Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Carrot (or Broccoli) and Raisin Salad

From: Serious Eats

This is an old-fashioned kind of veggie side dish, but healthy and delicious. As much as I love carrots (yum!), I had a bag of TJ's organic broccoli slaw that I wanted to use up, so I just used that instead. I also used some frozen TJ's pineapple tidbits, which I thawed before adding. It created enough pineapple juice during thawing to add to the sauce.

4 cups shredded carrot
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained and liquid reserved
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled completely
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt

1 In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrot, pineapple solids, pecans, and raisins.

2 In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice with all the yogurt, sugar, and salt. Stir until no lumps are left.

3 Add yogurt mixture into carrot mixture. Stir thoroughly to combine. Let sit a few hours in refrigerator so flavors can meld, though you can serve immediately if desired. Serve.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Super Crunchy Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Adapted from Piece of Cake.

Makes about 2 lbs of candy and is rather addictive. Chocolate-y and peppermint-y deliciousness!

 24 oz dark chocolate, either good quality chips (Ghiradelli 60%) or bar (I used TJ's Belgian dark chocolate), chopped
15 Peppermint Jo-Jo's from TJs or Oreos, crushed
3 oz. white chocolate
3/4 C crushed candy canes or Starlight mints (use 1 C if using plain oreos)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside. In a large glass bowl, place chopped dark chocolate and microwave at 30 second intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in cookie crumbs and pour onto baking sheet. Use an off-set spatula to spread chocolate mixture into an even layer. Sprinkle crushed candy cane bits all over chocolate in an even layer. In a small bowl, melt white chocolate in microwave in the same manner as dark chocolate. When melted, drizzle over chocolate and candy. Place baking sheet in fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes. When firm, break into pieces and serve. Makes a lot which is good because people will think you're a genius when they've tasted it and keep coming back for more.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Party Menu

We had our annual Christmas party this past weekend. I had lots of help in the kitchen this year (special thank-you shout-out to Kelly and Grg!) and we churned out some tasty treats! I had lots of people asking for recipes, and I directed them here, so I wanted to include a list of all the recipes they may be looking for.

Here is what we served:

Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts
Pizza Bites
Caramelized Onion and Apple Tarts
Onion Dip from Scratch w/ crudites and honey-wheat pretzels
Skinny Artichoke Dip with bruschetta pita chips
Spanish Fig and Almond Balls, served with cheese board
Cheese: brie, sharp cheddar, manchego, toscano, stilton w/cranberries
variety of crackers, grapes, fig-orange marmalade, honey

Kahlua-Spiked Pecans
Chocolate-covered Matzah
Soft Molasses Cookies
Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Apple pie (not homemade, ahem, sorry)
Peppermint Crunch Bark

Soft Molasses Cookies

Adapted from: King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion

I LOVE molasses cookies. I had them at my wedding. The recipe we used at my wedding is already posted here on the food blog as Karen's Molasses Cookies. That recipe is almost identical to this one, except that this one calls for less sugar and Kelly added more ginger and freshly-ground black pepper when she made this for our party. The end result was basically the same.

8 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 tsp ground ginger (Kelly said she used a little more)
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
freshly-ground black pepper, optional (a few twists of the grinder?)
granulated sugar to coat cookies

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar. Beat in the molasses and eggs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until the dough has stiffened sufficiently to handle easily.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough into balls about the size of a golf ball - about 2 Tbsp of dough. Roll each ball in a sugar-filled shallow bowl to coat it. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on lightly greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 13 min. They will have flattened but won't have browned sufficiently. If you let them get brown around the edges, they'll be less chewy and moist. When you take them out of the oven they should still feel soft on top and be just barely colored.

Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack and store them in a plastic bag with a slice of apple to keep them soft.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Adapted From: King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion

Kelly used spiced rum-soaked raisins in this recipe - just pour some spiced rum over the raisins and heat briefly in the microwave so the raisins soak up the rum. Drain any excess liquid before you throw the raisins into the dough. You can skip that step - it wasn't part of the original recipe, but we thought it would be good.

2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup yogurt, plain or vanilla, reg, low-fat or nonfat
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups rolld oats
1 1/2 cups raisins
spiced rum, optional, for plumping the raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

If you want to plump the raisins, put them in a large mug and cover with hot water, or pour a bit of spiced rum over the raisins and microwave briefly (maybe 30 seconds?) Let sit for a few minutes to plump. Drain excess liquid from the raisins before you add them to the dough.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, butter, oil and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the yogurt and vanilla.

Stir in the oats and raisins, then add the flour mixture, in three additions, beating well after each addition.

Drop the batter from a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop (or from a tablespoon) onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 14 min. They'll still be light tan; don't let them brown or they'll end up crisp instead of chewy. Let them cool on the parchment until lukewarm, then carefully transfer them to a wire rack; they'll be delicate when warm, then chewy as they cool. Store cookies in a tightly closed container or plastic bag.

Caramelized Onion and Apple Tarts

From: LOL Foodie

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
2 tbs butter
half of a large onion
2 apples (Granny Smith or another tart variety)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3c fontina cheese, shredded
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt


Begin with prep work. Slice/chop the onion very thinly. Peel and core the apple, and chop it into pieces approximately the same size as the onion.
Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium. Once it’s melted, add the onions and 1/4 tsp of salt. Saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the apples, and reduce the heat to low. Cook over low for about 30 minutes. The onions should be nice and caramelized, and lightly browned. Stir in the pepper and remaining salt. Remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Unwrap and unfold the puff pastry dough. Slice along the folds already present in the dough, creating 3 even “strips” of dough. Cut each strip into 3 squares, then slice diagonally through each square to create 2 triangles. This should result in 18 triangles from the entire sheet of dough.
Place each dough triangle on your prepared baking sheet, without touching.
Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the onion-apple mixture onto each dough triangle. Sprinkle some of the grated fontina cheese on top. Sprinkle thyme on top of the cheese.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, and serve warm!

Make-ahead note: You can caramelize the onions-apple mixture and store it in the fridge up to two days beforehand. You can assemble the tarts one day before you serve them, and just store in the fridge, wrapped in cling wrap or foil on a baking sheet. Just pop them into the oven when you are ready!

Spanish Fig and Almond Balls

From: BBC Good Food

I really liked this. Makes a delicious addition to your usual cheese board. I think many of our guests didn't know what to do with it (despite my helpful signage suggesting people try it with cheese and honey). My suggestion is to start with a cracker, top with a slice of cheese (manchego, perhaps), a slice of the fig cake, and then a drizzle of honey. Yum! These also make a nice gift - just tie up a couple in a cellophane bag. Please note that you need to make these in advance because you have to let them dry for about a week before you serve - otherwise they will be a sticky mess.


100g whole almonds , toasted
500g pack dried whole figs , hard stalk and centre of base removed
85g dried apricots , chopped into small pieces
50g dried cranberries
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tsp ground cloves
100g sesame seeds , toasted

Whizz the almonds in a food processor until most are finely chopped, then tip into a large bowl. Roughly chop the figs, then whizz to a smooth sticky paste. Scrape onto the almonds then, using your hands, mix together well with the dried fruit, brandy, honey and cloves.
Divide the mixture into 6 and roll into balls (I made about 15 golf ball-sized balls). Tip the sesame seeds onto a tray, then roll the balls in them until covered. Cover the tray loosely with a clean tea towel, then leave the fig balls to dry for a week before packaging. Will keep in a cool place for 2 months.

Onion Dip from Scratch

From: Alton Brown

Definitely make this one the night before you plan to serve it. It needs time for the flavors to meld. The onion flavor intensifies overnight, too.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced onions
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


In a saute pan over medium heat add oil, heat and add onions and salt. Cook the onions until they are caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mix the rest of the ingredients, and then add the cooled onions. Refrigerate and stir again before serving.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pizza Bites

From: Annie's Eats

These were good, and could be adapted to a variety of fillings. I used pre-sliced pepperoni, which I halved. When I filled them, I put in 2 pepperoni halves, then a bit of mozzarella, and then 2 more pepperoni halves. These would also be good with pre-cooked, crumbled sausage, veggies, etc. Serve with a pizza sauce for dipping. I used on batch of pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joe's.

pizza dough (enough for one pizza)
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed (about 20-24 pieces)
Sliced pepperoni

For topping:
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan. Divide the pizza dough into 20-24 roughly equal sized pieces. Take one of the dough pieces, top with a cube of cheese and a slice or two of pepperoni. Pull the edges of the dough around the fillings and pinch closed. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

Lightly brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Serve warm, with dipping sauce as desired.

