Sunday, October 29, 2023

Ted Lasso's Shortbread Biscuits


The Engineer and I started watching Ted Lasso last spring, so of course I developed a fixation on the biscuits (shortbread, really) that Ted makes for his new boss. When having dinner with our friends Rob and Jen, I mused out loud that the recipe must be somewhere online, if I just bothered to look for it. And Jen sent me a link to this shortbread bakeoff, which led me to the official Apple TV+ recipe – and you can even get the cute pink boxes on Amazon

Since there are so few ingredients, this is the time to splurge on fancy European butter (just check that the nutrition label says 0g sugar, to make sure it’s lactose-free); I used Plugrà. These shortbread biscuits are superb – I can see why the boss was won over! I don’t think I’ll bother making any other kind now. 

2 sticks (8 oz.) lactose-free butter, plus more for the pan 
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
¼ tsp. coarse salt 

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened. Coat an 8- or 9-inch square metal baking pan with more butter (I had an 8-inch pyrex dish). 

Beat the butter on high speed with the paddle attachment until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until pale and fluffy. 

Stop the mixer. Sift the flour into the bowl, then add the salt. Mix on low speed until just combined. Transfer to the prepared pan and pat to an even thickness no more than ½” thick. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 °F. 

Slice the dough into rectangles or squares in the pan (I also made little indentations with the tip of a cake pop stick). Bake until golden-brown and the middle is firm, 45 to 60 minutes (you will need less time if you are using a bigger pan, since the biscuits won’t be as thick). Let cool completely. 

Re-slice, if needed, before serving.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Crunchy Ramen and Cabbage Salad


This crunchy ramen and cabbage salad recipe from Bon Appétit was great! The recipe as written below makes 6 to 8 servings. I used less green cabbage and halved the dressing, and I still had plenty. I’d consider using a package of coleslaw next time to go faster, but anyway, this was delicious! We give it a rare 4 thumbs up. 

Let me quote the headnote of the original recipe, as it is important: “Since instant ramen is precooked, it’s technically not raw and [is] fine to eat. Spring for good quality ramen noodles here (such as Shin). It tends to be more porous and makes for deliciously crunchy (not rock-hard) ribbons.” I used Sapporo Ichiban because they looked like the best out of the selection at my supermarket. 

I served these with Thai coconut curry meatballs

1 cup sliced almonds 
1 3- or 4-oz. package of instant ramen noodles (I got chicken flavor) 
1 cup distilled white vinegar 
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
2/3 cup sugar 
kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper 
1 small head of green cabbage (about 1 lb.), thinly sliced 
½ small head of red cabbage (about ½ lb.), thinly sliced 
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced 

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool. 

Meanwhile, remove seasoning packet from ramen noodles and set aside. Crush noodles with your hands or a rolling pin until pieces are peanut- to walnut-size. 

Vigorously whisk vinegar, oil, sugar, and ramen seasoning from reserved packet in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Combine green and red cabbage, scallions, half of ramen noodles, half of almonds, and half of dressing in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add more dressing if needed (reserve any remaining dressing for another use). Top salad with remaining ramen and almonds.

Thai Coconut Curry Meatballs


I wanted to serve meatballs, but it had to be an easy recipe. I tried these Thai coconut curry meatballs and really liked them! I always halve the amount of fish sauce in any recipe, because it tends to be too pungent for me, but in this case I would reduce it even further. The original recipe called for ¼ cup, but I would use only 1 Tbsp. And I used frozen (thawed) turkey meatballs for the dish, so prep was quite fast! I served this with a crunchy ramen and cabbage salad, but rice would be great, too. 

