About Something We Whipped Up

Real-life couple, Brian and Jen, share recipes, crafty ideas, gardening tidbits, household project how-tos and anything else they happen to whip up. Please stop by for a visit.

Pretty In Pink

A happy accident occurred in our kitchen this past weekend. And it’s one that turned out to be quite pretty. Take a look.

Beet and Couscous Salad by somethingwewhippedup.com

Beet and Couscous Salad by somethingwewhippedup.com

I’ll admit, when I started, I had no idea where the dish was going to end up. All I knew was that I had some big, beautiful beets and I was going to make something with them. I started by roasting the beets along with some radishes (you know how much we love those now) and then just started pulling other additions from the pantry. The result was a bright, beautiful couscous salad. The beets tinted everything a lovely shade of pink that really helps this dish pop aesthetically. The pepitas add an unexpected crunch and the caramelized shallots add a nice sweetness. I definitely recommend you give this one a try.

Roasting the beets and radishes (we made two packets that looked like this for this dish) (somethingwewhippedup.com)

Roasting the beets and radishes (we made two packets that looked like this for this dish) (somethingwewhippedup.com)

Beet and Couscous Salad

Makes about 8 servings

  • 3/4 pound beets
  • 1/2 pound radishes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup roasted pepitas
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fruity olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the beets and radishes on a piece of foil and top with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Fold the sides of the foil up and secure. Roast for 60 minutes, then remove from oven and let cool. When beets are cool to the touch, use your fingers (wear gloves to prevent staining your skin) to remove the skin and discard. Dice the beets and radishes and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prepare Israeli couscous according to package directions. Once made, let cool to room temperature.

3. Heat a small pan over medium-low. Add the butter and let melt. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 20 minutes or until caramelized. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, roughly chop and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, combine the beets, radishes, Israeli couscous, shallots, pepitas, dried cranberries and the parsley or cilantro. Top with the fruity olive oil and red wine vinegar. Toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pretty In Pink: Beet and Couscous Salad by somethingwewhippedup.com

Pretty In Pink: Beet and Couscous Salad by somethingwewhippedup.com

SWWU Tip 1: I found that this salad tastes best at room temperature. If you refrigerate leftovers, just bring to temperature on the counter 30 minutes prior to serving.

SWWU Tip 2: Don’t have one of the ingredients on hand? Replace the pepitas with walnuts or almond slivers. Swap golden raisins for the dried cranberries. Use fresh min instead of cilantro or parsley. Play around a bit and have some fun. 

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Flavor Starters

Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter

Flavor Starter Cube by somethingwewhippedup.com

What’s for dinner tonight? Or breakfast tomorrow for that matter? I’ve always got an answer in my back pocket when I’ve got a stash of flavor starter cubes in my freezer. My most recent batch came together after I found myself with an abundance of cilantro. Instead of letting it wilt away, I blended the leaves up with some garlic, salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil and filled an ice cube tray with the mixture.

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Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter Cubes (somethingwewhippedup.com)

The frozen cubes are a great way to get a quick meal started. Around our house, we use them most often to whip up a delicious batch of scrambled eggs that are anything but ordinary. Simply put the frozen cube in your skillet, heat and let melt. Once it’s melted, swish the herb and olive oil mixture around your pan and add eggs. Cook your eggs as you normally would and you’ll enjoy a refreshing flavor that goes way beyond just seasoning your pan with a bit of butter or oil.

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Adding a frozen flavor starter cube to a skillet (somethingwewhippedup.com)

In addition to eggs, you can use flavor starter cubes to season a pan before searing chicken or cooking up some vegetables. I’ve even used one to add a little something extra to a classic grilled cheese.

Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter Cubes

Makes about 12

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 large bunch cilantro (about 3 to 4 cups)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the garlic in a blender or food processor. Pulse until well chopped. Add the cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Blend until well combined, adding more olive oil if necessary to get a liquid consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pour herb mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze then transfer cubes to a zip-top bag for extended storage.

SWWU Tip 1: I don’t always fill the each well of the ice cube tray to the top. Smaller cubes are great when you’re making something for one person. Experiment making your cubes different sizes and see what works well for you.

SWWU Tip 2: Have other herbs on hand? This recipe works equally as well if you substitute parsley, basil or more. The lime juice can be substituted with lemon juice or left out entirely.

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Your New Favorite French Toast

Stuffed French toast is always one of our go-to breakfasts when we are hosting overnight guests. It’s something everyone loves and it feels a bit more special than a plate of eggs and toast. Instead of our usual cream cheese filling, we recently added a tangy twist with some creamy goat cheese.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

Strawberry Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

Paired with a few strips of farm-fresh bacon, this breakfast turned out to be quite a tasty treat. It was pretty quick and easy to put together, too. To make the decadent filling, we simply combined softened goat cheese with a bit of honey and some strawberry preserves we made at a class we took earlier this summer at The Brooklyn Kitchen.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Filling for Stuffed French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

Strawberry Goat Cheese Filling for Stuffed French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

Use the recipe below as a guide, adjusting flavors and amounts to your preferences. We cut our toast thin, but if you added a layer of fresh-cut fruit this could definitely stand up to a thicker bread. Swapping blueberry, raspberry or other jellies, james or preserves would also allow you to add a different spin to this dish. Play around and have fun. You’ll be glad you did!