Skinny Artichoke Dip

From: Gina's Skinny Recipes

You can make this in advance and just throw in the oven when your guests are about to arrive. I doubled it and it made a ton, which was unnecessary. I also forgot to put the bread crumbs on top, which I think would have been good. I served this with bruscetta-flavored pita chips and a variety of veggies.

13.75 oz artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
2 tbsp chopped shallots
1/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
salt and fresh pepper to taste
2 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a small food processor, coarsely chop the artichoke hearts with the shallots.

Combine artichokes, yogurt, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, mozzarella, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Place in an oven-proof dish and top with breadcrumbs. Lightly spray the crumbs with olive oil then bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes, until hot and cheese is melted. Serve right away.

Can be made one day in advance without the breadcrumbs and stored in the refrigerator before baking. Add breadcrumbs before baking. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

instant chocolate cake in a mug

I hate to play into stereotypes, but there are some times in a woman's month -- er, life -- when she just needs chocolate cake. This isn't the finest gourmet cake you'll ever eat, but it exactly does the trick.

From the Food Network, with a few modifications...

Whisk 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder, 1 egg, 4 tablespoons milk, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and a dash of vanilla extract and salt in a large mug until smooth. Throw in a handful of chocolate chips and mix again. Microwave until puffed and the top is done, about 4 minutes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mushroom and Brown Rice Casserole

Pair Annie's recipe with a salad and it's dinner.

Yield: about 6-8 servings

2 tsp. olive oil

1 lb. brown mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups cooked brown rice, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 cup cottage cheese (reduced fat is fine)

½ cup sour cream (reduced fat is fine)

½ tsp. coarse salt

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Minced fresh herbs, for garnish (optional), such as chives, parsley, etc.


Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Lightly grease a 2 quart baking dish. In a large skillet over medium heat sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released most of their liquid, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Add the rice to the skillet and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, and salt until smooth. Add in the rice mixture and stir gently until well blended. Sprinkle most of the Parmesan over the top, reserving a bit for finishing. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 20-30 minutes more, until the top is lightly browned. Top with remaining Parmesan and fresh herbs, if desired.

Annie's Eat's original source: slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Monday, November 21, 2011

Caldo de Pollo

You will love this soup.

Gwen gave me an adorable cookbook as a present one year, The Soup Peddler's Slow and Difficult Soups: Recipes & Reveries by David Ansel. We agreed that a book with a title like that has a specific audience and we both believe we're it. We like our soups cooked long and slow with a story about a Jewish great aunt or annual neighborhood potluck to back up their authenticity.

After using this book for a half dozen years, I now have a crush on the Soup Peddler, David Ansel. If/when I make it back to Austin, Texas, I will go to his shop and eat his soup (AND I will go again see the bajillion Mexican freetail bats depart from Congress Ave bridge for their night forage. Once is not enough.) The cookbook is a quirky, fictionalized account of his first year as the Soup Peddler. This recipe is from one of Austin's legendary restaurants, Guero.

The soup:
1 chicken
12 C chicken stock
2 onions, cut into thin strips
3 carrots, peeled and very coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery (w leaves), very coarsely chopped
1/4 head cabbage, very coarsely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into thick rounds
1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
1 T ground cumin
3/4 C uncooked white rice
S&P to taste

Cilantro "Pesto":
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 jalapenos, stems removed
juice of 1 lime

Halve the poor chicken and put it in your soup pot. Cover with the stock, bring to a simmer over high heat, hten lower the heat to medium. You may, at any time, pull the chicken out and pull the skin off to keep the fat content to manageable level. Regardless, cook the chicken until the leg bone feels as though it will easily pull out of its socket. The longer you let it go, the more flavor you'll extract from the bones. Remove the chicken to a tray to cool.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, cabbage, potatoes, tomato paste and cumin to the pot and return to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, pull the meat from the bird, shred it and add it to the soup.

Once the carrots and potatoes are soft, add the rice, season with S&P and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes longer.

Meanshile, make the pesto. Use a food processor or, if you're in absolute pursuit of slowness, a molcajete y tejolete (a Mexican mortar & pestle) to grind the cilantro, jalapenos and lime juice together. Stems and seeds are encouraged.

When the rice has cooked well, to the point where its split ends make the soup appeart to be swimming with X chromasomes, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the green paste concocted above. Serve steaming hot. [Instead into the pot, I drizzled a little on the soup's surface once it was ladeled into a bowl.]

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Raisin Bran Muffins

From: Eating Well When You're Expecting

This recipe uses fruit juice concentrate instead of sugar. I don't like things that are super sweet, and I thought these were just right. I don't know if kids would like these, but I thought they were good for my breakfasts this week. I'll freeze the rest. You can also add diced apples or pears when you add the raisins. I filled the muffin cups just about to the top. They don't expand too much. They did stick to the papers, though, so next time I might just spray the pan with Pam and skip the paper liners.

1 1/2 cups unprocessed bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans or almonds)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups white grape juice concentrate (I used apple juice concentrate)
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsps vanilla extract
3/4 cups raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg. Line a standard-size 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (I might try just spraying the muffin tin with Pam next time).

2. Place the bran, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, flaxseed, cinnamon, nuts, baking soda, and baking powder in a mixing bowl and stir to mix.

3. Place the grape juice concentrate, buttermilk, eggs, oil and vanilla in another mixing bowl and stir to mix well. Add the grape juice concentrate mixture to the bran mixture and stir gently just until thoroughly blended; be careful not to over-mix.

4. Gently fold in the raisins.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing evenly. If you have extra batter, just bake some more muffins (mine made 19 total).

6. Bake the muffins until a toothpick comes out clean, about 19 min.

7. Transfer muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days or individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for 3 months.

Makes at least 12 muffins (mine made 19).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

pasta with sauteed brussels sprouts

I am officially obsessed with brussels sprouts. Yum.

I've made this three or four times and finally have it the way I like it, I think. It's loosely based on this recipe from Gina's Skinny Taste, but there are a lot of modifications at this point... I'll still put her nutritional info at the end, but I'm not sure how valid it is any more.


  • 1 package of low-fat chicken sausage, squeezed out of the casings
  • a few splashes of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
  • 12 oz brussels sprouts, shredded [Wegmans sells these prepackaged, which is amazing; if you are starting with whole sprouts, just dice them them as finely as you can]
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 1 celery stalk, diced small
  • other optional diced veggies: zucchini, yellow squash, spinach, red or green pepper
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes 
  • a few T oregano and/or herbs de provance
  • pinch sugar
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 14 oz pasta of any kind you like

In a big skillet, heat some olive oil and saute brussels sprouts until they turn golden but are still crunchy, about 6 minutes. Put into a big bowl and set aside.

Heat a bit more olive oil and saute the chicken sausage, breaking it up as it cooks.

When it's cooked through, shove to the side of the pan and make a hole in the center. Add a little more olive oil and saute the garlic and onion. After a minute or two, add the rest of the veggies and mix everything together until it's beginning to get soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, spices, sugar, and more pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

Meanwhile, put a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta.

When it's done, drain and add to the brussels sprouts in the big bowl. Pour sauce all over it and serve with grated Parm.

Servings: 8 • Serving Size: about 1 3/4 cup • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 326.1 • Fat: 6.9 g • Protein: 15.7 g • Carb: 54.8 g • Fiber: 8.8 g • Sugar: 5.4 g
Sodium: 343.6 mg (without salt)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Turkey Corn Chowder

Yesterday I went to a craft show at a fire hall in Lancaster Co. As I was leaving the house I said to Todd, "I bet they're going to have chicken corn soup for sale" and they did. It was really good, and I decided to try to make something similar at home today. I wanted something a little heartier, though, so I added some extra ingredients. I also wanted to use up some turkey I had in the fridge, and some turkey stock taking up room in the freezer. You could just as easily use chicken. I just made this up as I went along, so I'll do the best I can with the recipe.

