Alfalfa Sprouts

I feel like a kid in a candy store lately. All the foods I have re-discovered while cleansing have made me eager to experiment in the kitchen. Basic recipes have so much flare and flavor (not to mention appeal) it’s been a joy.

Take this one simple plant, for example, that I hadn’t had since childhood at my cousin Chickie’s house. Alfalfa sprouts. They are exceptionally delicious. I find myself going to the fridge just to grab a handful of the things. Alfalfa sprouts are highly nutritional boasting protein, calcium and other minerals, and vitamins B, C, D, E and K!

sprouts as a garnish

One of my top clean eating dishes is Oven Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice and Alfalfa Sprouts. It’s completely satisfying, low-fat and energy packed. Let me know if you would like my adaptation of the Clean recipe.

Easy Cookie Recipe: Polka Dot Cookies With Tracey Rapisardi

Get Started Baking

Baking bright and cheerful Polka Dot Cookies made me happier than a warm chocolate chip muffin with a dollop of whipped butter. I had the pleasure of designing this recipe for you from scratch – I hope you enjoy it.

The ice cold milk with the muffin was that I was fortunate enough to collaborate with Tracey of TraceyRapisardiStyle. Wait till you see what she did with the cookies once they exited the cooling rack. But more on that later; let’s get our hands floured up first!

Add the Butter

Add the butter to your mixing bowl;

Add the Sugar

then add the sugar.

Butter and Sugar Get Creamed

Cream ingredients until fluffy. Don’t you just adore the movement captured in this still image?

A big thank you to Mandi Rapisardi for her brilliant eye and creative approach to photography. She added a very special touch to this post and was a blast to work with!

Vanilla in the Polka Dot Cookies

Then add the eggs, one at a time and pure vanilla extract. I always use pure as it really packs an unmatched flavor punch.

Dry Mixture

Whisk together the baking powder and flour; slowly combine with wet mixture to form a sweet, buttery dough.

Dough for Polka Dot Cookies

Form the dough into balls and…

Sugar Rolled Cookies

roll in sugar for a little something extra. They will look slightly sugar-kissed when they are done.

Prepare to Bake

Line ’em up and press!

Flatten to Bake

I used the bottom of a drinking glass for the flat ones,

Patterned Dough

the bottom of a patterned glass for the sunbursts,

Filled Cookies

…and the bottom of the cookie scoop for the fillable version.

butter cookies

A big huge heaping XOXO and thank you to the brilliantly talented Tracey Rapisardi for styling this blog post. To see what she did with the sweet and scrumptious Polka Dot Cookies once they were finished cooling, please visit her blog here and don’t forget to sign up for email updates.

But, wait, before you go… What was your favorite photo in this post? What do you think about the recipe? What would you like to see next? I love hearing your feedback so feel free to comment below!

Oh, and here’s the recipe. 🙂

Polka Dot Cookies from Kitchen à la Cate

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups all purpose flour

food coloring (liquid or gel, I used McCormick’s neon green + yellow for lime green; blue + green for the dark teal; Wilton rose gel for the dark pink)

¼ cup sugar in a small round bowl

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Take your time with this step; the mixer should be creaming for at least five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for two minutes after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Whisk baking powder and flour in a separate bowl to combine. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Once combined, add the food coloring of your choice. The dough will be warm; wrap it in plastic wrap or pop into a plastic bag. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Using a 1¼ inch cookie scoop, form cookies. Drop dough into your hand and roll into a ball. Roll ball in the ¼ cup of sugar to coat and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

For flat cookies, press each dough ball with the bottom of a flat or patterned glass and bake in preheated oven for 7 to 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 1 minute and carefully remove cookies from sheet to finish cooling.

For filled cookies, bake the sugar coated ball shapes in preheated over for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and form a well in each cookie, while hot, using the backside of the cookie scoop. Remove cookies from sheet to finish cooling. Once completely cooled, fill with your favorite– whipped cream, frosting or ice cream.  Jimmies add an extra charming and colorful look!

Recipe: Shrimp Madras and a Chiffonade

A dear friend of Kev and I, Barbara, also shares a certain – what do you call it – “foodie-love” with us. It is evening in our tiny, romantically-lit, 1970’s inspired kitchen in the Berkshires, and Kevin hands me a recipe. (By romantically-lit, we’re talking one little baby lamp on the counter top and a floor-to-ceiling thing we picked up at Wally World; and by 1970’s inspired, I mean pieced together actually in 1970…)

Along with the recipe from Barbara is a bag full of exotic and fragrant, dark green Kari leaves. Just looking at them and taking in the aroma makes me wonder what traveling to India would actually be like. They appear strong and glossy and feel silky under my hands.

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Earlier, I put good use to the grocery list from Kevin, happily searching for ingredients for the dinner (what is Garam Masala?) gliding up and down the aisles of Guidos. Plus, I was eagerly anticipating the taste of the homemade curry powder my very talented chef cousin, Gregg, gifted me with on Christmas. (All about him on another day, I promise.)

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Here are the ingredients.

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Isn’t this watercress outrageous?

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I chiffonade the Kari leaves by layering them all into a stack…

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Rolling them tightly…

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And slicing thinly on a slant. For such little strips they are abundant with robust fragrance.

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I use chicken instead of shrimp in these photos (taken at a later date in a different kitchen) to add my own variation to the recipe.

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Pressto. As the meal comes together and the whole apartment fills up with intense and deep, complex aroma, I feel India in my heart and decide that one day I will travel there.

For the recipe, click here. Thanks Barbara 😉

Have you been to India? What recipes in your file inspire you to travel?

Angry Crisped Olive Basil Tofu

Ever wonder what to do with that plain ‘ole brick a tofu? I was experimenting this weekend and came up with a nice spin on this solid protein source. Since tofu takes on the flavors of what you cook it with, I used some of my fave delicious Italian inspired ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 brick firm or extra firm tofu

couscous (I used Near East roasted garlic and olive oil)

2 slivers of garlic (plus more for your pan)

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 dozen of your fave olives (I used Castelvetrano olives; both colorful and salty)

4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 handful of Italian breadcrumbs (I used gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, Gillian’s Foods Italian breadcrumbs)

2 sun-dried tomatoes

2 tsp Borsari (truly the world’s best seasoned salt)

5 fresh basil leaves (plus more for garnish)

Directions:

Drain and press the tofu to remove any excess water. (I flatten mine with the weight of three cookbooks on top of paper towels, the tofu and a plate.)

Put the water/broth on for your couscous and cook according to package directions.

Using a small food processor, process all remaining ingredients. Slice the tofu into whatever size pieces you like. In a large saute pan, get two turns of olive oil and some garlic going on medium high. Once the oil is hot, add the tofu and saute until light brown. Then add the seasoning mixture you created. Continue on medium high until it gets as crispy as you like it.

Enjoy this dish warm along with your couscous and garnish with some beautiful basil leaves.

Do you have a favorite tofu recipe?

How To Make Pate Brisee: Scared of Pie Dough?

So…is anyone out there scared of pie dough? I have to admit, I completely was until I found this recipe. In fact, I am going to go ahead and dub it the best recipe of all time. Completely easy to make and it comes out perfectly flaky, buttery and sweet every iteration! It took me my whole life to find this. I am going to share it with you so it won’t take you as long.

PATE BRISEE courtesy of Martha Stewart
Makes enough for one double-crust or two single-crust 9-inch pies. For the flakiest crust, make sure all ingredients (including the flour) are cold before you begin.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)

With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out the dough onto a clean working surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

I have found that pie dough is not scary. It’s just particular. It makes me feel really good that we don’t have to look any further.