonings in a bowl large enough to hold all cooked pasta and the cheese.

Add the pasta to the cheese mixture and toss well to coat. Add about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, or as needed, to loosen the sauce. Pour the mixture into the buttered casserole dish.

In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the pasta. Dot the top of the dish with the butter cubes.

Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the topping has started to crisp up, 15-20 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil the macaroni and cheese until the crumbs are golden brown, watch close to keep from burning. It should take about 3 minutes. Let the macaroni and cheese cool for at least 10 minutes to firm up a bit. Keep leftovers in the refrigerator.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Greek Chicken Pasta

This skillet pasta dish is light and delicious. I usually keep quart bags of diced chicken pieces in the freezer so it comes together quickly.


Ingredients

1/2 lb ziti/penne, cooked per package directions in salted water and drained (reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water)

1 Tbsp each of olive oil and butter
2 cloves minced garlic
2-4 diced pepperonici peppers (more if you like it spicy)
salt and pepper
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1" chunks
1 Tbsp Symeons/Greek seasoning (or 1 tsp each oregano and paprika, plus 1/2 tsp garlic and a pinch of red/hot pepper)
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbsp juice/brine from jar of Kalamata olives in vinegar brine

1/4 to 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives (to taste)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Chopped spinach/baby greens to taste
Feta cheese to serve (optional)


Start cooking the pasta first.

Heat oil and butter in a high sided saute pan (preferably one with a lid) over medium low heat. Add garlic and pepperoncini, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on low for about a minute until fragrant, stirring to prevent garlic from burning. Add chicken pieces, sprinkling a little more salt on them, along with the Greek seasoning. Turn heat to medium and cook until the bottom of the chicken turns light golden, flip the chicken pieces over and add the wine and olive juice.

Turn heat down to simmer on medium low until the chicken is cooked through, adding more wine if necessary to keep pan from drying out.

Meanwhile, prepare the olives, tomatoes, and greens.

When the chicken is cooked through and the pasta is ready, add pasta and vegetables to the pan with chicken. Gently toss to coat the greens with broth. adding the reserved pasta water if necessary to have enough liquid to coat the greens and pasta. Put the lid on the pan and steam on low for a couple minutes until the greens are wilted to your liking. Sprinkle on a little more salt and pepper to taste before serving, as well as feta cheese if desired.

Distracted Dish © 2013-2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Spicy Gingerbread Muffins

These muffins are spongy, spicy, not too sweet, and best with coffee or tea. They make a nice breakfast treat or snack.



Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
pinch ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper


Wet Ingredients
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled to warm
1/2 cup dark molasses (can sub out a couple tbsp for maple syrup if available)
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (any milk will work)
1 egg


Heat oven to 350 and grease 12 cup muffin tin.

Sift flour and spices together in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl whisk butter, molasses, vanilla, fresh ginger, yogurt, milk and egg until smooth.

Use a spatula to gently fold flour into the wet ingredients in the large bowl just until combined. It will seem very wet and lumpy at first but will thicken up in a minute or two of gently mixing. Don't over mix, some lumps are fine.

Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin tin. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Remove from muffin tin when cool enough to touch.

Distracted Dish © 2013-2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches

I concocted this recipe based on my recollection of the sausage and peppers served at local Italian festivals. I have played around with it a bit and this is exactly what I was looking for. Add a cup of house red or a can of cheap beer and this is what summer tastes like to me!


Ingredients
1 lb Italian rope sausage (sausages usually come in hot or sweet, I usually go with hot because the spice is half the fun of this sandwich)
Water for boiling
1-2 tbsp olive oil (enough to thinly cover the bottom of your skillet)
2-3 cubanelle peppers (or other thin frying pepper, green peppers are too thick and don't have the right texture)
1-2 Italian long hot peppers (to taste, these peppers can be very spicy, see notes below on choosing and preparing peppers to control the heat*)
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
Dry Sherry or wine
4 Italian rolls

Bring water to a boil on high in a medium pot. Prick sausage all over with fork and boil in the water for 10 minutes. You should see fat starting to leak out of the holes.

Meanwhile slice peppers into thin strips.

Heat olive oil in a non stick skillet. Using tongs, remove sausage from boiling water to a cutting board. Cut sausage into desired size chunks to fit the rolls. Transfer sausage links to skillet and brown on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, rotating them to brown on all sides.

Once sausages are starting to brown add the peppers, salt, and pepper, stirring to coat in the oil. Cook until peppers soften and sausages are cooked to 160 in the center.

Turn heat down, add garlic and herbs, saute for a minute to just color the garlic, then add sherry/wine to deglace the pan, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan.

Turn the heat back to medium and cook until the liquid cooks off a bit and the sauce is more oily and less watery.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the buns. Serve sausage and peppers in the buns with a generous drizzle of the pan juices.


* When choosing long hot peppers, look for dark, shiny, deeply twisted or wrinkled, striated peppers if you want very hot, otherwise stick to smoother, lighter green, straighter peppers without the twists for less heat.


