Monthly Archives: January 2013

Lauren: Quinoa, Spinach (no-Mac), and Cheese

quinoa and spinach macaroni and cheeseGuys. GUYS! I MADE A ROUX! Tonight I made a roux. It was pretty exciting. I stirred and stirred the butter and flour mixture, added the milk, kept stirring and then ALL OF A SUDDEN—IT WAS A SAUCE! All of this in honor of this week’s ingredient: spinach. Betcha didn’t see that one coming did ya?

When Caro and I were discussing this month’s ingredients a few weeks ago, we were sort of on a vegetable kick. Well, actually, never mind, you’ll see that dream die in about a week. Anyway, we were talking and came up with spinach. That was all well and good, I thought I’d make a salad or maybe the spinach-quinoa patties (like those for example) I keep seeing everywhere. Then. I saw. This.

Caro’s really into the blog Two Peas and their Pod. Remember her easy, customizable, no-bake granola bars from a few weeks ago? Those magical bars that can be modified to fit just about ANY taste? Mmmhmm, those are from Two Peas. When I saw her bars I had to check out the site and while I was there found this magical spinach creation and knew—it was happening.

Tonight it did. There isn’t much to say about this recipe except:

  • Don’t curdle the milk. Just don’t do it. Keep whisking.
  • It helps to have some already-cooked quinoa around. I assumed that a little under two cups of dry quinoa would yield the three cups of cooked quinoa the recipe called for. Um yeah, so I ended up with quinoa for eight. At least. Pre-cook some quinoa and measure out three cups of it while hydrated to avoid this problem.
  • I’m guessing my quinoa proliferation was the reason why once in the oven, the dish didn’t bubble in the recommended amount of time, apart from a few stray bubbles around the edges.
  • Don’t over bake the dish which FOR ONCE I didn’t do, because dry quinoa and cheese is a sad, sad thing.
  • This is not healthy. Just because it’s not pasta does not make it healthy. There is enough whole milk, cheese, and butter to kill at least five people. But I did throw in a bunch of spinach so let’s just pretend.

Now invite everyone over for this quinoa, spinach (no-mac), and cheese (which received rave reviews from my dining mates by the way) and prepare to be the most popular of all your friends.

And let’s be honest; using a cast iron skillet is half the fun.

Recipe here!

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Lauren: Caramelized-sesame chickpeas

sesamechickpeasIT’S CHICKPEA WEEK!!! How psyched are you? Yeah, for serious, cannot contain my excitement. Caro and I have been planning chickpea week, oh, since before this blog was even on our radar. We even have a DANCE about chickpeas for Pete’s sake! Don’t ask, just go with me here.

While I admit to having spent the past 15 minutes chipping garbanzo shrapnel off my pan and into every corner of the kitchen, I still implore you—MAKE THESE! There are sesame seeds and chickpeas, there is honey, they’re gluten free, they’re almost totally low-carb acceptable, they’re a little bit asian, they’re sweet without added sugar—they’re golden.

Let me explain how I found these little bits of magic.

Pinterest has been a regular haunt of mine lately and I have been “pinning” and “liking” up a storm. Everyone knows/thinks I like desserts but the thing is, I really kind of don’t. When I was little I was always one for cheese puffs over donut holes; I’d take savory over sweet any day. Now that I’m older, it seems to be happening again. Last weekend I went to St. louis, and for the first time frequented my favorite cupcake shop, and didn’t end up eating a single cupcake! I didn’t even want to eat them. I just kind of wanted to hoard them and look at them and maybe take the occasional sniff. But I had zero desire to eat them. WEIRD.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this recipe on Pinterest last week without even searching for chickpeas! It keeps with my effort to chill on the carbs since chickpeas, olive oil, and salt are totally ok (honey is another story but since most of it ends up burnt to the bottom of the pan anyway, I’m going to ignore it), it’s gluten-free (something I sometimes experiment with) and it has protein to keep you full—with some crunch! Nearly every salty snack that exists is packed with crap no one needs, so this is an ideal option. It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s crunchy—just do it. DO IT! Just don’t eat them all at once (this is more of a note to myself) because about 1/4 cup of fully-hydrated chickpeas is one serving and they’re kind of high in calories for such a small amount.

sesamechickpeas2Anyway, are you ready for the deliciousness? Here we go.

