Archive for March, 2012

by Sarah Steimer

The recipe I found called this a fall soup - which I could see. But artichokes say spring to me, not fall. I assume they were thinking more about the peppers. But both my artichokes and peppers were from jars/cans so I guess I have no argument either way.

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter OR olive oil
  • 1/4 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken OR vegetable stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 1 cup roasted red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

    I roasted my extra chickpeas (remember that?) with a little chili powder for a garnish.

In a medium pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onions and garlic in the butter (or olive oil) until softened, then remove from the heat.

Add the chicken stock, milk, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, olive oil, salt and pepper, sautéed onions and garlic mixture in a blender. Pulse until you reach your desired consistency – although it does thicken up a little when you heat it.

Pour the mixture back into the pot or Dutch oven and heat through on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until hot enough to serve.

Makes about four servings.

Recipe adapted from: The Family Kitchen

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by Caitlin Saniga

The only sad part about ordering the hummus from Aladdin's is that there's never enough pita! Ask for double, or plan to get creative with dippers if you grab an order to go. But really, anything tastes better dunked in this stuff.

Sarah and I have long loved Aladdin's. We'd drive over to the Hudson, Ohio, location when we were living in Kent to order our favorite menu items (Mine's the chicken salad rolled pita with feta and toasted almonds, and Sarah loves the lentil-chili soup.). The last time we met up in Ohio, we visited the Akron location and caught up over dinner (Bill snapped this picture of us.). I love Aladdin's because the vibe is very comfortable yet classy. It's the type of place where you can grab lunch with a co-worker, have a nice dinner date or order a meal to go. And while the bulk of the chain's locations are in Northeast Ohio, I was surprised to see Aladdin's has spread out to places like Indiana and Virginia. Pull up the map on the Aladdin's website, and see for yourself!

I visited: Aladdin’s Eatery, which has a Mediterranean menu with lots of meat-free (and meat-full) options

I tried: Hummos, topped with fresh herbs, olive oil and a couple of sliced vegetables, served with pita

Why it stood out: I order the hummus at Aladdin’s every time I go, whether it’s for a sit-down meal at the restaurant or a to-go lunch. It’s a very smooth, simple hummus with a light sesame flavor and bright lemon notes. The fresh, warm, thin pita that comes with it makes the perfect dipper.

It cost: About $6, depending on the location

Find out more: Aladdin’s has locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana and Virginia.

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.

Aladdin's Eatery on Urbanspoon

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by Sarah Steimer

Just to note: I used a darker quinoa for my cookies. Using a lighter quinoa may result in lighter-colored cookies.

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups dried blueberries or other dried fruit such as raisins
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, large flaked coconut
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter, sugar and honey using an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time, giving the dough enough time to incorporate the first egg before adding the second.  Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and cinnamon and mix to combine.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, mixing just until incorporated.  Hand-stir in the quinoa, oats, blueberries, nuts and coconut.

Spoon the dough in 2-tablespoon portions onto two baking sheets, spacing them about an inch apart.  Bake at 375 degrees until golden, 12-15 minutes (these cookies are soft and chewy – not hard).

Makes about 24 cookies.

Recipe: Oui, Chef

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by Caitlin Saniga

Try sprinkling crisp bacon pieces over this salad for extra crunch and flavor.


  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper


  • 1 pound small red-skin potato, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

To make the dressing, combine all but 2 tablespoons feta cheese in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

To make the salad, cook the potatoes in a large pot of simmering, salted water until tender. Drain. Cool.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath. Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain. Plunge the beans in the ice-water bath.

Toss the potatoes and green beans in half of the dressing. Arrange the egg slices over the salad. Drizzle the remaining dressing over top. Sprinkle with the remaining feta cheese and a dash of black pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from: The Columbus Dispatch

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by Caitlin Saniga

This is a super simple pasta recipe, that can change with the seasons. The original recipe included just red peppers and eggplant, which would be a great warm dinner to serve in the fall. I imagine squash, peas, spinach and cauliflower would make nice additions to this dish, depending on the season. Have fun with this one!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (from 2 heads of broccoli)
  • 8 mini bell peppers, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound fresh spinach tortellini
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

More chz, plz.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the broccoli, peppers, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes.

In the meantime, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the corn, and cook for 3 minutes, or until kernels pop readily when pricked with a fork.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the broth, water and tortellini. Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the corn, and continue to cook 2-4 minutes, or until the tortellini are cooked through and most of the broth is absorbed.

Fold in the parsley and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Divide the pasta between 4 bowls and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Real Simple

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by Caitlin Saniga

I come from a family of Girl Scouts. I was a Scout until the 7th grade, and I participated in the annual fundraiser — selling cookies. Do-si-dos, the crispy peanut butter cookie sandwiches with peanut butter cream in the middle, were among my favorites. My sister was a Scout, too. So were Mom, my only female cousin, my aunts and Grandma Janis, who remained active as a troop leader until her mid-60s. Girl Scouts taught me little bits about setting goals, trying new things, and reaching out to others — along with building skills for cooking, camping, cleaning, sewing, acting, singing, babysitting, gardening, recycling and a bunch of other things. As corny as it sounds, I know for a fact that being involved with the organization helped make me a better person. Happy 100th birthday, Girl Scouts of the USA!

For cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For filling:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Use your palm to flatten the balls of dough.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Add the egg, and beat well.

Why would you cut out holes in the cookies? So the frosting can seep through, just like the Girl Scout classic!

In another mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, and mix the ingredients together until well combined.

If you have a cookie scoop, use it to make uniform cookie dough balls. (if you don’t, do your best to roll uniform balls about 3/4-inch in diameter.

Try to pair together cookies of roughly the same size and shape.

Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pressing each mound down with the palm of your hand to make 1/4 inch thick disks.

Bake for 6 minutes. Remove the half-cooked cookies from the oven, and use a straw to punch a whole in the center of each cookie. Discard the scraps. Return the cookie sheet to the oven, and cook for an additional 4 minutes, or until the cookies are light brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack.

To make the filling: Cream the butter, confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter and cream together until well combined and somewhat fluffy.

For everything you ever wanted to know about Girl Scouts and the cookies sold by the organization, visit its website.

Transfer the filling to a zip-top bag (cutting off one of the corners to make a makeshift pastry bag). Squeeze about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the undersides of half the cookies. Top each frosted cookie with the other cookies (undersides facing the frosting) to make the cookie sandwiches.

Makes about 25 cookie sandwiches.

Recipe made with minor adaptions from: Savory Sweet Life

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by Sarah Steimer

The dressing for this salad is awesome and makes just the right amount. You could probably add any number of vegetables to this - peppers or carrots for instance. I would not, however, suggest putting raw onion in this salad as it would completely overtake the ginger and garlic in the dressing.

For the vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated, peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

For the salad

  • 2 cups packed shredded red cabbage
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups thinly sliced Granny Smith apple
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raisins, plumped in hot water
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and/or chopped walnuts

Whisk all ingredients for the vinaigrette together. Set aside.

Toss the sliced apples with the lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, broccoli, raisins and nuts to the bowl. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss until all the vegetables are coated.

Let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour so the vegetables and apples can soak in the vinaigrette.

Serves four as a main dish or six to eight as a side.

Recipe adapted from: Health.com

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by Caitlin Saniga

Lemon and blueberry is a timeless combination, but on a recent trip home to see the family, Mom had blueberries and plenty of oranges. I like that oranges are naturally much sweeter than lemons, and I didn't have to use as much white sugar as a lemon syrups require.

Lemon and blueberry is a timeless combination, but on a recent trip home to see the family, Mom had blueberries and plenty of oranges instead. I like that oranges are naturally much sweeter than lemons, and I didn't have to use as much white sugar as a lemon syrup requires.

for sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, from two oranges
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

For pancakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1 big orange
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Go ahead and flip the pancake when bubbles like this rise to to the top and begin to pop.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the orange juice, sugar and water, and cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened into a light syrup. Remove from heat, and transfer to a serving pitcher.

To make the pancakes, mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate mixing bowl,

Notice that none of the blueberries show through on the underside. Letting the pancake cook for about 10 seconds before adding the blueberries (instead of mixing the blueberries in with the batter) allows you to place the berries where you want them and keeps them from bursting and sticking to the pan.

combine the wet ingredients and the orange zest. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.

Place a skillet or pan over medium-low heat. Grease the pan with butter or canola oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into a puddle on the hot pan. Wait about 10 seconds before adding a sprinkling of blueberries onto the batter. Cook until bubbles rise to the pancake’s surface and pop.

Mom and I woke up before everyone else did, and we debated whether to wake the others after we had our first bites. Delicious!

Use a spatula to flip the pancake.

Cook for another 30 seconds or so, using a spatula to pull up the underside to check for doneness. Transfer the pancake to a warm plate. Repeat this process until all of the batter is used.

Serve the pancakes warm with the syrup.

Makes about 8 5-inch pancakes.

In March we’ll post our favorite flapjack recipes as part of Lookin’ Hot, Cakes. You can find all of our pancake recipes here.

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by Sarah Steimer

I've been eating my scones plain, but they would be great with a little butter or jelly — or even as a side for a more savory dish.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (or fresh pureed)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, oil and brown sugar.

Add the wet into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Place the batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet in eight equal dollops. Sprinkle with additional brown sugar.

Bake at 450 degrees for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops begin to brown.

Makes eight scones.

The scones store best in the refrigerator, where they will last in a sealed container for about a week or so. They will last a couple of days at room temperature and a few months in the freezer.

Recipe adapted from: That’s So Vegan

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by Caitlin Saniga


The sauce was the best part of this recipe. If you like sour cream, add more. I held back a bit.

For dressing:

  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For tostadas:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small orange pepper, julienned
  • 1 small green pepper, julienned
  • 4 tortillas (I used flour, but corn works too.)
  • 1 head of romaine, chopped finely
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • Lime wedges for garnish

To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers, and saute until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

Position an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler, and turn the broiler on low. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet, and place the sheet on the rack, allowing the tortillas to crisp for about 1 minute, or until golden and bubbly. Flip the tortillas and allow them to crisp for another minute or so, or until golden.

To serve the tostadas, put the tortillas on plates. Top with the lettuce, the pepper-onion mixture, dressing, tomatoes and feta cheese. Garnish with lime wedges.

Makes 4.

Recipe adapted from: Good Housekeeping

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