2 Tbsp butter
2 med onions, diced
1 cup diced celery
diced peppers, your fave kind (if desired. I used some banana peppers)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart turkey stock
3 cups diced potatoes (I left skins on), divided
2 bay leaves
dried thyme
dried rosemary
4 turkey cutlets
1.5 cups diced carrots
1 can corn, drained
1 can creamed corn
pot pie noodles, or noodles of your choice (optional)
milk or cream, if desired

In a large Dutch oven, melt butter. Saute onion, celery, peppers and garlic until they begin to soften. Add turkey stock, about half of the potatoes, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Place turkey cutlets into the pot. Make sure the liquid covers the turkey. Reduce to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until turkey cutlets are cooked through (this didn't take long - maybe 6-8 min?) Remove turkey cutlets to a cutting board and dice. Set turkey aside.

If the potatoes are not cooked through yet, continue cooking until potatoes are soft. Remove bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, blend everything in the pot. Add carrots and cook about 5 min. Add remaining potatoes. Add corn and creamed corn. I added a couple handfuls of pot pie noodles here and continued to cook about 12 minutes until noodles were cooked through. Add turkey back into the pot. Add some milk or cream if desired. Stir everything together.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Biscuit potpies

adapted from "time for dinner"

My favorite part of this cookbook is the back where it says "if you have this, make this."
So, taking either a rotisserie chicken or one of those roasted chickens I made, meat pulled off the carcass...

Bake a package of biscuits according to the directions.
While they are baking, heat 4 Tbsp. of butter in a medium soup pot. Add a chopped onion, 3 chopped carrots and 2 chopped stalks of celery. Saute for 10 minutes, then whisk in 6 Tbsp. flour. Add 1/2 c. of white wine and stir until paste forms. Add 4 c. chicken stock, stirring until smooth. Simmer over low heat until thickened.
Add the shredded chicken and some frozen peas, cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
Split the biscuits in half. Place bottom halves in bowls, ladle chicken mixture over top, cover with biscuit tops.

Barley salad with beets and oranges

One of the other things I cooked during the marathon cooking day was a pot of barley. I had never really thought of using barley as a side dish grain, like rice, but again, that cookbook suggested it, so I gave it a shot. It was surprisingly good, actually. The kids ate rice. I haven’t convinced them yet.
They did, however, try this salad. They love beets, but mostly because they make you pee pink.
The other prep work I did was to roast some beets in the oven, when I was roasting acorn squash for dinner. I slipped the skins off before I put them in the fridge, which cut down on my work. We had this with the sausages and apples. It was a lovely fall-ish meal.

adapted from "time for dinner"

Two cups of cooked barley, in a large bowl. Toss with cooked, peeled beets, 1 can of (drained) mandarin oranges. Toss with a dressing made of 1 part orange juice, 2 parts olive oil.

Sausages with apples

So...I had some bratwurst in the freezer, and these cooked apples in my fridge. This was super quick.

from "time for dinner"

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, brown brats (or whatever sausages you're using) on all sides. Remove, reduce heat, and add a little olive oil and a sliced red onion, 1/4 head of red cabbage (shredded), and the cooked apples (sliced). Saute until the cabbage wilts. Add some of the leftover cooking liquid from the apples, along with a few Tbsp. of cider vinegar. Turn the heat up, add the sausages, and cook through.

Cooked apples

A bushel and a half is a lot of apples. Luckily they don’t go bad very quickly, and I have an extra fridge to store them all. I made a huge batch of applesauce in the crock pot with some, and then made these cooked apples. These are also from the same cookbook, so they will be serving dual purposes.
We ate 2 ½ of them with the pork, and probably could have eaten the whole pan if I hadn’t wanted to use them for another recipe.

adapted from "time for dinner"

5 apples, cored
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 c. apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1 strip lemon peel
2 whole cloves

Peel the apples (or not, if you liked cooked apple peel. I do not.) Combine the remaining ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan. Boil for 1 minute, then add the apples, coating them in the liquid. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, flipping the apples halfway through.

Braised pork

Braised pork

So, back to the cookbook from G. I made this braised pork, which was a huge hunk of meat. It was enough for dinner for the four of us, and then 3 more meals. I portioned it up and put two in the freezer and one in the fridge for a recipe later in the week.

adapted from "time for dinner"

one 5 to 6-pound pork shoulder
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp. paprika
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2/3 c. orange juice
1/3 c. lemon juice

Stab deep slits with a knife into the pork shoulder. In a small food processor or on a cutting board, make a paste from the garlic, paprika, and 2 to 3 Tbsp. of the olive oil and smear over the pork. In a Dutch oven set over medium high heat, brown the pork in the remaining olive oil. Add the orange and lemon juice and cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until internal temperature of the pork is 140 degrees, about 1.5 hours.

Slow cooker chicken stock

Okay, so let’s talk about those chickens I roasted.
I stripped the meat off the bones (and ate a lot of the skin), and put in a ziploc bag for recipes later in the week.
And was left with two lovely chicken carcasses. Mmmm…carcass. My chickens still had a little meat on the bones, because I’m too lazy to pick them completely clean. And I didn’t bother picking the wings, again, because I’m lazy.
I saved all the drippings from those chickens, too, because that right there is liquid gold. Gold I didn’t turn into gravy, since we weren’t actually eating the chickens when I cooked them.

Into the crock pot went:
1 chicken carcass, plus any of the skin from the chicken I didn’t eat.
Half the chicken drippings (since I roasted 2)
1 carrot, snapped in half (I didn’t bother peeling)
1 stalk of celery, snapped in half

Now, you could add all kinds of things at this point, if you like. Peppercorns or a bay leaf or an onion. I saw something that suggested parsnip, and I just happen to have one lonely parsnip in the fridge. It’ll go into the next batch. Because I used this specific chicken recipe, with the spice rub that was mostly bay leaves, I left it as is.

Cover with water (I think I used about 10 cups). Set the crock pot on low, for 10 hours.

In the morning the whole house smelled like chicken broth. (which is sort of weird when you first wake up, but smelled really, really good) I let the crock pot cool, then stuck in the fridge. After dinner, I skimmed all the fat off the top (don’t need that), discarded the solids, and drained the broth. I froze it in Ziploc bags (easier storage, and they tell me it’s easier for defrosting), in two cup measurements.
Since I had two chickens, I did this twice. That's enough stock for a good long time.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Creamy Pumpkin (or Squash) Soup

Source: Real Simple, October 2011

Why, yes, it is butternut squash week at our house!

Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 20m
Total Time: 50m


1 3-pound sugar pumpkin or 3 pounds kabocha or butternut squash—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
4 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
4 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
sour cream, croutons, and paprika (preferably smoked), for serving


1. Heat oven to 400° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the pumpkin with 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the roasted pumpkin, 4 cups of the broth, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. In a blender, working in batches, puree the soup until smooth, adjusting the consistency with the remaining broth as necessary. (Alternatively, use a handheld immersion blender in the saucepan.) Top the soup with the sour cream and croutons and sprinkle with the paprika, if desired.

Butternut Squash Salad With Hazelnuts and Blue Cheese

Source: Real Simple, October 2011

Geoff and I have made this a few times. We've substituted shallots for the red onion. Geoff prefers the red onion, but I'm not really a fan of either one, so we'll be leaving them off my salad the next time we make it.

Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 10m
Total Time: 50m


1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, delicata squash, or sugar pumpkin—peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces (we used a 20-oz package of pre-cut butternut squash)
5 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 cups mixed greens (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)


1. Heat oven to 400° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until golden brown and tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, spread the hazelnuts on a second rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool slightly, then rub in a clean dish towel to remove the skins (discard skins). Roughly chop.

(NOTE: Geoff and I bought a bag of chopped hazelnuts, toasted them, and left the skins on. Just learn from my mistake: chopped nuts only take a few minutes to toast, not 10-12!)

