Molly on the Range Recipe Round-Up Part I

Sorry for the delay in posting. This was a longer one to put together (I actually ended up dividing it into two posts). I’ve been spending more time cooking/baking so have a lot to write about. It’s also tax time. For some reason, I decided to wash and iron all of the curtains yesterday and it took a HUGE chunk of the day, way more time than I thought. I spent time chatting with a few friends and my kiddos and I loved every minute, though it also cut into blog post creation time. But here it goes.

Molly on the Range is a fun book/cookbook and so far, every recipe we have tried has gotten four thumbs up. Co-workers with whom I’ve shared a few recipes, have made them and also enjoyed. Since I began the baking/cooking (more adventurous cooking)/kitchen adventures/blog, I have mostly pulled recipes from food blogs, but this is a book worth having. Some of the recipes are on Molly’s blog, but the book versions may/may not have tweaks. Others are not on her blog, though I’ve found other bloggers who have posted about them. For one recipe, Molly has an online video vs a blog post, which is what I used for the link.

I am including two of Molly’s recipes in this post, Hummus, Cauliflower Shawarma Tacos. The Part II post will include Shakshuka Couscous (this version is the closest I can find online and I’ll note the differences), and My Ex-Boyfriend’s Meatless Balls.

We love hummus, and have tried numerous varieties and versions. I followed her recipe closely, even soaked and cooked the dried chickpeas as directed.

chick peas soaking

I’m having a little issue with the food processor. The blade will start to float up off the bottom when I mix for too long. It happened here and it happened with another recipe. But this is what the chick peas looked like after the soaking and cooking.

Molly is right, eating it warm is amazing and makes a huge difference!

Next up is the Cauliflower Shawarma Tacos. Hubby was a little wary of this one, but let me tell you that it was so incredibly delicious, we’ve had it twice already. I used the vegetable broth base vs. the chicken broth base.

Seasoned cauliflower ready to be roasted.

Add the sauteed onions, the raw onions, the tahini sauce, some cilantro and roll it up, and OH MY!!

Just as a refresher, here is the book.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies

I baked over the weekend. I baked using refined sugar. I baked something I saw on Instagram, something that called out to me. I baked Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie Peanut Butter Swirled Brownies!!! It has almost all of my favorite components (missing pumpkin/squash). After so many weeks of trying to avoid sugar, I figured go big or go home. Or so I thought, but really, this recipe only has 1/2 cup of white sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar, which is way less than a lot of recipes I’ve made.

I was definitely in a chocolate mood, so lots of melted chocolate was a good way to start. Add in some cocoa powder and instant coffee and mmmmmmmm….

choc cocoa powder

choc mmmmm

Once the brownie half is done, it’s on to the oatmeal cookie half. The recipe gives the option to use a more flavorless oil, or to use coconut oil. I opted to try coconut oil, especially as we’ve been enjoying it so much on popcorn. It was a good choice.

oatmeal batter

As with the brussels sprout latkes, I was concerned as I put the two batters together, that they wouldn’t meld/mix/combine or that they’d combine too much, etc.

choc dollops

choc and oat

Ready to bake, crossing fingers.

choc oat pb

I think I may have left it in a minute or two long because I was unsure if the brownie part was really done, but overall, looked pretty decent.

choc oat pb done

This was a really great choice for the baking comeback. It was not in any way too sweet. Using all dark chocolate and unsweetened peanut butter helped. I really liked the little bit of coffee flavor that came through in the brownie bites. Definitely a winner!

choc oat swirl

Fargo watched me trying to get a good picture of the finished product. I didn’t really get a good picture, but it was funny watching him watching me.

fargo plate

I took all of the pictures with the fancy camera. I definitely have lighting issues, as there are lots of yellow tones. I don’t have picture editing skills yet. I am still also failing on indoor vs outdoor light settings.

pic failure

It’s obviously going to be a long learning curve for me.

 

Brussels Sprout Rosti with Balsamic Dijon Yogurt

I have now tried three recipes from my Molly on the Range cookbook.

