Tag Archives: ROYGBIV

[violet] German Red Cabbage

17 Apr

It’s the last day of ROYGBIV Week! Violet. Which, contrary to my long-held belief, is not purple but more a range between purple and red. Fuschia-ish, if you will. And the Germans have this color down with their red cabbage, so that’s what I’m giving you today.

Today’s chakra: Sahasrara – Thousand (Crown)
Color: Violet: universal love, selflessness & understanding
Location: Crown of head
Associated body organs: Cerebellum, spinal cord, brain stem, pineal gland
Controlled emotions: Personality, thought and self-understanding

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]

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This recipe is a great side dish, healthy and very easy to make. It’s tart and refreshing – possibly appetite suppressing? Might be a good diet food? I don’t know, ask a German.

Anyway, to start, you will combine red cabbage, apples and onion. A Dutch oven is best for this, but you can use a large pot if you don’t have one. Add water, vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, butter and salt. Then make a small spice bag with cheesecloth containing peppercorns, allspice, cloves and a bay leaf.

Add to the Dutch oven and simmer for about an hour.

If there is still liquid left in the pot after simmering, make a thickening paste with cornstarch and cold water, add to cabbage and stir for 1-2 minutes. If the liquid has evaporated, I’d say this step is optional.

Note: this recipe makes quite a bit of cabbage, so you might want to half it unless serving to a large crowd. Ain’t that color gorgeous? Happy eating!

1 medium head red cabbage, cored and sliced
3 large tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 medium sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon salt
6 whole peppercorns
2 whole allspice
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

In a Dutch oven, toss cabbage, apples and onion. Add water, vinegar, sugar, butter and salt. Place the peppercorns, allspice, cloves and bay leaf on a double thickness of cheesecloth, bring up corners and stir with string to form a bag. Add to Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Discard spice bag. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water, whisking until smooth. Stir in cabbage mixture. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 1-2 minutes until thickened.

[indigo] Vegetarian Moussaka, Spiced Roasted Plums

16 Apr

Well. Yesterday was fun. A few ingredients in the blender and bzzz, done. Now I’m back to my uber-involved recipes, as well as facing my childhood nemesis: moussaka.


Today’s chakra: Ajna – Wisdom Center (Brow)
Color: Indigo: inspiration & peace of mind
Location: Three fingers behind the center of the brow
Associated body organs: Brain, eyes, pituitary gland
Controlled emotions: Perception, knowledge and understanding

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]

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I think the traditional moussaka is made with ground beef, but I found a vegetarian version and decided to try it instead. To start off, slice and salt the eggplant, and let it sit for 30 minutes to release water. Rinse, then pat them dry. Slice zucchinis as well.

The original recipe called for browning the eggplant and zucchini in oil, but due to my recent learning experience of eggplant soaking up copious amounts of oil, I decided roasting the veggies would be lighter. Potatoes, on the other hand, I did brown in oil.

after roasting

Next, sauté onion and garlic, then add in white vinegar, canned tomatoes, canned lentils with half their liquid, dried oregano and fresh parsley. Let it all simmer for 15 minutes.

In a 9×13 baking dish, layer the veggies, sauce and feta cheese, ending with veggies. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make a béchamel sauce. You might think that with a French boyfriend, I’d be a pro at béchamel. Mais non. I have never made it. I don’t have to. I’m spoiled. So I figured it was high time I learned. (BTW I feel so Southern belle saying “it’s high time I __.” Must use this expression more often.)

You will begin by melting butter in a saucepan, then whisking in flour until well blended to make a roux. In a separate saucepan or the microwave, heat milk, then incorporate gradually into the roux, whisking vigorously. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. This is a classic béchamel. In this recipe, you will let it cool for 5 minutes off the heat, then add in a beaten egg. I think Julia Child called this an “enrichment” to the sauce. If very thick, add more warm milk in increments.


When 25 minutes are up, remove moussaka from oven, top with béchamel and grated parmesan, and return to the oven to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes.


Moussaka
2 eggplants, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large zucchinis, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can lentils, drained, juice reserved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Béchamel Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
black pepper to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brown eggplant and zucchini slices on both sides; drain. Adding more oil if necessary, brown potato slices; drain.

Sauté onion and garlic until lightly browned. Pour in vinegar and reduce. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, 1/2 the juice from lentils, oregano and parsley. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes.

