Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Italian Panzanella!!!

We just had it for lunch today and I had to come here and post it to share!
I saw the recipe at Fernanda's blog and it looked so pretty and refreshing that I had to try.
It's been nice and hot here these past few days, just as we like it, so fresh and simple meals are all we need to cope with the heat.
This salad has the bonus of being made in advance and enough protein from beans and cheese that enable you to have it as a one course meal.
And I have to say that this was one of the best vegetarian salad meals I have ever had!!!!
Really good and yummy, I loooooved the flavor, which although very simple were tasty enough to keep me going for more.
I made half recipe in the morning and had with Matheus for lunch, we polished off the entire thing, so good!
The crusty bread really absorbed the flavors and was Matheus' favorite part. I just loved white beans and those creamy white pearl together with the tomatoes were my favorite by far!
My only change was to use thinly sliced zucchini instead of the cucumbers and it was also great this way! (I do prefer zucchini and it was what I had on hand).
For those who don't like the raw onion sharp flavors I leave here a tip, which I use often as Matheus is not the biggest fan of the onion in the raw: after slicing the onions put them in a small container filled with cold water and a pinch of sugar, leave there while you prepare your dish - the onions will loose the sharp/spicy bite and get more of a mellow flavor, revealing some of its natural sweetness.
I know more people are going to like this one, it is perfect for the summer days when we don't even want to think about turning on the stove, and it will certainly be made over and over around here for the months to come!!

Italian Panzanella

For the recipe in English click here!

For the recipe in Portuguese, and a quick look at Fernanda's awesome blog, click here!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Creamed Corn

Oh, I love corn, sweet, fresh summer corn.... oh yum!
It is not summer yet, but the delicious yellow kernels are already starting to show up at the stores. There is nothing like summer corn, the kernels are sweet and plump, you barely need to do anything to it at all as they are so tender and perfect by themselves. My favorite way to eat corn is by far on the cob with butter and salt... makes my mouth water just to think about it.
I brought home a couple ears and made a creamed corn recipe for lunch today. I still prefer my corn with simply salt and lots of butter, but this was sort of light and also very yummy and tasty; corn and basil together, how can you go wrong, right?! (I used 2 ears of corn and ate almost it all by myself!)

Judy's Creamed Corn
(Adapted from Sara Foster's Casual Cooking by Sara Foster)

Over medium heat, in a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add the kernels scraped from 6 ears of corn. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, until it softens slightly.
In a small bowl stir 2 tablespoons cornstarch into 1/2 cup water. Add this slurry mixture to the skillet with the corn, plus another 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the corn for about 3 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Stir in 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and a bit of salt and pepper if needed. turn of heat, add 3 fresh basil leaves thinly sliced, stir and serve!
(Should feed from 4 to 6 people)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


My husband really likes pistachio nuts, especially mixed in one of his favorite treats: pistachio ice cream. So when I saw this recipe in the April's issue of Cooking Light I immediately thought of him. Recipe was marked to try last month, but I only got to it this week. Oh boy, I keep joking, but my "to try" recipe list really seems endless!! :o)
It was a good thing I tried the recipe as the Husband seems to enjoy them a lot, plus these portable breakfast treats pack a good deal of nutrition with nuts, whole grains and flaxseeds added to it.
The muffins have a nice crumb and were very moist. I really liked how they tasted too; It is quite a simple flavor, but with a great nuttiness from the whole wheat flour and flax, both which I enjoy.
I added a few chopped pistachios to the batter, opposing what the recipe stated to just put them on top. Hey, it is a pistachio muffin, so I thought I might have some nuts inside too, right?!
We drizzled the ones we had for breakfast with yummy honey and both my husband and Matheus liked the muffins with the sticky top! I do prefer my muffins without the honey, but when they are warm the honey certainly add something more to them.
I froze the leftovers without honey so we could enjoy them for breakfast throughout the week (no way I would freeze sticky mess!). A little change of pace on the strawberry muffins we were having lately and it seems it was well accepted by all.
As I said, I really liked the batter and plan on trying it with other nuts and flavors added to it. Will sure report back when I do!

