Archive for March, 2012

This unpretentious cake has a slight tang and a moist, almost custard-like texture.  It is so addictive.  We’ve baked four in the past week.  I swear we didn’t eat them all…. just most of them.

Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cake


1/2 cup butter or oil, at room temperature (I get away with 1/3 cup canola, but we are used to less greasy cakes)
3/4 cup sugar (I cut to 1/2)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the yogurt and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the two flours, baking soda and baking powder.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the yogurt mixture and stir to mix. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  (I used a 9″ round.)
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes.

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Celery is one of those vegetables I rarely buy.  But every now and again, FHE sneaks into our grocery cart.  I’d happily fill the celery with peanut butter or make ants on a log for Rice Kernel, but he simply eats the raisins and leaves the rest.  So I’m left with hearts of celery in the fridge.  Short of stir-frying the vegetable or putting it in a stew or stuffing, I’m often left scratching my head thinking of ways to use up the distinctively fresh, acidic vegetable on its own.  Enter a warm salad.  Simply dressed with a vinagarette and lightly cooked, the vegetables retain much of their texture and the celery takes on a sweeter, aromatic profile. 

Warm Celery Salad


1-2 tablespoons honey
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 whole celery heart, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 carrots, shredded or diced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small to medium red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or herbs like thyme)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine honey, lemon juice, and vinegar then whisk in extra-virgin olive oil and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
  2. In a pan over medium high heat, cook onions for 3-5 minutes.  Add the celery, carrots, corn, peppers, and herbs (or whatever vegetables you are using).  Cook an additional 1-2 minutes.  Toss the vegetables into the dressing and adjust salt and pepper, to taste.

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The wonderous smell of brown butter.  It should be made into candles and placed all over my house.  If you haven’t already, you should experience it for yourself – there is nothing quite like the decadent, nutty, caramel undertones of brown butter in a classic chocolate chip cookie. Rice Kernel and I enjoyed several dipped in tall glasses of chocolate milk.  Oh, Claire, I can’t wait until you are older. 

Healthy ambitions, adios for now.

Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe from Joy the Baker, adapted from Smitten Kitchen


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and browned to about 3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt (depending on how salty you like things)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup toasted coconut (I used unsweetened, but sweetened will work as well)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or whatever chocolate you prefer)


  1. Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  On one baking sheet, spread out shredded coconut.  Toast coconut for about 6 minutes, until browned and fragrant.  Remove from the oven, place in a small bowl and let cool.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will begin to foam and crackle.  Once the crackling subsides, keep an eye on the butter.  The butter solids will begin to brown.  You’ll smell the butter as it browns.  Once well browned, immediately remove the butter from the flame and place in a small bowl.  Removing the butter from the pan will ensure that it doesn’t continue to cook and burn in the hot pan.  Allow the butter to cool for a few moments.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, measure granulated and brown sugar.  Add the brown butter and beat together, on medium speed, for about 2 minutes.  The sugar may still look grainy. 
  5. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  The mixture should become silky smooth.  Add  vanilla extract and beat.
  6. With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients.  Beat until just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the toasted coconut and chocolate chips.  Dough will be thick.
  7. Cookies can be baked immediately, or the dough can be left in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. (I like to let them chill so the flavors can meld.  You can leave them overnight even.)
  8. Spoon balls by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown but still slightly soft in the center.  Remove from the oven.  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Store cookies in an airtight container

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My ever-goofy son gets a kick from saying “fusilli” – foo-silly, as he jokes.  He also gets a kick from this meal because he can’t ever get each component into his little mouth fast enough.  It’s packed with enough superfoods I’m a happy mama at the dinner table.

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Does your kid have a sweet tooth?  Do you have a sweet tooth?  My dear little boy seems to crave only sweets these days for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. Even if I dangled french fries or chips in his face I don’t think he’d turn his back on sweet-tasting foods like yogurt, fruit, and candy. 

It’s a phase, but it doesn’t excite me that Rice Kernel wants to use agave or honey at every opportunity.  Most times, we say no.  But this recipe caught my eye and after a day devoid of a “real” meal for Rice Kernel, some good protein- and omega-3-packed fish was a good idea for dinner – even if it is marinated in some sweet agave.

Miso and Agave Glazed Salmon, adapted from Food 52

1/2 cup light (shiro) miso
5 tablespoons sake
5 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon light agave nectar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 skinless, boneless salmon fillets

Whisk the miso, sake, mirin, agave nectar, and oil together in a large, non-reactive dish or bowl. Add the salmon and coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least a few hours, ideally overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Turn on the broiler. Place one oven rack under the broiler and another rack in the center of the oven.

Wipe any excess marinade off the salmon fillets and place them in a baking dish. Place the dish on the top rack under the broiler and cook until the top of the fish is nicely browned, 3-4 minutes. Then move the dish to the center rack and bake until the salmon is cooked to desired doneness, about 8-12 minutes. Serve warm.

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FHE and I enjoy anything spicy.  Particularly on colder evenings, there is nothing like a spicy dish to enliven the senses and warm you from the inside.  At least that’s what I think – my son would not concur on most days. 

All’Arrabbiata means “in an angry style” in Italian. At Marzano in Oakland, California, chef Robert Holt braises his chicken with five kinds of peppers in a wood-fired oven.  The easy way to do it here is to spice the chicken with poblano and chile flakes, then braise it. Perfect comfort dish on a chillier night.

Braised Chicken all’Arrabbiata, from Food and Wine

6 whole chicken legs, split into drumsticks and thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, diced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small poblano, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 marjoram sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon chopped marjoram leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin side down and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter skin side up.
  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet. Add the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper and bay leaf and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the bell pepper and poblano and cook until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and boil for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the vinegar and marjoram sprigs and bring to a simmer.
  3. Set the chicken legs in the skillet skin side up. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Discard the marjoram and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Garnish with the chopped marjoram and serve

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I love breakfast muffins, especially the crunchy top portion.  But they are almost always so indulgent I certainly can’t enjoy more than one.  This is a lightened muffin made with yogurt and bananas.  It is full of breakfast-y flavors, but you can easily substitute ingredients and add-ins to suit your preferences.  If you don’t have bananas on hand, double the yogurt called for in the recipe.

Orange Banana Nut Muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour (or use half whole wheat flour or cornmeal)
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
3/4 cups lowfat plain or flavored yogurt (or substitute sour cream)
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp canola oil or butter, melted
1 mashed banana (you may need another 1/2)
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Optional Add-Ins

1 cup any berries, fresh or frozen
½ cup dried fruit or banana chips
½ cup chips, such as chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch or peanut butter
1 tsp sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, zest and baking powder in one bowl.
  3. Beat together the egg, yogurt or sour cream, vanilla, banana and butter in another bowl.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry until just moistened.
  5. Fill each cup in the muffin tin 2/3 full with batter.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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