In a 9×13 inch casserole dish, layer eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and feta. Pour tomato-onion mixture over vegetables; repeat layering, finishing with a layer of eggplant and zucchini. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine butter, flour and milk. Bring to a slow boil, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Season with pepper and add nutmeg. Remove from heat, cool for 5 minutes, and stir in beaten egg.

Pour sauce over vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes.

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For dessert, I found a recipe for spicy oven-roasted plums on allrecipes.com. I scanned the ingredients list… plums, ok, orange juice, ok, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and… cumin?

So of course you know now why I had to try this recipe. I must try all manner of bizarro flavor combinations.

Plus, it’s easy. You just mix the juice, brown sugar and spices to make a sauce, halve and pit the plums, and pour the sauce over them in a baking dish with sides. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly.


This would be awesome combined with vanilla ice cream, maybe with the plums cut a little smaller, but alas, we didn’t have any ice cream. The cumin aroma is strong, but I couldn’t really taste it over the other spices when combined with the plum. Even if it grosses you out though, this would still be a yummy recipe without it.


4 plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

Place the plums, cut-side up, in a single layer in the baking dish.

Whisk together the orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, and cardamom in a bowl; drizzle over the plums.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until plums are hot and the sauce is bubbly.

[blue] Fountain of Youth Smoothie

16 Apr

Today begins the final challenging trio of ROYGBIV Week; blue, indigo and violet. Blue food is especially difficult to find, unless we’re talking about M&Ms or “blue razberry” flavored whatever. (What IS that flavor, anyway?!) So today I’m taking it easy on myself with a smoothie… while eating leftovers from the past four days. Since the blue chakra governs the throat, what better food than a refreshing smoothie to slide right down on a warm Spring day?

Today’s chakra: Vissudha – With Purity (Throat)
Color: Blue: inspiration, expression & loyalty
Location: Along the spine behind the pit of the throat
Associated body organs: Throat, ears, thyroid & parathyroid
Controlled emotions: Communication and self-expression

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]

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But fear not, loyal readers! I’m not just giving you *any* smoothie, this is my absolute favorite smoothie of all time. The final color is actually magenta (womp, womp)… but the recipe involves blueberries, thus – blue food.

cherry yogurt, cranberry juice, cherries & blueberries

Blend it all together…

Ta-da!

One disclaimer I feel compelled to make, for your health: I used Yoplait Cherry Orchard and regular Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail in this recipe. Use of these brands will result in astronomically high sugar content – 21 grams per serving, or the equivalent of 5 sugar packets. The Yoplait also contains high fructose corn syrup (boo, hiss). I bought them because I’ve used them before, but it would be worthwhile to look into other brands. The frozen berries are unsweetened and healthy for you. Substituting plain yogurt would even be enough to cut down the sugar calories.

From Super Smoothies: 50 Recipes for Health and Energy:

Cherries, blueberries, and cranberries are all fantastic sources of vitamin C and anthocyanins, antioxidants that may protect against some types of cancer.

Vitamin C supports the growth of strong collagen fibers in soft connective tissue and bone, which may help prevent some of the ravages of age. Enjoyed on a regular basis, this smoothie just may be one of the secrets to staying young.

1 cup low-fat cherry yogurt
1/2 cup cranberry juice (*original recipe says 1/4 cup)
1 cup frozen pitted cherries
3/4 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries

Combine the yogurt and cranberry juice in a blender. Add the cherries and blueberries. Blend until smooth.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups; serves 2.

[green] Spinach-Mushroom Ravioli

14 Apr

Today’s chakra is green and governs the heart. For me, this is one of the most important and challenging areas of life to keep in balance. Relationships, love, forgiveness, compassion, self-control and self-acceptance. I think the color green makes sense here – it has always seemed like a soothing color to me. It’s also my favorite color. Guess Mom was on to something when she said eat your green leafy vegetables!

Today’s chakra: Anahata – Un-struck Sound (Heart)
Color: Green: acceptance, nurturing & unconditional love
Location: Along the spine behind the heart
Associated body organs: Hands & arms, heart, thymus gland
Controlled emotions: Love, self-acceptance, social identity, compassion, peace, kindness and equality

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]

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Today’s dish is a nourishing, warm comfort food. Easy to eat, not too crunchy, not too spicy, just yummy. [Semi] homemade spinach-mushroom ravioli ala Giada De Laurentiis.

