Friday, August 31, 2012

all gone: lemon-coconut tofu squares

Quick little post before I do one of three things calling my name this Labor Day Friday afternoon.  My three post post choices:  1.  take a nap because Venus Williams almost came back to win a three setter at the US Open until after midnight EST and I had to get up before 6 for work, 2.  clean the house because it was too pretty outside on my two days off this week to vacuum and dust or 3.  watch more tennis from the US Open.  I can possibly pull off cleaning and watching with all my televisions on or I can most definitely pull off napping and watching because as soon as I sit in a comfy chair it's lights out.

Anyway, here's the skinny on today's recipe.  I love Martha Stewart's Whole Living Magazine.  Having a recipe/article published in an issue is right up there on my lists of goals.  The September issue has a lovely spread of tofu recipes.  I've always wanted to try silken tofu in a dessert recipe and the lemon-coconut tofu squares finally earned silken tofu a spot on my grocery list.  My husband scoffed when he learned what I was baking, but I told him "I write a food blog, it's part of the job to try something new".      The crust calls for coconut oil rather than butter and the filling calls for tofu and no eggs.  I believe that makes this treat vegan if that's important to you or someone you love.  Turns out the little lemon squares are just really yummy and my lulu co-workers gobbled them up.  So for Mallory and Amanda who asked so nicely, here's the recipe.  Maria Sharapova has just taken the court so it's a speed post.

would love to show you a cute, dusted lemon-coconut tofu square,
but they are all gone!  Here is the whole pan fresh out of the oven.


Lemon-Coconut Tofu Squares

Crust
1/2 C coconut oil, melted plus a bit more for brushing the pan
1/4 C cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour

Filling
1/2 C silken tofu
3/4 C cane sugar
1 T grated lemon zest
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 T whole wheat pastry flour
confectioner's sugar for dusting bars

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Brush and 8-inch square baking dish or pan with a little melted oil, then line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang and then brush the parchment with a bit more of the melted oil.
Make crust:  Stir together 1/2 C melted coconut oil, sugar, vanilla and salt.  Stir flour into mixture just until combined.  Press dough into prepared dish or pan.  Bake crust until pale golden-brown, or about 20 minutes.
While crust is baking, make filling:  Process or blend together tofu, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, baking powder and flour until smooth.  Pour onto baked crust and return to oven to bake until set 25-30 minutes.
Cool completely and generously dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.

ingredients

liquids for crust

wheat flour added in and crust patted into pan

filling ingredients in my food processor

looks a lot like traditional lemon bar filling

baked crust without filling

baked crust filled and baked again waiting to cool
for a good dusting of powdered sugar

Sunday, August 26, 2012

luxury lunch: roasted peach and avocado sandwich



roasted peach and avocado sandwich
What does someone who writes a food blog do for lunch or dinner on her day off when she's the only human in her lovely home?  Does she go out?  Does she grab something from Whole Foods?  Heat up something from Trader Joe's?  Take it easy?  Well, most of the time she actually cooks.  She likes hot and or fresh food and her kitchen and pantry are usually pretty well stocked.

Yes, it's almost inexplicable how I will make more work for myself with prep, cooking and dishes to do, but I get hungry and for me time in the kitchen (within reason) is actually fun.  I have a good radio in there and a great local station, wtts 92.3fm (you too can listen online or on your smart phone because there is an app for that) for background music.  Often at lunchtime when it's just me and the cat,  I listen to sports talk radio for some company (really, not as sad as that sounds).  If you've followed me for a while you'll know that I actually call in or tweet and get on the air with Dan Dakich, a local broadcaster  Greg and I both enjoy (which is pretty amazing considering he is a former IU player and coach) because he's honest and funny.  I'm even the "Official Carmel Housewife of the Dan Dakich Show" Basically the title means that if I have something to say,  I stand a pretty good chance of getting on the air.  The added bonus is my being on a sports talk radio show is high quality entertainment for my family and my friends that listen.  Last week I sent a little tweet about the upcoming BMW Championship while I made this sandwich.  I'm a marshall on hole 18 (can't wait) and had to chime in before he spoke with a tour player.

