ForneyLife

The “I’ve Finally Had Enough Christmas Cookies” Chickpea Salad

Posted in Food, Recipes by Sarah on December 28, 2011

Cookies, chili, more cookies, chicken bake, pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, more cookies, stuffing, booze balloons!, chocolate-covered pretzels, mashed potatoes, more cookies, beer, wedding soup, breakfast potatoes, and more cookies.  (Not necessarily in that order).  That about sums up our family’s holiday feasting.

Despite all the joy it brings, especially when 11 of us are gathered around the table to share it all, it’s time to let more nourishing foods reclaim our plates.  Inspired by a spontaneous confession by E that her hands-down favorite food is chickpeas, today I put together a chickpea salad that I originally found at The Kitchn.  This salad is chock full of veggies and protein, satisfies the post-holiday hunger, and tastes delightful.  I only wish I could share it with you all at our big family table in Pittsburgh.

Warm Chickpea Salad With Cumin and Garlic

Recipe from:  The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil*
  • 2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 cups or 32 oz. chickpeas (garbanzo beans);  if using canned, rinse & drain
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped*
  • 3/4 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, finely minced
  • Small handful fresh mint leaves, finely minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3/4 pound English cucumber
  • Flaky sea salt

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and crushed red pepper and stir constantly for about a minute.  As the cumin seeds are toasted, they will start to fill your kitchen with a beautiful aroma.
  3. Turn the heat to medium low and add the garlic.  Cook, stirringly frequently, for about 3 minutes.  Be careful not to let the garlic turn brown.
  4. Add chickpeas and chopped tomatoes and turn the heat up to medium high.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the chickpeas are warmed through and are shiny with oil.  Then, turn off the heat and set the pan aside.   NOTE: If your chickpeas have already been cooked (i.e., dried, soaked, then cooked), you may wish to add the tomatoes first, then add the chickpeas after a few minutes.  You want all the flavors to soak into the beans, but you don’t want your beans overcooked!
  5. Toss in the finely minced parsley and mint.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
  7. [Optional:  Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise.  Scrape out (and discard) the seeds with the tip of a teaspoon or grapefruit spoon.]  Dice the cucumber into small, 1/2-inch square cubes and toss in the with the chickpea mixture.
  8. If needed (and it usually is), add flaky sea salt to taste.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.

*Note:  This recipe calls for 3 Tablespoons olive oil and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes.  This turns out quite oily to me and I opt to use the same amount of olive oil and dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes (if I use oil-packed, I reduce the olive oil by at least 1 Tablespoon).

Some of you reading this recipe may recognize it, as I first tried my hand at making this back in October, when a number of siblings got together in Northern California.  I have tried it a number of different ways since then.  One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is so adaptable to what you have in your cupboards, and can be served at any temperature.

On a sunny October day in Sonoma, 5 of us enjoyed this dish chilled – I had reduced the oil and added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes as well.  This dish complimented a bottle of white wine, and we dreamed about how good the salad might be with some fresh shrimp tossed in.

Today, a chillier day in December, I’m serving this warm, and added in what I had on hand (swapping in sliced zucchini for the cucumber, swapping chives for mint and parsley, and tossing in some diced chicken breast).

I encourage you to give this a try, and add in changes of your own if you’re feeling adventurous.  This unexpected dish may just become a staple at your house – and who knows –  it may find a spot next to the chili in Pittsburgh next year!

Whole Wheat Graham Crackers

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on July 13, 2011

This post is way overdue. Last month, that’s right, in June. You know, that month that just flew by offering hardly any time to savor the beginning of summer. We’re in the thick of it here in DC in what feels like an extended July 4th hangover. And of course if you’re on the East Coast this week, you’re really feeling the heat. Well back when farmer’s markets were stocked with strawberries and asparagus, Mom came down to DC for a visit.

Sunday, we headed to Eastern Market and wandered the vendors, trying on hats and jewelry and sampling fresh peaches. We loaded up with veggies and fruits and snagged a fizzy ginger lemonade to go with Mom’s annual hot dog indulgence. The market was crowded, the sun was beating, and yet the morning was relaxing. From there we kicked it into high gear making one more grocery run before heading home, making a quick lunch, and launching into making these whole wheat graham crackers.

With Adam’s parents coming into town later that week for the US Open, I wanted to have a healthy tasty snack around. These graham crackers were just the ticket. Mom and I snuck a few just out of the oven. When Adam came home, he made the genius move of spreading nutella on them and topping them with slices of the fresh strawberries from the market.