½ lb. bacon, chopped into large pieces 
¼ cup Thai red curry paste 
¼ cup brown sugar (use less if you are reducing the amount of fish sauce) 
¼ cup fish sauce (I would use only 1 Tbsp.) 
1 ½ cans coconut milk (I would use only 1 can) 
½ a pineapple, peeled and cut into small chunks 
1 red bell pepper, chopped salt, to taste 
2 lbs. precooked meatballs (any meat of your choice; thaw them if frozen) 
¼ cup Thai basil chiffonade 

In a large skillet over medium heat, add chopped bacon and fry until crisp. Remove bacon from the pan. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan. 

Add the red curry paste, brown sugar, and fish sauce to the hot bacon fat and cook for about 3 minutes. 

Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked bacon, pineapple, and red bell pepper to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Add the meatballs and cook for another 10 minutes. You want to ensure the meatballs are heated through. 

Remove from the heat and sprinkle with Thai basil to serve.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Pink Dragon Smoothie


I feel like I am often in a breakfast rut. I’ll get sick of toast easily, but then muffins can get boring too, so I occasionally switch it up with smoothies. I tried a raspberry banana chia smoothie that was “meh”; a peanut butter banana strawberry smoothie that was fine; and a matcha chia pudding with strawberry compote that I made too early in the morning to have good light for photos. But this pink dragon smoothie was so pretty! Plus, it’s got beets, which helps with the color. The only thing I would change next time would be to add more protein. I bought pumpkin seed powder recently, but wonder whether it would change the color too much. What’s your favorite protein powder? 

1 ½ cups unsweetened soy milk (or lactose-free milk of your choice) 
½ cup lactose-free plain whole-milk Greek yogurt 
1 small (2 oz.) canned or refrigerated cooked beet, quartered (about ¼ cup) 
1 cup frozen raspberries 
1 3 ½-oz. package frozen dragon fruit purée (pitaya) 
1 pinch of kosher salt 
2 tsp. agave nectar or honey (optional) 

Combine all ingredients in a blender, starting with soy milk and yogurt. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Quinoa Crunch Salad with Peanut Dressing


I really enjoyed this quinoa crunch salad with peanut butter dressing from Pinch of Yum! I adapted the proportions a bit according to my appetite and what I had on hand, and it was delicious. I can tell you that I am drawn to recipes like these because I had two more in my bookmarks (this one and that one); it’s just the sort of stuff that appeals to me, I guess! 

For the quinoa salad 
2-3 cups shelled edamame 
2 cups quinoa (I used 1 cup) 
1 cucumber, diced 
1-2 bell peppers, diced 
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced 
3 carrots, shredded (I used 1 carrot) 
½ a head of purple cabbage, shredded 
peanuts, cashews, sliced almonds, etc. 

For the peanut dressing 
½ cup creamy peanut butter 
1/3 cup soy sauce 
1/3 cup vinegar (white vinegar or rice vinegar) 
¼ cup sesame oil 
1-2 Tbsp. chili paste (I used ½ tsp. sambal olek) 
2 Tbsp. honey 
1 clove garlic, peeled 
1 knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 

Cook the quinoa and edamame (separately) according to package directions. 

Put all the dressing ingredients in the blender or food processor and give it a good whirl. (I would add a bit of warm water to get a thinner consistency.) 

To serve, you can toss it all together, or assemble the salads as you go (this is my preference for eating leftovers over several days).

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Avocado Brownies


I made these brownies with avocado for dessert and we all liked them. I used brown sugar and found them a bit too sweet, so I would recommend coconut sugar if you try them. Make sure to let them cool completely before eating! 

¼ cup lactose-free butter 
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) 
1 ripe avocado 
2 eggs 
1/3 cup maple sugar or coconut palm sugar 
¼ cup cocoa powder 
½ tsp. baking powder 
2 Tbsp. maple syrup 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 pinch fine sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 350 °F and prepare an 8″ square baking dish by greasing it and lining it with a parchment paper sling. 

Melt butter and dark chocolate using a double-boiler method: bring a small saucepan of water to a boil with heatproof bowl over the top. Add the butter and chocolate to the bowl and slowly melt and stir the chocolate until all of it has melted. Remove from heat, let sit for a few minutes and then whisk it all together. (Alternatively, you could melt them together in the microwave at 20 second intervals, whisking in between until it’s fully melted.) 

