Monday, December 20, 2010


Bryant typically doesn't have much of a sweet tooth but every time I make biscotti, it disappears at an alarming rate. This is so good if you like something small after dinner - it's sweet without being overly sweet.  It's also perfect for dipping (or dunking) in coffee. We've tried a couple different combinations although almond is our favorite.  Adding a thin layer of melted chocolate to the outside is delicious as well for a slightly more decadent treat.

Taken from: AllRecipes
Makes approx. 36 cookies
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (didn't have on hand so I omitted)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups add-ins (pistachio nuts, slivered almonds, cranberries, walnuts, chocolate chips, etc, etc or any combination)
-Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
-In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in the eggs. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder; gradually stir into egg mixture. Mix in add-ins by hand.
-Divide dough in half. Form two logs (12x2 inches) on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Dough may be sticky; wet hands with cool water to handle dough more easily.
-Bake for 35-45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until logs are light brown (I like going for 40-45 minutes to make sure the biscotti comes out nice and crispy). 
-Remove from oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 275 degrees F.
-Cut logs on diagonal into 3/4 inch thick slices. Lay on sides on parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8-12 minutes or until dry. Cool.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quinoa with Almonds & Cranberries

I served this quinoa with almonds and cranberries as a side dish to our delicious bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin and it was so light and easy.  It's a good combination of the sweetness from the cranberries, nuttiness from the quinoa and almonds, and sharpness from the vinegar.  It's also wonderful because this recipe doesn't require a lot of effort on your part and can sit for a while until you are ready to serve it (I bet having it sit longer would actually meld the flavors even more).

Quinoa is incredibly good for you - a grain that is gluten-free (if that's important to you) and much higher in protein and fiber than brown rice (quinoa's protein is also a complete protein source which provides all nine essential amino acids).  It's found more and more in regular grocery stores in addition to health foods and co-ops, Trader Joes, etc. 

Quinoa with Cranberries & Almonds
Taken from: A Hint of Honey
Serves 4-6

  • 1/3 cup pistachios, toasted in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant (I substituted slivered almonds because we always have some in the house)
  • 1 cup quinoa, toasted in a dry skillet over high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes (forgot to toast this but it still turned out great!)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped (you can also add in 1/4 c. dried apricots although I omitted)
  • 1-2 stalks celery, sliced 
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt + more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
Honey Shallot Sherry Vinaigrette:
  • 2 tsp. shallots or red onion, minced
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
-Add quinoa, water, and salt to a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is soft. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
-To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the shallot, honey, and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly stream in the olive oil, while whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
-Toss to combine the quinoa, nuts, cranberries (and apricots, if using), celery, and green onions in a large bowl. Pour the vinaigrette over top and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Brown Rice Risotto

I love risotto.  At first, I shied away from it since I figured that to get that creamy texture, they had to use tons of cream and fat.  When I checked out the ingredients, however, they only include rice, a little butter and LOTS of chicken stock.  I've also come to appreciate its versatility, too.  We had risotto with butternut squash which was delicious but you could use just a combination of just about anything you might want or have in the house - shrimp, scallops, chicken, peas, squash, leeks, mushrooms, etc.   I typically serve risotto as a side dish, but last night it was our non-meat meal (served with a bean salad on the side to add a bit more protein).

The only downside to this delicious dish is that risotto is a lot of work.  And brown rice just doubles the time.  But brown rice is all I keep in the house and I never remember to buy arborio so that's what I use (the extra fiber and nutrients from the brown rice are a plus, too).  However, as soon as you have a bite of risotto, you forget about the work and just enjoy the dish.

Although I haven't tested it yet, here's a blog post to how to make baked risotto.  It still takes 45 minutes to cook but at least doesn't require constant attention normal risotto requires: Ezra Pound Cake's Baked Risotto.

