The Saucy Scholar

Archive for the tag “recipes”

Recipe: Hummus and Kale Melts


Since I started running last July, I’ve found myself eating healthier–this was partly the result of some conscious lifestyle changes (kicking soda and limiting my red-meat intake, for instance), but as I became more active, it started to feel like my body was starting to crave different things.  I also learned the importance of post-workout refueling so that I wouldn’t be wiped out for the rest of the day after a long run.

So, when I came across smoothierecipesforgoodhealth ‘s pin on Pinterest, I knew that this was something I wanted to try. I used kale in my version, since I love it and it happened to look really fresh at my local supermarket, but any dark leafy green will do. They turned out great, and were so fast and easy to make–which is key when you’ve burned a few hundred calories and just want to eat something five minutes ago (a brain-addled state I call being “RUNGRY”). Here’s step-by-step instructions for my version of this healthful take on the “English Muffin Pizza”:

What You’ll Need:

1 Whole-Wheat English Muffin

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil* (Vegetable/Canola works too), or enough to coat your saucepan.

1 Bunch Kale, rinsed, removed from stem and torn into pieces, and dried completely


Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese Shreds

What To Do:

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add kale, and lightly toast the English muffin while sautéing the kale leaves.

After toasting, spread a generous amount of hummus on  each half of the English muffin.  Add sautéed kale leaves and top with Mozzarella Cheese shreds.

Microwave until cheese is melted, about 1 minute, 20 seconds. (I usually microwave them for thirty seconds at a time, checking after each interval).

And there you have it–a filling, healthy, and satisfying lunch in 15 minutes or less.

Be well,

The Saucy Scholar

*If you want to give this recipe a little more Italian flavor (and emphasize the “English muffin pizza” connection), you can sub Sun-Dried Tomato-flavored hummus and Broccoli Rabe for the Kale.


Recipe: Glazed Cornmeal Cookies

photo (7)When I first saw a recipe for cornmeal cookies in Everyday Food a couple of years ago, I was pretty skeptical. I’m not sure what it was that convinced me to give them a try, but I’m glad I did. The Boyfriend tried them right out of the oven, and not only did he say it was the best cookie I had made to date, but one of the best he’d had ever. I’ve made plenty of cookies since then, and these are still one of his favorites. And, according to the recipe, a serving of two cookies is only 176 calories! (The first time I made them they came out a little too big, but still, they’re fairly light and, with icing, can also satisfy a sweet tooth!)

I’m planning to make these again soon as a nice Valentine’s day treat, but I’ve used the same dough recipe to make other cutouts too. You can view the original recipe on Everyday Food, and, if you’re interested in my less-competent, real-life experience making them (as adapted from my former blog!), you can find my version below.

What You’ll Need:

2 cups  all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg 1

1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1-2 drops food coloring (They suggest red or pink, but I say, go crazy. Who says a heart can’t be blue some of the time?)

What To Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. mix the flour, cornmeal, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the butter and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar until creamy. (I also slap some flour on the beaters to keep the batter from sticking, since I have a pretty crappy electric mixer. I mainly bought it because it was a Black and Decker, and they also make power tools.)
  2. After about 3 minutes, add the egg and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Then gradually add the flour mixture. (Also, at this stage, I try to use my hands as much as possible, since the batter should be pretty doughy at this point.
  3. Place the rest of the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Coat them with sugar, and then transfer to two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. use a glass  (or in my case, a beer bottle) to flatten, and then press the cookie cutter into each, being careful not to cut all the way through.
  4. bake until cookies are golden at the edges, they say approximately ten minutes but mine sometimes take longer even though my oven gets pretty hot. (They also suggested to rotate the two baking sheets about halfway through, but really, who does that.)  Anyway, when done, let them cool. Un-iced, you can save them in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  5. now for the icing! whisk together confectioners’ sugar and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 3/4 teaspoons cold water. then add your food coloring of choice and spread the glaze in the heart with a small spoon or something with a flat edge. allow it to set for 15 minutes.

Apparently, in addition to being a key ingredient in tasty cookies and dishes like polenta, cornmeal can apparently be used to kill skin fungus! The more you know…



Blueberry Bonanza

I finally finished my first qualifying exam last week! If you’ve noticed a dearth of posts, it’s partially because I was frantically typing away, and, if it weren’t for The Boyfriend making me coffee, tea, and TGIFridays Potato Skins every few hours, I probably would have forgotten to eat.