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the squash, hazelnuts, greens, and onion and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the blue cheese.

sour cream noodle bake

Kind of the ultimate comfort food. As usual with the Pioneer Woman, this doesn't exactly qualify as health food, but I used all low-fat dairy products and soy crumble, and it still tasted great. We ate it with roasted brussels sprouts, which were an excellent complement.


  • 1-1/4 pound ground chuck [I specifically chose this recipe because I had a package of soy crumble and couldn't tell if it was going to be disgusting, so I wanted to disguise it in a dish with a lot of strong flavors...]
  • 1 can 15-ounces tomato sauce [I used half a jar of leftover tomato sauce]
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces of egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground chuck in a large skillet. Drain fat, then add tomato sauce. 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add to noodles and stir. Add green onions and stir.

To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, then sprinkle on half the grated cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat, then a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

Serve with crusty French bread.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Roasted chicken, Ferran Adria style

G bought me a cookbook for my birthday, filled with lots of recipes for busy parents -- although I like to think it'd work for any busy person.
I'll be making lots of recipes from the book this week, and already I can tell you that doing a lot of the prep work the weekend before makes for an easier time during the week.
So, I've got a couple chicken recipes I'll be trying. The cookbook says start with rotisserie chicken, in an effort to make it even easier. But I find roasting chicken is so easy, and worth the effort.
This recipe caught my eye a few weeks ago, because Ferran Adria is a culinary genius. Make a recipe that is one of his, without all the "tricks"? Sounds like a good idea to me.
This one is a lot of work, but it's so, so good.

Adapted from Serious Eats (because I didn't bother with the pan sauce)

2 whole chickens, 4 1/2 pounds each
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons
20 dried bay leaves
3 3/4 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/3 cup dried thyme
2/3 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Use a pair of strong kitchen scissors to snip off the tips of the wings. Cut off the parson's nose (tail) of the chicken.
Put the chicken in a roasting pan, season inside and out with salt, then rub with oil. Finely grate the lemon zest over the breast and legs.
Cut the lemon into pieces and place inside of the chicken.
Put the bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and peppercorns into a small food processor or blender and process to a fine powder.
Rub the herb mixture over the chicken and push the unpeeled garlic cloves inside the chicken.
Roast the chicken, breast facing down, for 25 minutes.
Turn the chicken over and roast it for another 35 minutes, until golden and cooked through.
Let chicken rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baked Pumpkin (or Apple) Oatmeal

Adapted from: Annie's Eats

Ok, so, I would definitely make this again, but with some changes. I am going to put the original recipe here since this is what I followed, and I will explain the adaptations I would make next time. Basically, this was too sweet for me, but still worth eating, and I am about to polish off the whole thing, which I have been eating every morning for breakfast for the past week (it makes a lot). If you prefer your oatmeal on the less-sweet side like I do, cut back significantly on the sugar Also, I didn't think there were enough bananas for the amount of oatmeal that this made. Third, I think next time I will try this with apples on the bottom instead of bananas, because I think the tartness from the apples would work nicely with this recipe, and would offset the sweetness a bit. But, with those things in mind, I will make this again, but I will play around with it a little bit.

1 cup steel cut oats
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
4 cups very hot water
2 medium bananas, sliced (I would use at least 3, or try apples instead)
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. brown sugar, lightly packed, divided (I would use less)
2¼ tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
3 cups old-fashioned oats
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
½ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Place the steel cut oats in a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of the butter. Pour the hot water over the oats and cover the bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the caramelized bananas. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bananas, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the cinnamon to the pan. Toss gently and cook briefly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

After the steel cut oats have finished soaking, stir in the old fashioned oats, remaining ½ cup of brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, remaining 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the pumpkin, milk and vanilla. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the oat mixture.

Spread the bananas over the bottom of a lightly greased 2 quart-ish baking dish. Pour the oatmeal mixture on top of the bananas. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nana's Peanut Butter Cookies

How is this recipe not here? I was too lazy to go searching through my recipe box, so I typed some searchy things into our search box and it's not here.

It should be here. And now I'm off to make peanut butter cookies.

1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. brown sugar (either kind)
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter
Mix together. Add:
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. soda
Beat with hand mixer. Add:
1 1/2 c. flour with 1 tsp vanilla. Mix well. Chill dough for 30 minutes. Roll into balls, press with fork to flatten. Bake 10 minutes at 375.
They're foolproof, these cookies.

Pumpkin cupcakes

I can't believe I didn't post this recipe. Because it is so, so good and you all need to run out and make it, quick like.
I'm really just going to post the link, because I didn't do anything different than the recipe. I took these to work, and my guys (I have all guys that work for me) raved about them. Several weeks later, they're all still talking about the cupcakes and asking when I'll make more.
That might partially be because they're all bachelors and don't do any baking themselves.
Anyway, make these cupcakes.

Easy corn chowder

Also adapted from the new cookbook. It's in the slow cooker today on this gray, rainy day, when I've got a sick almost 3-year-old (!) laying on the couch, being very demanding.
You don't have to have the sick pre-schooler in order to be able to make this recipe, though.

1 qt. chicken broth (do yourself a favor and get the low sodium, low fat kind)
1 bag frozen corn
1 small onion, diced
3 red skinned potatoes (I think any potato would work), diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1/2 c. heavy cream (half and half would also work)
salt and pepper to taste
bacon, fried and crumbled

Combine broth, corn, onion, potatoes, and green pepper in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours. Mash half (or use an immersion blender) to thicken, and add cream. Cook on high until heated through.
Use the bacon as a topping. (You could also use some cheese as a topping, too)

Pork and apples

Truth is, we haven't been make a lot of earth-shattering recipes lately. Sometimes we fall back on old favorites -- like braised short ribs -- and other times we just fall back on quick and easy. This seems to be the season of quick and easy.
Lucky for me, I got a couple new cookbooks for my birthday, and so I'm back in the kitchen. With quick and easy.

This is adapted from the "Crockpot Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes," which Gaby and Katie picked out for my birthday.

4-6 boneless pork chops
4-5 medium apples, sliced (the recipe calls for Golden Delicious, but I used gala)
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Place pork in crockpot. Cover with apples. Combine brown sugar and salt in a small bowl; sprinkle over apples. Cover; cook on low for 6-8 hours. (definitely 8 if you start with frozen pork, like me)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Tuna Patties

These were fast to prep and fast to cook. Just reminiscent enough of crab cakes that we took out the Old Bay and gave a shake over the finished patties. They are moist and lemony enough that they don't even need a condiment.

From Elise

•2 6-ounce cans tuna
•2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
•1/2 cup white bread torn into small pieces (bread crumbs)
•1 teaspoon lemon zest (I zested the whole thing)
•1 Tbsp lemon juice (I juiced the whole thing)
•1 Tbsp water (or liquid from the cans of tuna)
•2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
•2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives, green onions, or shallots
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
•A couple squirts of Crystal hot sauce or tabasco
•1 raw egg
•2 Tbsp olive oil
•1/2 teaspoon butter (I didn't use this)

1 Drain the liquid from the tuna cans. If you are using tuna packed in water, reserve a tablespoon of the tuna water, and add a teaspoon of olive oil to the tuna mixture in the next step. (I didn't add oil to the tuna because they were being cooked in OO and I figured the egg, lemon and parsley, etc. were texture and flavor enough.)

2 In a medium bowl, mix together the tuna, mustard, torn white bread, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, parsley, chives, and hot sauce. Sprinkle on salt and freshly ground black pepper. Taste the mixture before adding the egg to see if it needs more seasoning to your taste. Mix in the egg.

3 Divide the mixture into 4 parts. With each part, form into a ball and then flatten into a patty. Place onto a wax paper lined tray and chill for an hour. (You can skip the chilling if you want, chilling just helps the patties stay together when you cook them.)

4 Heat the olive oil and a little butter (for taste) in a cast iron or stick-free skillet on medium high. Gently place the patties in the pan, and cook until nicely browned, 3-4 minutes on each side.

Serve with wedges of lemon. You can also serve with tartar sauce on slider buns for a tuna burger.

Makes 4 patties.

Mushroom Sugo

From Elise.
This was sooooo delicious. We served it over polenta.

