Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peanut Noodle Salad

When I was growing up, we always used to go to China Palace in Shadyside and order cold sesame noodles as an appetizer. When I saw this recipe for peanut noodle salad in my latest Cook's Country magazine, I knew I wanted to try it. The sesame oil gives it a deep, nutty flavor and the veggies give it a nice, fresh crunch. It's a great alternative to traditional pasta salad at a summer barbecue!

Peanut Noodle Salad
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 tbsp salt
3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3/4 C creamy peanut butter
6 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro

1. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente, reserving 3/4 C cooking water.
2. Drain pasta and rinse several times with cold water until cool.
3. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and toss with sesame oil to coat.
4. Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, red pepper flakes and 6 tbsp cooking water in a medium bowl until smooth.
5. Toss pasta with peanut butter mixture to coat.
6. Add cucumber, red pepper and cilantro. Add extra cooking water as necessary to adjust consistency.
7. Chill and serve cold. Great for leftovers.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 9
Hirsh's Rating: 8.5

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Classic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies have always been one of my favorite desserts to make. I usually have the ingredients in my pantry, they are fairly easy to make, they are sturdy enough to be transported, one recipe makes a lot and everyone loves them! Last summer, I made them for my group presentation at MedImmune and in a 1.5 hour meeting of about 20 people, all 60 cookies were eaten! Last fall, I made them and sent them in shipment overseas to my coworker's fiance's army troop. I heard that they survived the trip and the troops loved them. Recently, I made them for the lab barbecue and our Outer Banks trip and now I can finally put this recipe on my blog!

Classic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 C butter, softened
3/4 C granulated sugar
3/4 C white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp warm water
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1 tsp salt
2 C oatmeal
12 oz chocolate chips

1. Cream butter and sugars in mixer on medium speed.
2. Add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until creamy.
3. Add baking soda in water and beat to combine.
4. Add flour and salt gradually and beat on low-medium speed to combine.
5. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips.
6. Refrigerate batter overnight.
7. The next day, preheat oven to 370 degrees.
8. Drop by heaping tablespoons on non-stick cookie sheets, flatten slightly with your fingers and bake 9 minutes (a cookie scoop is great for this).
9. Cool and serve! Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 10
Labmate's rating: Great cookies!
OBX Beach House Rating: Yum.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Cream cheese swirl brownies are what I like to call a "crowd pleaser" dessert. They are both attractive looking and delicious tasting, so they always get rave reviews at parties. Since they are always a hit, I decided to make them for the lab barbecue. And again, everyone loved them! I brought the leftovers into work and they were gone in an hour. While I normally don't like using mixes, for this recipe, Betty Crocker just does it right!

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
1 box (1 lb 6.5 oz) Betty Crocker Original Supreme brownie mix with syrup pouch
1/3 C vegetable oil
1/4 C water
2 eggs
1 8 oz package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.
3. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.
4. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat in egg and vanilla until just blended.
5. Spread brownie mix in greased 9x13 pan.
6. Top with cream cheese mixture and run through with knife to create marbled look.
7. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.
8. Bake for 35 minutes or until cream cheese is golden and toothpick comes out clean.
9. Cool and cut into 24 brownies.

Difficulty: Easy
Debbie's Rating: 9.5
Hirsh's Rating: 9
Lab group's Rating: Yummy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Potato Salad for a Crowd

This past Sunday, Hirsh and I hosted a barbecue for my lab group. It was a great opportunity to get everyone together and finally meet everyone's spouses, kids, etc. We ended up with 14 adults and 4 kids- quite a a party! Luckily the weather held out and we were able to grill, hang out on the deck and the kids even got to run around in the yard. The next four entries will be recipes that I made for the party.

Potato salad is a quintessential barbecue food so I definitely wanted to have it for the party. Store-bought potato salad is often expensive and very heavy on the mayo, so I decided to make my own. I used my mom's recipe and scaled it up for a crowd. It was a great accompaniment to the burgers!

Potato Salad for a Crowd
14 red skin potatoes
1/2 red pepper, diced small
2 sticks celery, diced small
4 hard boiled eggs, diced
2 C light mayonnaise
Few squirts yellow mustard

1. Peel potatoes and chop in half if they are very large. Keep the already peeled potatoes in ice water while you are peeling the rest to prevent browning.
2. Boil potatoes for 20 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork.
3. In the meantime, dice red pepper, celery and hard boiled eggs.
4. Drain potatoes, run under cold water and cut into small cubes.
5. Add mayonnaise, a few squirts of mustard, salt and pepper to taste and chopped veggies and egg. Toss to combine.
6. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and serve.

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 8

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

The last time Hirsh and I visited Chloe in New York, she made pancakes from scratch for Sunday morning brunch. For some reason I had never thought about making pancakes from scratch since the mix is so convenient. I decided to try it for her visit and found this recipe for "healthy" oatmeal pancakes. Of course, I added chocolate chips to make them extra special, but I am sure they would be good with blueberries, chopped nuts, etc. It was a fun alternative to the traditional Aunt Jemima mix and healthier too!

Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes
1/2 C flour
1/2 C quick cooking oats
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg

1. Combine all ingrediants in a food processor.
2. Preheat non-stick griddle to 375 degrees.
3. Pour batter and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips or add-in of choice.

4. Flip to cook the other side and serve!

Difficulty: Medium
Debbie's Rating: 9....I would add a little more sugar next time.
Chloe's Rating: 9

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni

Chloe came to visit for Memorial Day weekend, and since she also loves to cook, I thought it would be the great opportunity to try out a new, challenging recipe. Chloe is a vegetarian, but loves cheese, so I thought that something Italian would be perfect. I have ordered cannelloni several times in a restaurant and they are always so delicious, so I wanted to learn how to make them at home. I found a savory crepe recipe for the shells and used my mom's manicotti filling recipe. While they were a lot of work to make, they turned out very tasty and I would definitely make them again.

*Thanks to Chloe for the amazing photography, especially the action shots!

Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni
1 C flour
3/4 C cold water
1/2 C cold milk
2 eggs
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C cold water

1. Combine flour, water, milk, eggs, butter in salt in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
3. Add an additional 1/4 C cold water to thin the batter.
4. Heat a 10" non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
5. Ladle 1/4 C batter into the pan, turning the pan quickly to coat.

6. After small bubbles have formed (about 30 sec) carefully flip.
7. Cook an additional 15 seconds and transfer to a plate.

8. Repeat until batter is finished. This should make about 12-14 crepes (if you don't mess up!)

1 15 oz. ricotta
1 egg
4 tbsp parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1 10 oz. package of chopped, frozen spinach, cooked and drained
2 shakes of nutmeg

1. Combine all ingredients for filling.

About 2 cups marinara sauce
Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Ladle small amount of sauce in the bottom of an 8x8 glass baking dish or other casserole dish.
3. Put about 1/3 C filling in each crepe in a log shape.

4. Roll crepe over filling, making sure to turn in the ends.

5. Place the cannelloni seam side down in the sauce.
6. Repeat until you run out of crepe shells.
7. Top with sauce to cover.
8. Bake covered for 15 minutes.
9. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
10. Serve. Makes about 4 servings.

Difficulty: Hard
Debbie's Rating:9
Hirsh's Rating: 9
Chloe's Rating: 9.5