Add ripe avocado to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add in eggs, maple sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, maple syrup, vanilla extract and sea salt and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. 

Add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture to the processor and pulse until fully combined. 

Transfer brownie batter to the prepared baking dish and smooth over the top. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.

Quick Pepperoni Calzones

I made these pepperoni calzones for the kids’ lunchbox, and they were well received! 

1 cup chopped pepperoni 
½ cup pasta sauce 
¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (make sure it’s lactose-free) 
1 lb. pizza dough (thawed if frozen) 
1 to 2 Tbsp. 2% lactose-free milk 
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese 
½ tsp. Italian seasoning (optional; I used dried oregano and basil) 

Preheat oven to 350 °F. 

In a small bowl, mix pepperoni, pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese. 

On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 4 portions. Roll each into a 6-in. circle; top each with a scant 1/3 cup pepperoni mixture. Fold dough over filling; pinch edges to seal. Place on a greased baking sheet (I just used a silpat). 

Brush milk over tops; sprinkle with parmesan cheese and, if desired, Italian seasoning. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Foil-Pack Chicken and Rainbow Vegetables

This was really good! Very easy to make, too, great for those nights when you just have less bandwidth. I used 4 chicken breasts, as recommended, and would have had enough for closer to 8 servings than 4. 

For the vegetables 
1 red onion, diced 
2 cups broccoli florets 
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced 
2 cups baby carrots (I used chopped carrots) 
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes 
3 Tbsp. olive oil 
salt and pepper, to taste 
10 sprigs fresh thyme 
3 cloves garlic 

For the chicken 
4 chicken breasts 
olive oil 
salt and pepper, to taste 
4 pinches paprika 
4 sprigs fresh thyme 
4 cloves garlic 

Preheat oven to 400 °F. 

Place red onion, broccoli, yellow bell pepper, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes evenly on a baking tray. (Try not to let the vegetables overlap too much, so that they roast properly.) 

Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper (to taste). Add sprigs of thyme and garlic clove halves on top of the vegetables. 

Tear off four pieces of aluminum foil, approximately 12 in x 12 in. 

Lay down the foil and place the chicken breast in the center for each one. 

Season both sides of the chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika (all to taste). Add sprigs of thyme and garlic clove on top of each chicken breast. 

Bring the top and bottom edge of the foil into the center and fold a couple of times. Fold in the left and right sides a couple of times to seal the foil pack. 

Place all 4 chicken foil packs on a baking tray. Bake both trays (vegetables and chicken) for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Quadruple Chocolate Pudding Cookies


These quadruple chocolate pudding cookies were fantastic! They are thick and chewy, and more rich than sweet. There’s cocoa, chocolate pudding mix, chocolate chips and chocolate chunks (the latter two melt differently, so that’s why they’re both in the recipe). Make sure your pudding mix is lactose-free (Jell-O is usually fine). We loved these! 

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) lactose-free butter, softened  
¾ cup light brown sugar, packed 
¼ cup granulated sugar 
2 large eggs 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 3.7- to 3.9-oz. packet instant chocolate pudding mix (not sugar-free and not "cook & serve") 
¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1 pinch salt, optional and to taste 
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
5 oz. dark chocolate, chopped 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer), combine the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes. 

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the pudding mix, cocoa, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. 

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, baking soda, optional salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. 

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. 

Using a large cookie scoop, ¼-cup measure, or your hands, form approximately 17 equal-sized mounds of dough. (I used my 3-oz. cookie scoop and got 21 cookies.) Roll into balls, and flatten slightly. 

Place mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days. (Do not bake with unchilled dough because cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.) 

Preheat oven to 350 °F, line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet). 

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked and glossy in the center. Don’t overbake which is easy to do with dark cookies. Cookies firm up as they cool. 

Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before serving. I let them cool on the baking sheet and don’t use a rack.

Spinach Lasagna


I got this spinach lasagna recipe from Julia Turshen’s newsletter. While it was easy and absolutely delicious, it left me with a few questions. Like, why do lasagna recipes always call for a 9”x13” pan when it looks like everything would fit in an 8”x11” one? And, in this case, why are we buying regular noodles (specifically avoiding the no-boil ones) only to soak them in boiling water – I mean, just use no boil noodles, for Chrissake’s! So anyway, I changed that below because that’s how I’d make it next time. Apart from that, the Engineer and I think it was great! The kids are not big fans of lasagna because pasta is hit-or-miss with them, but that meant more for us. 

1 lb. dry no-boil lasagna noodles 
3 cups (12 oz.) grated low-moisture lactose-free mozzarella 
1 cup finely grated parmesan 
1 cup lactose-free crème fraîche (or ½ cup lactose-free cream) 
1 lb. frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry 
1 Tbsp. kosher salt (I used ½ Tbsp. Morton kosher salt and would use less next time) 
1 Tbsp. garlic powder 
1 Tbsp. dried oregano 
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
4 cups (32 oz.) tomato sauce (homemade or something like Rao’s) 

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. 

Set aside 1 cup of the grated mozzarella (you’ll use this to top the lasagna). 

Place the remaining 2 cups mozzarella in a large bowl along with the parmesan, ricotta, crème fraiche, spinach, salt, garlic powder, dried oregano, and black pepper. Stir everything well (the mixture will be quite thick). 

Place ½ cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish (I’d use my 8”x11” next time, perhaps placing it on a baking sheet to catch any drips). Spread the sauce with a spoon to cover the surface of the dish. 

Take 4 or 5 of the lasagna noodles and layer them over the sauce with the edge slightly overlapping. Spread a third of the spinach mixture over the pasta and then spread a cup of tomato sauce over that. 

Repeat the process two more times. At this point, you’ll have a naked layer of pasta on top and you’ll have used up all of your spinach mixture and noodles. All that should remain is about ½ cup tomato sauce and the cup of mozzarella you set aside. Spread that last bit of sauce on top of the pasta and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly on top. 

There was a neat drawing on Julia Turshen’s post, but if you’re like me, you might find the following representation easier than text: 
Top - 1 cup mozzarella 
 - ½ cup tomato sauce 
 - layer of pasta 
Third layer - 1/3 spinach mixture 
 - 1 cup tomato sauce 
 - layer of pasta 
Second layer - 1/3 spinach mixture 
 - 1 cup tomato sauce 
 - layer of pasta 
First layer - 1/3 spinach mixture 
 - 1 cup tomato sauce 
 - layer of pasta 
Bottom of dish - ½ cup tomato sauce 

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the lasagna with it, sprayed side down (this will help prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil too much). Bake for 30 minutes, then uncover the lasagna and bake until bubbling and the cheese on top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. 

Let the lasagna rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. (This helps the pasta fully absorb the sauce.)

Sunday, October 08, 2023

Blender Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


I love an easy muffin recipe, especially if it’s one my kids will eat! This peanut butter banana chocolate chip muffin recipe hit the spot. 

4 medium overly ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 ¼ cup mashed; I used 3 large bananas) 
½ cup creamy peanut butter 
2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil 
¼ cup maple syrup 
2 eggs 
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract 
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used white whole wheat flour) 
1 ½ tsp. baking soda 
½ tsp. kosher salt 
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips 

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease 16 muffin tins or line them with paper liners. 

In a blender (or food processor), combine the bananas, peanut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Blend to fully combine and mash the bananas. 

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the jar of the blender and blend again until just combined. Pour out into the bowl and fold in the chocolate chips. 

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until just set.