The recipe came from the blog With Style and Grace. Aaand now (that I’ve just revisited the page) I see what would have saved me from the whole 15-minute chickpea-mining experience that just took place. PARCHMENT PAPER! Or a Silpat. The recipe is pretty self explanatory and easy-to-follow but there are a few notes besides the addition of my best friend, parchment paper.

  • Don’t burn your chickpeas. Once they’ve been roasting for around 25 minutes start watching them to ensure that they don’t shrivel into small bits of coal. The same goes for watching them during their second round in the oven after they’ve been covered in honey.
  • “Stirring” the chickpeas in the pan once they’ve been coated is nearly impossible. Try banging the sheet against the oven rack to free some of the peas, otherwise just ignore that part of the recipe—they turn out fine.
  • When the honey-ed chickpeas are finished, remove them from the pan IMMEDIATELY, or prepare to spend your afternoon as the archaeologist you never wanted to be.
  • The group of peas will fuse into one mass if placed in a bowl but fear not—lift the ball a few inches above where it sits in the bowl and just let it fall. It will break into smaller pieces. Repeat.
  • Know that if you do end up with a big, cement-like expanse of cooked honey on your sheet (if for instance you cook sans parchment paper and directly on the metal) simply run hot water over it instead of fighting it with a scrubby brush and dish soap, as it will dissolve in moments without any work!

Go. Make these now. Your 4 p.m. hunger will thank you.

For another gluten-free, lacy treat, check out these vegan florentines which look incredible.

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Caro: Easy, Customizable, No-Bake Granola Bars

Oats! I know to most this will probably seem like the single most boring ingredient we could have chosen to get people excited about a new year of food blogging, but I love oats, and I was totally super pumped when we picked them for our 2013 debut.

I’m pretty sure this is because, while my body is 22 years old, my self is actually grandma-aged. I have lots to back this up with.

For instance. Friday, I was out for happy hour with some friends, when some guy turned around and said he thought he’d spilled something on my shirt, which prompted my buddy from work to turn around and say, “What, you mean on that shirt my grandma also owns?” Uhh, mean. I defended my shirt, all like, “I think it’s cute, and it makes me look put-together for work, and I bought it at a hip young-people-clothes store, blah blah blah,” until some other guy backed me up (I think) by saying, “Yeah! It’s stylish in a practical and minimalist way,” which I didn’t completely understand but took as a compliment anyway.

I held on to that compliment as an odd form of assurance that my style is cool and age-appropriate, which was working out just fine for me until I got to work the next day and realized my 50- or 60-something-year-old manager and I were wearing the same. exact. pair of shoes. What?! Old lady. It’s who I am.

Stuff like this happens to me all the time. I dress like a grandma (or so I hear from people I’m pretty sure are at least 70% wrong). I love, love, LOVE soup. Especially split pea. I watch TV Land shows… on DVD (as in, I pay for them). Yep.

So anyway, now you know all this stuff about my old soul or whatever, all in my attempt to justify my love for oats. I love em. Oats week is exciting.

It’s funny that Lauren mentioned Joy the Baker, ’cause the first thing I thought to make as I penned oats week onto my calendar was my favorite riff on her baked oatmeal. I take her recipe, dial up the cinnamon, and trade the dried cranberries, fresh raspberries, and pistachios for fresh strawberries and cacao nibs. It’s seriously delicious. It’s the kind of breakfast I dream dreamy dreams about. But my oven decided it was not going to turn on on my designated baking day.

So no-bake it had to be… and suitable for breakfast, since I wanted to actually be able to eat what I made (instead of ending up with 47 oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies to force-feed my coworkers). Granola bars were the perfect back-up plan.

peanut-butter-pretzel-chocolate-chip granola bars

When your camera’s been broken for months, you have nothing to offer people but subpar artsy iPhone pictures. Better than nothing!

Two Peas and Their Pod was the source of the recipe that won my no-bake granola bar search. I usually mess with recipes to suit my tastes, but I pretty much went with this one to the letter, except that I tossed in some cacao nibs. (I’m obsessed with them.) Like a lot of other recipes, this one’s expensive the first time around if you don’t have the right ingredients on hand… but the good news is that once you buy the ingredients, you can make a whole buncha batches without having to buy anything else. So I won’t be one of those people who tries to tell you making your own granola bars is cheaper than investing in a $2.50 box of Nature Valleys at the grocery store, but I will tell you that over time the cost pretty much evens out, and if you make your own bars at home, you have the added benefit of putting whatever you want in them!!!

