Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chili Garlic Baby Bok Choy

Bok choy. I'm not convinced it's a vegetable I'll ever truly cozy up to. I mean, I love me some leafy greens ~ kale, collards, chard ~ but . . . bok choy. I don't know. There's just too much stalk and not enough leafy green for me.

So that begs the obvious questions: why prepare it and why post the recipe on the blog? I blame my son. He's a bottle-a-week Sriracha fan and he likes this dish. He asks for it now and then, and what parent in her right mind would say no when her kid asks her to make bok choy?

To be totally honest, it's not too bad. But the key ~ and I mean this ~ is to use baby bok choy. Do not buy the bulbous, thick-cankled, fully grown bok choy. You must be intrepid about searching out the tiny, adorable heads of baby bok choy, which might mean rubbing shoulders with hipsters at Whole Foods or neo-hippies at the co-op. The smaller the bok choy, the more favorable the leaf-to-stem ratio. Grab your reusable shopping bags and go.

I typically make this with Sriracha, same amount, but this time I used Chili Garlic Sauce (made by Huy Fong, just like Sriracha) and it was really good ~ spicier and not as sweet. I like it better, but you decide.

Just remember, baby bok choy. Size matters.

Chili Garlic Baby Bok Choy

Yield: 2 servings

  • 2 large heads or 4 small heads baby bok choy
  • 1 tablespoon oil (olive, peanut, or canola)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Garlic Sauce or Sriracha
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Chop about an inch off the stem end of each head. Cut heads into 1/2" slices. Place in colander and rinse with cold water to remove any sand or grit. Shake out or spin to remove excess water.
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped bok choy and saute one minute, until just tender and leaves are bright green. Add minced garlic and saute briefly, 30-60 seconds, until garlic just turns golden. Stir frequently so garlic doesn't burn.
  3. Remove from heat; stir in Chili Garlic Sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Make-Your-Own Spinach Dip

Spinach dip is my answer to getting vegetable haters to eat their veggies in a nonsneaky, totally unmanipulative way. It's dip, for crying out loud! Who doesn't like dip? Not only is it loaded with vegetables, but it's perfect for serving with cut vegetables, which is win-win. You can also use it as a condiment on sandwiches and burgers. And ~ toddler moms, hear this ~ it's also a super dip for chicken fingers.

Of course you can buy spinach dip mixes, but they're packed with those wacky, complicated chemicals that mystical creatures make in underground laboratories. If you hie yourself over to the spice aisle in the grocery store, you can make an initial investment in a few bottles of dried herbs and spices, spend an hour portioning out some dip packets, and have MYO dip mix for a year or more. Or less, if you get asked constantly to bring your "Famous Insanely Delicious Spinach Dip" to every gathering you attend. If you are very hardcore and grow and dry your own herbs, this is a perfect way to use them. And please invite me over for lunch sometime.

BTW, I like to buy little 2x3-inch plastic bags at the craft store for this purpose. Just slap a label on the outside and you're good to go.

[Disclaimer: I know, I know. Here on Eat Real I usually have nothing good to say about dried herbs. This would obviously be an exception. While you can use fresh herbs in this recipe (remember the ratio is 3:1 fresh to dry), you can't make a year's worth of dip mixes in an hour using fresh herbs! And it's not a nutritional sacrifice. So I'm completely, 100% on board with dried herbs here. Even parsley. And you know how I feel about dried parsley.]

MYO Spinach Dip*

  • 1 tablespoon dried vegetable flakes 
  • 1 tablespoon dried chives 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill 
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 cups sour cream or 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt**
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  1. Combine all ingredients except for spinach and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow vegetables and herbs to rehydrate and flavors to blend. 
  2. While the dip base is chilling, spray a nonstick skillet with pan spray or oil lightly with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Cook spinach, stirring frequently, until wilted and soft. If the spinach begins to stick to the pan, add a little water, a teaspoon at a time. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  3. When the spinach is cool, stir into the dip base. Serve with chips, toasted pita wedges, or cut veggies.
*This is dedicated to my sister, Ande, Queen of All Spinach Dip.
**Bonus nutritional points for using yogurt.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies are the nice girls of the cookie jar. They're wholesome, earthy, sweet ~ the cookie version of the girl you can take home to not just Mom, but Grandma too.