It did take a while (30 min) to pull all this together but then it cooks itself for 90 minutes. Mincing is close work; I got my mindfulness dose today.

I loved the texture of the sauce because the veggies don't cook to complete uniform sauciness. Reviewers compared it to a bolognese (meat) sauce and while I love that it can be made entirely, beautifully vegetarian, the hearty texture and earthy flavors make me agree with this assessment.


The onions cook for a long time, during which you can prep the rest of the vegetables if you want to save some time. If you are using dry herbs, use half as much. The mincing is important, as the sauce is not strained or puréed.

•1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
•4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
•2 medium yellow onions, peeled and minced (yielding about 2 cups minced onion)
•2 carrots, peeled and minced (yielding about 1 1/2 cups minced carrots)
•3 celery ribs, minced (yielding about 1 1/2 cups minced celery)
•6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
•1 bunch parsely, minced (yielding 1/3 cup loosely packed)
•1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
•1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
•1/4 teaspoon fresh marjoram (we didn't have marjoram growing so we used fresh oregano instead, which has a similar flavor)
•1/2 cup dry red wine
•1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
•1 beef bouillon cube (use vegetable bouillon cube for vegetarian option)
•1 bay leaf
•Freshly ground black pepper

1 Place dry mushrooms to soak in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water. Set aside. (I had never used porcini before - what a treat! You know you're a grown-up when...)

2 Heat olive oil in a medium, thick-bottomed pot (4 or 5 quart) over medium heat. (I used a deep/wide skillet so I could spread the veggies out and use the shorter cook times for each step) Add the minced onions and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a deep golden color, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust the heat lower if necessary to keep the onions from drying out.

3 Add the minced carrots and cook for 5-6 more minutes. Add the celery and cook until soft, about 10 more minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Cook for 4-5 minutes more. (and then it starts to smell AMAZING!)

4 Remove the porcini from the soaking liquid, reserving the liquid. (The easiest way to do this we found is to pour the porcini and soaking liquid through a coffee filter, into a bowl or measuring cup. This helps remove any grit that may be lingering in the soaking liquid.) Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the vegetables in the pot.

5 Push the vegetables to one side of the pot and increase the heat to high. Add the 1/2 cup of red wine to the side of the pot without the vegetables and cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes. (subbed stock)

6 Add the tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups of the mushroom soaking liquid, the bouillon cube (break it up with your fingers as you add it), and the bay leaf to the pot. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Add ground black pepper to taste. Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Discard the bay leaf.

Serve over polenta or toss with ravioli or other pasta.

Serves 8.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pecan Praline Topping

I wanted to make something as an extra special thank you to some of our friends who gifted us with spectacularly awesome gifts at our housewarming party and I thought the Maple Syrup Spice Cake would be just the thing. Topped with this recipe for Walnut Praline Topping from Joy the Baker.

I could have made the pear spice cake since I have pears in the fridge but honestly it was more work and dirty dishes than I had time for today. Also, the maple syrup cake is actually not very sweet so this topping is perfect for it. And it is heaven. I used toasted pecans because I think they go really well with this particular recipe. And it's so good I have to stop myself from cutting one more tiny piece. Also, this is not vegan in any way so if you are serving the cake which is vegan, well, keep that in mind.

1 stick butter
3/4 C packed brown sugar (I used dark)
1/4 C cream
1 C toasted pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped

Combine butter, brown sugar and cream in a medium saucepan on medium-hi heat and bring to a boil. Allow to boil 3 minutes then stir in nuts. Pour over cake and serve warm or at room temp. A perfect fall dessert to take to the office or eat for breakfast or to say thank you.

Friday, September 30, 2011

sweet honey-raisin challah

Happy new year, friends! My old friend M first found this recipe and I've made it a few times over the last few years, and decided it's basically foolproof. J and I made it last night, and it was massive -- far bigger than a dinner plate -- and wildly delicious.

Thanks, Diana! She recommends plumping the raisins beforehand by covering with hot water or brandy or fruit juice and letting sit for 3 to 5 minutes. (She also has bread machine variations and a few others on her website.)


1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packages (1/2 oz./4 1/2 tsp./14g) instant yeast or bread yeast
7 to 8 cups bread flour (approximately)
1/8 tsp. powdered saffron or a pinch of saffron threads (optional)
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz./8 tbsp./113g) butter or margarine, melted (or 1/2 cup vegetable oil may be used)
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups golden raisins, plumped *(See below on How to Plump Raisins)

Egg Wash:
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten and mixed with 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. water


1. In a large mixing bowl, stir the 1 tsp. sugar into the 1 1/2 cups warm water. Sprinkle in yeast and stir well; let stand until frothy or foamy, about 10 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in 7 cups of the flour, saffron (if using) and salt. Add honey, the 1/3 cup sugar, melted butter (or vegetable oil or melted margarine, if using), whole eggs and egg yolks; stir until dough forms.

2. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding enough of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary to prevent sticking (you may need to add more flour if your dough is still too sticky. Add in one tablspoon at a time until the dough is cohesive). Place dough in a greased glass or ceramic bowl, turning to grease dough all over. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap or a warm damp kitchen towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size and indentation remains when dough is poked with 2 fingers, about one hour or so. Punch down dough, transfer dough to work surface, let rest for 10 minutes, then knead in raisins (if using).

3. To Make Round Crown Loaf:
Roll out dough into a 30-inch (76 cm) long rope. Holding one end in place, wind remaining rope around end to form a fairly tight spiral that is slightly higher in the center of dough. Transfer dough to a greased rimmed baking sheet.

4. To Make a 4 rope Braided Loaf:
Divide dough into quarters; roll each quarter into 18-inch (45 cm) long ropes. Place side by side on a greased rimmed baking sheet; pinch ropes together at one end. Starting at pinched end, move second rope from left over rope on its right. Move far right rope over 2 ropes on left. Move far left rope over 2 ropes on right. Repeat until braid is complete; tuck ends under braid.

5. Cover crown loaf or braid loaf with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about one hour.

6. Egg Wash:
Stir egg yolk with 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. water; brush over loaf (s).

Bake in center of 350°F/180°C oven until deep golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on rack for 15 minutes before slicing.

Makes 1 "generously" large loaf or 2 large loaves

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knock-Off Killer Brownies

For those of you who read PW, she posted this recipe for Knock You Naked brownies which are a knock-off of DLM's Killer Brownies. Normally I do not use a box mix for anything outside of making Paula Deen's butter cake but 1.) I wanted to take something to work for our training session yesterday and 2.) I haven't had a Killer Brownie since before we moved from Dayton and 3.) they come together quickly. In fact, these brownies were served at my bridal shower in Ohio.

Anyway, I made this even easier on myself and not only used cake mix but also used Fleur de Sel caramel from Trader Joe's. Here's the recipe:

1 box german chocolate cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1.5 C toasted pecans, finely chopped
1/3 C evaporated milk
1 jar caramel sauce
1/3 C chocolate chips
powdered sugar for dusting prior to serving

Preheat oven to 350 and butter an 8x8 pan. Grease well or you'll have a devil of a time cleaning it later. Also, you can double this recipe and bake in an 9x13 pan but be sure to put a foil-lined baking sheet underneath in case of overflow (I had a bit). Mix together cake mix, butter, pecans and evap. milk. Press half into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and pour over caramel, sprinkle with chocolate chips and if you are me, add a few handfuls of shredded coconut. Roll or pat out remaining dough to fit the baking dish (it's easier than trying to drop evenly placed and sized blobs) and press on top of caramel and chocolate. Be careful because your baking dish is going to be hot. Return to oven and bake another 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and then refrigerate. Try to show restraint because PW is right, you need to cool and chill these before trying to cut them or the caramel will just leak out everywhere. Before serving, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and cut into squares. These are quite decadent and small pieces will feed many.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

swiss chard hash & eggs

I have a ridiculous swiss chard surplus from the garden. This year is the first time I've grown chard, and I didn't realize that after you cut it, it grows back, like spinach! Ah, the magic of leafy greens.

So I've been trying to think of creative ways to use it, and one of the best I've found, inspired by this blog post, is to make a sort of hash.