And all three have been AMAZING! I made hummus, starting with dried chick peas, and the brussels sprout “latkes” I’ll be talking about here, and last night I made Cauliflower Shawarma Tacos (hummus and shawarma tacos in a later post). Holy cow  it’s been a fun food week.

The first thing to note is that the link I am sharing for the Brussels Sprout Rosti is not quite the same as what is in the book. I will tell you the differences as I go along, as I followed the recipe in the book.

I started with “shaved” Brussels Sprouts from Trader Joes, which I think may have been bigger chunks than the “finely shredded” she listed in the ingredients. Once I started putting it all together, I had the sinking feeling that there was no way I’d end up with a pancake shape.

 

In the book vs the website, she calls for 2 cloves of minced garlic and 3/4 cups of flour or chick pea flour. I used regular flour.

It was a challenge to get them into a pancake shape in the frying pan. It’s also a challenge to use my very special pan, because the burner is slanted and all of the oil runs to the lower half. I have to constantly tip it back the other way.

br sp frying

As these were cooking, and they took a long time, hubby was making the Dijon Balsamic Yogurt. In the book, she uses full fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. The recipe calls for 2 T of honey.  We agreed that next time we will use less, maybe 1 T, as it was slightly sweeter than we prefer.

dijon balsamic

 

Huge surprise when it was time to flip the sprout latkes and they held!

br sp latkes

Hubby said he was skeptical about this meal,but whoa boy, it was awesome! I might brown them a bit more next time.

br sp latke sauce

I’m actually going to make more sauce and use it as slaw dressing. I think it will be good.  Hopefully I’m right.

Another win was bringing home a jar of Everything But The Bagel mix from Trader Joes and adding it to the top of my bread before baking. WOWOWOW!!!

everything bread

Like I said, it’s been a good food week!

 

Quinoa Snack Bars…Who Knew?

I have been a quinoa fan for quite a while. I have used it as a side, cooking it with both water and with veggie broth. I have used it in chili, for additional texture since my chili is meatless. I have used it as the base for a Greek themed salad with cucumbers, feta, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, chick peas, and whatever other veggies I have available. What I never thought about using it for, was a snack bar.

We are still working on eating as little refined sugar as possible, and Sally’s Baking Addiction’s 1 Bowl Quinoa Crunch Snack Bars fit the bill. I happen to have tri-color quinoa on hand.

tri color quinoa

The recipe calls for coarsely chopped almonds…my food processor seems to favor either big chunks of nut or nut meal.

not coarsely chopped

The colors of the ingredients are fun!

quinoa snack mix

I used peanut butter, as usual, because we love it (as does Fargo, who always gets to have a tiny bit every time I open the jar).

Sally says you can use an 8 or 9 inch casserole, but I think 8 inch may be too small. I baked slightly longer than called for and I think that slightly thinner bars would be better.

quinoa baking dish

As much as I love dark chocolate, I opted out of the drizzle. Honestly, these were amazing without it. Chocolate makes everything better, so I’m sure they would be more amazing with it.

finished quinoa bars

finished quinoa bars II

Unrelated, I am starting to try and increase my visibility via twitter and instagram. Feel free to follow and share. If you have recipe suggestions, feel free to share those as well.

 

 

Butternut Risotto

One of my favorite recipes for our butternut squash is Butternut Risotto. I found this recipe years ago…so many years ago that I cut it out of a magazine page and have it taped in the recipe binder. I was happily surprised this morning to find a link to the online version which makes it easy to share with you.

I need to add a note here that the pictures did not turn out well and do not do this dish justice in how pretty it looks while cooking and when finished.

I’m sure I use way more butternut than called for because it is yummy, especially (I think) when grown in the backyard garden. Even though the picture isn’t clear, the amazing color of the squash sure is.

beautiful butternut

Although the recipe calls for chicken broth, I have always used vegetable broth. I switch back and forth between cooking this in a large saute pan and a larger pot and I haven’t noticed a difference in the finished product.

