Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cashew Drops

Last week you read my prose; today it's poetry. I call it "Ode to the Cashew."

Cashews, oh cashews, how do I love you?
Your buttery flavor, your sweet taste, your lovely texture
I could eat you in the morning in my cereal
I could eat you in the noontime in my salads
I could eat you in the afternoon by the handful
I could eat you in the evening in my stir-fry
And I could definitely eat you in a cookie!
Oh! And don’t forget at bedtime on my chocolate ice cream J

If you like cashews you will LOVE these. LOVE!

Here’s what you need for the cookie:
½ C butter, softened (you may NOT use margarine here….stick to the real thing)
1 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 C sour cream
1 t vanilla (you should use the real stuff, not the imitation…makes a noticeable difference)
2 C flour
¾ t baking powder
¾ t baking soda
¾ t salt
1 ¾ C salted cashew halves (yes, I know, that’s a lot, but trust me! Great! I chopped mine just a little bit.)

Here’s what you need for the frosting:
½ C butter
3 T half-and-half (I think I actually used whole milk….)
½ t vanilla
2 C powdered sugar
More cashews for the top of each cookie

Here’s what you do:
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, sour cream and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and add them to the creamed mixture. Mix well.  Fold in the cashews.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting, melt the butter; remove from heat, add cream, vanilla and sugar. Mix to desired consistency. Frost and decorate with cashew halves. Glorious!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A True Story: Told in Two Chapters:

Another of the promised recipes: This one told in a delightful prose format!

Chapter One:
Once upon a time there was a handsome and wonderful husband who came home from work one night and volunteered to make bean soup for dinner.

“Of course!” said his thankful and over-worked wife. (that's me, just in case you didn't figure it out yet....) “You know how I love to eat a healthy meal!”

Veggies were chopped, beans were simmered, broth was lovingly added.

“Dinner sure smells great,” said the appreciative wife.  “Thank you, honey, for keeping it low calorie and high fiber tonight!”

The generous husband served the soup to a grateful wife and they ate their healthy meal in peace.
The evening continued in the usual manner, a little TV, some computer time, reading and light discussion about various topics.

Chapter Two:
While the husband tidied up after the meal (aren't I blessed?), the Mrs. plopped down with her huge pile of cooking magazines. Things progressed peacefully, until….. she came upon ….”Dark Chocolate Fudge Sauce.” 

What came next can only be described as frantic! A type of crazed frenzy! She stood up, scribbled a grocery list, grabbed the car keys, zipped to and from the grocery store, made a full batch of the glorious stuff, and proceeded to eat two huge bowls of mint chocolate chip ice cream smothered in the dark goodness……

So much for the healthy and light meal! (Thanks, anyway, honey!)

½ C packed brown sugar
¼ C unsweetened cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
¼ C butter
¼ C buttermilk OR ¼ C milk and 1 t lemon juice
1 C whipping cream
½ C light-colored corn syrup
1 t vanilla
½ t salt 
Slowly heat it all together in a heavy saucepan. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Red Pepper Hummus

Here's another of the recipes I promised you. Are you a hummus lover? 

(You know, one of these days, I am going to learn how to take a better photo.  This photo does NO justice to my beautiful red pepper hummus - trust me! I even served it in one of my cute fish bowls!)

I love dips. I love dunking. I love snacking. I love appetizers. I love to eat snacks between meals. I also love hummus. Here is a red pepper version. If you have never made hummus at home, I totally encourage you to give it a try! Easy and better than store bought. Cheaper, too!

I am from the metro Detroit area, so I have eaten lots of excellent Middle Eastern food in my life. I just love it. If you happen to be in Detroit, you MUST eat at Steve’s Back Room on the east side - world’s best hummus. I don’t know how they do it. Olive oil, I’m guessing. There’s also a great place in Old Town in Chicago called Old Jerusalem.  I once (or twice) ate the BEST Chicken Shawarma of my life there. The pastries are excellent too! Off the top of my head I can recall great Middle Eastern meals in Washington DC and Ypsilanti also….. I choose it whenever I can. Unfortunately for me, no Middle Eastern restaurants close to where I currently live, so I gotta make my hummus at home. Gladly!

Here’s what you need:
2 large cloves garlic
15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1/3 C tahini
1/3 C lemon juice
½ C roasted red peppers from jar, drained and chopped

Here’s what you do:
Using a food processor, set it on high and drop the garlic cloves in while the blade is going. This is a perfect way to mince garlic. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Thin with water if you want it a little thinner. Serve with veggies, chips or these excellent spicy pita triangles

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sweet Potato Patties

(Here's one of the recipes I promised last week! I'm starting with a good one)

I served these with black bean burgers topped with my famous roasted tomatoes. 

Recently, I was fortunate to receive a big box of ‘left-over’ sweet potatoes from our church pantry…..they were pretty far gone and needed lots of ‘surgery’ if you know what I mean. You know they're ready for the compost pile when the church food pantry can't use them…. Bruises, rotten spots, mysterious squishy places….but no harm, I kept slicing and dicing, and voila!

