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Archive for February, 2011

I thought this was a handy idea from Bon Appetit – some suggestions for desserts you can usually make on no notice with ingredients you already have in your pantry.  My husband is a big fan of PB and Jelly Bars – though I use Barefoot Contessa’s recipe and can’t comment on this one, though they look very similar.

Another pantry dessert staple I love are Nigella Lawson’s Choco Hoto Pots.  These are as easy as can possibly be and use basic ingredients you’ll have around.  You do need a bit of chocolate, but often I will have a bar or just plain chocolate chips lying around, which are fine in this.  This is basically a version of chocolate lava dessert – gooey in the inside, cakey on the outside.  You make them in individual ramekins and they turn out to be quite impressive though they take no more than 5 or 10 min to throw together.  You can prepare them in advance of a dinner party and then pop them in the oven once you’ve finished eating and soon the house will smell delicious and this very glamorous but low effort dessert will wow your guests!  Serve with fresh whipped cream to put it over the top.

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Pumpkin Oatmeal

This amazing oatmeal recipe is my new favorite, hands down.  It is the definition of comfort food – perfect for cold weather breakfasts or, frankly, dessert!  I’ve made it three times in a month and everyone who’s tried it has loved it.  The recipe comes from Aarti Sequiera, who is the most recent Next Food Network Star.  I was rooting for her during the competition – everything she made looked totally delectable, with such interesting flavor and spice combinations.  I’ve really enjoyed her show, though I haven’t made many of her dishes yet.  But when I saw her make this, I went right to the computer to print off the recipe. And though it was only 3 days since the episode had first aired, there were already 10 reviews of the recipe and they were all glowing!  So I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought this would hit the spot during cold winter weather.

The oatmeal itself is actually nice and healthy, with no added sugar, and lots of fiber and vitamins in the can of pumpkin added.  But…I then add walnuts, brown sugar and cream.  When I felt guilty about all the calories I held the cream, and it was still pretty good.  But with all the yummy stuff it is HEAVENLY and works equally well as a cozy dessert.  If you’re a maple syrup person, that would be great on this as well. The recipe makes a lot of oatmeal, which is fine because you can stick the whole pot in the fridge and rewarm it the next day with a bit of almond or regular milk.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

from Aarti Sequiera

  • 1 (14-ounce) can pumpkin puree (the unseasoned kind)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, or water
  • 2 tablespoons raisins (golden or regular)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice OR 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups quick cooking oatmeal (not the instant kind)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • Honey, brown sugar, cream and maple syrup, for serving

In large saucepan over high heat, combine the pumpkin puree, water, milk, raisins, salt, and pumpkin pie spice (alternative spices). Bring to a boil.

Add the oatmeal. Turn the heat down and cook according to your oatmeal instructions; mine usually takes about 15 minutes. Stir often.

Meanwhile, in a small cast iron skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts until they’re fragrant and a gentle golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Once the oatmeal is cooked (each grain should be tender), serve with the assortment of toppings for people to choose from.

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Pan-fried Chickpea Salad

This salad from 101 Cookbooks is another great example of the huge flavor she gets from basic, healthy ingredients.  I tried this yesterday and LOVED it – what a great side dish with tons of healthy stuff and big taste!  I am a big fan of curry spices but even if you’re not I think you’d like it – the garlic and lemon and leeks (I used half leeks and half shallots) make it really fresh and flavorful, and the curry just adds a bit of sweetness to the background.  And I love the yogurt base which adds nice tang and creaminess.

I am exploring with more and more Indian spices, and learning about many new and different flavors.  Whenever I see cinnamon in a recipe, I tend to throw in some complimentary spices, like nutmeg, allspice or ground cloves.  I’m beginning to be the same way with curry – I throw in some turmeric, garam masala, cayenne pepper, ground cloves or fenugreek.  If you enjoy the curry family, I’d highly recommend playing around with dashes of these spices.  It gives the dishes such warmth and depth.  Garam masala is a good one to start with.  Some of these aren’t commonly found at the grocery store…I got my garam masala and fenugreek at Southern Season in Chapel Hill which has a huge selection of specialty foods.  But you could also find them at an Asian store or other specialty foods store.

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