Sunday, April 13, 2014

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Since the very first time CC made this decadent dessert The Red Queen continues to be amazed with the simplicity and pleasant surprise of avocado taking center stage. Once again, CC has impressed the kingdom with the healthy and creative food choices of a vegan lifestyle!

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

1 avocado, ripe and chilled
2-4 Tablespoons dutch cocoa (depending on chocolate depth desired)
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine milk, vanilla, and maple syrup, and set aside. Gently mash avocado. When almost smooth add cocoa and continue mashing till smooth. Add milk mixture slowly till all ingredients are well combined. Top with shaved coconut (shown here) fresh raspberries, and/or mint. Toasted nuts also make a lovely topping.

Alternative: Add 2 Tablespoons natural peanut butter for peanut butter lovers!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Three Entrees Featured in Bon Appetit

Roasted root vegetables and new baby spring vegetables are enjoyed with a variety of pairings in honor of the Spring season! As these dishes were inspired by the April edition of Bon Appetit I post them together.

 Barley in a Green Sauce prepared like Risotto
(This was a WONDERFUL suprise!)

Cod in a Green Onion Sauce prepared stovetop
(The RQ highly recommends less leek and more celery and cilantro in the green sauce).

Seared and Roasted Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Sugar Snap Peas
(B/C The RQ was only making a few chicken pieces she omitted the extra broth. Delish!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dark-Chocolate Chunk-Hazelnut-Cherry Cookies

WOW! What a pleasant surprise THESE cookies turned out to be! With a little tweaking from a recipe in The Simple Things The RQ was able to make a cookie that shines among many proud home bakers' recipes! This publication is inspirational and interesting! I always learn something new! The articles CELEBRATE the many ways we enjoy "the simple things in life:" food, friends & family, community; indoor & outdoor activities, and more! Check 'em out on-line. In the meantime, enjoy my version of their recipe!

Dark-Chocolate Chunk-Hazelnut-Cherry Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup caster or "superfine" sugar (pulse granulated sugar in spice mill for 2-3 pulses to achieve fine sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, large
scant* 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
scant* Tablespoon baking powder
heaping teaspoon salt
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted (skins removed) and chopped
1 cup, dark chocolate chunks/pieces
scant* 1/3 cup dried, dark sweet cherries, chopped coarsely

(*scant: not quite full)

Cream softened butter till light and fluffy; then add both sugars, vanilla. Once combined add egg mixing well. On low speed of electric mixer add chocolate, nuts, and cherries; just till combined. Dough must be refrigerated for a minimum of 30 minutes before baking. Roll cookie dough out one-inch in thickness. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate (30 min).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. 

Cut cookies with a pastry cutter about one finger's width thick and place on prepared sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or until just browning on the bottom edges. With care, these cookies can be moved directly from sheet to cooling rack. As always, ENJOY!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Beans & Rice

New twist on some old staples!
The Red Queen and her kingdom have been enjoying the fruits of Bon Appetit January 2014 issue! Beans and rice are a traditional pairing embraced by many cultures and shine with the addition of sautéed laccinato kale and Shitake mushrooms. The mushrooms are sautéed and tossed with teriyaki sauce. 

In addition to the published recipe, The Red Queen likes to sweat the lentil beans before cooking them. Sweating simply allows the beans to begin cooking from the direct heat before adding the water to finish cooking. To sweat the beans add with desired seasonings to the pot of sautéd leeks and garlic (diced tomatoes or tomato paste is included at this stage of cooking). Reduce heat to med-low, cover and cook about 10 minutes. The water can then be added, brought to a boil, and simmered for 30-40 minutes more (The RQ always adds a hearty bay leaf.). Beans cooked in this way maintain their integrity and don't get mushy. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cincinnati SKYLINE Chili

Skyline Chili Coney
Some would argue the differences between chili and coney dogs. Whether you add extra mustard and onions to your dog is a personal choice. Whatever you call it, this dog is tasty!

Skyline Chili 3-Way
This chili is from a recipe as authentic as I have found for the ultimate "Skyline" chili experience! The key to this chili formula is the cocoa and cinnamon! Yes, cocoa!!

Skyline Chili is a franchise and realized dream of a young Greek man who came to America and settled in Cincinnati. Click on the link to read more about the story behind the man.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lemon-Ginger Scones

Let me count the ways to spoil myself! These Lemon-Ginger scones are delish! 

Lemon-Ginger Scones

2 cups AP Flour
1 Tblsp baking powder
2 Tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tblsp crystalized ginger, chopped fine
1 Tblsp lemon zest

Mix all dry ingredients together fold in ginger and zest last. Add heavy cream and mix gently with a wooden spoon till just mixed. Use hand as dough-hook bringing mixture into a ball using extra flour if needed.  When dough comes together place on lightly floured surface. Pat into about an inch thick round. Use pastry cutter to cut into eight triangles.  Place on cookie sheet and bake 375F for 15-20 min. till golden. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Alfredo Primavera w/ Arugula Salad

Nothing better than a plate of linguine and organic vegetables! 