This version is the equally lovable, slightly sassier ~ but not quite naughtier ~ cookie-girl version. She's the one who will have a nose ring, a cupcake tattooed on her butt, and enough charm to wrangle your Grandma's lime whip salad recipe out of her at the church potluck.

Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Orange and Spice

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Cream together butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest until smooth and light.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and allspice. Add to the butter mixture and beat just until combined. Stir in oats, cranberries, and white chocolate chips. Chill dough 1 hour or overnight.
  3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Drop cookies by tablespoon or cookie scoop onto prepared sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are just golden. Let cool 2 minutes on pan; remove to racks to cool completely. Store at room temperature for 1 week in air-tight container or freeze for longer storage.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Eggnog Cookies with Whipped Eggnog Buttercream

You do it every year. You buy eggnog because it's Christmas and everyone wants a glass of eggnog to wash down their after-dinner slice of fruitcake. Or so they say. But then you have six quarts of eggnog and no one has room for liquid dessert. You and I both know December 26 is going to find us with pretty much the same amount of eggnog we started out with. Every year.

But that's okay. In fact that's actually terrific. Why?

These cookies. Enough said.

Next year, make these for your cookie plate and you won't even have to wash those fancy little eggnog glasses. Eggnog in liquid form will be irrelevant. But you might want to pick up some extra anyway, in case you feel like pancakes, because you can't really eat cookies for breakfast. Not every day, anyway.

Eggnog Cookies with Whipped Eggnog Buttercream

Yields: about 3 dozen cookies
  • 21/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 ounces butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
Whipped Eggnog Frosting:
  • 4 ounces butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup eggnog
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugars until light and smooth. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until just combined. Add vanilla extract and eggnog; scrape down bowl and beat on medium speed until integrated.
  4. Turn mixer to low and add dry ingredients. Beat just till combined.
  5. Chill dough for 1 hour. Use a cookie scoop or two teaspoons to drop dough 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes, then move to rack and cool completely.
  6. For Eggnog Frosting: Cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating at medium speed. Add eggnog a tablespoon at a time. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Start mixer and increase speed to high. Whip until frosting is light and fluffy. 
  7. Spread frosting on cooled cookies; dust with freshly grated nutmeg if desired. Store at room temperature in a covered container.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chunk Crumb Cake

This is not a tea cake. This is a deep, dense, baby-gimme-somma-dat coffee cake. It's dense. And deep. I emphasize this, because I don't want complaints about how heavy this is. It's not HEAVY. It's moist, delicious, flavorful, and dense. And unlike in men and souffles, in this cake, that's a great quality.

But why so dense? Well, first of all, the streusel. It's in the middle, it's on top. And no one has ever accused a good streusel of being delicate. So it's not.

Second, there's a lot going on here: peanut butter (dense), bananas (dense), chocolate (dense), and sour cream (dense). Think about it.

Third, I use a deep pan. A real deep pan. Why? Because I didn't have a shallow pan on hand when I was originally developing this recipe, and my chief taster liked it pretty well just this way. And I agreed. So I stuck with it. If you like your crumb cake a little more ladylike, use an 11x7-inch baking dish. I won't judge you. It takes a while to work up to this much badonkadonk.

A couple of words on the actual cake . . .

Regarding streuseling: Don't just sprinkle. Get in there like you mean it. Grab yourself a handful of streusel, make a nice clump, and break it up ~ a little ~ then drop that onto your batter. That's what'll give you those gorgeous take-me-home-to-mama chubs of streusel on your cake.

Regarding flours: I used Hodgson Mill white whole wheat flour for this (and all of my other recipes requiring whole wheat flour). I originally developed this recipe for a contest on their site via my dearly departed baking blog (which is a sad/angry/frustrating story for another day). So I would like to give a shoutout to HM for their consistently good products. I'm a big fan of their white whole wheat and their whole wheat pastry flour, specifically.

And that's it. Go make it. Give yourself plenty of time; it's a big prima donna and it's going to take a while to bake. I'm not exaggerating. If you use the deep pan like I'm telling you to, plan on sticking around for at least an hour and a half. But all feedback so far suggests it's worth it.

