Walnut White Bean Dip: A Daring Cooks Challenge

I have to admit, this months Daring Cooks Challenge left me a little concerned. I’m not a huge nut fan in general and most nut butters I’ve tried have been…well…..boring. This months challenge was two fold: First you have to make the nut butter. Okay, this sounds kind of complex. It’s not. Nuts go into the food processor for about 3 minutes and BOOM! Nut butter. Probably one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.

The second part of the challenge is only a tiny bit more complicated. The challenge gave a few different options regarding what to do with your nut butter. I opted to make the dip since it’s just a little too hot to really cook and I’m always looking for tasty dips that involve something other than hummus or cream cheese. In addition to the fact that this turned out amazingly well, it is also fairly healthy.

My camera decide to go kaput today leaving me with no pictures. So, this will be a picture-less post. But, the recipe is simple and I have faith in the fact that most people don’t need pictures (even though they help).

Blog Check Lines: The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

This recipe was adapted from  Cooking Light

Walnut White Bean Dip

What you Need:

½ Cup walnuts ( processed in food processor as described above)

½ Cup dried cannellini beans, cooked, and cooled

2 cloves of roasted garlic

2 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tbs lemon juice

1 tbs olive oil

What you need to do:

After you have made your nut butter and your cannellini beans have cooled, add all ingredients together in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Serve with pita chips or baguette rounds.


July 14, 2010 at 10:47 pm 1 comment

Banana Pudding

I think the primary reason why banana pudding always consists of Vanilla Jell-O Pudding from a box and a few sliced up bananas is because the very process of making pudding from scratch is daunting. After all, who has time to stand over a stove endlessly stirring a pot of rich and creamy vanilla custard? People who want tasty pudding, that’s who!

Truthfully, this is really not a huge undertaking. Yes, it requires about an hour of your time and a little bit more brainpower than reading the back of the Jell-O box but, trust me, this is so worth it.

What you need:

For the Custard:

6 Cups Whole Milk (really, use whole milk)

7 Egg yolks

1 Cup of Sugar

¾ Cup Flour

½ tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

Seeds of one vanilla bean

The other stuff:

5 or 6 Bananas

1 box vanilla wafers (I used the mini ones. They were too cute to pass up)

2 Cups Heavy (whipping) cream

½ cup powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla

In a large saucepan, whisk together milk and eggs. Then add sugar, flour and salt. Cook over a medium-low flame and whisk constantly. The objective here is to eliminate any lumps. Also, should you not whisk continuously, the eggs may in fact scramble. So do your best to incorporate everything extremely well. Be certain that as you are stirring your whisk actually reaching the bottom of your pot. Burnt pudding on the bottom is no fun to clean off.

After about 15 minutes or so the mixture should be getting fairly thick. If it’s still a little runny, add a few tablespoons of flour and stir. The pudding should be done around 35 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in vanilla extract and vanilla bean. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring to prevent weird film from forming on top.

Meanwhile, make your whipped cream. In the bowl of your electric mixer whip the cream. When the mixture starts to get foamy, add your powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until mixture is thick and forms stiff peaks.

Arrange the wafers in the bottom of your trifle dish and spoon about 1 third of the custard over. Add two bananas, sliced and some crumbled vanilla wafers. Continue with this until you are about an inch and a half from the top. Spoon the whipped cream on top and level with top. Sprinkle about ½ cup of crushed vanilla wafers on top.

June 15, 2010 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

Moroccan Inspired Carrot Salad

Here in insanely sunny Cleveland the temperature has reached the mid- 80’s for the past week or so. When you are used to 40 degrees in the middle of may, 80 degrees feels like an inferno. Clevelanders immediately freak out about the temperature and all of a sudden everything has to be cold. I too was apprehensive about flipping on the oven in my un-air conditioned apartment since I was certain that I was too hot for normal brain function and perhaps turning on the oven would be too much for my delicate Ohio disposition. Anyway, something that didn’t need to be cooked or baked was by far the best option this past weekend. Here is a super easy Moroccan- inspired carrot salad.