To remove a lot of the heat when preparing peppers, make sure to cut off and discard the top 1/2" or so to avoid the hottest part, then carefully slice out all white pithy parts and remove all seeds. Leave some pith and seeds behind to keep them hotter.

When cutting these peppers up, avoid touching them as much as possible (you can use a fork to manage them or wear gloves),. If you do touch them wash your hands immediately with lots of soap, rinse thoroughly and DO NOT touch your face or eyes. The pepper oil can really burn.




Berry Pie Crumb Bars

This is an excellent recipe for when you need to use up a bunch of berries, want a special yet portable dessert, or just want juicy pie filling but don't feel like making crust.

I like to use part oat flour in the crumb mixture because it gives the topping a nice chewy texture and slightly rustic flavor, but it's fine without that. I make oat flour by running oatmeal through a kitchen mill, but a blender, spice grinder, or food processor would do the trick. The oat flour doesn't have to be super fine.

I'm guessing you could use more berries because this was nowhere near too juicy. You'd need to proportionally increase the other filling ingredients to compensate for any extra berries but crumbs could remain the same.


Crumbs
2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 cup oat flour (or 3 cups all-purpose flour would work fine)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of coriander (optional, but it tastes good)
2 sticks cold salted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla

Berry Filling
5 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, or a mix (I used all blueberries)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar (to taste, use less for sweeter berries and more for tart berries. I used wild blueberries that were a little on the tart side and 1/3 cup sugar was perfect for my not too sweet taste)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
dash of salt


Preheat oven to 375. Grease 9x13 pan.Whisk flour, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form and butter is well incorporated. Stir in vanilla and egg with a fork until evenly distributed. Dough will be crumbly.

Pat half the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it down a bit to even it out and stick it together, creating a solid bottom crust.

In another bowl, toss berries with lemon juice, then sugar, salt and flour. Gently toss or mix until flour coats all the berries. Pour berries over the bottom crust, sprinkling any excess flour, sugar, or juices from the bowl evenly across the surface.

Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top of the berries, spreading them as evenly as you can. If a few berries peek through, that's fine.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until berries are bubbling and the top is slightly browned.

Allow to cool completely before cutting or the bars will not be set. Keeps very well in the fridge.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Spicy Tropical Peanut Butter Granola

I conceived this granola as a way to use up an oversupply of The Heat is On, which is peanut butter made with hot peppers. The warm spices and lime blend really well with the hot pepper in the peanut butter.

I do not recommend using more of the spicy PB than 1/4 cup. It packs a punch. I like things to be spicy and it's just right for me. You might want to start with less spicy PB or even just use regular PB with a pinch of red pepper if you're not a big fan of heat. Try it with yogurt!


Wet Ingredients
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup, golden syrup, or light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup spicy peanut butter (2 Tbsp for less spicy granola)
1/4 cup regular creamy peanut butter (6 Tbsp for less spicy granola)
zest and juice from one lime

Dry Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup chopped dried/candied tropical fruit (I used a mix of papaya, pineapple, sultana raisins, and ginger)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Melt the sweeteners and peanut butter in a large microwave safe dish or in a large pot on the stove over low heat, stirring often to mix them together. When melted, take off heat and stir in lime zest and juice.

Stir oats, peanuts, coconut, spices, crisp rice, and dried fruit into the melted syrup and peanut butter mixture. Mix until thoroughly blended and spread on prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 250 until browned to taste, 30-45 minutes. Stir the granola and rotate the cookie sheets every 15 minutes to ensure that it doesn't burn.

If you have unsalted macadamia nuts or pecans, they would be a good substitute for half of the peanuts.

Other dried fruits to try include kiwi, mango, or possibly even candied citrus rind.

Banana chips could be used to replace the coconut shreds.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Great Northern Brownies

I like this version of bean-based brownies better than the black bean versions out there. Great Northern beans are very subtle and less noticeable than black beans or chick peas. Even cannellini beans have a stronger flavor.

These brownies are a bit cake-like, almost like a breakfast quick bread, but have a slightly fudgy texture. I used a little less cocoa powder than usual which gives them a light fruity cocoa flavor that blends well with the molasses and spices. You can use more and omit the spices if you want them to be more assertively chocolate.

Wet Ingredients
1 Can Great Northern Beans, rinsed very well and drained (1.75 cups cooked from dried and drained)
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Molasses (this is a minimum amount, you might start with a bit more to make them sweeter first time around)
1/2 Cup Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt (or use vanilla flavored sweetened yogurt to make them sweeter instead of more molasses above)
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, melted (or butter)
1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter above)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Dry Ingredients
1/2 cup Flour (I used oat flour, but white flour would work too)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon (ceylon if you can get it)
1/4 nutmeg
pinch cloves or allspice

Heat oven to 350 and grease an 8*8 cake pan or similar size.

Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of a large food processor. Puree them until very smooth.

Meanwhile sift and whisk together the dry ingredients. Add them to the wet ingredients with the processor off, using a spatula to incorporate them to avoid a powdery mess. Process until smooth.

Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.