Honey and Toasted Pistachio Muffins
(Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, April 2007)

cup whole wheat flour
cup all-purpose flour
cup flaxseed meal
1 1/4
teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
cup packed brown sugar
tablespoons canola oil
large eggs, lightly beaten
cup golden raisins (I omitted them, didn't have the golden ones at home...)
3 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
tablespoons honey (I didn't measure it, just drizzled on top of the ones we were eating!!!)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine flours, flaxmeal, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Mix together buttermilk, sugar, canola oil, and eggs; add to flour mixture and stir just until moist. Stir in golden raisins. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with pistachios and bake for 15 minutes. Remove muffins from pans and let cool on a wire rack. Drizzle honey over tops of the muffins.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cinnamon Deliciousness!

As he snacked on some dried fruit, Matheus asked if I could make some type of raisin bread for him. He really like raisins ans asks for it in all kids of muffins I make, his favorite being the banana bran ones.
Of course I could make a raisin bread, and there I go, the great mommy who loves to cook and bake in search of a raisin bread for my happy boy! And for this search I knew where I would easily find something that I would not only want to make but also to eat: my new Whole Grain Baking book by King Arthur.
And so, I found not a raisin bread per se, but one where the wrinkly dried fruits could be easily incorporated. And not that I want to brag about it, but my idea resulted in a very tasty bread!
I ended up making the Cinnamon Swirl Oatmeal Toasting Bread, which was actually a variation for another recipe called Honey-Oatmeal Sandwich Bread.
The variation with cinnamon turned up delicious, really good! The cinnamon-y swirl parts where divine, and the bread itself was so good that I am already planning on making it again, this time in its original form.
The bread came out really light in texture, not dense at all, which made me really happy, as I had read comments on this particular recipe about it being a little dense; but ours was perfect.
Another comment on this was that the bread was too sweet due to the honey in the dough, so in order to avoid that I used 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in place of the 1/4 cup of honey called for in the recipe, reducing the sugar and not letting the honey take over the desired cinnamon-raisin flavor. (The honey I have here is from my uncle's farm in Brazil, super natural and extremely good, whoever it is strong and do overpower other flavors, so this time I opted to left it out).
The recipe didn't call for it, but I sprinkled some raisins after spreading the cinnamon filling over the rolled out dough, since the initial intention was actually to make a raisin bread.
In the end, Matheus looooved the bread, proclaming it the best cinnamon raisin bread! He was not the only one who was found of the loaf and it ended up not lasting long, which again, makes me happy and allow myself to more adventures in bread baking in the very near future!
Here I post the recipe as I made, hope you all like and enjoy it too!

Cinnamon Swirl Oatmeal Bread - with raisins!
(Adapted from the Whole Grain Baking book by King Arthur)

1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (use less or omit entirely if using salted butter)
1/4 cup honey (I used 2 tablespoons brown sugar)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry milk
2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 egg white
2/3 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins (more or less as desired - can also be omitted)

Place boiling water, oats, butter, salt and honey in a bowl, stir and let cool to lukewarm.
Mix remaining ingredients with oat mixture and knead (using hand, or machine) until you get a soft smooth dough. Place dough in a clean greased bowl, cover and let it double in size (about one hour).
Deflate dough, transfer it to a work surface and roll it into a 8x24-inch rectangle (I didn't even measure, just made a rectangle the size I thought would fit my loaf pan!!).
Combine in a small bowl the ingredients for the filling, except the raisins.
Spread the filling over the rolled dough, then sprinkle the raisins on top. Roll the dough and as you go gently tuck in the edges to seal the filling. Seal the seam, and smooth the dough into a 9-inch log. Place it in a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.
Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise one more time, until the dough has risen about 1-inch over the rim of the loaf pan.
Bake the bread at 350F for about 50 minutes, until golden brown or a thermometer inserted in the center registers 190F. (I actually measured mine and it was right on, 190F!!!!).
Cool bread completely before slicing.

And here a picture of the finished loaf, before slicing. It looked nice, but I like the sliced one with the cinnamon swirls a whole lot better!!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The makings of a great meal...