The main piece when making risotto is the constant stirring. It is not a start and simmer dish, it is a high maintenance process.

risotto

The recipe gives the option to choose either saffron or turmeric and I have always used turmeric. It certainly tastes amazing, though saffron may also taste amazing, or it may be even better. If you make this with saffron, let me know your thoughts.

Butternut with butter and parm and rice…how can it not be a favorite?

butternut risotto

For the past few years I have used vegetable broth in the 4 cup cartons, mostly from Trader Joes. In my blog and book perusals, I read about Better Than Bouillon vegetable broth.

I will be using it the next time a recipe calls for broth and I will report back on flavor.

I have no running to report on however, we have been managing to walk at least a mile almost every day (on Saturday I even walked twice! 😉 ). I don’t necessarily think my running days are over, but it is scary how easy it is to not run after not running for a while. It gets easier and easier and easier to not do it. Sigh…

To (refined) Sugar, or Not To Sugar

A few years ago, the hubby and I tried going gluten free for 10 days. It took a lot more planning and a lot more thought, but we tried it to see if it improved how we felt. I would say that we did notice some small differences, overall there was not enough of a noticeable change to continue.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the effects of sugar on our bodies. There are opinions and facts and diets and recommendations galore, if you go looking. There is a information stating that it is addictive. Our diet at home is generally very low on sugar besides fruit and what I put into baked goods. We buy very little in the way of prepared/processed foods. We are careful about reading ingredient labels when we do buy something in a box or bag. We bake our bread without sugar. We make our own unsweetened yogurt. We don’t drink much juice, zero soda, unsweetened coffee/tea, etc. etc.

We did have a habit of eating a small dish of ice cream each night, usually the Turkey Hill All Natural variety with only milk, cream, vanilla and sugar. Sometimes we went crazy and added hot fudge, or bought chocolate ice cream with peanut butter, or even Ben and Jerry’s, but usually it was the vanilla. I chose the word “habit” carefully in describing the nightly ice cream.

After chatting about it for a few days, we decided to see if eliminating what little refined sugar we had in our diet would make a difference in how we felt or in our weight. We opted not to eliminate grains, legumes, and other foods that some diets indicate, just refined sugar. We tried this for two weeks. We tried to make sure we were drinking a ton of water.

The only goody I baked was Healthy Chocolate Granola Bars, which didn’t look much like the picture, but which were delicious. I’ll be making them again.

choc date bars

Instead of ice cream, which was missed, we had a date bar, popcorn, or nothing. We walked by sugary treats in our respective work places. I we ate out, we tried to choose foods least likely to have sugar added. I’m sure we weren’t perfect, but tried to stick as close to it as we could.

After two weeks, there was no weight lost (of course, actually getting back to routine exercise might help there). I missed baking. We don’t feel any different mentally or physically. I do think we will continue to forego the nightly ice cream. I do think we will continue to be thoughtful about ingredients, to pass by sugary stuff at work, and to be conscious about moderation. But I will go back to baking. I already try to use as little sugar as possible in my baked goods, but I’m not going to worry about cutting it out completely.

Meanwhile, Fargo will continue to play with, and to destroy, his balls. This is why we can’t have nice things.

ball destruction

Who me?

who me?

 

Grinding Flour

I’ve used the grain mill attachment a few times now, adding some home ground flour in with store bought for bread baking. Last week, I made bread from flour ground completely at home. I used a combination of Hard White Wheat, Hard Red Wheat and Oats.

grains

I didn’t really have a recipe plan but ended up with about 2 cups white wheat, 1 cup red and 1 cup oat. The oat groats take a very long time to grind, much longer than the wheat. I also think the flour is a different consistency, or else it’s more airy when freshly ground and I need to use more than the recipe calls for. The dough was very wet so I added some rolled oats as well.