A trip out of the city was just what the Dr. ordered. We drove out to Mattituck, Long Island with some friends, and I had my very first berry-picking experience at Patty’s Berries and Bunches. It being late July, it was prime time for blueberries, and there were even some blackberries ripe for the picking. Of course, I couldn’t resist sampling a few of each as we went along. The blackberries were some of the sweetest I’ve had, and some of the blueberries were downright huge, not to mention juicy.

They were so good, in fact, that I picked extra so that I would have enough to make Blueberry Cobbler and Blueberry Muffins, neither of which I had attempted before, but how could you go wrong with fresh blueberries picked right from the bush?

Once we got home, I began an intense online recipe search, though I really should have looked no further than Mark Bittman’s book, How To Cook Everything. (By the way, if you are serious about learning to cook, you absolutely need this!) His recipes for both cobbler and muffins are classic and simple, and can be made with any and all kinds of fruit. Fortunately, he happened to post both of these recipes on his website, and so here they are for anyone who is interested in trying these out for themselves:

Blueberry Cobbler: 

I was especially pleased with the Blueberry Cobbler. The berries were tart and sweet, and went nicely with the buttery crust. (Jeff asked me what the “filling” was made of–ha! Just fresh fruit and some sugar, plain and simple.) A scoop of vanilla ice cream was the perfect finishing touch for this classic summer dessert. Definitely serve warm, or immediately after baking if possible.

Muffins, Infinite Ways (see his suggestion for Blueberry Muffins)

The muffins turned out well too, and, as you might predict, the fresh blueberries were the stars of that show too. These came out moist and a little hearty (probably on account of the substitution of cornmeal for some of the flour), making these muffins ideal for a light breakfast.

I still have some blueberries (and quite a few blackberries) left over, so I may try to make something else, but something tells me I might need to go back to Patty’s for a refill.

What’s your favorite blueberry treat? Feel free to sound off in the comments!

Happy summer, The Saucy Scholar

Recipe: Plum & Blueberry Upside Down-Cake

One of the most valuable pieces of advice that I have for fellow novice cooks is this: Unless you are working in the sparkly, magical kitchens in cooking-show land, things will inevitably go wrong. Your eggs could go bad. You could run out of spices. You could mistake baking powder for baking soda, or vice versa. Or, you could use a springform pan instead of a regular cake pan, almost set your apartment on fire, stub your toe, and scare your cat into hiding for three days.

That’s what happened the first time I tried to make this Plum & Blueberry, Upside-Down Cake from the September 2011 issue of Everyday Food. It smelled so good while it was baking–until the kitchen filled up with smoke. Watching the cake literally deflate after being rescued from the gaping maw that was my oven made me even more determined to try this recipe again–with the right cake pan. A good 8 inch cake pan that is also 2 inches deep is hard to find, but it is absolutely worth it. (You can also use them to make layer cakes!) Anyway, I was a bit more successful the second time around:


Click here for the original recipe and the full list of ingredients–below is my shortened version, including photos:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line the bottom of your buttered 8 BY 2 INCH CAKE PAN (figure I couldn’t emphasize it enough!) with parchment paper. Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter into the pan, and spread evenly. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of packed, light brown sugar over the butter. Finally, add the plum slices, and use the blueberries to fill in the gaps–I may have overdone it with the blueberries myself, but the top came out tart and sweet, almost like an old fashioned jam.

Transfer your batter (butter, brown sugar, eggs, egg whites, orange zest, flour, poppy seeds [I omitted these], baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk [I found reduced fat in my supermarket!], vanilla extract) to the cake pan. Smooth the top and make sure there are no air bubbles. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and passes the toothpick test. Watch this one like a hawk–burned fruit is not a good look, trust me.

Wait until after it cools to invert, and then serve warm or at room temperature.

And that’s all there is to it!

–Stay cool and eat your fruit, The Saucy Scholar

Recipe: Iced Coffee

If you’re a fellow coffee drinker,  you probably know that an iced coffee generally costs more than a regular hot coffee. But, on those hot summer workdays, sometimes nothing else will do. The good news is, after searching high and low, I found a recipe for iced coffee that actually works–in fact, I think it’s actually better than store-bought. It does require some forethought and planning, but it’s surprisingly easy and well worth the extra five minutes in the morning. It definitely got me through a very busy summer at work last year.