And, on that note, the beauty of this recipe is its customizability. Allergic to peanut butter? Almond butter, Biscoff spread, Nutella. Don’t like pretzels? Corn flakes, nut of choice, potato chips. Chocolate chips too boring? Cinnamon chips, toffee bits, sprinkles?! Ok, fine, sprinkles in a granola bar may be weird. But you get my point. Make this the granola bar of your dreams!

By the way, these are much better than any store-bought granola bar I’ve had. I could just be biased… but I have my parents on my side, and they dislike most of what I make, so I’m going to guess it’s just that these are actually super yummy. And they’re easy, quick, and customizable, so there’s not much of an excuse for settling for the boxed variety. I’d much rather take the time to make my own & adapt ’em to whatever I’m in the mood for in a given week. In other words, these’ll be a repeat creation in my kitchen. I hope you try them and feel the same way!

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Three cheers for granola bars. The breakfast of champions.

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Maple, white chocolate, and cherry oatmeal cookies

oatmeal-cherry-maplecookies

Happy New Year! In honor of winter/a year ending in 13/my sister’s surgery/it being Tuesday, I made cookies. This should surprise exactly no one. In case it’s difficult to figure out the ingredient of the week with my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink post title, it’s oats! The theme was chosen with this recipe in mind. I realize this might seem weird. Oats? How boring can we be? Answer: pretty boring. Do I even like white chocolate? No. What about real-deal maple syrup? Negative. Cherries? Chyeah I could eat a whole bag! Buuut in with all this other stuff? Skeptical. They looked so perfectly golden and chewy on Joy’s website though that I just couldn’t resist! They had to be made!

Now, baking is most fun when there is someone around to feed or there is an event for which to prepare food. Christmas was a prime example. I must have made and gifted these Valrhona dark chocolate and orange buttermilk scones 15 times. Every single time the recipient demanded the recipe; if only I could take credit for it! Anyway that whole exercise only fueled my newfound love of the Joy the Baker blog and cookbook…her podcast is another story entirely. Translation: I’ve been checking her blog with the ferocity of a crack addict hoping for inspiration for my latest food project.

Well last week that certainly happened. My sister, Meredith slept over at our house the night before her surgery. An extra house guest and a new recipe from Joy? “What a coincidence,” I thought, “I’ll bake!” This recipe made SO MANY COOKIES. Holy moly I could have fed a small nation. Instead of solving hunger in Papua New Guinea, we had a dinner of cookies while watching The Magic of Belle Isle (totally random but cute) and attempted to stuff Meredith with as many cookies as possible prior her midnight pre-surgery eating and drinking cut-off.

These dreamy wheels of oatmeal and maple were a big hit with my family, my dad’s coworkers, and my friends. Confession: I’ve actually made them twice in the span of 11 days. Yep I’m an addict.

Recipe: Joy the Baker’s Maple, White Chocolate and Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Notes:

  • No one was a fan of white chocolate at the outset so I inserted just a few shards of it into a couple dough balls prior to baking. After baking, my nay-saying family remarked that they actually liked the white chocolate and that it acted almost like goat cheese-a savory balance to the sweet.
  • I thought the cinnamon was the delightful aroma radiating from the cookies but Meredith and my mom thought it was the maple that really shone through. Whatever it was, the scent of this cookie acted like smell-fingers in a cartoon pulling in anyone within a 10 ft. radius. So good. But if you made any sugar/dessert/health-related resolutions DO NOT MAKE THIS RECIPE! You’ll end up having cookies for dinner. Several. nights. in a row.
  • The dough didn’t turn golden until they’d been in the oven—and my oven overheats—for around 13 minutes, I have no idea how Joy’s were ready after 10.
  • I’d use a cup or more of cherries instead of Joy’s 3/4 cup because their tartness and chew provide a nice counterpoint to the sugary, crumbly base. And if you’re wondering why you don’t see chocolate peeking out of my cookie stack, it’s because the second time I made these I left the chocolate out entirely. It was not missed.
  • These are super easy and are great for feeding a large group since one recipe yields 2+ dozen cookies.

Ok I’m going to resume stalking Joy’s blog now. Happy 2013 and welcome back to the Copy Kitchens, we’re so excited you’re here!

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