You could certainly use cookie cutters with these. This time around I chose a scallop edged pastry wheel.

Homemade Whole-Wheat Graham Crackers Recipe

From The King Arthur Flour website

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 to 3 tbsp milk (approx.)
  • additional milk for glaze

In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat egg till light, then add oil, honey and 2 tablespoons milk. Mom’s trick for measuring sticky things like honey (or peanut butter) is to use some nonstick spray in the measuring cup. Works like a charm!

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until you have a fairly stiff dough, adding additional milk if necessary (we did). Wrap dough in waxed paper and chill until firm, about 1 hour (or longer, if it’s more convenient).

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Divide the dough in half. Turn one dough ball onto a floured surface and knead gently until it holds together. Roll dough out till it’s about 1/16-inch thick; make sure rolling surface is well-floured, or you’ll have trouble transferring crackers to baking sheet.

Cut dough into 3-inch squares, prick each square several times with a fork, and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Brush the tops with milk and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crackers are lightly browned. Remove crackers from oven, transfer to a wire cooling rack, and cool completely.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on May 23, 2011

Usually when chocolate chips are on the table, it’s for chocolate chip cookies. They’re easy, the ingredients are usually all in hand, and they’re delicious. This time, however, I changed it up a bit after finding this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

When it comes to baking a new recipe for the first time, I shy away from changing the recipe. This way I get a good feel for what textures and ratios that were originally desired. The cookies are nice and moist for a shortbread. The espresso is subtle but there. If I were to make these again I might add some chopped hazelnuts to the chocolate chip mix. Or, if you want to get really crazy, you could switch chocolate chips for toffee chips. Whatever your pleasure is with a little taste of coffee.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp instant espresso
  • 1 tsbp boiling water
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 2/3 c powdered sugar plus some for dusting at the end
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz chocolate chips chopped or mini chips

Directions

Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid. Beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso. Add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate. Transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats or, if you do not have either of those, use a bare baking sheet without any nonstick spray. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

Dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving. These are great for dessert or breakfast!

Adam’s Famous Breakfast Potatoes

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on May 15, 2011

You’ve all had them. Some of you have cooked them yourself.  Now directions to Adam’s breakfast potatoes is hitting the world wide web. If you haven’t made these yet, here’s what you’ll need: potatoes (we’ve found Yukon Gold’s to be the best), butter, salt, one yellow onion, and seasonings like garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, and rosemary.

First dice your potatoes and cook them. Our method of choice is the microwave. For 5 minutes with tab of butter. You can also bake or parboil them. The microwave option is certainly the lazier choice that works best after a serious night of drinking.

Next, dice an onion. In a nonstick pan, saute the onions and set aside for later.

Wipe out the saute pan with a paper towel. Add butter (or olive oil) to the pan until just hot (don’t brown the butter). Add your potatoes so that each potato has one side touching the surface of the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Continue until the potatoes are browned on all sides.

Season the potatoes with salt and any combination of the flavors below, or pick out your own! These can then sit on the pan on low for as long as it takes to cook the rest of breakfast. Make a little room on the pan and add the onions back into the mix. And then serve them up!

Enjoy!

Fish Tacos for Cinco De Mayo

Posted in Food, Recipes by Sarah on May 5, 2011

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I tried my hand at a spin on Fish Tacos.  These tacos may not be from the Flying Fish, but they are a simple and healthy recreation!

The Inspiration!

This recipe is adapted from Food and Wine Magazine.

The Result!

This recipe relies on a thick and creamy guacamole as its base.    To make your guacamole, either follow Andrea’s Recipe, or give this a try!  What makes this recipe creamy is the use of low-fat sour cream or greek yogurt.

I used a 6 oz. container of Fage free Greek yogurt, and it made this very creamy and rich.  When finished, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.   This will keep the guacamole nice and bright green (not brown, that’s gross).

This recipe's guacamole is rich and creamy.

You’ll also need to prep the cabbage slaw.  This adds a real punch and crunch to the taco!

The color and crunch of the cabbage make this fish taco feel festive!

Next, you’ll want to prepare any other toppings you might enjoy on top of your taco.

Some people use tomatoes or grated cheese.

Pshaw, says the picky eater 😉  I used a corn & black bean topping that was made by mixing together in a small bowl black beans, corn, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, 1/2 Tbsp onion, and some lime juice.