Tomato Avocado Cucumber Salad with Pesto and Mozzarella


This tomato avocado cucumber salad with pesto and mozzarella is great as a side dish or a light lunch. 

For the salad 
½ lb. red cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved 
½ lb. yellow cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved 
2 avocados, diced 
1 cucumber, sliced 
⅓ cup red onion, diced 
8 oz. small fresh lactose-free mozzarella cheese balls 

For the dressing 
¼ cup basil pesto 
1 Tbsp. lemon juice 
salt and pepper, to taste 

In a large bowl, combine halved red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced cucumber, diced red onion, small fresh mozzarella cheese balls. 

Add basil pesto and lemon juice to the salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Use more basil pesto, if desired.

Breakfast Egg Bake for Dinner


I don’t know about you, but I actually hate trying to follow along a recipe when it’s only in video form as opposed to written text, which is why I thought this Kitchn recipe was a bit inconvenient. I’ve transcribed it below; any mistakes or modifications are mine. I liked this for dinner, though would perhaps make a simple green salad to serve as a side next time. 

2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed 
1 red onion, sliced 
1 bunch scallions, sliced, white + light green separated from dark green parts 
1 tsp. paprika 
1 tsp. onion powder 
1 tsp. kosher salt 
½ tsp. black pepper 
1 Tbsp. olive oil 
1 lb. turkey breakfast sausage 
12 eggs 
½ cup lactose-free sour cream 
1 tsp. kosher salt 
½ tsp. black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Grease a 9”x13” baking dish. 

In a large bowl, stir together the potatoes, red onion, white and light green parts of the green onions, paprika, onion powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Pour the mixture in the dish. Break up the turkey sausage in pieces over the baking dish. 

Bake for 15 minutes, then give it a good stir and bake it for another 15 minutes. Pull it out of the oven and lower the temperature to 350 °F. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the contents of the baking dish, sprinkle with the dark green parts of the green onions (I forgot, so I used them as a topping later), and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool a bit before serving.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Lemon Cake with Whipped Raspberry Frosting


I made this cake when I was in Canada because I no longer have access to lactose-free cream cheese here. (I’m jealous that there are at least two brands over there, including Philadelphia, whom I wish would get its act together and sell it in the States!) 

The cake itself is easy to make, yet it looks very impressive! It was absolutely delicious to boot. This was a hit and I’d make it again in a heartbeat if I had reliable access to lactose-free cream cheese! 

For the cake 
3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar 
2 tsp. baking powder 
¾ tsp. salt 
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 to 2 medium lemons) 
4 large eggs 
¾ cup canola oil 
¾ cup lactose-free whole milk 
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 to 2 medium lemons) 
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract 

For the frosting 
8 oz. lactose-free cream cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour 
1 ½ cups lactose-free whipping cream 
¼ cup seedless raspberry jam 
¼ cup powdered sugar 
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract 
fresh raspberries, for topping 
finely grated lemon zest, for topping 

For the cake 
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 °F. Line 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment paper rounds and coat with cooking spray; set aside. 

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest together in a large bowl. 

Add the eggs, oil, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Do not overmix. 

Divide the batter between the 2 pans. Bake until the cakes are lightly browned and spring back when tapped gingerly with a finger, 2o to 25 minutes. 

Place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Flip the cakes out of the pan, place on the rack, and cool completely before frosting. 

For the frosting 
Place the cream cheese in a small bowl and whisk or beat with an electric hand mixer until soft and aerated. In a larger bowl, beat the cream with an electric hand mixer until it forms soft peaks that collapse. Scrape in the cream cheese and continue beating on high speed until it forms stiff peaks. Add the jam, sugar, and vanilla and beat until combined. 

Place one of the cakes on a cake stand or serving dish. Place half of the frosting on the center of the cake and spread into an even layer. Invert the second cake on top of the frosting. Spread the remaining frosting in an even layer over the top of the cake. Top with the raspberries and lemon zest. Refrigerate until ready to serve.