The next morning, when I shaped it into a ball, I had to add more flour to make it workable.

wet bread dough

It baked up nicely and, whether it was the combo of flours, or the freshly ground piece, the flavor was awesome.

well baked bread

Hubby got me a book about bread for the holidays, and in it, the author talks about baking the bread longer than you’d think in order to bring out the flavor.

bread book

I did bake it longer, but I think I’ll try even some more time for the next loaf.

As an extra for this post, our dinner the other night was super colorful and super delicious. I love using our home grown produce throughout the winter. Included below are our sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

colorful dinner

 

Fresh Pasta

Our youngest spent the Fall semester in Italy, studying art, traveling, and eating fresh pasta. She had a most amazing experience, which made us incredibly proud of her and happy for her (not that we aren’t always incredibly proud of them both) . We can’t provide her with more time in Italy this semester, but hubby had the brilliant idea to get her a pasta maker for the holidays so she can at least recreate part of her experience.

The night before the girls left, hubby and the youngest took the pasta maker for a test drive. I was not directly involved, just the official photographer, so this post is mostly pictures.

It’s not a fancy machine, it’s hand crank, and it can only make fettuccine and spaghetti, but it’s pretty.

pasta maker

Make a well for the eggs. Youngest, “better mix because the eggs are escaping.”

egg well

It’s more time consuming than originally thought with “rest” times for dough.

pasta dough

rolling

Fargo photobomb.

fargo pasta

First roll through (youngest is cranking).

pasta sheet

Team effort.

rolling noodles

The noodles come out in pairs and need to be separated.

double noodles

noodle pile

Recording her first home made pasta!

noodle snap

A little butter and parm…WOWOW!!

plate o pasta

Happy New Year (and Cinnamon Apple Pear Crisp)

Well, time to put 2016 to bed and look ahead to 2017. The years keep flying by! This year, one of the big milestones will be attending college graduation for the eldest. Pretty sure it was yesterday that I was spilling tears about her leaving to attend a school on the other side of the country. Other than that, I will be happy with a year that is healthy for all, a year that is safe for all, and a year that brings positive forward progression for all.

As I mentioned in the last post, I would like to try and do more with this blog. I’m thinking I need to learn how to use the blog platform, WordPress, beyond the very basic way I’m using it now. I certainly wish I was more literate in this area than I am. If anyone has suggestions, feel free to share.

Okay, on to the fun food part! Hubby’s brother and wife gave us a box of about 25 pears during the holidays.

pears

We’ve eaten some, and they are delicious. However, they need to be used rather quickly, and we thought a baked good with pears would be fun. My parents are here visiting, so a good sized audience would be partaking.

After looking at a number of recipes, I deferred to my usual resource, Sally’s Baking Addiction. Because we also had some Honey Crisp apples in the house, her Cinnamon Apple Pear Crisp looked perfect.

hc apples

Also note that I used an actual camera, my eldest’s nice camera, for the pictures. My youngest is trying hard to teach me about the settings, the shutter speed, the F stop, and the light meter, etc, but unfortunately, it is not sinking in as fast as I’d like.

The pears were super juicy, so somewhat challenging to peel and slice without a huge mess and without accidentally sending one flying across the kitchen. Though, once all of the filling ingredients were together, I’m pretty sure that the juicy pears made it look so good.

apple pear

As I knew that both the apples and the pears were super sweet, and I didn’t want to hide the flavors of the fruit too much, I cut back a little bit on the brown sugar in both the filling and the topping. I definitely did NOT cut back on the butter though. I’ve come to see butter as a very good friend. The recipe lists the pecans as optional, and I used them.

The smell of the kitchen as it was baking and after I took it out of the oven, was amazing! It looked pretty amazing too. I especially loved the little pockets of liquid that bubbled up through the topping.

apple pear crisp

I plan to get more apples so I can make this again with the rest of the pears. This recipe is going in the favorites folder! It was delicious warm when we ate it as a mid morning snack, and it was delicious last evening with ice cream.

apple pear crisp II

So, what do you think? Can you tell the difference in picture quality?