The Red Queen's alfredo sauce always begins by sautéing a shallot in olive oil. Once the onion is soft butter is added. When the butter is melted a tablespoon or two of all-purpose flour is whisked in. The addition of 2/3 cup heavy cream makes this a lovely white sauce. Red pepper flakes are optional, but don't forget the salt & freshly-cracked-black pepper.

To compliment this dish an arugula salad with a honey-vinaigrette and shaved parmesan made for a tasty and easy to prepare meal.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Vegan New Year Feast

Thank you Carrot Chopper and Buttery Stick for a memorable feast to bring in the New Year with family and friends!

Maple Baked Tempeh

Roasted Quinoa-Stuffed Onions

recipe by Winnie Abramson of the HEALTHY green KITCHEN

Asparagus in Lemon-Thyme Sauce

Mashed Potatoes with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake with Fresh Berries

Sous Chef, Buttery Stick


Monday, December 16, 2013

Espresso - Black Gold

Due to not having had a coffee post in a while and P<'s current obsession, The RQ has decided to share about their love affair…with Black Gold! (Black Gold is also the name of a movie. A must watch for coffee aficionados!) "Let me count the ways to brew coffee:  too many." The RQ likes her coffee strong, bold, and dependable….  French Press, Chemex, and espresso are her favorite brew methods. For our wedding anniversary this year we splurged and finally bought a reputable espresso machine. We now enjoy a consistent espresso or cappuccino almost daily. Crossland's CC1 Home Espresso Machine has found a welcome home albeit plan for a learning curve to become comfortable with this machine's peculiarities. Tis the season to be a bit more peppy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Gram's Stuffed Artichokes

Since we're on the subject of artichokes, it's time to introduce my Gram's stuffed artichokes. She made these every holiday gathering along with Italian Brown (Crimini) stuffed mushrooms! I looked forward to enjoying them every time! As often is the case, basic ingredients and simple skills allow these specialties to shine! Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Stuffed Artichokes

Artichokes, whole (one per individual/stems used in steaming)
Garlic, 2 large cloves, minced
Parsley, fresh flat leaf, 2 Tblsp
Bread, one loaf (Pepperidge Farm White Thin Sandwich Bread is The RQ's preference)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1/3-2/3 cup
Butter, 1-2 Tblsp
Oregano, dried, 1 Tblsp
Red Pepper Flakes, 1-2 tsp
Salt & Pepper, to taste
*Mushroom Stems (included if also stuffing mushrooms)

(Approximate spice amounts included only as a guide as these are per preference and amount of chokes cooked.)

Fill a large bowl with water and the juice of half a lemon. Rinse and trim artichokes, then set in cold water. To trim, cut stems from bases and trim tops with a chef's knife; then cut tips off all the leaves allowing for plenty of room to stuff later. Place artichoke and stems in lemon water to prevent leaves browning.

Slice bread into 1/2" cubes and toss with oregano, fresh parsley, salt & pepper. Sauté garlic, red pepper flakes, and mushroom stems (if also stuffing mushrooms) in butter. Add sauté mixture to dried stuffing and toss. Then add as much oil as needed to create a very moist and cohesive stuffing!

Dry artichokes upside down on paper towel, then stuff about a heaping tablespoon per leaf. Meanwhile have a thick bottomed pan on burner filled with two-three inches of water coming to a boil and simmer. Artichoke stems can be placed to create space between the artichokes which decreases cooking time. Artichokes are then carefully place into the HOT water. Return water to a boil, then turn down to a hearty simmer and cover for about an hour. You will know the artichokes are done when a leaf can be easily pulled from the choke. Remember to allow these delicacies a little time to rest on a plate or serving dish loosely covered with foil~they're HOT!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Savory Spinach Artichoke Stuffing


(Savory Spinach Artichoke Stuffing)

Thanksgiving Dinner would not be complete without Emeril Lagasse's Spinach Artichoke Stuffing! The RQ's Court has been enjoying this unusual and flavorful stuffing for over a decade!

A Slightly Unusual Menu for Thanksgiving Dinner-

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (vegan)
Spinach Artichoke Stuffing w/ Brie (vegan opt)
Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts (vegan)
Mashed Potatoes (vegan opt)

Carrot Cake w/ Cashew Cream Frosting (vegan)

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts (stovetop)

Brussels Sprouts (2 stalks/1 pound)
Butternut Squash (1/2" chunks)
Yellow Onion, chopped
Chestnuts (2 dozen)*
Olive Oil, 1/4 cup
Broth (chicken/veggie) up to 1 and 1/2 cups
Orange Juice, fresh, about one cup (1/3 used for soaking raisins if using)
Golden Raisins, 1/4 cup (opt; soaked for 30 min in 1/3 cup orange juice)
Salt & Pepper

NOTE: If the vegetables and chestnuts are prepared ahead this side takes 45 minutes to an hour to cook on the stove. Also note, if using golden raisins, the cup of juice required for the recipe includes the juice used to soak the raisins. All the juice ends up in the dish! If not using freshly squeezed the cook may choose to use less as store-bought juice can be overly sweet.