Chop tons of chard -- like, seriously, way more than you think is reasonable -- and dice the stems pretty finely, separating them out from the leaves. Heat some olive oil on low in a skillet and throw the stems in first, with chopped garlic and onion. (I like red onions the best for this because they make it sweet.)

After a minute or two, throw in the leaves.

When everything is soft, make little holes/nests in the chard mixture, so the bottom of the skillet shows through. Turn the heat up to medium. Spray a little more oil into each nest, so nothing sticks.

Crack one egg into each nest and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook for about five minutes, depending on how firm you like your yolks.

Unveil and eat with toast!

Israeli couscous tabouli

I'm usually not crazy about tabouli because I don't like the taste of bulgur, for some reason, so using Israeli couscous was a nice substitute. We had friends over for dinner last night and served this with stuffed green peppers, and we made the filling out of couscous, chicken sausage, onions, peppers, Parm and oregano.

(Loosely based on this Food Network recipe.)
  • 1 package Israeli couscous, about 1 1/2 c dry
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • a big glug of olive oil 
  • generous servings of chopped herbs to taste; we used a blend of cilantro, oregano and mint 
  • a few shakes of zatar (optional but good)
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • bunch of scallions, chopped
Bring a medium-size saucepan of water to a boil over medium heat. Add the couscous and cook until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the couscous, run cold water over it for a few seconds to prevent clumping, and set aside to cool.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, zatar, and salt and pepper. Shake or whisk to combine.

In a large serving bowl, mix together the couscous, herbs, tomatoes and scallions. Toss with the vinaigrette and season to taste. Allow it to sit for at least a half hour so the flavors can marry. [I like that phrase. "I now pronounce you tabouli! you may kiss the herbs!"]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken chili

This is adapted from Skinny Taste

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
2 1/2 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp chili powder
2 1/2 tbsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts

Place chicken in crockpot, then add beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, and spices on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Fry bread

I made this tonight to have with chili, as an alternative to our usual cornbread.
So, so tasty. And super simple.
We all broke ours into pieces, and then stuffed the air pockets with the chili and ate sort of like a pita.
Certainly not something you can eat all the time -- because it is fried dough -- but a totally good treat.
I'm not even going to bother to transcribe the recipe, because I want you to go read all about fry bread at the Smithsonian. And then I want you to make some. We had a nice discussion at dinner tonight about how the Native Americans eat this, and then we got sort of serious about why they first made this -- reservations and how the government used to give them crappy food and how this is really food borne out of necessity. Gaby probably internally rolls her eyes and thinks "can't I just eat the tasty bread in peace?"
Too bad she's stuck with us.

whole wheat chocolate chip skillet cookies

You guys, this is chocolate chip cookie (really chocolate chip pie) nirvana. It's what those huge cookie cakes from the mall should taste like.

And I went a little overboard with the undercooking -- I love cookie dough and underdone baked goods in general, so I took this out after about 30 minutes instead of the 35-45 that Heidi suggests. It wasn't enough and the cookie was really kind of soupy (although delicious!)... until I put it in the fridge, still in the skillet overnight. Then the nirvana hit and it was sort of like just-barely-cooked solid dough. You. guys. So. good.

Next time, though, I'll leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes -- I would have been nervous to serve it to anyone when it was that uncooked. (Note that it didn't stop me and Jared from eating the entire thing ourselves over the course of not very many days.)

3 cups whole-wheat flour [I used 2 c whole wheat pastry flour and 1 c AP)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
8 ounces / 225 g (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [I used Earth Balance sticks]
1 cup / 5 oz / 140 g dark brown sugar
1 cup / 7 oz / 200 g sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces / 225 g bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces [I used Ghiardelli 60% semisweet chips]

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C degree oven, with a rack in the middle. Butter a 10 (25cm) or 11-inch (28cm) ovenproof skillet, one that is at least 2-inches (5 cm) deep. [I sprayed with that Pam flour baking spray.] If you're unsure, measure, because if you use a too small skillet, you'll have a messy overflow.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

In another large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and the sugars. Mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes using the mixer on low speed. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl along the way. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is barely combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add most of the chocolate to the batter. Mix just until the chocolate is evenly incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then scrape the batter out into the skillet, pressing it out into an even layer. Sprinkle any remaining chocolate across the top, and casually press it into the dough a bit, just enough that it isn't riding directly on top of the dough.

Bake the cookies for 35-45 minutes, or until until the dough is a deep golden brown along the edge, and the center has set. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before slicing into. Cute into wedges or small squares.

Makes one large skillet cookie, which you can cut into as many cookies as you like.

Monday, September 05, 2011

old bay cod cakes

Made this for Old-Bay-loving J's birthday this year, along with the Old Bay version of the magic corn and bean salad and some fresh green beans from the garden. Mm.

Be forewarned: It makes about six small cakes, and we finished the whole thing just the two of us. If you're feeding more than two, I'd double.

1/3 cup white wine
2 large sprigs parsley
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 pound cod [I used the flash-frozen stuff from Wegmans, which I think is excellent, thawed in the refrigerator for a day]
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon old bay [I used more like a tablespoon]
1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup panko
1/4 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup flour

Combine 1 c water with the wine, the sprigs of parsley, and the peppercorns. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. [the original recipe has you do this with a steamer attachment, which I don't have. also, my cod was still slightly frozen, so I wanted it to go directly into the boiling water-wine mixture.]

Put in the fish and turn the heat down slightly, cover and poach for 8-12 minutes, until the cod flakes easily.

Transfer the cod to a large mixing bowl and set aside until it’s cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the red onion and cook until beginning to become translucent. Add the garlic and half of the parsley, and cook another 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, some freshly ground pepper, the Old Bay seasoning, and the smoked paprika. Cook another minute, then remove from the heat.

Shred the cod into small pieces and remove any bones. Add the onion mixture, the panko, the mayonaise, and the remaining chopped parsley. Stir to combine, then taste for salt, adding more as needed.

Form the mixture into 6 even patties. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8.

On a shallow plate, combine the flour with a good pinch of salt and a couple grinds of hot pepper.

Film a large frying pan with about 2 tablespoons of oil and place it over medium heat. Sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in; when it sizzles, you’re ready to go.

Gently place each cod cake in the flour, flipping to coat, then put it in the pan, taking care not to crowd. (if your pan is small, do two batches). Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes, then carefully flip each cake with a thin metal spatula and cook another 3-4 minutes until the second side is golden brown.

a foodie's delight

J and I went to Blue Hill Farm for our anniversary, the foodie-est thing we've ever done and the best meal I've ever had. And now I want to figure out how to make wheatberry pudding and half-dehydrated peaches and egg yolk carbonara and lots of other things.

We posted about it on our wedding website; go forth and read if you so desire!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Stuffed peppers

6 bell peppers
1 lb turkey
1 1/2 cup cooked rice
1 can flavored tomatoes (I used fire roasted with garlic)
1 t worcestershire sauce
2 T ketchup
1 t black pepper
1/3 cup water

Use as many peppers as you can get in your crockpot, but this is how many I can get in my 6 qt. oval crockpot.
Cut the tops off the peppers, clean them out.
Mix turkey, rice, tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, ketchup, pepper together. Fill peppers and put the tops back on.
Put peppers in crockpot. Carefully add water to the bottom (do not pour on top of peppers).
Cook on high for 4-6 or low for 8 -- you want the peppers to be nice and soft, but not falling apart, and the turkey to be cooked through.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Commissary's Carrot Cake

From: The Commissary Cookbook

So, once upon a time in Philadelphia, there was a restaurant called The Commissary. Their carrot cake was famous. People still talk about it, even though the restaurant is long gone. If you search the interwebs for the best carrot cake recipe out there, you will probably find at least a few people talking about the Commissary carrot cake.

Two years ago a friend mentioned to me that he really likes carrot cake, and asked if I had carrot cake on my agenda any time soon. I didn't, but I remembered the request, and when that person's 40th birthday came around a few weeks ago I made this cake for him. It's not SO different from any other carrot cake recipe, but it is very tasty and delicious. The cake itself is very moist and flavorful, and the pecan filling and cream cheese frosting are the perfect complements. Of course, my supervisor Karen (who gives me all the best baking recipes) directed me to this recipe, and she makes it without the pecans and just uses more cream cheese frosting as the filling instead of the pecan cream, so you could do that too and Karen assures me it is still delicious without the nuts.