Recipe from The New York Times:

What You’ll Need:

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best), water, milk (if using)

What To Do:

Stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. The Times suggests to cover and let it rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours, but I like to put mine in the fridge. It keeps it safe from the cat and I think it yields a slightly stronger flavor. I also use a Pyrex measuring cup instead of a jar or glass for an easy pour the next morning.

Strain twice–I use a tiny hand-held strainer that works like a charm. Place some ice cubes in a tall glass, and then mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or adjust to taste. Remember to leave room for milk if you usually take it in your coffee. It might take a couple of tries and playing around with the measurements to get the exact flavor and strength that you want, but once you get it right, you’ll never go back to buying iced coffee. Enjoy!


The Saucy Scholar

Recipe: Chili, Lemon, and Basil Shrimp with Couscous

Well, that was an unexpected hiatus. I certainly underestimated how busy I would be this semester. My coursework has been lighter than usual, but I’ve been much more involved in my teaching than I was last semester, and I’m neck-deep in reading for my first field exam. Fortunately, summer is fast approaching, and it is now officially baseball season, so that in addition to the sunnier weather should hopefully get me down the home stretch.

This recipe is from The Kitchn, which is one of my favorite food blogs and what I would love The Saucy Scholar to be when it grows up. This dish is perfect for busy days like the ones I’ve been having, and is both filling and light enough to be an excellent summer supper for two. This has been in my personal rotation for some time now, and it’s been a success every time I’ve made it. The Kitchn’s version is here, but since my local supermarket doesn’t carry  Israeli Pearl Couscous, I’ve made it with Near East instant variety instead and had to make some slight changes, which you can find in my version below.

What You’ll Need:

The Couscous

  • 1 Box of Instant Couscous (I used Near East Original Plain Pearled Couscous)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Water
  • 1 Cup of Chicken Broth
The Shrimp
  • 1 Pound Cooked Shrimp, De-veined and tails Removed
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • About 1 cup of Fresh Basil
  • Salt and Pepper
What To Do:
  1. Prepare the couscous by combining it with 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Water, Chicken Broth, in a medium saucepan. (Don’t forget to set aside the zest for the shrimp!)
  2. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Once liquid is mostly absorbed, heat a drizzle of Olive Oil in a medium/large skillet. Sauté the Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes.
  4. Keep an eye on the  Couscous–once the liquid is absorbed, take off heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Once Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes are ready, pat the Shrimp dry and add them to the skillet, on high heat. Cook until heated through (about 3 minutes), turning often and coating the Shrimp with the Oil, Garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in Basil and Lemon Zest.
  7. Serve immediately over Couscous, and season with Salt and Pepper to taste.

Happy Spring,
The Saucy Scholar

Recipe: Chili

Happy Super Saturday! I’m pretty excited about this year’s Super Bowl rematch between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. (full disclosure: I am technically a Jets fan but I have to represent the hometown team.) While football fans will agree to disagree on who to root for, most will attest that Chili is a time-honored and noble Super Bowl tradition, and with good reason. It’s fun, festive, and, most importantly, easy to eat in front of the TV.

This is my default Chili recipe, though I’m sure I’ll be toying around with variations of it for years to come. You’ll notice that it calls for a handful of “Secret Ingredient,” which is exactly what it is. A secret. So don’t ask me what it is. Besides, almost everyone who makes their own chili has one. (For those who are curious, you can omit the “Secret Ingredient” and stick to the recipe otherwise, and it will still come out quite tasty–I’ve tried so I know it’s true.) This Chili is perfect for a Super Bowl Party, or a cozy night in watching your favorite show. I may not cook tomorrow night, but I know I would definitely want some of this while watching the new episode of Downton Abbey, which will air right after the Super Bowl.  Anyway, without further adieu…

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Pound Ground Beef (or any ground meat of your choice)
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Red Kidney Beans
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Yellow Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 Orange Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Handful Secret Ingredient (shh!)
  • Chili Seasoning
  • A few shakes of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • Shredded Cheese to top
  • Corn Chips
What To Do:
  1. Brown the meat in a deep saucepan, and drain.
  2. Stir in a generous amount of Chili Seasoning and Red Pepper Flakes
  3. Add diced tomatoes, Kidnet Beans, Onion, Peppers, and Secret Ingredient, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour over high heat. (I recommend closer to an hour.)
  5. Give ingredients another good mix and add cinnamon.
  6. Serve in bowls and top with Shredded Cheese. You can crush up some corn chips and sprinkle them in as well, or you can just serve them on the side.
Go Giants!,
The Saucy Scholar

