Monday, February 8, 2016

Yogurt Flatbreads with Barley and Mushrooms

I know that the title of this post has a lot of words that may not sound like they go together.  For example, what on earth is a yogurt flatbread?  And how can it go with mushrooms and barley?  If that's what you're thinking, never fear.  You aren't the only one.  Here is the conversation that I had with Jesse about this meal:

I wasn't joking about the LOL, too.  How sad is that sad face about "yogurt bread?"

But I promise, this dinner sounds a lot weirder than it is.  For example, the yogurt flatbreads are kind of like a pan-fried version of naan, made from whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, baking powder and fresh cilantro.  See?  Not so weird anymore, right?

Then there's the mushroom barley ragout that gets served over the top.  It's incredible.  Three different kinds of mushrooms (porcini, shiitake, and button) simmered with pearl barley, fresh thyme, garlic, and white wine, finished with fresh parsley and lemon juice.  It creates this super delicious, thick, hearty ragout that I would eat with or without flatbreads.

And yet, the flatbreads are a great addition.  They are rustic but flavorful, and complement the smooth mushroom barley ragout perfectly.  In the end, there were no sad faces.  Jesse and I both really liked it.  I think we were both relieved!  Lesson to be learned: don't judge a meal by its name.


yogurt flatbreads with barley and mushrooms
from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
serves 6 as a starter or 4 as a main dish

for flatbreads:
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 tablespoons clarified butter (or a mixture of melted butter and vegetable oil)
for mushroom ragout:
1/2 cup pearl barley
3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3/4 cup lukewarm water
4 cups mixed shiitake and button mushrooms, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
2 thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup white wine
salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons parsley, plus extra to garnish
1/2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon (I skipped this)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons Greek yogurt


1) To make the flatbreads, combine all the ingredients, apart from the butter, in a bowl, using your hands to mix them together into a dry dough.  Add more flour if needed.  Knead the dough for a minute or until it is smooth and uniform.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.

2) To make the mushroom ragout, rinse the barley with cold water, then place in a medium saucepan and cover with plenty of fresh water.  Simmer for 30 - 35 minutes or until al dente.

3) Place the porcini in a bowl and cover with lukewarm water; set aside.  Put the fresh mushrooms in a heavy pan with the oil over medium-high heat.  Add half the butter and the thyme, and saute for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once the mushrooms have softened, add the garlic and wine and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

4) Next, add the porcini and their soaking liquid - but be very careful to leave any grit in the bowl (I recommend swishing them around a bit before adding them).  Add some salt and pepper.  Simmer on low for 10 minutes.  Finally, stir in the remaining butter, parsley, preserved lemon, lemon juice, and cooked barley.  Add more water if the sauce is too thick and taste for seasoning.  Set aside and reheat before serving.

5) When ready to make the flatbreads, divide your dough into 6 pieces.  Roll into balls, then flatten them with a rolling pin into round discs about 1 inch thick.  Heat some clarified butter in a nonstick pan and fry the flatbreads one at a time on medium heat for about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown.  Add more butter as needed and keep the flatbreads warm after they are cooked.

6) To serve, fold each warm flatbread in half or in quarters and top with warm ragout, a spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkle of parsley.  I just left mine flat and topped them like that!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Big Soft and Fluffy One-Hour Dinner Rolls

I am enjoying my first snow day of the school year today!  It's my first snow day with just me and my dogs and we are loving it.  We may or may not still be in pajamas at 1:30 PM.  And yes Pop wears pajamas.  Don't judge me for any of this paragraph.  On to the food!

Jesse claims that soup by itself is not a meal.  I strongly disagree, but I can throw the guy a bone on pea soup night, I suppose.  He agreed that adding bread to the dinner counts as "not serving soup by itself," so I decided to make some dinner rolls.  I think soup and bread may be one of the most amazing combinations in history, so this was a win-win.

To add to the winning: I made these rolls so much quicker than you'd expect (although, with the words one hour in the name, maybe you did expect it).  The secret is a rising period in a slightly warmed oven after brushing them with a little water to keep them moist.  Normally I agree with the "good things take time" mantra, but these rolls are an exception.  Although they are so much quicker than many breads, they are so fluffy, soft and buttery, and just a tiny bit sweet.  They make a perfect addition to any soup (or dinner of any kind!)  I will definitely whip up another batch of these babies soon.  If you're a yeast amateur, these rolls are a good place to begin and build up your confidence; they are very easy.  Imagine - you could be eating (and smelling!!!) hot homemade rolls an hour from now.  Of course, that would require getting off the couch on your snow day, and I know that's real tough.  My goals include a shower and putting on real clothes... but baking bread is in there somewhere :)


big soft and fluffy one-hour dinner rolls
yields 16 rolls

3 3/4 - 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cool water
2/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into 1 tablespoon pieces, plus more for brushing over tops
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice


1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together 4 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt.