A note: the first time I made these I grated the potatoes with great success (but some mess!) The second time I made these I shredded the potatoes in the food processor with less success…..the shreds were way too long….you want them much more ‘shreddy’ if you know what I mean.

Here’s what you need:
About 4 cups of shredded sweet potatoes
3 T minced onion
3 T lemon juice
4 beaten eggs
¼ C flour
Salt and pepper
(cumin would be great in these also if you are in a spicy mood)

Here’s what you do:
Mix everything, fry in small bundles in a bit of oil until nice and crisp. Flip carefully and fry till cooked through. Sprinkle a little sea salt over top while they are warm.  Nice. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I've been cooking!

I've been super busy in the kitchen lately.... cooking and taking photos, but NOT writing anything down! Here's what you can expect here on Tracy's Living Cookbook in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned for great stuff and in the meantime, enjoy the photos! 

Sweet Potato Patties
A Great! Great! way to eat sweet potatoes - I can't stop dreaming of these, have made them twice lately.

Fish Stew - One of my most decadent recipes. 

Food Revolution Minestrone - another winner from one of my favorite places to get new recipes. 

Dark Chocolate Fudge Sauce - no words needed! Are you drooling? 

Cashew Drops - heaven!!!!!!!! Salty and Buttery!!!!!!

Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd - my new favorite dessert. I just wish I had a party to go to or a dinner party to host, so I could make it again. 

Red Pepper Hummus - I never get tired of this stuff.

Sausage Bundles in Balsamic Glaze - especially nice glaze here! Tangy and Spicy.

I'll get busy organizing the recipes and getting them posted here soon! Hope you enjoyed dreaming of all the great food! 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Banana Bread : Martha Stewart Living’s Most Requested Recipe

Hello Dear Readers, I hope your Easter weekend was great - filled with friends, family and great food! I would like to share a fabulous song that expresses the message of Easter in such a powerful way! It's called "The Power of the Cross" and is sung by Kristyn Getty. Enjoy! 

Excellent in every way – like Martha herself, some might say. I admit that I am not a big Martha Stewart aficionado, but every recipe of hers that I have made has been of the highest quality. This one is no different. (check out her recipe for Beef Burgundy for example – heaven.)

I usually make my mom’s banana bread recipe, which is pretty basic. I also like the Moosewood Cookbook recipe, but that one is a little complex – you know, orange zest and 1 cup of brewed coffee and stuff like that.  

This one has sour cream which made a super moist and tender loaf. Enjoy!

Here’s what you need:
1 stick butter – room temperature
1 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 C mashed very ripe bananas
½ C sour cream
1 t vanilla
½ C chopped walnuts or pecans

Here’s what you do:

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.

2.       In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in nuts, and pour into prepared pan.

3.       Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes (I should have baked mine a bit longer, I used more than the recommended amount of bananas, so it was a bit moist. No one in my house complained, though!)

4.       Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. 

Luckily, we have enough cream cheese to get us through this loaf. ..... 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mushroom Steak Hoagies

I think I have mentioned here on this blog that I am famous for going through ‘phases’ of sorts. My poor hubby has seen me through ‘Thoroughbred Race Horse Phase’ which came as a result of reading and loving the novel Seabiscuit.  (Great book, btw) Kinda embarrassing now, but it was a thrill when I was 'into' it! 
He also saw me through a ‘Sperm Whale Phase’ which, truth be told, still exists today. That phase came about as a result of reading Moby Dick. (Another great book, btw) I actually did a huge research project for a graduate level class on the economics of the 18th Century Whaling Industry…. (Did I just catch you yawning?)
My Mt. Everest phase was a great one – an excellent lesson plan came about as a result of that bizarre phase. (Which book inspired me at that time, you might be wondering? Into Thin Air of course.) I know every detail of that distant mountain. 
Food phases come and go: Asian, Mexican, homemade pasta, black beans, soup, (that’s a great phase….), a short barley phase, and most recently – vegetarian.
I had lots and lots of meals alone during January and early February (hubby travels) and I really explored vegetarian and vegan meals; I felt great, I lost weight, I was aware of my health and body in new ways. Inspiration? Forks Over Knives (great movie). This eating style is perfect for me; I predict here publicly that I will get there one day. 
Well, phases come, phases go, and we are now in the meat phase (Can you hear my son confirming with a loud ‘YES’? I think he had had enough black beans and lentil soup to last a while.)  We entered the current phase with the following excellent recipe – inspiration? Taste of Home: Winning Recipes pg 116. Do not change a single thing. Serve these excellent sandwiches to the meat eaters in your life.

As for me, I will continue along for a few weeks eating beef (my birthday dinner recently saw me at a 5 star steak house) and I will let you know when the newest phase comes upon me…. salmon, maybe? That’d be awesome.

Here you go: straight from the cookbook: the only tweak I suggest is to take out the soft insides of the rolls and toast them. You want the bread to stand up to all that juicy goodness. Leftovers? Excellent!