Brown Rice Risotto
Taken from: A Hint of Honey
Serves: 8 side dishes, 4 main course
  • Any add-ins you'd like (just be sure to pre-cook anything beforehand and then set aside: squash, mushrooms, asparagus, shrimp, etc)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup brown rice (or arborio)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice + 1/4 cup water)
  • 3 1/2- 8 cups chicken broth (depending on whether you use brown or arborio rice, could also substitute some water for stock; I used about 5 cups of broth)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
-Prepare add-ins by pre-cooking them beforehand (peas are an exception - they do not have to be pre-cooked).
-Heat 3 Tbsp. butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots/onions and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring until nicely coated.
-While the shallots are cooking, bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
-Add the wine (lemon + water mixture). Slowly stir, allowing the rice to absorb the wine. Once the wine is almost completely absorbed, add 1/2-1 cup of stock to the rice. Continue to stir until the liquid is almost completely absorbed, adding more stock in 1/2 cup increments. Stir often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking and stirring rice, adding a little bit of broth at a time, cooking and stirring until it is absorbed, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite (about 15 to 20 minutes for arborio and up to 1 hour for brown rice). Remove from heat.
Note: The stock amount given is approximate. You may need a little more or less. If you end up needing more stock and you find yourself without, just use water or any cooking water you might have used
-Gently stir in the Parmesan cheese and your add-ins. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

While the idea seemed a bit laughable to me at first (really? pig wrapped in pig?), this bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin is an incredibly delicious meal.  Pork tenderloin is very low in fat and wrapping it in a few pieces of bacon not only adds a lot of flavor but it also keeps the tenderloin nice and moist.  Roasted garlic and herbs add even more flavor to this delicious dish. 

As much as Bryant and I like bacon, we're a bit particular about the way it's cooked.  We like it crispy...the crispier, the better. I was worried that this dish would end up with soft bacon but it didn't at all -- searing the bacon gives it the crispiness it needs

I highly recommend having an instant read meat thermometer (I use mine ALL the time).  My tenderloin was still slightly frozen when I cooked it so I just kept testing it until it reached 150 degrees. After letting it rest about 7 minutes, we had perfectly cooked, slightly pink pork. I only wish that I had doubled the recipe.

Well done, Bobby Flay, well done.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
From: Bobby Flay
Serves 4
  • 1/2 head garlic, top sliced off
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 - 1 1/4 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I substituted 1 tsp.+ dried)
  • 6 fresh sage leaves (I substituted 1/2 tsp.+ sage leaves)
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (I substituted 1 tsp.+ dried)
  • 4-5 slices bacon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
-This step can be done ahead of time and roasted garlic stored in the fridge until ready to use: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place garlic in a small ramekin or oven-proof dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and wrap in foil. Bake until soft, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic flesh from head into a small bowl.
-In a small bowl, mix the herbs together.  Rub the top each tenderloin with the roasted garlic and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the herb mix over the garlic on the tenderloin. Wrap with 4 strips of bacon (5 if necessary) around the tenderloin and tie bacon in place with kitchen twine.
-Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat oil in a medium skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Sear the tenderloin until golden brown on all sides (for 2-3 minutes per side). If using a cast-iron pan, transfer pan with tenderloin into oven.  Otherwise, transfer seared tenderloin to medium roasting pan and place in the oven.
-Cook to medium doneness about 8 to 10 minutes (if using an instant meat thermometer, 145 degrees for more rare and 150 for slightly pink pork). Transfer tenderloins to plate, cover with aluminum foil and let stand 5-10 minutes. Remove twine before carving.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Best Blueberry Scones & Week's Menu Plan

Bryant actually introduced me to scones a couple of years ago and I just love them. I've ordered them at different coffee shops and bakeries. Well, that's not right; I used to order them at different coffee shops and bakeries.  And then I tried making this Cook's Illustrated recipe for scones and these homemade blueberry scones kind of ruined me for all others. They're so, so, so good.  Moist, incredibly flaky, sweet (but not overly sweet) and best when they're fresh out of the that's my kind of scone.  These are also great because you can freeze the raw scones and when you want one, you take it out of the freezer, pop it in a preheated oven and bake 25-30 minutes.  Not a bad way to start any day.