So on this particular day, I had made my weekly stop at my favorite produce stand after my very favorite hot yoga class.  I had peaches to spare and decided to treat myself to a good lunch.  When I last visited home, we had a family outing to the West Side Market and I enjoyed a roasted peach sandwich on ciabatta with pancetta, farmer's cheese, arugula, scallions and roasted peaches from the Market at the Fig (a brilliant restaurant recommendation from my awesome sister-in-law, Karen who knows way more about my hometown than I do and she's only lived there three years).  That lunch was my inspiration for this luxury lunch for one.  You'll note I don't give any measurements, you can make however many sandwiches you would like.  Ciabatta would be a great bread.  Any type of bacon, pancetta or even prosciutto would be excellent if your sandwich needs to have meat to qualify as a lunch.  Even a fried egg would be amazing, but since I don't eat them (no good reason why) you can try that for me!

Roasted Peach and Avocado Sandwich

slices of artisan whole grain bread
olive oil
fresh peaches, sliced
arugula, spinach or baby greens
avocado
nonfat plain Greek yogurt (fresh, spreadable farmer's cheese or goat cheese would be great too)
freshly ground salt and pepper
optional:  cooked bacon or pancetta

Roast your peaches by brushing a pan with a little olive oil and cooking your peaches over medium heat in a griddle or shallow pan until a little caramelized and browned, maybe 5-7 minutes per side.  Wipe your pan (or not, I didn't mind some roasted bits on the outside of my sandwich) and add a little more olive oil.  Spread one slice of bread with yogurt.   Place your bread on your griddle pan and start constructing your sandwich.  Grind a little salt and pepper on top of all the stacked ingredients and top with second slice of bread.  Cook until heated through, turning once about 5 minutes per side.  Slice and serve immediately.

ingredients:  look at those roasted peaches!

building the sandwich

ready to put it together

luxury lunch!

Photos from last month's trip to the West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio:

okay, can you just not fry them so I could indulge more often?

love Cleveland aka the Land of Cleve

always

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

how hard can it be? honey roasted peanut butter

One of my best finds this summer from the farmer's market is some amazing peanut butter crafted by a nice young man and recent college grad from a neighboring town.  I bought one jar of trail mix and one jar of banana bread granola and took some into work with an apple for lunch one day.  Everyone had to try it and when I went back to the market to buy a case for Sara to share (or not) at Duke and to fill orders from my lulu friends, the peanut butter guy was on vacation.  No time to wait until next week, so I headed to Trader Joe's for some reasonably priced ingredients that I didn't have in my pantry and fired up my big, sturdy food processor.

This recipe is definitely just a starting point.  So far I've made white chocolate/pretzel peanut butter and hazelnut/chocolate peanut butter.  Why bother, you might ask?  Well, it's fun and easy plus I add flax for more omega-3's and then it's all about what I don't add.  Pretty straight up delicious.  

It's time to hold me to my goal of posting three times a week.  The house is empty again.  Well, it's full of stuff but empty of people.  I'm still part-time at work.  Tailgates and football season are less than two weeks away, so you know I'll be cooking.  Plus, like the omega-3's, it's good for me.  So if you're a local follower and you see me out and about (hint:  come to lulu, go to yoga or call me up for some tennis) ask me how my posting goal is going.  

Honey Roasted Peanut Butter with White Chocolate and Pretzels

1 pound dry roasted unsalted peanuts
1 pound honey roasted peanuts
4 heaping T flaxseed
2-4 T of coconut oil
3/4-1 C white chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)
1 C coarsely crushed pretzels (I used whole wheat)

Process peanuts, flaxseed and 2 T coconut oil until smooth (it will be grainy).  In my processor, after about 3-4 minutes the mixture would come together and lift up a bit from the bowl like when dough finally comes together).  Check and see if you want to add a little more oil for your desired consistency.  Pulse in the chocolate chips and pretzels so there are still a few coarse pieces.  Makes two 16-ounce jars.  Share it within a day or two and then refrigerate it.  With no preservatives and no hot process canning going on, I'd say to use within a couple of weeks (Alton Brown's recipe on foodnetwork.com says it will keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator).  It's so good, that won't be a problem!

