Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Harissa Chickpea Burgers with Cucumber Mint Yogurt Sauce

Chickpea Harissa burgers

Last night was the first time in a while that the Monkey Scientist and I were in town at the same time as his roommate.  We decided to celebrate by making a little family dinner.  His roommate loves chickpeas so I knew when I sent him this recipe that he would interested.

The hardest part of this whole recipe was finding harissa.  We finally were able to find it at the mediterranean market/restaurant in Cleveland Park.  They just received a shipment so if you live in DC this is the place to go!

We really enjoyed this recipe. It was perfectly spicy - perfect for me and the MS's roommate, although of course the Monkey Scientist added sriracha on top.  I'm convinced he isn't satified with a meal unless his lips are burning!  I particularly like the pistachios.  That's something I've never included in chickpea burgers I've made before. I loved the yogurt sauce as well.  It's similar to a tzatziki, but with lots of fresh mint.  It was a great and fairly quick weeknight meal (with yummy roasted asparagus)!

Chickpea burger

Harissa Chickpea Burgers with Cucumber Mint Yogurt Sauce
from A Cozy Kitchen

1/2 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tablespoons harissa
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup pistachios, unsalted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup bread crumbs
yogurt sauce
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup cucumber, diced
3 tablespoons mint, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper

1. In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes, until translucent.
2. When soft, add the minced garlic, cumin, paprika, cinnamon and harissa, along with two tablespoons of water. Mix until combined and until it resembles a thick wet paste.
3. In a food processor, add the shallot/spice mixture, chickpeas, pistachios and salt; pulse until roughly chopped. Using a spatula, scrape down sides and pulse one or two times. Taste for salt (1 teaspoon was perfect for me); add more, if you like. Remove half of the mixture and transfer to a bowl. Add the egg to the food processor and pulse until the mixture is nearly smooth. Add the mixture from the food processor to the bowl and combine both mixtures.
4. Fold in the bread crumbs. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, cucumber, mint and lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste.
6. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the chickpea mixture onto your palm and form the patties. Heat a grill pan over medium heat and brush it generously with olive oil. Cook on both sides for 3-4 minutes. Serve the burgers on burger buns or fresh soft pita (we toasted our pita in the oven).

Yields 6 burgers

Friday, May 25, 2012

S'mores Cookies

S'mores cookies

Today is the birthday (and a special one at that) of one of my favorite people in the whole world - my mom.  I think a lot of people probably say this, but I am completely convinced I have the best mom in the whole world.  A lot of moms have trouble finding the balance between being a friend to your child, letting them make their own decisions, and teaching them to make good choices, even if that means acting strict at times.  My mom (and my dad for that matter) were able to find this balance really well, and I think it helped me to become the person I am today.  I am lucky to always be able to call my mom for advice and trust her to guide me when I have trouble making decisions on my own (even if it's just silly things like picking a moving company). She really is the best!!

In honor of my mom, I wanted to share this recipe for cookies in her favorite variety - s'mores.  Anyone who has ever been near a campfire (or even just a charcoal barbecue) knows my mom loves s'mores.  Mom isn't even a big dessert eater, but there are a few trips to Sebago Lake where I remember her eating quite a few s'mores.  The Monkey Scientist and I are headed to the beach this weekend, so I wanted to bring some s'mores for a beach snack.  This recipe was the perfect way to think of my mom all day at the beach!  Happy birthday, Mom!

This batter, by the way, is ridiculously tasty.  I definitely spoiled my dinner by tasting the dough.  You know, to make sure it wasn't poisoned.  Plus, look how cute the cookies came out!

S'mores cookies
S'mores Cookies
slightly adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark but the original called for light)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows (approximately, I didn't exactly measure how many I used)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a beater blade is great here), cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-9 minutes (I did 1 tray at a time), then remove from the oven and quickly, but gently push a few marshmallows into the top of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the edges are set.
5. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cadbury egg cookies

PS - don't worry, I brought some cookie variety to the beach.  I also used my last bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs stored over from Easter to make Cadbury Mini Egg Cookies.  YUM!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Carnitas Pizza with Guacamole


The Monkey Scientist and I have been experimenting with carnitas lately. There is nothing like delicious shredded pork. We've tried making it in both the Dutch oven and the CrockPot but I haven't decided which tasted better. Since we had so many leftovers, we decided to make a carnitas pizza!

Pizza with salsa sauce

I have to admit (and maybe you've noticed) that I'm not a huge fan of Mexican food. It's surprising since I love spicy food, but between the cilantro and corn tortillas there are so many things I don't like at all. I was excited that this recipe let me bring in all of the Mexican flavors I like in a familiar favorite - pizza.

I loved how this came together. The Monkey Scientist picked up the dough at the Italian market in Cleveland Park. It has wonderful flavor and came out nice and crispy on the edges. The pizza was the perfect combination of spicy, cheesy and tangy. I liked the hot pizza topped by the cool guacamole as well, it was a nice contrast. This is the guacamole recipe I always use (usually with chips of course) and I adore it! Next time we may try to make this pizza on the grill like Mom does - I bet it would be fantastic!