The only change I made was to slightly alter the cream cheese-butter ratio, based on the suggestions in the comments. (This recipe was published by the author of the Commissary cookbook, who was the owner of the restaurant, so this is the original recipe, not someone else's attempt to recreate it).

Do Ahead: This cake is most easily made if you start it at least a day ahead, since the filling, for one thing, is best left to chill overnight. In fact, the different components can all be made even several days in advance and stored separately until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Pecan Cream Filling

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Carrot Cake

1 1/4 cups corn oil (I used canola)
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
4 cups grated carrots (about a 1-pound bag)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces soft unsalted butter
12 ounces soft cream cheese
1-pound box of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


4 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut (1 1/2 cups)

1 Make the filling: In a heavy saucepan, blend well the sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually stir in the cream. Add the butter. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat until the butter has melted, then let simmer 20-30 minutes until golden brown in color, stirring occasionally. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Let cool completely and then refrigerate, preferably overnight. If too thick to spread, bring to room temperature before using.

2 Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Have ready a greased and floured 10″ tube cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn oil and sugar. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift half the dry ingredients into the sugar-oil mixture and blend. Alternately sift in the rest of the dry ingredients while adding the eggs, one by one. Combine well. Add the carrots, raisins, and pecans. Pour into the prepared tube pan and bake for 70 minutes. Cool upright in the pan on a cooling rack. If you are not using the cake that day, it can be removed from the pan, wrapped well in plastic wrap and stored at room temper­ature.

3 Make the frosting: Cream the butter well. Add the cream cheese and beat until blended. Sift in the sugar and add the vanilla. If too soft to spread, chill a bit. Refrigerate if not using imme­diately, but bring to a spreadable temperature before using.

4 Assemble the cake. Preheat the oven to 300°. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until it colors lightly. Toss the coconut occasionally while it is baking so that it browns evenly. Cool completely. Have the filling and frosting at a spreadable consistency. Loosen the cake in its pan and invert onto a serving plate. With a long serrated knife, carefully split the cake into 3 horizontal layers. Spread the filling between the layers. Spread the frosting over the top and sides. Pat the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake. If desired, reserve 1/2 cup of the frosting and color half with green food coloring and half with orange. Then decorate the top of the cake with green and orange icing piped through a 1/16” wide, plain pastry tube to resemble little carrots. Serve the cake at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

fresh corn & bean salad

I'm a sucker for anything called "the magic _______." From Everybody Likes Sandwiches, with fairly substantial modifications.

3 cobs of corn, uncooked, kernels sliced off with a sharp knife
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 large cucumber, seeded and diced
handful each of fresh cilantro and basil [she suggested parsley, thyme and basil]
1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed
1/4 c olive oil
juice of 2 juicy limes (should equal approx. 1/3 c)
2 heaping tsp gochu jang [her version had paprika, old bay and s&p]

Toss everything together except the olive oil, lime juice and gochu jang or other spicy/sweet sauce. In a small jar, combine those three ingredients, shake, pour over the salad. Continue to ignore your stove or any other heat source for the rest of the night.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Pasta with roasted tomato sauce

So, in the last three weeks, our CSA has netted us 6 pint containers of cherry/grape tomatoes. Plus the regular "slicing" tomatoes -- big heirloom ones. That's a lot of tomatoes.
What to do with all the little tomatoes? Some are for salads, of course.
Most, though, went into this last week. Oh, and one note. I don't often have 45 minutes before I even start preparing dinner -- the short people demand dinner that can be cooked quicker than that. So I roasted the tomatoes the night before, and stuck in the fridge so Ernie wouldn't have to rush around the kitchen on a Monday night.
I think you could probably leave out the olives complete, and double the capers, and it'd be just as good. Maybe I'll do that next time.

from Epicurious

2 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (omitted for little people)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1 pound farfalle (bow-tie) pasta
1/2 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives
1/4 cup drained capers
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
print a shopping list for this recipe

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Combine tomatoes, oil, garlic, vinegar, and crushed red pepper (if using) in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes are tender and juicy, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Stir in oregano.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Return to pot. Add tomato mixture, olives, and capers. Stir over medium heat until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add feta and stir until melted and creamy, about 2 minutes. Divide pasta among 6 plates; sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Tangy BBQ sauce

Adapted from the Neelys

I made a batch of this to use next weekend when I will be making pulled pork for 24 people at a family reunion. I wanted to make a double batch but didn't have enough ingredients on hand at home tonight. If I make another batch later in the week, I might try reducing the apple cider vinegar just a bit to see if I like it better that way. It's definitely good this way, but it is vinegar-y. I cut back on the sugar from the original recipe, as recommended in many of the comments, so that may have contributed to the strong vinegar tang, too. I may continue to play around with this recipe, but it's a good starting place. You could also throw this in the crockpot for a few hours instead of simmering on your stovetop.


2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
pinch of aleppo pepper
pinch of sweet paprika
pinch of smoked paprika


In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 30 minutes.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

blueberry compote

What do you do when you pick 11 pounds of blueberries in half an hour? Cook something that will make them take up less space. I'm planning to eat this on yogurt for the rest of my life.

Adapted from a Seattle Times recipe, mostly to increase the quantity and try to make it reduce faster.

6 cups fresh blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine the ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cook over medium heat until the blueberry skins have popped and the mixture is thickened, about 20 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes two large jelly jars (about 3 cups?) of sauce.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

vote early & often

Shannon and I are mulling a change in FG's background, possibly to one of the templates shown here.

In the comments, vote for your two or three favorites. Viva democracy!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chicken Ropa Vieja

From: Gina's Skinny Recipes

This can be made in the crockpot (partially) or completely on the stovetop. I would like to figure out if you could do it all in one step in the crockpot, but in the comments Gina recommends not doing it that way. If I make it again maybe I'll experiment and try it, but this time I did the two-step process of making the chicken in the crockpot and then finishing it on the stovetop. Serve as is in a soup bowl, or over rice, or wrapped up in a tortilla, or over tortilla chips, etc.

3 chicken breast halves
1 small onion, quartered
1 tomato, quartered
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup tomato sauce
reserved broth
1 tsp cumin, or more to taste (I like a lot)
garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken, onion, tomato, carrot, and 2 peeled cloves of garlic into crock pot. Add water to cover, and set to high for 4 hours until the chicken is tender. If cooking on the stove, cook on medium-low, and simmer until the chicken is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Place the chicken into a bowl and shred it into strips using a fork; set aside. Reserve the liquid. Discard solids.

In a large deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, green peppers, and red peppers. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in chicken, tomato sauce, white wine, and about 3/4 cup of the reserved broth to create a nice sauce. Season with cumin, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer on low for about 10 minutes more adding more broth and seasoning if needed. Makes 4 cups.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

PW's perfect iced coffee

She's right, it's perfect. This sort of makes an iced-coffee concentrate, which keeps in the fridge for a long time.

I won't lie, it's messy and inconvenient (particularly if your dumb glass bowl decides to leak for no reason and you wind up with an inch of coffee all over your refrigerator shelf), but the results are worth it. I am an iced coffee fanatic in the summer, and cold-brew methods really do give you better, stronger coffee -- which has to be stronger since you need ice cubes, and unless you're super smart and make coffee ice cubes, the coffee gets diluted, and then even if you do have coffee ice cubes, it throws off your milk/coffee balance, which is problematic, and clearly I have thought about this an awful lot.

PW recommends steeping this for at least 8 hours; I accidentally steeped mine for almost 24. It is strong, my friends. My current ratio is half coffee and half milk, plus a splash of delicious chemical-laden caramel macchiato fake cream. MMMM.

Last thing: I went to three stores and couldn't find cheesecloth, so I used regular coffee filters clipped to a glass pitcher instead. Annoying, since I had to keep changing out the filters... but effective and (again) worth it.