Later, because I had extra chopped veggies on hand, I threw in some diced peppers and even some grated zucchini!

Finally, grill the fish!  Heat and spray your grill (I am in love with mine, but any other way to get your fish flaky and tender will do).  Season and grill until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes for a large steak-sized slice.  I used about 1.5 lbs of tilapia.  Other good grilling fishes will do, and the original recipe calls for Red Snapper.

Add fish to make it a fish taco

Add all the toppings and garnish with  a lime.  Best served with a little hot sauce for the hot sauce lovers, and a little Corona to cool the palate.

Add Toppings & Garnish with Lime

Ingredients

  • 2 Hass avocados—halved, pitted and peeled  (see here for The Avocado Secret),
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (If you can handle it!!!)
  • 2.5 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Adobo seasoning
  • 1 small head of napa cabbage, shredded (4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 pounds fish fillet, grilled (I used tilapia, but many other good grilling fishes may be used)
  • Ten 7-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced (I skipped this topping!)
  • 1 can fresh corn, drained (optional)
  • 1 can black beans, drained (optional)
  • Hot sauce, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Directions

  1. Make your Guacamole (or follow Andrea’s Recipe):  In a medium bowl, mash together avocados, yogurt or sour cream, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Season the guacamole with salt, pepper and adobo seasoning.  When finished, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.
  2. Make your cabbage topping:  Cut & shred the small head of napa cabbage.  In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Make your corn & black bean topping:  Mix together in a small bowl your black beans, corn, 1 Tbsp. cilantro, .5 tablespoon onion, and some lime juice.
  4. Grill the fish!  Heat and spray grill.  Brush the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes for a large steak-sized slice.
  5. Now, assemble your tacos.  Spread a healthy layer of guacamole on a tortilla. Top with a fish, cabbage slaw, corn and bean mix, and any other desired toppings (e.g. diced tomatoes  and cheese, if you’re into those ingredients).
  6. Serve with the hot sauce (and Corona) and lime wedges.

Viva La Fish Taco!

Homemade Crackers

Posted in Food, House and Home, Life, Pictures, Recipes by Elizabeth on May 1, 2011

I was writing a comment on Sarah’s Cookie Cutter post when I realized that my response was going to be in depth and might be better in a post.

I too have no cookie cutters but, on a recent trip to Sperryville, VA, I was reminded of Heidi Swanson’s idea to rummage at flea markets or antique shops for things like cookie cutters. At an antique shop we happened upon in Virginia, there were lots of dishes, silverware, and other kitchen knick-knacks like those copper pots above. (There was also a 2 qt. cast iron dutch oven for just $15! If I didn’t already have a 3 and 5 qt dutch oven, that sucker would have been mine!) I hunted for some cookie cutters but came up empty. Anyway, some of the best metal cookie cutters are probably found at places like these – not to mention that they could be a steal.

In place of cookie cutters, things like a pastry wheel or pizza cutter are quick easy substitutes. You may not get the fanciest shapes but it gets the job done.

As for homemade crackers, I love this idea and have a number of recipes logged to try. Here are just a few:

Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers by Smitten Kitchen (she uses a drill bit for the eyes and mouth – too funny!)

Graham Crackers by Smitten Kitchen

Oatmeals Crackers by 101Cookbooks

Whole Grain Animal Crackers by The Cilantropist

If anyone makes any of these, or comes up with innovative cookie cutter replacements, fill us in here!

Request for Advice: Cookie Cutters

Posted in Food, House and Home by Sarah on April 29, 2011

I just found a recipe for making your own crackers.   Excellent idea! – I thought – I’ll do that this weekend!  Then I realized the directions involve the use of cookie cutters.  Alas, I have none.  Cue the Debbie Downer music.

Off I went to find some cookie cutters and boy have I gotten some silly results, including Williams Sonoma’s Star Wars cookie cutters.  Seriously.

If someone offers you a Death Star cookie, do you take it?

I thought I’d have more success asking some of my favorite cookie-baking friends:  do you all have cookie cutters that you love or use with special frequency?   It could be a brand you’ve found success with or a particular go-to shape, I’m open!

By the way, if you are interested in making your own crackers, please visit “Oh She Glows” here for the basic recipe and lots of fun suggestions for variations, including sea salt and vinegar, smoked paprika, and garlic, chive & onion.  Yum!  (CHOMP!)