Strawberry Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast

Makes 8 sandwiches

  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 4-ounce packages goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 16 pieces challah bread, cut about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract (check out our recipe for homemade extract)
  • 1 tablespoon butter

1. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

2. In another small bowl, combine the goat cheese, preserves and honey. Mix until well combined and set aside.

3. Place the challah pieces in open pairs (like you would to make a sandwich) on a work surface. Make sure the bread pieces will line up when closed together. Smear a bit of the goat cheese filling on each piece and top with remaining bread to make a sandwich.

4. In a medium dish, whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla extract together. Place this bowl near your stove if you can and heat a large skillet over medium. Add about 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the hot skillet and let it melt. PIck up one of your french toast sandwiches and dip it into the egg mixture, making sure to coat all sides. Add to the pan then sprinkle a bit of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of each. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until brown, flip and cook 2 to 4 minutes more until brown and cooked through. Repeat with remaining french toast sandwiches. (*You may need to make additional egg mixture if your bread is soaking up a lot.) Serve immediately with maple syrup on the side.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

Strawberry Goat Cheese Stuffed French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

SWWU Tip: Making enough for a crowd? Keep prepared french toast in an oven heated to 200°F until you’re ready to serve them.

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The Long Goodbye

Saying goodbye can be a pretty difficult thing to do. Especially when the people you’re sending off are starting a new life on the other side of the country. Good friends of ours recently did just this and I think we’re both still recovering. Sure we were there for several farewell dinners and parties, and we were there to help out the day they left, but there’s noting that feels as final as watching a moving van pull away, carrying your friends, all of their possessions and their adorable dog.

Saying Goodbye by somethingwewhippedup.com

Saying Goodbye by somethingwewhippedup.com

I scratched my head for quite some time trying to come up with a gift to help send our friends off. In the end, it wasn’t one gift they received, but several, all individually wrapped.   The gifts were all wrapped in subway maps, a final nod to the life they were leaving behind in New York City. Each had a tag with a number attached to it and we gave our friends instructions as to when they should open each package during their five-day journey. First up: a road atlas (in case they didn’t have a great connection with their GPS service at some point).

The Long Goodbye by somethingwewhippedup.com

The Long Goodbye by somethingwewhippedup.com

I won’t share the details of every gift because they probably only make sense to our friends, but I do think adding some silly car games like Mad Libs (who knew those still existed?), yummy snacks, a toy for the dog and some home maintenance books to brush up on was a good bet for this type of journey. When they reached their destination they unwrapped their last gift, a bottle of bubbly (with some cups) so they could toast their arrival in their new home sweet home.

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A Delicious Way to Use Up All of Your Zucchini

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, chances are, you’re swimming in zucchini right now. Brian and I haven’t been to the farm in a few weeks, so we’ve been stocking up on the summer staple at our local farmers’ market. Remembering how much we enjoyed the carrot fritters we made earlier this year, we set out to do something similar with the zucchini we had hanging around. We wanted to try a version that was baked, not fried, so we wouldn’t feel as guilty when I went back for seconds.

Baked Crispy Zucchini Cakes by somethingwewhippedup.com

Baked Crispy Zucchini Cakes by somethingwewhippedup.com

We’re quite pleased with how these baked crispy zucchini cakes turned out. They work just as well as a dinner or lunch side dish as they do a quick grab-and-go breakfast option. Heating them up on a rack in the oven after they bake is essential in making them crisp up on all sides. So be sure you don’t skip that step if you make some for yourself. These cakes are quite good on their own, but we especially enjoyed them when we paired a few with a bit of our homemade caramelized onion dip.

Baked Crispy Zucchini Cakes

Makes about 12

  • 2 eggs
  • 5 to 6 cups shredded zucchini, squeezed and drained (see note below)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup shredded yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Add the eggs to an extra-large bowl and beat until scrambled. Add the zucchini, carrot, onion, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Add the flour and toss to coat, making sure no lumps of flour are left behind.

2. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Place a scoop (about 1/4 cup) of the zucchini mixture into each well, filling to the top. Press down gently to make the top flat. Give the top of each cake a light coating of cooking spray. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top of each cake is browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from muffin tin. Reduce oven heat to 300°F.

3. Transfer the cakes to a baking sheet (preferably one lined with racks) and warm in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp on all sides.

SWWU Tip: If you have one, use a food processor to shred the zucchini, carrot and onion and save yourself a bit of time. Take a few minutes to transfer the vegetables to a towel in batches, about 1 cup each, and squeeze out the excess liquid before combining with the other ingredients.

Like what you see? Follow us on twitter @SWWUblog and like us on Facebook for bonus photos and content.