This isn’t necessarily hard to make, but it is a lot of work, so I always double it and freeze whatever portion I’m not going to eat right away. (The proportions below are already doubled from the original recipe. :))

First, sauté button mushrooms and spinach. Drain if necessary, then process in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with parmesan and mascarpone cheese.

spinach mixture

Rather than making pasta from scratch, this recipe uses egg roll wrappers. They’re a bit thinner and lighter than traditional pasta, and very easy to use.

egg roll wrappers

You can make four raviolis with two egg roll wrappers. Brush one sheet with an egg-water mixture, spoon on four portions of filling, and cover with a second sheet. Press to enclose filling, then cut with a fluted ravioli cutter.

ravioli

Cook in batches of three to prevent ravioli from sticking together in the pot. For the sauce, combine two or three varieties of finely chopped mushrooms with either storebought or homemade marinara sauce and warm. Top raviolis with sauce and more fresh-grated parmesan and serve.

1/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (for dusting baking sheet)
12 egg roll wrappers
1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1 cup finely chopped assorted mushrooms (such as cremini, button, or stemmed shiitake)
5 cups marinara sauce

In a large sauté pan heat 1/4 cup of oil over a medium-high flame. Add the sliced button mushrooms and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté until the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms, about 6 minutes.

Add the spinach and sauté for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a coarse texture forms. Transfer the spinach mixture to a large bowl and stir in 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese and the mascarpone. Season the filling with more salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly flour a baking sheet. Arrange 6 egg roll wrappers on a cutting board. Brush with the egg and water mixture. Using a tablespoon, spoon 4 mounds of the spinach mixture 1 inch apart on each wrapper, forming 2 mounds on the first row and 2 mounds on the second. Top each with another wrapper and press around the filling to seal the edges. Using a fluted ravioli cutter, cut out the ravioli squares, forming 24 total. Place the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet and cover with a clean towel.

In a large, heavy sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chopped assorted mushrooms and sauté until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Carefully stir in the marinara sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the mushroom sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil. Adding 4 ravioli at a time to the boiling salted water, cook the ravioli until tender, about 3 minutes (working in small batches will prevent the ravioli from crowding in the pot and sticking together). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to 4 plates. Spoon the mushroom sauce over the ravioli, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve immediately.

If you freeze uncooked ravioli, to make sure they don’t stick together, line a cookie sheet with either wax paper or plastic wrap, arrange a single layer of ravioli on the sheet, freeze for 15 minutes, and then place them into a resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. When you are ready to serve, toss the frozen ravioli into boiling salted and oiled water and cook for 3 minutes.

Serves 4.

[yellow] Spaghetti Squash, Lemon Snaps

13 Apr

Hey hey, it’s Day 3 of ROYGBIV Week! Today’s food is in recognition of the yellow chakra, which governs happiness. Yay!

Today’s chakra: Manipura – Jewel City (Solar Plexus)
Color: Yellow: happy & radiant
Location: Along the spine behind the region four fingers above the navel
Associated body organs: Stomach, liver, pancreas, gall bladder
Controlled emotions: Self-definition and ego identity

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]

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Do you know about spaghetti squash? Because you should. And by the end of reading this post, you will! Yay!

This is a really interesting veggie. You can treat it like pasta, which makes it a good substitute if you’re eating gluten-free or low-carb.

Check out my new favorite produce label:

Don't mess with Big Chuy!

First, you puncture the skin a few times around with a fork. Then slice it lengthwise, spoon out the seeds, and place it cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until you can poke in a knife with little resistance.

spaghetti squash

The texture inside is similar to a pumpkin

Let the squash cool enough to touch, but not completely. In the meantime, saute a chopped onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Normally I’d use a white or yellow onion, but I had a small white and half red in the fridge, so today’s dish is a rainbow in itself. Next, saute a chopped tomato and about 6 asparagus spears, just until warm. Remove from heat.

veggies

Now back to the squash. Using the tines of a fork, scrape the flesh into noodle-like strips.

spaghetti squash

You can pull almost to the outer skin of the squash, so don’t be shy. Really get in there.

Note: Sometimes you might see dark and gooey flesh on the top layer if you didn’t scrape deeply enough during seeding. I throw this part out. I’m sure it’s edible, but you’ll notice it’s very different from the light, stringy squash farther in.

Toss the veggies, feta and herbs with the squash and serve warm.

spaghetti squash & veggies

Verdict: I’m used to tossing spaghetti squash with pesto and found this recipe surprisingly blah. I think more feta and herbs might have helped. Because the squash is wet and I slightly overcooked my veggies, it was also too mushy. Baking the squash once it is all removed from the skin might help crisp and dry it up some. Must experiment…

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 chopped tomatoes
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 asparagus spears
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried herbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the
prepared baking sheet, and bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance.

Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm.

Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sauteed vegetables, feta cheese and herbs. Serve warm.

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For dessert, I decided to make lemon snaps. These would make a great tea cookie. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com and changed it according to reader suggestions. One thing I found funny that no one mentioned – rather than making the 24 cookies I expected, the recipe made 72! Mmmm! More to share! Or not…

Mix flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Then make a well and add in oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. (I have never known what the purpose of the well is. Can someone tell me?) Mix it all together to form a dough.

lemon snap dough

When it got to this crumbly part, I had to use my hands.

Next, grease a baking sheet and spread dough by teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes for soft cookies, 12 minutes (edges slightly browned) for crispier ones.

lemon snap cookies

The lemon in these cookies was so perfect. So, so perfect. Love the zest. It made my tongue feel a wee tingly. I think next time I make this, I’ll add a pinch of cinnamon to the mix.

lemon snaps

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and fill it with the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Stir everything together until it forms a dough. Once the dough becomes crumbly, use your hands to thoroughly press everything together.

Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown. Cool on racks and store in an airtight container.

Makes about 72 cookies.

[orange] Carrot Salad, Orange Brownies

12 Apr

Greetings, and welcome to Day 2 of ROYGBIV Week! Today’s color is orange, in recognition of the sacral chakra.

Today’s chakra: Svadhisthana – One’s Own Place (Sacral)
Color: Orange: passion, optimism & tolerance
Location: Along the spine behind the genitals
Associated body organs: hips, sacram, genitals, lower part of intestine, bladder & kidneys, lower back
Controlled emotions: Feeling, desire, sensation and movement

[For an explanation of the chakras, see yesterday’s post.]

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The first food I think of when I think of orange is not oranges, as would be obvious, but carrots. So today I decided to make a carrot salad, and I found a unique one from Bobby Flay. One change though; I decided to alter the dressing to use up some Greek yogurt in my fridge. David’s mom makes salads with yogurt dressing and I’ve never been able to completely duplicate what she puts in there, but I love it just the same.

I also halved the original recipe since this week is making my refrigerator ridiculously full. First, I strained the Greek yogurt to make it as thick as possible.

Greek yogurt

I boiled the carrots and made a dressing of lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt, yogurt, olive oil and fresh cilantro. (The original recipe called for parsley, but I had cilantro in the fridge as well.)

carrot salad

In the end, the yogurt did not tone down the spice nearly as much as I thought it would. Next time I’d probably reduce the cayenne. The recipe also made more dressing than I needed. But all in all, this was a unique dish. The freshness of the cilantro definitely helps balance out the garlic and cayenne, and the sweetness of the carrots adds and interesting dimension.

4 medium carrots, peeled
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for water
1/4 cup Greek yogurt, strained
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley or cilantro

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the whole carrots (cut them in half if they don’t fit in the pot) and cook until just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and cut carrots into 1/2-inch thick slices.

Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the yogurt and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add the cooked carrots and toss to combine. Sprinkle with fresh parsley or cilantro. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Serves 2.

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For dessert, I made Paula Deen’s orange brownies. No, I don’t think this is what’s meant by eating all the colors of the rainbow for your health, per se… and I’m trying to be [mostly] healthy this week, I swear… but this is the part where the cooking blog takes over and “chakras” becomes more of a loose idea. Plus, I wanted to finish off the 1/2 package of cream cheese in my fridge. Good motivation, am I right?

To make the cake batter, the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and salt) are added first, then joined by the wet ingredients (butter, eggs, orange extract and orange zest).

wet & dry ingredients

The orange extract REALLY punched up the flavor of the batter. I’m telling you, it’s a good thing I was home alone making this, because I couldn’t stop licking every beater, spatula and spoon I could find after pouring the batter into the pan. Gluttony… embarrassing…

orange extract

I love the little spout they've added to the bottle!

The cake bakes at 350 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes. Next, on to the frosting. Beat softened cream cheese and butter until fluffy, then gradually add in powdered sugar. I’m learning that whenever powdered sugar is involved, you can probably half what the recipe calls for and be just fine. At least, that’s what my tastes dictate. (Half amount is written in the recipe below.) Once blended well, beat in orange juice and orange zest.

orange cream cheese frosting

The cake is done. I halved this recipe too, and used an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish instead of a 9 x 13. I think this is why the brownies came out thin; will be intrigued to see if they’re thicker in the full version of the recipe.

orange brownies

Once the brownies are completely cool, top with frosting. The final texture is sort of a moist, spongy cake. Light and refreshing; I would make this again in the summer. It’s a nice twist to a lemon cake or lemon bars.

orange brownie

Brownies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure orange extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons softened butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice

To make brownies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan. Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares.

