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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