2) To a medium microwave-safe bowl, add water, milk and butter and heat microwave on high power until it reaches 115 degrees on a thermometer, about 1 minutes 15 seconds.  Stir to partially melt butter; you want it softened but not totally melted.  For me it took a bit less than a minute and I had to wait for it to cool a little!

3) Pour milk into dry mixture in bowl of mixer, along with lemon juice.  Set mixer with a hook attachment and then set mixture on low speed.  Gradually increase to medium-low, kneading until smooth and elastic while adding additional flour as necessary.  Dough should be lightly sticky but manageable.  

4) Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and rest 5 minutes.  Meanwhile butter a 13x9-inch baking dish.

5) Drop dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Shape into an evenly level square, about 9x9 inches.  Cut into 16 equal portions.  Shape dough into 16 balls and place shaped dough balls into prepared baking dish.

6) Dampen hands with water and brush tops of dough with the water so they don't dry in the oven.  Transfer to oven, close, and turn oven off.  Allow rolls to rise for 20 minutes without opening the oven door.  Remove from oven after 20 minutes and preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Allow rolls to rest on counter while you wait.

7) Bake for 14 - 16 minutes until tops are golden brown.  Remove from oven and run the top of a stick of butter along tops of rolls just to coat.  Serve warm.  Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Danish Split Pea Soup with Dill

I have loved pea soup since forever, when Gram used to make it on Sundays.  Of course, she used to cook a ham bone in it, and that is no longer my cup of tea, so I have been making a vegetarian version.  Then I came across this Danish split pea soup with dill, and I was intrigued.  It's mostly the same soup, but with the addition of celery, celery root, and carrots, and lots of fresh dill added at the end of cooking.  This changes the color of it a little bit, do don't be freaked out at the slightly less than appealing color or orangeish-brown green!

The recipe suggests adding lightly fried onions at the end along with he dill, but let's be honest here: the dill is the star of this recipe.  It takes pea soup to another level.  The fried onions aren't necessary - but the dill is.  I think I will be adding dill to my pea soups from now on!

I had no celery root, by the way, so I added a couple of potatoes.  I think they thickened it up, maybe a bit too much but I sort of like thick mushy soups!


Danish split pea soup with dill
from Rhubarbarians (best blog name ever)
serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1/4 of a celery root, diced
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups dried green split peas, rinsed
1 sprig of thyme
4 tablespoons chopped dill, divided
salt and pepper
2 medium yellow onions, sliced


1) Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium high heat.  Add the chopped onions and saute until golden, about 15 minutes.

2) Add the next 6 ingredients, through thyme, and half of the dill.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer over medium low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until peas are soft and soup is fragrant.

3) Meanwhile, saute the sliced onions in a skillet over medium high heat until crispy.  Remove from skillet and set aside for topping.

4) Season soup with salt and pepper.  Serve topped with crispy onions and fresh dill.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Triple Chocolate Poke Cake

My favorite cake to bake is remission cake.  It never looks the same or has the same ingredients, but it's by far the best one to make.  Every time my uncle Scott's lymphoma is in remission, I bake him and his family a remission cake to celebrate!  Luckily two weeks ago, I got to make another one.  He loves chocolate, so I found this triple chocolate poke cake on Pinterest and decided to try it out.

Have you ever made a poke cake?  You literally poke holes in it once it's done baking, and pour a glaze over the top.  The idea is that the glaze fills in the holes so the cake is extra moist and has pockets of chocolatey sauce inside!

Here's a rule of thumb that I learned while making this poke cake: less is more.  Less holes, that is.  I poked so many holes that the cake looked like brown swiss cheese.  I figured, more holes must be better than less holes!  Unfortunately, then I ran out of glaze real fast.  It barely filled half of the holes, and the ones it did fill weren't even completely full.  Then you are supposed to sprinkle chocolate shavings on the top, which I did, and they sort of looked like brown saw dust, and they melted a little too.  The cake, in short, looked like crap.

