Cheddar Cheese Crackers

You know those diet articles that pop up on yahoo news?  The ones that offer the top 10 tips to eating healthy?  One of the pieces of advice they always give is to not to go to the grocery store hungry.  That is very true, because every time I am hungry and in the grocery store, I manage to buy multiple boxes of crackers.  And then I manage to eat half the box on the drive home.  Not good!

I had cut out this recipe from the New York Times a while back to make little cheddar cheese crackers.  They are a little less addictive than the ones in the box, but still delicious and I eat less in one sitting.  Also, they are a handy little snack to bring to work.  Hope you enjoy!  And thank you for reading.

Ingredients
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 in. pieces
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a food processor, combine the whole wheat flour, regular flour, salt and sugar.  Add the diced butter and pulse until crumbly.

3. Add the cheese and pulse it a few times to distribute it.  While the food processor is running, add the olive oil and eggs, until it becomes a dough.  Stop when the dough comes together, it will be soft and a little sticky.

4. Lightly flour the counter top and put the dough on it.  Knead it a little bit to bring it all together.  Divide into two round pieces, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes.

5. Roll out each piece of dough, thinly.  Cut into rectangles, squares or circles and place on lined baking sheets.

6. Bakes for 15-20 minutes.  Make sure to rotate the cookie sheet during the baking process so that the cookies bake evenly.  The crackers will foam in the oven because of the cheese, but they will end up being crispy and lightly browned.  When they are done baking, cool on baking racks and then store in a airtight container.

Source: New York Times

Spring Asparagus Soup

Spring is upon us in Baltimore!  I know that this is the season when I should be roasting asparagus for every meal, but, my confession is that I don’t love asparagus.  I decided to try this asparagus soup to see if I would like it in a new way.  Even though it looks like pea soup, I enjoyed it!  Very light and tasty.  It was one of the first times I’ve made soup, and this recipe was a manageable one.  If you are looking for a way to embrace spring, here’s one idea.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 lb. asparagus
salt and pepper
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs. butter
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, washed and sliced into 1 inch chunks
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, sliced (I omitted, couldn’t find one at the farmer’s market)
1 garlic clove, sliced

Directions:
1. With a vegetable peeler, peel the outer layer of the asparagus, starting about an inch from the top.  Keep all of the peelings.

2. When all the asparagus are peeled, cut off the ends of each stalk.  Add those ends to your collection of peelings.  Wrap the peelings and the ends in a piece of cheesecloth.  Tie it up into a little bundle with some string or ribbon.

(note: cheesecloth is pretty cheap from the supermarket)

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.   When it’s boiling, put in the asparagus and your cheesecloth bundle.  Let cook for 4 minutes before removing the asparagus to a colander.  Rise with cold water and add several ice cubes to it.  Toss the cheesecloth bundle, but reserve 3-4 cups of the cooking liquid.

4. Dry the pot and add the olive oil and butter.  Under low heat, add the leeks, onion, shallot and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and toss around until everything is covered with the butter and oil.

5. Cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes, until everything is softened.

6. Add the 3-4 cups of reserved cooking liquid.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

7. Add the asparagus and simmer for 5 more minutes, uncovered.

8. In batches, puree with soup in a blender or food processor.  (Or use an immersion blender, if you have one).  Season for taste with salt and pepper.

Even the cat was curious.  Also, I discovered that picassa can add fun features to pictures, I’ll try not to get too crazy with it……….

Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  (a beautiful cookbook, fyi).

Scones: Cinnamon Roll Style

I’ve been trying to rotate the posts I put up.  Healthier food one week….not as healthy, but still delicious the next week.  For this week, it’s time to share a wonderful breakfast treat!  I saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats, one of my favorite food blogs, and I knew I would really enjoy it.  The steps are a little more complicated than scones usually are, but it’s definitely worth it.  These scones come out moist and fluffy and delicious.  I also froze half of what I made, and they are just as good baked straight from the freezer.

I adapted Annie’s recipie slightly.  I didn’t include pecans or cinnamon chips in the filling (because I didn’t have any) and I omitted the glaze.  I like them more plain.  I’ll post directions for the glaze below.

Enjoy!  And thanks for reading.

Dough
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen whole
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Filling
Little bit of milk or cream, for brushing
3 tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/4 cup cinnamon chips (optional)

Glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. milk

1) Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Grate the frozen butter.  I use my food processor, but you could also use a grater.

3) Whisk together the milk and yogurt, keep in the fridge until you need it.  Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Add the grated butter to the flour and use your hands to cover all the pieces of butter with flour.

4) Using a spatula to combine, add the milk/yogurt to the dry ingredients.  Place the dough on a floured surface.  Knead a few times, until all the dry ingredients have been worked in.

5) With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12 inch square.  Fold the dough into thirds, like you would fold a letter. Then told the short ends of the dough into thirds, until you have a little square.  Put it on a floured plate and let chill in the freezer for 5 minutes.

6) While the dough is chilling, combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl (don’t combine the milk/cream).

6) After the dough is chilled, roll it out into a 10 inch square.  Brush the milk/cream on a dough.  Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough.  Roll the dough up into a tight log and place the log, seam side down.  Cut the log into 8 rough discs.

7) Place the discs on the baking sheet and brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake until golden brown, about 16-20 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack.

8) If you want to glaze them, combine the glaze ingredients with a whisk.  Drizzle over the cooled scones.

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Work in progress!

Avocado, Tomato and Pepper Salad

As part of my attempts to mix up the lunches that I bring to work, I’ve learned to like avocados.  I previously never understood why people would get so excited about them, but I’ve become a convert.  I like their creamy texture.  I saw this recipe in a friend’s cookbook, so decided to try and improvise with the ripe avocado I had in the fridge.  I put the salad over spinach and I think it’ll make enough for about 4 lunches this week.  I also kept the dressing in a separate container and added it to my lunch container the day before I bring it to work.  Hope you enjoy!

1. Combine:

  • 1 pepper, diced
  • A container of grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 avocado, diced

I think you can also also add whatever other veggies you had on hand or thought would taste good.  I didn’t have red onion, but that also might be tasty.  The original recipe also called for black beans, but I didn’t happen to have any.

2. For the dressing, whisk together:

  • Zest of one lime
  • Juice from one lime
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • A few tablespoons of olive oil (I added a little bit at a time to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home