The Best Blueberry Scones
Taken from: Cook's Illustrated
Serves 8
I've never tried them with anything other than blueberries (I wash and freeze them when they're in season so I can make these scones any time of year) but I'm sure you could substitute in other fruits or flavors, if you'd like.
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tbsp), frozen whole*
    1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (about 7 1/2 ounces), picked over
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used low-fat
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
  • 1/2 cup sugar*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    *You'll need about 1/2 tsp of melted butter and 1/4 tsp. sugar to spread on top of each scone right before baking.
-Grate stick of butter on large holes of box grater into a bowl. Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.
-If you are making some of these scones immediately, turn oven to 425 degrees.
-Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. In a large bowl, whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.
-Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
-Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.
-Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.
-At this point, you can wrap the 8 scones in foil, place them in a freezer bag and then put them in the freezer for another day (or cook them immediately).
-When ready to make, heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray thoroughly with cooking spray).
-For each scone you're baking, brush top with 1/2 tsp. melted butter and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown: 18 to 25 minutes if at room temperature, 22-30 minutes if frozen. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Week's Menu Plan
Saturday: barbeque chicken with polenta
Sunday: Bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with pistachio & cranberry quinoa

Monday:  turkey pot pie
Tuesday: butternut squash risotto

Wednesday: Manhattan clam chowder 

Friday: pasta with bacon and peas

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sesame Noodles

This meal was great for so many reasons: fast (since I was feeling a bit lazy), adaptable (I threw it any extra vegetables we happened to have in the fridge), delicious (it tasted a lot like chow mein), and healthy.  So really, what's not to like? Although I typically measure every single ingredient in a recipe, even I could handle throwing some ingredients together; it also helped that the end result tasted like I had planned it all along.

With any stir fry, it's really important to have all your ingredients prepped and at hand.  There's just not a lot of time between start to finish to prep any ingredients.  But even including the prep time, this is still can be on the table in 30 minutes.

Sesame Noodles
Serves 4
Feel free to use all kinds of vegetables - cabbage, bell peppers, snow peas, shelled edamame, mushroom, green onions, broccoli (pre-cooked), red onions, carrots, etc.
  • 1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti (approximately 6-8 ounces)
  •  2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced (or pressed through a garlic press)
  • fresh ginger, peeled and grated (I used about a 1/2 inch piece)
  • 1/2-1 red bell pepper (chopped or cut julienne into thin strips)
  • 1/2 -1 green bell pepper (chopped or cut julienne into thin strips)
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into thin strips
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 napa or red cabbage, cored and cut into thin strips
  • Feel free to add/remove any vegetables
  • sesame seeds
  • crushed red pepper flakes
-Bring water to boil.
-As water heats, prep garlic, ginger and vegetables.
-Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to directions (continue prepping vegetables while the pasta cooks). Drain pasta.
-Heat a large skillet or wok to high heat.   When pan is very hot, add 2 Tbsp oil.
-Add garlic and ginger and stir.  Add vegetables immediately and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
-Add pasta to pot. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar and toss to incorporate all the ingredients.
-Remove from heat and serve with sesame seeds and crushed red peppers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Crackers

This weekend was a flurry of baking for me. I know that many people bake cookies around the Christmas holiday but this is one of the first years that I've actually participated in the tradition. I was making cookies for our church and for the base so I wanted to make a couple different kinds. (Of course, I made Bryant's award winning cookies but felt that I couldn't just stop there.)

Enter: Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers).  The blog Smitten Kitchen, who is my go-to for all things dessert and/or butter, appropriately nicknamed these Crack(ers) because these are so darn addictive.  And it's true! I was torn between "get-these-cookies-away-from-me-right-now" and "I-don't-want-to-share-these-with-anyone-else."  Let's just say it's a good thing that I promised these beforehand.

They're also incredibly simple to make -- definitely one of the easiest cookie recipes.  With just a handful of ingredients, it doesn't take too long to make these, either.

So if you happen to be doing any holiday baking, I highly recommend these.  Just keep them away from me.

Chocolate Caramel Crackers
Taken from: Smitten Kitchen
Makes 30-40
  • 4 to 6 sheets matzo or approximately 40 Saltine crackers or crackers of your choice
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • A big pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate)
  • 1 cup toasted chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts or a nut of your choice (optional)
  • Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.
-Line the bottom of the baking sheet with matzo or crackers, covering all parts.
-In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the matzo or crackers. You’ll want to spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.
-Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn (I just checked it every couple minutes). You can reduce the heat if you see this happening.
-Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. An offset spatula works great here. If you’re using them, sprinkle the chocolate with toasted chopped nuts and/or sea salt.
-Once completely cool (this process can be sped up by throwing the baking sheet in the fridge), break it into pieces and store it in a container. It should keep for a week (ha).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower & Week's Meal Plan

I have to admit, it's probably a good thing that I'm sharing a vegetable dish along with this week's menu plan because this week is full of MEAT.  I've been waiting for quite a few types of meat to go on sale to use a few (highly anticipated) recipes and they finally did...all at the same time.   I actually had a hard time figuring out how to squeeze in one vegetarian meal for the week and I finally had to force myself to freeze some of the meat for another week.