What you need:

3 cups of grated carrots

½ medium red onion diced

2/3 cup golden raisins

¼ cup toasted pine nuts*

Juice of half a lemon

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 tsp cumin powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tbs brown sugar

½ cup parsley, chopped

Mix first four ingredients in large bowl.

In separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil. Add spices and brown sugar. Whisk until incorporated. Pour over carrot mixture.

Incorporate parsley and refrigerate covered for two hours before serving.

* Pine nuts can be toasted in a small skillet over medium heat until lightly brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before adding to recipe.

June 1, 2010 at 11:41 pm Leave a comment

Herbes de Province Pork Tenderloin

Okay,Okay,Okay……I’m a bad food blogger. The last two months have been crazy busy with finals and concerts and recital and getting my life in order. Additionally, the boyfriend has officially moved in. Now that we are all settled I’ve been cooking up a storm of awesome impressive things.

Since moving to Cleveland, the boyfriend is most impressed by the Westside Market. Evidently they don’t have anything like that in Pensacola. Anyway, we’ve been going twice a week since it’s still kinda magical to him. Anyway, yesterdays adventure produced, among other things, impressive pork tenderloin. This was not my idea at all. But the boy insisted. So there I was….in my kitchen…..hunk of meat sitting on the cutting board. In a panic I paged through a couple of cookbooks I had handy and browsed the Internet for something that didn’t involve me butter flying it or grilling it. So then I remembered that I had a large jar of Herbs de Province in my pantry that I had bought a few months ago on some odd herb-buying spree. To make a long story short the result is lovely tender pork tenderloin lightly crusted with Herbs de Province.

What you need:

1 One to one and a half pound pork tenderloin (not to be confused with pork loin)

5 tbs herbs de province blend (available from your local spice guy or grocery store)

1 tbs salt

½ tbs pepper

6 tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ diced onion

¼ red wine

2 tbs honey

What you need to do:

Preheat over to 375 degrees (f) and line small roasting pan with foil

First pat the pork loin dry with a paper towel. Then rub the herbs, salt, and pepper all over the meat.

In large skillet, heat three tablespoons of the olive oil and sear the tenderloin for about one minute on each side. Remove from pan and  place tenderloin on plate.

In same skillet add the rest of the olive oil, garlic, and red onion. Then add wine. Over low heat, stir mixture until wine begins to reduce. Remove from heat and stir in honey.

Place tenderloin in roasting pan and spoon glaze over the top. Cover with foil and roast for about 35 minutes or until thermometer reads internal temperature at 140 degrees or so.

Let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing.

May 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment

So this is my first month as a Daring Cook. The way it works is that there is a challenge posted every month and all the Daring Cooks are supposed to make it (or some variation of), photograph it, and post it on their food blogs. Sounds simple enough right? Lets just say that deadlines and I do not get along. Therefore, I am posting this super-late. However, this whole Daring Cooks thing sounds fun and will (hopefully) guarantee that I’ll post something tasty at least once a month.

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

You should know that there really is nothing terribly complicated about risotto as long as you have the time to baby-sit it. One of the requirements for this months challenge was to make your own broth and while I was very seriously tempted to use the stuff in the pretty box with a picture of the jolly Wolfgang Puck egging me on, I decided to bite the bullet and make my own. You can really use just about any broth you’d like. I opted to make vegetable broth since I had an over abundance of fresh vegetables in my fridge. I’m not going to post a recipe on here for the broth since I a) didn’t measure and b) there are a bazillion other broth recipes out there. Basically, I just threw everything into a big pot and let it simmer on the stove for about two hours. If the prospect of having the smell of homemade broth wafting through your house isn’t enough to convince you that homemade is better then you should know that risotto made with the canned stuff doesn’t hold a candle to the good stuff. Sorry Wolfgang.