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chunk Crumb Cake

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
For Streusel:
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 ounces butter, softened
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x9-inch glass baking dish with nonstick pan spray and set aside. 
  2. Make Streusel: In a bowl, combine brown sugar,  flours, peanut butter, and butter. Mix with a pastry blender or fingertips until butter and peanut butter are fully integrated.Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and smooth; add peanut butter and cream until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate; add vanilla and scrape down the bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating until just combined. Add bananas and sour cream and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour half the batter into prepared pan. Top with half the streusel. Add remaining batter. Don't worry if the streusel layer isn't covered ~ things will work themselves out. Top with remaining streusel.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, then check. If browning fast, cover loosely with a sheet of foil and return to oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, check, repeat until a toothpick inserted in the center of the crumb cake comes out clean. 
  7. Let cool on a rack and dust with powdered sugar if you'd like. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bruleed Grapefruit Segments

Grapefruit was called the "forbidden fruit" long before it was known to be one. Sometime circa 1750, it was described in the Natural History of Barbados and monikered thusly, though it's kind of a mystery as to why. Now this well-loved citrus is forbidden for many because we know that grapefruit and its juice doesn't play well with some 85 different prescription medications. (Seriously, check the list before you indulge . . . some heart meds and birth control are on it. Yikes.)

But if you are lucky enough to enjoy grapefruit without fear, I give you this lovely little dish. It's elegant enough to be served as a light dessert or brunch course. You can use ruby red or pink grapefruit, but I prefer to use white grapefruit because it provides just the right level of tartness to offset the sweetness of the caramelized sugar topping.

If you don’t have a kitchen torch, prepare these in oven-safe ramekins and run them under the broiler for a few minutes until the sugar is just bubbling and golden-brown.

Brûléed Grapefruit Segments  

Serves 4

  • 4 grapefruits
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar 
    1. Cut the peel away from the grapefruits and separate into segments, removing the tough outer membranes.
    2. Arrange segments on a serving plate or in a shallow bowl. Gently pat the surface of the grapefruit segments with a paper towel to remove a bit of surface moisture.
    3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over each portion.
    4. Using a kitchen torch, brulée the sugar until it caramelizes. Serve immediately.
Tip: I like turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) for this because the large crystals don't get wet as quickly and therefore brûlées nicely. But if you don't have it on hand, white sugar or brown sugar will do. Just sprinkle them on in a fairly thick layer to keep the top of the sugar as dry as possible.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sesame Almond Crackers with Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

  ~ Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo-Friendly

I try--Lord knows I try--to eat well. I don't count calories or cut certain food groups out of my diet. But I do eat mindfully. Most of the time, I eat pretty clean, filling my plate with quality sources of protein, lots of veggies and fruits, and some dairy and grains. For me, balance is key. It has to feel like I'm in control of what I eat, not that I'm constantly having to sacrifice flavor for function. When it works that way, I never feel deprived, and I never go hungry. I also allow myself to eat food purely for enjoyment sometimes--ice cream, pizza, wine. . . . 

When I'm training, I try to eat a little more consciously, knowing that what I eat today will affect how well my efforts go on the trail or in the gym tomorrow. These crackers are one of my go-to snacks. No empty calories here, just plenty of protein and beneficial fats and loads of flavor.

I've made these lots of different ways, with various seasonings, but I think this combo of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper just might be my favorite. I hope you like it too.

Sesame Almond Crackers with Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

• 2 cups almond flour
• 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
• ¾ teaspoon sea salt plus additional for sprinkling
• ½ - 1 teaspoon cracked pepper (according to preference)
• 1 egg white
• 1 tablespoons cold water
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• ½ teaspoon sesame oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper.
3. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg white, water, olive oil, and sesame oil.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Divide the dough in half.
5. Place one half of the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll as thin as possible (1/8” is fine).
6. Remove top sheet of parchment and transfer bottom sheet, with dough on it, to baking sheet.
7. Use a pastry wheel, pizza cutter, or paring knife to cut the dough into desired-size squares.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes, until just golden. Turn off oven and let crackers remain in oven until golden brown, about 5 more minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet and store in an air-tight container.



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