This roasted cauliflower recipe is good...surprisingly good.  I actually wasn't expecting that much from this dish (I like cauliflower but don't love it) but since we like roasted vegetables, I decided to give it a try.  Let's just say it was so good that Bryant and I were actually snacking on it. (Seriously, how often do you do that?)  Bryant didn't have time to eat lunch the next day at work but somehow, he made time to eat his leftover cauliflower.

Roasted Cauliflower
Taken from: Cooking with My Kid
Serves 3 (this recipe can be easily doubled)
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional; I omitted)
-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While chopping the cauliflower, place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat (this cuts down on the baking time if you're a little pressed for time).
-Place cauliflower in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Remove baking sheet from oven and quickly spread out cauliflower.
-Roasted for about 10 minutes, and then flip the florets to get them evenly browned and caramelized. Continue roasting about 10-15 more minutes.
-If desired, add pine nuts and then serve immediately or let cool to serve at room temperature.

Week's Menu Plan 

Sunday: Braised onion brisket w/ roasted vegs

Monday: Arroz con pollo

Tuesday: Sesame noodles

Wednesday: Blackened salmon with brussels sprouts

Thursday: French Dip Sandwiches (leftover from the Braised onion brisket) with salad

Friday:  Chicago style pizza (with sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions)

Saturday:  Breaded chicken stuffed with scallions and blue cheese, served with roasted cauliflower

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Poor Man's Beef Wellington

I have to say, I've never had a proper beef wellington but the idea of beef in a puff could you go wrong?  However, you have to shell out quite a bit of money for beef tenderloin, one of the most expensive cuts of beef; enter the poor man's version of a beef wellington: a ground beef wellington.  And since I was bringing this to feed 3 hungry boys at the hospital, I just happened to have the perfect audience. 

The ground beef wellington was so good, too! You can make one large wellington or 4 individual ones (I even cut the individual ones in half).  First of all, it's just an impressive presentation of a golden brown crust and the smell just fills the room.  Bryant actually commented that tastes a little like a Shepard's pie in a flaky crust (it was from Jamie's Food revolution cookbook by Jamie Olivier, a native Brit).  While the ground beef wellington was great just the way it was, I'd like to tweak it next time by increasing the vegetables a bit and perhaps try serving it with some kind of sauce (maybe a spicy sauce?). I actually served it all on it's own but I think it would be good with a salad or (my next post) roasted cauliflower.

I have a feeling Bryant will be asking for this again...

Ground Beef Wellington
Taken from: Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
Serves 4-6 (or 3 really hungry boys)
If your puff pastry is in the freezer, make sure to defrost it by sticking the 2 sheets in the refrigerator the night before.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 stalk celery, diced
  • 1-2 potato, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4-8 fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 twigs fresh rosemary, leaves pulled off the stems and chopped (I had to use two large pinches of dried rosemary)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 egg, beaten together in a small bowl
  • 3/4 - 1 pound ground beef (make sure to use at least 90% as the fat will actually drain onto the baking sheet!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a bit of flour
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted if frozen

-Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large skillet on medium low, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, potato, mushroom and rosemary. Cook, stirring, about 8-10 minutes. Add the frozen peas and stir for about a minute more.  Place this mixture in a large bowl and set it aside for a few minutes to cool a bit.
-To the large bowl with the vegetable mixture, add the ground beef, half the beaten egg and salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix it well.
-On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry. You can put the two sheets on top of each other and roll out one big rectangle (about 14×16″) and make a large Beef Wellington or cut that into 4 smaller rectangles to make 4 smaller ones.
-Place 1/4 of the ground beef mix onto the long seam of each rectangle, brush the outside long edges with some beaten egg and roll up lengthwise, pinching the edges together to seal. Put on a large cookie pan, seam side down.  Repeat for each. (I actually had enough leftovers for a 5th.)
-Brush the tops with the rest of the egg and bake for an hour at 350 F.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mexican Pulled Chicken & Week's Menu Plan