To make frosting
In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice.

Makes about 20 to 24 brownies.

[red] Spaghetti Bolognese, Strawberry Tarts

11 Apr

Hola! Today starts out ROYGBIV Week with red, which awesomely, is an easy color to find in the vegetable family. Red foods include strawberries, tomatoes, apples, red peppers, pomegranates, radishes, rhubarbs, cherries and raspberries, to name several.

I’m hardly an expert on the chakras, but here’s what I’ve come to understand. The theory comes from Samkhya philosophy, which influenced yoga and tantrism. In it, the human body has several hundred spinning chakras (chakra being the Sanskrit word for “wheel”) positioned throughout. These are part of the ethereal, not physical, body, although they have influence over the physical body. The chakras spin in a circular vortex, absorbing and radiating energy from the surrounding environment. Of the hundreds of chakras, seven have been identified as most important. They are stacked from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, and each is associated with a specific color and sound, as well as physical organs and aspects of the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual life. Chakras have been called lotus flowers, and when a chakra is healthy, the lotus is opened. An imbalance in any area of life can weaken the chakra system. One of the ways to nourish the various chakras is to eat foods associated with their color. A plant’s color is representative of the rays of sun energy that gave it life.

For a deeper explanation and test of your own chakra energy levels, check out ChakraEnergy.com.

Today’s chakra: Muladhara – Root of Tree (Root)
Color: Red: vitality, strength & courage
Location: Base of Spine
Associated body organs: Legs & feet, large intestine, adrenal gland, lymph & blood
Controlled emotions: Physical identity and self-preservation

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For the first recipe of this week, I decided to go with a classic bolognese sauce. (I don’t think Indians eat beef, but…) I can’t say for sure if I’ve ever actually made one. My end result was a combination of a few different recipes I found online.

My mamma never put red wine in her spaghetti sauce, but when it occurred to me to do it, the choice was a no-brainer.

Two-Buck Chuck!

I also never would have thought to add carrots and celery to this sauce, but since I saw it in a few recipes, I thought what the heck.

Cook the meat and veggies together until the meat is no longer pink. Drain, then add wine, diced tomatoes and tomato paste, herbs and spices, and reduce to desired consistency. Also begin cooking pasta around this step.

Voila!

1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup white onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
grated parmesan to sprinkle on top

For dessert, I decided to make strawberry tarts, because we went to San Diego Desserts recently and got a tart that was to-die-for. What I ended up making was a modification of Ina Garten’s recipe; modification because I didn’t have time to make the tart shells from scratch, don’t own any kind of tart pan even if I’d had the time, and then couldn’t find frozen tart shells at the store. (Good grief, Charlie Brown!) So I bought frozen puff pastry shells instead. Was still delish. I like puff pastry. 🙂

The recipe for the shell is below. But if you decide to use puff pastry shells, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, then bake them for 20-25 minutes. They will go from looking like this

womp, womp

to this!

Magic!

Scoop out the “tops” out and let them cool.

For the pastry cream, I didn’t have cognac, so I substituted brandy instead. Unfortunately, step-by-step pictures of this process are conspicuously missing from this blog because I was napping while David did this part. But I can tell you that Ina Garten’s instructions are VERY good. Be sure to look at the link for scalded milk too, because we had no idea what that meant.

The pastry cream is a long process, but really does come out exactly like the Contessa says. The pre-whisking “curdling” part happens extremely fast – the cream went from liquid to chunking in “two seconds,” apparently, so just stick patiently with the stirring. Here’s the end result:

Beautimous

Cover the cream with plastic wrap placed directly on the cream and refrigerate until cold. Then scoop into shell and top with strawberries. Final product:

That's MRS. Tart to you!

Tart Shell
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup apricot jelly
3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, halved, optional

TO MAKE TART SHELLS – Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough and fit into four (4 1/2-inch) tart pans with removable sides, or one 9-inch tart pan. Don’t stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Pastry Cream
5 extra-large egg yolks, room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cognac
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

TO MAKE PASTRY CREAM – In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold. Yield: 2 cups

ASSEMBLE – Before serving, fill the tart shells with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts. Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.