Carnitas Pizza with Guacamole
carnitas adapted from My Baking Addiction
pizza adapted from What's Gabby Cooking?
guacamole is a yelleBELLYboo original

1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 pork butt (ours was 2 1/2 lb)
3/4 c cider vinegar
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 can chipotles in adobo, roughly chopped
2 oranges, juiced
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 bottle beer
1 batch pizza dough
1/2 jar salsa
1 bag shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 can fire-roasted chiles
2 tbsp adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo
2 ripe avocados, diced
2 tomatillos, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
Salt and pepper
Dash cayenne
Dash cumin

1. Rinse pork under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Place onions in Crock pot. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Rub to cover the roast. Place roast on top of onions.
3. Mix remaining ingredients and add to Crock pot. Add water to just cover pork.
4. Cook on low 10-12 hours.
5. Remove meat and onions from Crock pot. Chop or shred meat and onions. Add a bit of the cooking liquid for flavor.
1. Preheat the oven to 500.
2. Carefully stretch dough to the size of your pizza pan or cookie sheet.
3. Top with salsa, then cheese, chiles, and adobo.
4. Bake 8 minutes, remove from onion. Top with shredded carnitas (maybe 2/3 c worth).
5. Return to oven and bake an additional 4 minutes.  Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl.
2. Mash with a potato masher or the back of a fork until well combined.
3. Smear on top of each slice of pizza.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blackberry Lemon Goat Cheese Squares

Katie is amazing

For this week's barbecue, I convinced my friend to upgrade her contribution from a simple fruit salad to these amazing puff pastry squares. Even though she ended up nearly catching her apartment on fire (wax paper is not a substitute for parchment paper. Don't bake it!), I am so so glad she went the extra mile.

Not only are these the most impressive looking dish that anyone has ever brought to our Thursday night BBQs, they were completely delicious. I love that they fell somewhere in between sweet and savory - they could really be a dessert or an appetizer. The goat cheese is perfectly tangy and tart mixed with lemon and the blackberry brings just the right touch of sweetness, brought out by balsamic vinegar, without being overly sugary. And puff pasrty is always a hit with me - it's so flaky and wonderful. The touch of green doesn't add much flavor but it's nice pop of color that takes these to the next level.

If you want to impress your friends, definitely try this recipe out. My friend definitely impressed me!

Blackberry goat cheese lemon squares

Blackberry Lemon Goat Cheese Squares
from Shutterbean

6 oz goat cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 pint blackberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
small handful arugula

1. Preheat oven 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (not wax) paper or a silicon mat and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, lemon zest and honey together.
3. In another small bowl stir the blackberries with the balsamic vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes. 
4. On a lightly floured surface, cut the puff pastry into 2 inch squares. Place squares onto the parchment lined sheet  about 2 inches apart and score a square into the pastry, making sure not to cut all the way through to the bottom.
5. Place a dollop of lemon goat cheese on top of each square and top with a blackberry. Bake squares for 15-20 minutes until golden.
6. Let squares cool and place a leaf of arugula under each blackberry. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dinner this week


This week, I made one big meal of my favorite spaghetti and meatballs and we ate them all week for dinner. We actually made them with all pork instead of a mix of pork and beef, but I don't think I'll do that again. They were pretty fatty and fell apart.

I also thought ahead and prepped my lunch for the week on Sunday night. I made a salad with spinach, bulgar, artichoke bottoms (though I will do hearts next time), cucumbers (peeled and de-seeded), red bell pepper, avocado (which I sliced fresh each day), black beans, and dried blueberries. Totally scrumptious! I made my own salad dressing with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper, a little wine and lots of salt and pepper and other spices. I've been looking forward to it every day!

Tonight for Thursday night BBQ, I made Spicy Orzo and Black Bean Salad. Looks fresh and delicious! I mixed the spinach in instead of lining it on the bottom of bowls so that I can serve it to everyone. I left out the cilantro of course and the blue cheese because the Monkey Scientist despises it. Looking forward to a fun night with friends tonight!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What we had for dinner this week

OK I'm still behind on blogging.  I have no pretty pictures for you.  But I wanted to share the recipes we made this week to give you cooking inspiration!

Sunday night: Bibimbop from Cooking Light  We used steak instead of tofu (the Monkey Scientist is from the Midwest, I can't just be feeding him tofu!).  Bibimbop is my favorite Korean dish.  My favorite is from Kang's in Ann Arbor - I love how the hot stone makes the rice at the bottom crispy.  This recipe simulated it well by crisping up the rice in the cast iron skillet.  Lots of wonderful Asian flavors.

Monday night: Roasted Chicken with Red-Skinned Potatoes and Carrots
Washed a 5 1/2 lb chicken, covered in olive oil, chicken seasoning from the Christmas Tree Shop, and freshly ground black pepper, inside and out. Stuffed it with a lemon, cut in half.  Filled a dish with quartered potatoes and carrots (did nothing else to them beside clean and cut) and then put the chicken on top.  Baked at 475 for 25 minutes and then at 400 for 45 minutes.  I cooked it breast-side up for the first 45 minutes and then flipped it for the last 25.  Perfection, and still eating leftovers for lunch.

Tuesday night: We ate at Tesoro in Van Ness.  Not overly impressed.

Wednesday night: Spicy Chicken Thighs with Cucumber Avocado Salsa from Cookin' Canuck  - I'm now completely obsessed with this recipe.  Took 15 minutes to throw together, including cooking time, and tastes AMAZING.  The ancho chili powder (which I got at World Market) and cumin have almost a cinnamon-like spice to them.  The honey in the salsa is the perfect amount of sweetness and the lime gives just the right tang.  I loved the load of vegetables on top of the chicken - I didn't even need to make a grain to fill us up.  We made it on a cookie sheet with sprayed with olive oil rather than a rack and it was fine.  Definitely give this one a try!

Thursday night:  BBQ night!  Our friends have been organizing barbecues every Thursday at my apartment building.  This week I'm bringing Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Bars from Mel's Sweet Life.  The assembly wasn't so easy (forming that last bit into an 8x8 square? All I had was crumbs.)  But they've been sitting on my counter overnight and I'm quite confident they'll be delicious.

Hopefully I can get you some full recipes and pics over the weekend... I will do my best!