Since we had Thanksgiving a little late this year so my sister could join us, I was able to use Thursday and Friday for prepping all things Thanksgiving.  However, I had also promised to bring Bryant and his co-workers dinner for Friday.  Since I was busy making cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, pie dough, gravy, etc, etc, I didn't have much time to make an elaborate or complicated meal.  So I just sauteed some onions and dumped frozen chicken breast (I remove the fat and portion chicken breast before freezing it) and a few other ingredients into the slow cooker and cooked on low for 8 hours.  The result was surprisingly moist chicken that was great for burritos (and we used the leftovers in quesadillas the next day).

I highly recommend this recipe if you have time to throw the ingredients together in the morning to make an effortless meal that night.  Plus, when you serve it tons of extras - we had lettuce, cheddar cheese, black beans, guacamole, homemade salsa, and tortillas - it not only tastes great but it also looks like you worked a lot harder than you did!

Mexican Pulled Chicken
Taken from: Handle the Heat (great in burritos, tacos, quesadillas, etc)
Serves 4-6
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 heaping teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 cup salsa (homemade is better but jarred is fine for a quick dinner!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
-In a nonstick skillet, bring to a medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion, cumin, chili powder and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook onion, stirring regularly until it starts to soften (about 5 minutes). Add half a cup of chicken stock.
-Add skillet mixture to slow cooker.  Add chicken, salsa and the rest of the chicken stock.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
-Shred chicken in slow cooker with two forks (it should be tender enough to easily shred).  Continue cooking for 15 minutes or more or low. Add lime juice to chicken. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Week's Menu Plan

 Monday: Grilled Mahi Mahi with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and quinoa

Tuesday: Thai chicken soup

Wednesday:  turkey mole

Thursday: Rice and Bean Casserole

Friday: Penne with Italian sausage & bell peppers

Saturday: ground beef wellington

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken & Caribbean Chicken Salad

Is is appropriate to have a completely un-related Thanksgiving post on Thanksgiving Day? It is when you are celebrating Thanksgiving two days later! So while everyone else is in the throes of turkey roasting/potato mashing/pie baking, I'm just starting the Thanksgiving process today by making the easy things ahead of time (pie crust, cranberry relish, etc).

So while this meal probably isn't for Thanksgiving, definitely save it for another day.  This teriyaki chicken is so good and is actually even better great on top of the Caribbean Chicken Salad.

I actually found the Caribbean Chicken Salad first and just couldn't wait to make it.  However, it called for a store-bought teriyaki marinade; I definitely didn't want to buy a marinade (which not only is expensive but probably is chock full of extra sugar and other unnecessary ingredients) so I found my own recipe. This recipe caught my idea because it got high marks from about 2,00 reviews on  It was also surprisingly easy to make - just dump a few ingredients in a saucepan and simmer to make the marinade, then cook chicken breast for about 20-30 minutes.

So whether you make this teriyaki chicken all on its own or as a great addition to the Caribbean Chicken Salad, enjoy!

Teriyaki Chicken
Taken from: AllRecipes
Serves 4
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cold water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced (used ground ginger as a substitute)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4-6 skinless chicken breasts (I cut my chicken in half lengthwise; this makes the chicken pieces thinner and cuts down on the cooking time)
-In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.(You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate.)
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
-In a 9x13 inch baking dish, cover bottom with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup) and then spray with cooking spray. Add chicken pieces and then brush chicken with half the sauce.
-Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn pieces over, and brush with more sauce.  Bake for another approximately 10 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking. (If you are making the Caribbean Chicken salad, assemble the salad while the chicken cooks.)