I tweaked and halved her recipe, since I couldn't find a bowl or pitcher big enough to hold two gallons of liquid. This makes just under a gallon of coffee.
  • 1 pound ground coffee (I love Cafe Bustelo)
  • 1 gallon (4 quarts) cold water
In a large container, mix ground coffee with water. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight.

Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set over a pitcher or other container. [Or use coffee filters, switching out frequently.] Pour coffee/water mixture through the strainer, allowing all liquid to run through. Discard grounds.

Place coffee liquid in the fridge and allow to cool. Use as needed.


Here are her notes for drinking. Hefk and I both want to try it with condensed milk...

To make iced coffee, pack a glass full of ice cubes. Fill glass 2/3 full with coffee liquid. Add healthy splash of half-and-half. Add 2-3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (can use plain sugar instead) and stir to combine. Taste and adjust half-and-half and/or sweetened condensed milk as needed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Marinated Tomatoes

From: Pioneer Woman

This is a good recipe for all the summer tomatoes that are starting to come in, from the garden and the farm share. You can use any kind of tomatoes - large, small, red, yellow, etc. We ate these piled high on fresh mozzarella with a bit of fresh-cracked black pepper and kosher salt. Todd also made a toasted/melted version for dinner, too - he toasted up some nice bread, piled on the tomatoes, placed some sliced mozzarella on top and then stuck it back in the toaster oven to melt the cheese. Sprinkle with sliced basil and, viola (as they say in France)! You could also serve it cold on toasted bread like bruschetta, or spoon it over some quinoa or cous cous for a side dish, etc.


1 cup Canola Oil (I used less, and substituted olive oil)
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 whole Green Onions, Sliced
1/4 cup Chopped Parsley
18 whole Basil Leaves (chiffonade)
1/4 teaspoon Ground Thyme
2 cloves Garlic, Minced Finely
2 pounds Tomatoes, Cut Into Quarters (if Big) Or Halves (if Small)
1 whole Baguette, Sliced, optional
1 clove Garlic, Peeled, optional

Combine all ingredients except tomatoes in a large glass bowl. Whisk to combine, then add tomatoes. (You can increase the quantity of tomatoes if need be.) Use regular red tomatoes, or a mixture of red, yellow, heirloom, etc. Use different sizes of tomatoes, too--pretty!

Allow to marinate for at least 3 to 4 hours, several hours if possible. Tomatoes will give off liquid as they marinate.

Use leftover tomatoes to make bruschetta: slice baguette and brush slices with olive oil. Grill on a skillet or grill pan until golden. Rub slices with garlic cloves. Top with tomatoes, allowing juice to drip on the bread.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teriyaki Burgers with Mango Pineapple Salsa

Until last week, I'd never looked at Annie's Eats. I saw the url on several posts from foodgoodness posters and finally took a peek.
This one is summery and nice. I messed with it, of course, but I'll just post as is and spare you my usual "but then I did THIS instead" litany.

Just one thing, if you have a bread machine to make the dough and the extra hour for rising, homemade buns are easy, you guys.


For the salsa:
1 mango, diced
1-1½ cups diced fresh pineapple
½ of one red bell pepper, diced small
¼ cup red onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
Juice of one lime
Pinch of coarse salt

For the sauce: (I halved it and had plenty for 4 burgers)
1 cup fresh chopped pineapple
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced fine
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. vinegar (apple cider or rice vinegar)
½ tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. cold water

For the burgers:
1 lb. ground sirloin
2 tbsp. finely chopped yellow onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 or 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss to mix well. Cover and refrigerate, allowing flavors to blend while you prepare the sauce and burgers.

To make the sauce, combine the pineapple, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, garlic, vinegar and sesame oil in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth and well blended. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat until bubbly, about 1-2 minutes. In a small prep bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and stir until well incorporated. Continue heating the sauce, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the burgers, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat. In a large bowl, mix together the beef, yellow onion, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Form the mixture into 4 patties, each about ¾-inch thick.

When the grill is heated, cook the hamburgers directly over medium-high heat, turning once, 3 -5 minutes per side. Check for doneness by cutting into a hamburger near the center or testing with an instant-read thermometer. No pink should show on the inside, and the internal temperature should register at least 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. A few minutes before the burgers are done cooking, grill the buns just until lightly brown and toasted.

To serve, place a hamburger patty on each of the buns. Top with teriyaki sauce and garnish with mango-pineapple salsa. Replace the top bun to form a sandwich and serve immediately.

Oatmeal Cookies with Blueberries and Walnuts

Adapted from the Wood Prairie Farm website (and just about the most poorly written cookie recipe ever).

2 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t soda
1/2 t salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 C white sugar
1 C dark brown sugar
1 T light corn syrup, optional*
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3 C old fashioned (rolled) oats--do NOT use instant
1 C dried blueberries
1 C chopped lightly toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, leaveners, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl, whisk together and set aside. In your stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until lighter in color and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, corn syrup (if using) and then vanilla. Slowly add in flour mixture and be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl and beater to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed before adding the remaining ingredients. Add oats, berries and walnuts and stir on slow just until combined--the blueberries can be a bit fragile so be careful. If using a small cookie scoop, you'll want to bake them for 10-12 minutes and be sure to leave 1" of space between each cookie b/c they will spread a little. If making larger cookies, adjust time accordingly. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container.

*The addition of corn syrup will lend the cookies a chewier texture and helps if you want to store them for a while and/or ship them by mail.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Avocado-Corn Chowder with Grilled Chicken

Adapted slightly from Mark Bittman in the latest issue of Cooking Light.

This is a no-cook (if you leave out the chx), easy and delicious soup that I plan to make again. Also, it keeps well due to the citrus content.

2 ripe avocados, divided
1.5 C water
1/2 C fresh lemon juice
1 t honey
1/4 t red pepper flakes
12 oz skinless, boneless chx breasts
olive oil or cooking spray
1.5 C fresh corn kernels (or some fresh and some frozen or all frozen--it's up to you)
1 C chopped red bell pepper
1/3 C chopped green onions (I used red onion b/c that's what I had)
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro, optional
lime wedges

Using your blender or immersion blender, plunk one avocado, peeled and diced into your work bowl and add water, lemon juice, honey, 3/4 t salt, 1/4 t pepper and the red pepper flakes; blend until smooth or it's reached the desired consistency. I also added the kernels from 2 ears of corn I had on hand and pureed them with the avocado. Then I used frozen roasted corn that I defrosted to stir in at the end. Set soup aside in fridge to chill while you cook the chx.

Grill/bake the chx as you see fit. If you have a grill, have at it. I think the smoky chariness of grilled chicken goes really well with this soup. Let chx stand for 10 minutes before cutting or shredding into bite-sized pieces. Peel and dice remaining avocado and stir in with bell pepper, onions, and extra corn if using. Top with chicken and cilantro, if using, and serve with lime wedges. Serves 4.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Slow cooked mojo de ajo

This? This right here? This is the new cornerstone for all of my cooking.
Until, of course, I need a break from garlic.
Which means it's a very long time from now.
This very lovely garlic and olive oil is easy to make, fills the whole house with good smells, and is tasty, too. (what? i snuck a taste once the oil had cooled) Make some. You know you want to.

from The Man, Rick Bayless
Please note: the recipe does not call for the chipotle, but when I watched him in his PBS series, he threw a chipotle in. So I did, too.

4 large heads garlic OR 10 ounces (about 1 3/4 cups) peeled garlic cloves
2 cups olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 (or more) chipotle pepper


Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Break the heads of garlic apart, then mash each clove (a fist against the side of a knife is what I do) to release the clove from its papery skin; if using already-peeled garlic, scoop the cloves into a heavy plastic bag and use a rolling pin to mash them slightly.

Stir together the garlic, oil, chipotle and salt in an 8x8-inch baking pan (make sure all the garlic is submerged), slide it into the oven and bake until the garlic is soft and lightly brown, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Add the lime juice and return to the oven for 20 minutes for the garlic to absorb the lime and turn golden brown.

Using an old-fashioned potato masher or large fork, mash the garlic into a coarse puree. Pour the mixture into a wide-mouth storage container and refrigerate. The mojo will last for up to three months as long as the garlic stays submerged under the oil.