Whole wheat penne pasta tossed with olive oil, fresh mozzarella and lightly roasted asparagus and tomatoes - salt and pepper to taste.
Simple but oh so good; great ingredients make great food!!!
Deliciously fresh for the hot days!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Quick and yummy lunch: baked salmon with veggie couscous! Did I say it was yummy??!!!
(The recipe for the salmon has already been posted here, this time I put it in the oven for about 12 minutes instead of grilling, still delicious done this way!!)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Strawberry Bread

We went strawberry picking this past weekend again and between the three of us and Matheus' excitement filling his own little basket we ended up with lots of the sweetest red little gems!
Our favorite way of eating them is of course simply by washing and devouring, one by one, two by two... oh my, they are so sweet, so fresh, so delicious, I even fell like I don't want to crush them in the blender or other appliance at all.
However, after a couple of days the strawberries do start to loose their shine a bit and there is when I get into the kitchen to make some goodies - The husband though goes into the pantry, grabs a can of sweetened condensed milk and pour it over his chopped fruit, making them even more decadent and sweet!
Talking about the husband, his favorite strawberry concoction, besides the condensed milk thing, is Strawberry Muffins, which I have posted here before and have made twice this past two weeks.
Yesterday though I decided to make another baked goody just to change things a little, and went with a Strawberry Bread that I had already tried before but not posted here.
So, here I am to share this one with you. Very simple, yet delicious; it came out so good that it didn't last 48 hours in our house this time. It was snack, breakfast, and even caused a little fight between "the boys" to see who was having the last bite, yes, I mean the last bite, which was full of strawberries and both of them wanted to eat, can you believe that?!!!
I adapted this recipe from one posted at the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards a couple years ago. I make it every strawberry season ever since, have given it to friends, and everyone seems to enjoy it a lot.
This time I didn't have any white sugar around so I made it with brown sugar and it came out even better, a little darker than I was expecting but so good that I might try doing it this way from now on! Oh, and I sprinkled mine with sliced almonds, which not only gave it a nice look but also a great crunch on top.
Enjoy!! But hey, no need to fight, the recipe can be easily doubled and freezes beautifully too! I am making another one tomorrow for us! hehehe!!

Strawberry Bread
(Adapted from CLBB, posted by Lillith)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cups sugar (can use brown sugar too)
2 eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon oil
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1/2 cups nuts or almonds (optional) - I used chopped almonds this time but actually prefer walnuts for this one

In a bowl mis together, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Add eggs and oil and mix well to combine. Fold in strawberries and nuts (is using) - the batter will be thick. Pour batter into a greased 9-inches loaf pan. Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in the pan, then invert onto a rack and let it cool completely.
(resist the temptation and wait for it to cool a little bit before cutting... I know, it is hard, especially with the wonderful aroma of freshly baked good in the kitchen, but it will pay off, and the cake won't desintegrate!!)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

As the warm weather calmly comes upon us I start to look for recipes using cold veggies, instead of the warmed up ones we have been making during the past few months.
I decided to venture myself with rice paper a couple weeks ago and made some vegetable spring rolls. They came out great and the rice paper was not difficult to use at all.
For these I used zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper and carrots, all sliced into thin strips, and a few fresh spinach leaves. To soften the rice paper as I was making the rolls I simply dipped one sheet at a time in warm water, put them over a flat surface, arranged the veggies in a bundle form near the border and rolled like a wrap, tucking in the sides so nothing would escape.
There was a little prep time for chopping everything, but other than that it was pretty easy to make and quick to put together. I served ours with two kinds of vinaigrette, one made with Dijon mustard and a second made with orange juice - the orange vinaigrette paired up nicely with the vegetables making everything taste super fresh, and ended up being the choice of dipping sauce for the following times I made the rolls. (I know, not Asian or oriental at all, but this is the sort of things we like, Oh well!)
We all loved these rolls, they are light, tasty and very fresh when the temperature is high. I see that we are going to make them a lot during the summer, especially since Matheus already declared this to be his favorite way to eat raw vegetables! He thought it was the funnest dish to eat of all!

Another picture of the rolls. The photo above shows one roll sliced in half and standing up.