Turbot with Harissa Sauce

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on April 4, 2011

I’m not very good at spicy food. I’d like to be better, but I cannot help that I am unaccustomed to the heat having grown up eating food that was seasoned mostly with the most mild of mild heats (ground black pepper anyone?). I think there are a number of Forneys out there who share my experience. This is not to say, however, that I dislike spicy food. I love it actually. It is frustrating when you take a bite of something that you really enjoy and then BAM, the heat hits, your tongue is tingling, your lips crave water, your palette is ruined, and you’ve barely started dinner.

I have a solution for my unaccustomed mouth. For a few years now I have been working on eating hotter and hotter food on a regular basis (starting at just about mild).

As a part of this schooling, I made this turbot with harissa sauce. If you haven’t had harissa, be advised that it contains hot peppers, like serrano, seeds and all. A North African spice, also usually has cumin, lemon juice, garlic, and coriander. I picked up a premade container of it at my local store. A dish as tasty as this one does nothing but encourage spicy food eating behavior.

Turbot with Harissa Sauce

  • 1 part harissa
  • 2 parts plain greek yogurt
  • juice of a lemon
  • cumin
  • salt
  • turbot filets

Combine the harissa, yogurt, lemon, cumin, and salt and mix until blended. Spread the sauce over the top of the filets and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. After ten minutes, scrape off the sauce, reserving it for later. Over medium-high heat, sear the fish on either side, about 2-3 minutes each side. Transfer the fish to an oven safe baking dish. Redress the fish with the harissa sauce and bake for 5-6 minutes, until the fish is white and flaky. Serve.

I found couscous and cumin seasoned sauteed leeks and kidney beans to be a great compliment to the fish. The crisp leeks pair well with the fish while the beans serve as a spice absorber for those moments when my mouth has just about had enough. Enjoy!

Spice-Braised Chicken

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on March 24, 2011

Spring is just around the corner here, but the chill in the air refuses to move on. When reading the April issue of Food & Wine, I came across a perfect in between winter and spring kind of dish in the “What to Cook Next” section. Alexandra Guarnaschelli provided a dish with warm  seasonings that was satisfying without being heavy. And, of course, provided an excuse for opening a nice bottle of red wine.

Spice-Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Red Wine

recipe from Food & Wine by Alexandra Guarnaschelli

Ingredients:

  • 9 skinless chicken thighs, fat removed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, with their juices

In a large, deep skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. I used a large dutch oven since there was a lot going into this pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add half to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Pour off the fat in the skillet.

Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderately high heat for about 10 seconds, until fragrant (stay close, they become fragrant quickly). Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, crushed red pepper and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer over moderately low heat for 5 minutes. Add the stock and the tomatoes with their juices and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the sauce along with any accumulated juices and simmer over low heat, turning a few times, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is flavorful, about 50 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and serve. We served ours over some brown rice. It certainly served as a delicious consolation that spring has yet to fully arrive.

Spicy Soba Noodles

Posted in Food, Recipes by Elizabeth on March 20, 2011

All I have to say is, thank goodness for Yes Market that is on the first floor of my building. This little organic grocery store is a life saver when we are out of that one little ingredient we forgot to get, or are craving some dark chocolate at 8:30pm on a Wednesday night.  This particular thank you is for the quick meal it provided for dinner with just a few ingredients; though I had a good amount of what I needed to make this dish, I lacked chicken, soba noodles, and shiitake mushrooms. Basically, I didn’t have the heart and soul of the meal and would have come up with saucy garlic ginger for dinner otherwise.

Spicy Soba Noodles (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

the sauce

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

the noodles

  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 to 9 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles)
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame

Stir the sauce ingredients together until the brown sugar is dissolved. Smitten used a specific Korean chili paste that alas, I nor Yes Market had. The chili sauce worked just fine. Set this aside.

Over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until they are pale golden (about 4 minutes). Set aside.

Saute the ginger and garlic in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it is fragrant. Next add the chicken and the mushrooms and season with some salt and pepper. After about 6 minutes, add most of the scallions. Stir occasionally so that the chicken cooks evenly. Once the scallions are in the saute pan, turn the heat down to medium. Boil the soba noodles and edamame while the chicken is cooking. These will cook pretty quickly (4-5 mins or so). . Strain and add the noodles and edamame to the saute pan with the other ingredients. Add the sauce to the chicken and mushroom mixture and simmer for 1 minute.  Add the noodles, edamame, and the sesame seeds to the pan.

Serve hot with the remaining scallions as garnish.

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