base of dry roasted unsalted peanuts, honey roasted peanuts and flax seed

peanut butter taste testers Sara's last night at home 



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

full tilt end of summer: peach cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting

Today is our 28th wedding anniversary, a day off and a day outside that feels like a nice fall day.  So the windows are open and I'm taking a little time to write.  It's that crash into the end of summer time of year.  Last week Sara and I spent 20 hours in the car for two great trips:  one to visit my BFF Susan in Bloomfield Hills to go to the most amazing Coldplay concert ever (plus a stop at mind-blowing Zingerman's in Ann Arbor) and one with Greg at the wheel (thankfully, it was a quick turn) to Chagrin Falls to visit my family before Sara returns to Duke next week (another 20 hours on the road, but this time in my trusted black beauty 9-year old Honda van full of college apartment/dorm goodness).  Plus it's Sea Wheeze week in Vancouver, CA for the first ever lululemon half marathon so things at work have been a little crazy with a few lucky co-workers running the race today and enjoying Vancity the rest of the week.

So now you know where I've been and where I'm going but the real wrench in the writing plan has been the Olympics.  Good lord, we've been pulled in every night staying up until 12:30 watching whether we've managed to go news-free all day or not.  It's exhausting, but so fun.  Nothing like the happiness, release and sheer joy for the medalists.  Just watching in wonder from my chair and a half.  Sure I could move my computer and write, but it's only two weeks. One would imagine they are the last Olympics I'll watch with one of my children so there are no apologies.

And now I'll finish this post four days after I started it because that beautiful day we were given for our anniversary just pulled us outside.  Two farmer's markets, lunch outside at Petit Chou, long walk with Greg and Sara, tennis with Tammy, time out on the chaise lounge chairs on the back patio and a really top notch anniversary dinner at Late Harvest Kitchen.  Then it was back to work and now it is pack the van for our trip to return Sara to Duke for her sophomore year.  So really, I still don't have time to write this but I just have to get a post out this week.  One post a week is as wrong as one yoga class a week, but we do what we can.  Hang in there.  Soon the nest will be empty and I'll be back on the two or three posts a week plan.

Pretty sure I've never posted a cupcake recipe before.  I usually leave the cupcakes to the professionals. I'm more of a muffin girl.  But who really can resist a recipe for brown sugar cream cheese icing on a peach cupcake.  Peaches are by far my favorite fruit.  Pretty sure they push my seasonal allergies over the top (there are foods that tragically are not compatible with allergies), but short of an epi pen incident, I'll just keep loving them.



Peach Cupcakes

3 C cake flour (I used 1 1/2 C cake flour and 1 1/2 C white whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
3 T King Arthur Flour cake enhancer, if using (makes cupcakes moister and lengthens freshness)
3/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C buttermilk
3 large peaches, peeled, pit removed and cut into 1/4-inch dice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 muffin tins with papers.
Whisk together flour (s), baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg (I like to freshly grate mine with my fine rasper, but jarred is fine) and cake enhancer, if using; set aside.  In a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.  Beat in buttermilk.  Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.  Fold in the peach chunks.  Scoop batter into cupcake pans with liners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan then turn them out and cool completely on a wire rack.



Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Icing

3/4 C light brown sugar
4 T  cornstarch
1/2 C (or more, if needed) powdered sugar
one 8-ounce package of light cream cheese
4 T unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar in a small bowl and set aside.  In a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Stir in vanilla extract.  Beat in dry mixture until well-combined, adding more powdered sugar if necessary (it's ok if it's a little thin, it will set a bit when chilled).  Chill the icing for about 30 minutes to thicken it to spreading consistency.  Frost cupcakes as desired (pipe it on, spread it on or whatever you like).

Makes 24 cupcakes

cupcake ingredients

dry ingredients and buttermilk 
fresh out of the oven

all iced and delicious
our 28th wedding anniversary "portrait"