What you need:

About 1 ½ cup broccoli florettes, cut into manageable bite-sized pieces

1 tbs olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

2 tbs butter

½ small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup risotto (I used Arborio)

¾ cup white wine (you could use red if you were feeling fancy I suppose)

Pot of simmering broth



Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (f) and line a large sheet pan with foil. In bowl, toss broccoli with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Dump broccoli onto sheet and roast in oven for about 20 minutes or until the broccoli is dark and very slightly beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

While your broccoli is in the oven, begin risotto. Heat butter in medium saucepan and add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Add risotto and stir. You want to make sure to coat each grain of rice and brown it every so slightly.

Add wine and stir. Do not be alarmed by all the steam. The objective here is to evaporate most of the alcohol. There will still be a little liquid in the pan. Add the stock about one cup at a time. You want the broth to just cover the rice. When all the broth has been absorbed it’s time to add another cup or so. Same process as before. Repeat this process until the risotto is the desired consistency (which is soft). Turn the heat off and stir in about ½ cup Parmesan cheese. You may add more or less depending on taste. Add salt and pepper. Then add in the broccoli.

Serve immediately. Sprinkle some Parmesan on top if you want it to look a little bit fancy.

March 23, 2010 at 11:03 pm Leave a comment

Cracker Jack

I’m not sure I know anybody that doesn’t like Cracker Jack. Popcorn, Caramel, Nuts- pretty much everything a snack should include. I’m going to admit I was a little hesitant to make this since it seemed like the whole caramel making process could turn into an epic disaster. Once you do it though, it’s a piece of cake and you’ll just want to keep making this. I decided to ignore the traditional peanuts and use roasted pecans instead. Much better in my opinion.


About 8 cups popped popcorn

2 cups brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

2 sticks butter (1 cup)

½ tsp salt plus about 1 tsp for sprinkling

¼ tsp cream of tarter

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup dry roasted pecans

Preheat oven to 225 degrees (f). Heavily oil two or three cookie sheets and set aside. The non-stick spray stuff simply won’t work so use the real stuff (vegetable oil).

In a saucepan, melt together brown sugar, butter, cream of tarter and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat. It is extremely useful if you have a candy thermometer since you will need to know when the temperature of the mixture reaches 250 degrees (f). Once you have reached 250 degrees, it’s time to remove from the heat and whisk in baking soda. The mixture should foam a bit.

Pour the mixture over the popcorn and toss, making sure to coat all of the popcorn. Gently fold in pecans. Spread mixture onto cookie sheets, sprinkle with a little kosher salt, and bake for about 1 hour. Check on your cracker jack every twenty minutes or so and give it a stir.

When you take the popcorn out of the oven, slide mixture off of the cookie sheet and onto waxed paper. Let cool for one hour. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

March 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm 2 comments

Honey Blueberry Pound Cake

I have no idea what possessed me to purchase blueberries in the middle of winter. Perhaps because 2 for $5 appeared to sound like a deal (even though when blueberries are in season they are 2 for $1.50). Anyway, these out of season blueberries were sitting in my fridge for about a week before I decided last night to do something with them. I was torn between muffins and pound cake. Due to the lack of muffin papers and my distinct fondness for pound cake, I opted for honey blueberry pound cake. The recipe is loosely based on the Honey Vanilla Pound Cake from Ina Gartens’ Back To Basics cookbook.


2 Sticks Unsalted butter (Room temperature)

1 Cup Sugar

4 Extra large eggs

3 ½ tbs honey

2 ½ tsp Vanilla extract

2 Cups sifted cake flour, plus 1 tbs to dust blueberries.

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp baking soda

2/3 cup fresh blueberries

What you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (f) . Prepare loaf pan by greasing bottom with butter and lining bottom with parchment.

Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 4 minutes.

While your butter and sugar are mixing, put eggs, honey, and vanilla in separate bowl. Do not mix

Turn mixer to low speed and add eggs one at a time to bitter/sugar mixture. Scrape sides of bowl between eggs.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda and gradually add to wet ingredients until just combined.

Scrape sides of bowl to incorporate any remaining flour.

In small bowl, gently toss blueberries with tablespoon of flour. Fold blueberries into batter. Be careful not to over mix or smash any of the berries (unless you want a purple pound cake).

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.

Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.

February 10, 2010 at 7:10 pm 1 comment

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