Par boil brussels sprouts about 5 minutes, strain and set aside. Heat olive oil over med heat, add onions and sauté about 5 minutes. Add squash and continue sautéing about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of broth and bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Remove lid and add brussels sprouts, chestnuts, raisins, orange juice, salt & pepper. Increase heat to medium and cook and additional 10-15 minutes or until sprouts and squash are tender but not mushy. Use as much of the remaining broth as needed to prevent burning.

*Chestnuts-Cut chestnuts in half with a chef's knife, parboil 2-3 minutes. Drain and peel when cool enough to handle. Spring-loaded or needle-nose pliers are great for popping the meat from the half shell! Thanks to Badgersett Farms for the tip!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yogurt Parfait

When The RQ is busy preparing for a BIG dinner and company yogurt parfait is a healthy and satisfying treat to keep her energy up!

This ensemble is an organic delight including local-organic-black-cherry yogurt layered with wholesome granola, dried cherries, bananas, and mint!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Roasted Eggplant Italian

Oregano is one of those herbs that is best used dried not fresh. So what might the cook do with the fresh oregano spilling out of the garden at the season's end? 
Sprinkle garlic with a tad of salt and chop finely before adding to 1/4 cup olive oil. The salt helps the garlic to release its juices. While garlic juices infuse into the oil prepare the eggplant for roasting. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise leaving the stem in tact. Carefully peel away   all of the purple skin leaving about a finger's width at the edges. Add salt, pepper, & red cracked pepper to the garlic infused oil. Generously slather eggplant with oil mixture and top with one hearty sprig of fresh oregano before turning face down to roast! The garlic will continue to infuse as it roasts and surprisingly doesn't burn! This is a garlic lovers delight! Cover with foil and roast at 400 for about 45 minutes.

If the eggplant is cooked till very soft the chef can turn them over, sprinkle freshly grated Italian cheese of choice (Parmesan or Asiago) and continue cooking till cheese begins to melt and just beginning to brown.
If the chef would like to make more of a hearty meal with this side, the addition of a thick-chunky-red sauce and fresh mozzarella will compliment this eggplant beautifully! Simply prepare a hearty-red sauce (recipe below) while the eggplant cooks. Be sure to include some dried oregano in the sauce, to accent the fresh oregano that has infused while roasting. When eggplants are soft, remove from the oven, turn over, and top with read sauce and fresh chunks of mozzarella. Return to oven for about 25 minutes to allow the cheese to cook-melt. The magazine recipe called for the addition of fresh bread crumbs and grated parmesan to complete this masterpiece. 

Note to cook: Ingredients make all the difference when cooking. Know where your ingredients come from! The RQ procures all of her fresh Italian cheeses and other Italian specialty items at Ciaccia's Delicatessen
Doesn't that look scrumptious!
Fra Diavolo Sauce

1-28 oz can organic-whole-peeled tomatoes, Muir Glen or preferred brand
2-3 Tblsp extra-virgin-olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tsp cracked-red-pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
parsley, fresh-chopped
pat of unsalted butter (optional)

1 tsp dried oregano (included here only to compliment the fresh-oregano-infused eggplant)

Sauté garlic and red-pepper flakes in olive oil in saucepan over moderate-low heat being careful not to burn the garlic or pepper (till fragrant or just beginning to brown slightly). Add whole tomatoes and crush with potato masher (wavy-Z-shaped model). For this recipe only, add 1 tsp dried oregano. Simmer 30 minutes adding salt, pepper, fresh parsley, and butter (opt) at the end.

Eggplant Recipe Inspired by Bon Appetit (October 2013).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Roasted Delicata Squash with Lemon-Basil Pesto

Tonight's dinner is a variation on a recipe by BASTYR University. Thanks CC Mrs. Prozac for sharing the resource and enthusiasm for squash! True to her alias, Mrs. Prozac has embraced pure happiness while enjoying seasonal squash.

Because The RQ was in the mood for comfort food  on this crisp autumn day, I used delicata squash due to its creamy-sweet qualities. After roasting and scooping out the flesh, the squash was mashed with a few healthy pats of unsalted butter, salt, and pepper to taste. While it was roasting I prepared a simple lemon-basil pesto with the remaining sweet basil from my garden, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and freshly grated asiago cheese. To serve I sprinkled more asiago over the heaping creamed squash. A dollop of pesto on top and a sprinkling of roasted pumpkin seeds! Delish! A side of sautéed kale makes this one healthy meal. And if not for roasting the squash, this meal could be dinner in "a snap"!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Steak Sandwhiches for Dinner

I couldn't resist this thick piece of organic skirt steak at the grocer. The steak cooked up nicely on a hot skillet stovetop! Four minutes a side on high produced a delicious medium-rare piece of meat. The meat was simply rubbed with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Delish! Caramelized onions and garlic mayonnaise boosted this sandwich to excellence! Local cauliflower prepared au gratin and zucchini sautéed in butter made for an easy week-night meal!