Recipe: Lemon Squares

For such a seemingly simple dessert, I feel like Lemon Squares (aka Lemon Bars) are one of the most difficult to pull off. Some people like them tart and lemony, others prefer more sweetness, and still others grew up eating them from a mix and will only be satisfied by that exact taste. It was almost enough to discourage me from even trying altogether, but the truth is I can’t resist a challenge, and the prospect of possessing the perfect Lemon Squares recipe is just too good to pass up–it would probably be more impressive to some family members than my doctorate!

So, is it perfect? Let’s just say, if there were a Platonic Ideal of Lemon Squares, I think this might be it. Of course, this recipe comes from none other than the great Martha Stewart. It’s simple and effective, and is more tart than sweet–if you use fresh-squeezed lemon juice, you can’t go wrong. If you do prefer your Lemon Squares on the sweet side, you can change the proportions of juice to sugar in the filling–I actually added another tablespoon of flour and another tablespoon of sugar myself, and the filling set quite nicely and was silky smooth.

Martha has a few other recipes for Lemon Squares out there (including one for Creamy Lemon Squares that I’d like to try one day.),  but what I liked about this one is that it sticks pretty much to the essentials, and can be easily customized to taste. For instance, I may add lemon zest and a bit more sugar next time around, and not use every crumb of the pie-crust mixture so I can get them just a little bit thicker. Also, this recipe makes use of some very interesting techniques that I had never heard of , like freezing and then grating the butter for the pie-crust to make it easier to work with, and lining your glass dish with parchment. Once it’s done, you just lift the parchment paper and transfer to your cutting surface, and voilà–you have yourself a giant Lemon Square ready for cutting and sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar. If you’re looking for a dessert to bring to a BBQ or other gathering this summer, this might be just the thing–sometimes the simplest desserts can be the biggest hits.

Recipe: Beef Empanadas

This savory, spicy, and sweet version of the Spanish classic was given to me recently by my mom, who knows my deep love for the empanada and for quick, relatively simple recipes I can make in my woefully undersized kitchen. This version uses refrigerated pie crust, which is definitely a time-saver and gives the empanadas a slightly buttery, flaky texture.

Beef Empanadas

My mom clipped the original version of this recipe from a magazine that I unfortunately do not know the name of, but Susan Spungen is credited as the writer and “Food Stylist.” (which sounds like the best job in the world, by the way.) I’ve re-written it slightly based on my experience cooking it, but the recipe itself is the same. I’ve also included some ideas I had for alternate fillings, for the daring among us.

What You’ll Need

  • 3/4 pound ground beef (I used just about the leanest ground beef I could find in my supermarket–healthier option and less greasy!)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small canned chipotle in adobo sauce, minced (I used about one and a half chipotles for a little more heat.)
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons raisins (almost omitted these, but so glad I didn’t!)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 14.1-ounce packages refrigerated, rolled pie crusts
What to Do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. The Filling: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the ground beef, breaking it up and browning until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and remove from skillet. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium-low until translucent. Then add the beef back in, along with the tomato paste, cumin, chipotle, adobo, and water. Cook and bask in the wonderful aroma for 6-8 minutes, then add your raisins, salt, and pepper. Cook for about a minute more, then transfer to a bowl to cool.
  3. The Dough: Cut each round of pie crust dough into 4-inch circles, which should give you 16 empanadas. Don’t waste the scraps! Just combine and roll out, for 8 more. Spoon a tablespoon of filling onto each, then moisten the edges with a little water. Fold over, and press to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges, and to prick steam vents in the pocket of each empanada. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until browned, about 15 minutes.

These came out fantastic, and will definitely be in my regular rotation. You can probably also make some great substitutions for the filling–ground turkey, lamb, or cheese and cooked veggies. Using yellow raisins might also yield a slightly different flavor and make for an interesting color combination. My mom also suggested brushing the tops with milk or eggs, for a nice browned crust.

Also, I absolutely loved the smell and flavor of the canned chipotle in adobo, and am on the hunt for more recipes using this tasty pepper. If you have any you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments!


The Saucy Scholar

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