I was horrified.  In an attempt to fix its cosmetics, I filled my holes with whipped cream and covered it all with sprinkles.  Then I frantically delivered it to my aunt and uncle and told them not to tell me if it sucked.  This was the picture I got sent later:

 along with a text that the cake was "the best chocolate cake ever," and an offer to return the favor in exchange for smoked salmon! Haha.  No thanks to the salmon, but I was really happy to find that my ugly cake was still delicious.  Since Scott compared it to the legendary chocolate cake of his childhood, I supposed I would have to share the recipe with you, even though I tried to pretend it never happened.  Just don't go overboard with the holes and all should be well!


triple chocolate poke cake
from The Two Bite Club

for cake:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup mik
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
for glaze:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chocolate shavings (freeze a chocolate bar, then use a vegetable peeler to shave it)


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

2) Ina  mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes with an electric mixer.  Stir in the boiling water; the mixture will look very thin and runny.

3) Pour the mixture into greased baking dish.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, add all the icing ingredients to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.  Cool for 5 minutes, then beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes.

5) Using the handle of a wooden spoon, carefully poke deep holes into the cake (not too many, you crazy hole poker!!!) .  Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, making sure to get some of the glaze evenly into all the holes.  Use a rubber spatula to carefully spread all the glaze if you need to.

6) When the cake and glaze are cool, sprinkle chocolate shavings over the entire cake.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake Muffins

During the Patriots game two weeks ago, Mom and Jesse talked me into baking blueberry muffins.  I have no idea how the idea came up but I agreed, using some of the blueberries Mom had frozen from blueberry picking during the summer.  Then the Pats won, yayyyyy.  Fast forward one week to last weekend's game.  I was at home, happily watching Bring It On on ABC Family (wasn't everyone?) when I got a frantic text from my mother asking me to make muffins again, because the Patriots were losing and she was feeling superstitious.  So, I did.  Alas, even blueberry muffins couldn't pull out the win for them this time.  Sorry, Patriots fans.

Anyway, after Jesse devoured probably a dozen of these muffins over the two batches, he was clearly impressed with my muffin prowess (maybe you remember Muffin Monday?  It was sort of my thing).  He challenged me to make his favorite, coffee cake muffins.  Enter cinnamon crumb coffee cake muffins.  I was actually a bit surprised that I have never made coffee cake muffins, because I went through a pretty intense Drake's Coffee Cake phase in high school.  A quick search on Pinterest led me to these muffins.

Once I had started the recipe, I kind of wished I had tried a different one.  There were typos in it (like it called for pieces of butter, rather than tablespoons, and called for cinnamon in the topping but never specified when to put it in and instead asked for it in the batter) and I was nervous.  Luckily they turned out okay (better than okay... Jesse ate them all, and in not that many sittings).  But, I am not sold that this will be my go to coffee cake muffin recipe.  The crumb topping was good - and luckily it makes up literally about 1/3 of the muffin; in fact, the topping has more flour than all 12 muffins combined - but I thought the muffins themselves weren't as light and fluffy as a good coffee cake should be.  Do you have a favorite coffee cake muffin recipe, and if so, why haven't I tried it yet?


cinnamon crumb coffee cake muffins
from Sugar Apron
yield 12 muffins

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons yogurt
for crumb topping:
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray muffin pan with baking spray or use muffin liners.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla.

3) In another mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir it all together with a wooden spoon, just until combined.  Batter should be lumpy.

4) Scoop the batter into the muffin tin.  It should fill each cup about 3/4 full.

5) To make crumb topping, whisk together granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour.  Add melted butter and stir until it all comes together.  Fluff with a fork to make a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle the topping on top of the batter of each muffin.  It may seem like a lot, but use it all!

6) Bake the muffins for 20 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into each muffin comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Buffalo Chicken Chili

I know, what is this?!  Buffalo chicken chili on Trust the Vegetarian?!  Alas, sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and this weekend, I had to make some meat.  And watch football.  Two of my least favorite things.  But I must admit, even if I loathe football, I do love going to football parties and spending the afternoon in the kitchen.  I have said it before, but I really am a dream football party-goer because I just want to cook you delicious food and let you lay on the couch and watch!  I think that's why Kenzie invited me over on Saturday, and did all the grocery shopping.  This was a recipe she had pinned and purchased everything she needed, so how could I say no?  Besides making blueberry muffins and soft pretzel bites, I also made this buffalo chicken chili.

I guess the meat part wasn't too terrible because Kenz bought a rotisserie chicken.  My mom ended up doing most of the shredded for me, too, which was awesome.  This whole recipe kind of freaked me out because I am not the kind of girl who shreds chicken or uses ranch packets, but, lo and behold, there I was doing both!  The chicken is flavored with buffalo sauce, a ranch dressing packet, and salsa.  There are even two different types of beans in there, luckily, so you aren't just eating chicken and sauce (although I am pretty sure this group would have been fine with that).  The recipe suggests adding a pint of cream; I stirred in maybe 1/4 cup because it wasn't really necessary.

Besides my mom saying that it was a bit too spicy for her, the carnivores loved the chili.  They liked it served with tortilla chips, but I think it would have been great over rice too.  It's definitely a good football party dish!  Go Patriots?


buffalo chicken chili
from Reasons to Come Home

4 cups shredded chicken
1/2 red onion, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 bottle buffalo sauce (I used a mixture of 2 different sauces per request!)
2 packages dry ranch mix
1 can chicken broth
1 cup chunky salsa
1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup heavy cream


1) Saute the diced onion with olive oil.  Add shredded chicken, ranch seasoning, and buffalo sauce.  Saute for a few more minutes.

2) Add beans, salsa, and chicken broth.  Simmer on low until heated through and thick.

3) Stir in heavy cream before serving.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

2016 is still going to be my year.  I keep saying it event hough I have been sick for all of it so far!  I'm on a new antibiotic starting today so hopefully I will be able to swallow without wincing soon.  And more importantly (or is it?), I will have the energy to make myself a good meal after work!

With last weekend being a long weekend, I did manage to force myself off the couch (out from under my heated blanket) and into the kitchen for a few new great recipes coming your way.  I'll start off with these delicious stuffed peppers.  Jesse mentioned that stuffed peppers are among his favorite meal, and I was pretty surprised when I saw no stuffed peppers on my blog yet.  I'm 90% sure I made some before, but I think it was before my blog started, and I don't recall them being earth shatteringly great or terrible, so even though I remember where the recipe came from, I decided to start fresh.  I came across this lovely little idea: stuffing the peppers with a healthy, protein-filled mixture of quinoa, onion, black beans, diced sweet potato, tomato, and lots of fresh cilantro.  Toss a jalapeño in there if you are feeling wild, but there's already lots of flavor going on.  I did add some crushed red chili flakes, which made it super spicy if you ask me, but since Jesse doused his peppers in hot sauce, I guess he didn't think it was hot enough!

Besides the comments I was already bracing myself for, ("what is that stuff?  What's wrong with rice?"), this healthy vegetarian meal went over better than I had expected.  Jesse ate three entire peppers (2 halves each) over the course of the night (we decided he likes to have about 10 small meals in a day).  As always, they were compared to his mother's peppers, but were announced to be "different, but still very good!"  I will take that.  I was happy to have lots of the tasty filling left over (the recipe says it makes 3 stuffed peppers, but I manage to stuff 4 and still have extra filling, which was perfect for lunches!).  I just finished off the last of it, and even if it was spicy according to my tastes, I am kind of sad that it's gone.


black bean, sweet potato, and quinoa stuffed bell peppers
from Ambitious Kitchen
makes 4 stuffed peppers

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes if desired
salt and pepper
3 - 4 large bell peppers (I used red and green), seeds removed and cut vertically
3/4 cup reduced fat shredded colby jack cheese


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.  Add onions, jalapeño, and garlic, and saute until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent, about 4 - 5 minutes.  Place into large bowl and set aside.

2) To cook quinoa, rinse with cold water in a mesh strainer.  In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil.  Add in quinoa and bring picture to a boil again.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water.  Remove from heat and fluff with fork.  Place into bowl with vegetables.

3) While quinoa is cooking, place a medium pot over high heat and fill with water.  Bring to a boil and add in diced sweet potato.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and continue to cook for about 6 minutes or until your potatoes are fork tender.  This might take more or less time depending on how small you cut your sweet potatoes.  Once tender, drain water and place potatoes in bowl with quinoa and onion mixture.  Gently stir in black beans, tomatoes, remaining 1/2 cup vegetable broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cilantro, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.

3) Arrange bell peppers in a large skillet or baking pan and stuff with a heaping 1/2 cup of quinoa mixture.  cover with foil and bake for 20 - 30 minutes until peppers are tender.  Uncover and sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of cheese.  Place in oven for 5 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Remove and serve immediately with toppings such as sour cream, Greek yogurt, or hot sauce.