Caribbean Chicken Salad
Taken from: AllRecipes
Serves 4
  • Teriyaki chicken (see recipe above)
  • Pico de gallo or salsa
  • 1/8 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice (or you can use white sugar)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 3/4 pound mixed salad greens (I used baby spinach and romaine)
  • 1/2 of 8 ounce can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juices)
  • 2 cups corn tortilla chips
-In a small bowl, mix the mustard, honey, sugar, oil, vinegar, and lime juice. Cover dressing, and refrigerate.
Preheat the grill for high heat.
-Arrange mixed salad greens on plates. Spoon some of the salsa over each salad, and sprinkle with 1/4 of the pineapple chunks. Break tortilla chips into large chunks, and sprinkle over salads. Lay some of the grilled chicken strips on each salad. Finally, drizzle dressing over each salad, and serve.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cream of (Roasted) Tomato Soup

This tomato soup is perfect for the cold nights that we've been having the last few days (although perhaps I just got wimpier since we've moved to California). And it was even better serving it with grilled cheese sandwiches and a cabbage salad. (We might have including crispy bacon inside our grilled cheese. I like to call it our almost non-meat meal.)

I couldn't decide whether to call this roasted tomato soup or cream of tomato soup, so why not combine the two?  Roasting whole peeled canned tomatoes (I did this ahead of time), stirring in a spice or two, adding just a touch of cream and whisky...whew!  We pureed half of the soup in the blender which made a very creamy texture but kept nice chunks of tomato.  I also lightened this recipe and we didn't miss the extra butter/cream/etc. 

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup
Taken from: Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4-6
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, juices reserved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of large minced shallots, about 4 (I used minced onion instead)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Pinch ground allspice (you can substitute equal parts cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, black pepper or omit entirely)
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used fat free half-and-half)
  • 1 tablespoon brandy, dry sherry, whiskey (optional)
  • Salt and ground pepper 

-THIS STEP CAN BE DONE AHEAD OF TIME: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over strainer set in bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.
-Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add shallots/onions, tomato paste and allspice. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes (this is an excellent time to make the grilled cheese sandwiches!)
-Pour half to 3/4 of the mixture to blender and puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture back into saucepan with remaining soup. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in brandy and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blazin' Buffalo Chicken Calzones & Menu Plan

As promised, here is the chicken calzones recipe.  These went over very well at the hospital this weekend: spicy, a nice amount of melted cheese and a crispy crust.  The recipe said it served 4 but as I was dividing out the buffalo chicken, I was worried it wouldn't really be enough. However, it worked out perfectly - it was definitely enough to go around. Not only are they really satisfying, they're also really easy to make. If you don't have time to make your own pizza dough, you can always find dough at a grocery store (or use this incredibly quick no-rise dough recipe).

Before our meal, Bryant had told his co-worker Greg what I was making.  By the time I got to the hospital, Greg had given them a much more colorful name, something to the effect of Blazin' Ragin' Wild Western Buffalo Bill Chicken Calzones. So here you have it: the recipe for Blazin' Ragin' Wild Western Buffalo Bill Chicken Calzones.

I've also included our week's menu plan.As you can see, we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving two days later than the official day. My sister is coming to visit for our Thanksgiving weekend and we are so excited to celebrate Thanksgiving with her! This will also be my first year cooking the Thanksgiving meal and I am really excited for it.  I can't wait to try this new slow cooker stuffing recipe and attempt to make Carolyn's delicious pecan pie. We loved a brined turkey breast recipe I had made a couple months ago so that will appear again (Who says turkey has to be once a year?).  To round it out, we'll also be having cranberry relish, green beans (both classic Thanksgiving dishes for my side of the family) and sweet potato casserole (courtesy of Bryant's side).  Finally, since I hate pumpkin pie but actually really like all other pumpkin dishes, our nod to this famous dessert will be to have pumpkin bread (with a cinnamon pecan swirl) in the morning.

Blazin' Ragin' Wild Western Buffalo Bill Chicken Calzones
Taken from: Healthy Food for Living
Serves: 4
  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough, at room temperature (I used this recipe made ahead of time but if you're pressed for time, use this one)
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (add more if desired)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
-Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
-Make pizza dough (this can be made up to a day ahead of time). If made ahead and refrigerated, set on counter to bring to room temperature.
-Make blue cheese sauce.
-Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
-Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to heated pan, and cook until done, about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Reduce stove heat to low.
-Melt butter in the skillet and stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Add the cooked chicken to the buffalo sauce, and stir to coat evenly.
-Divide pizza dough into four equal portions. Roll each out into a circle on a lightly floured surface.
-Working with one dough circle at a time, spoon 1/4 of the chicken onto one half of the circle. Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheddar and 1 tablespoon sliced green onion. Drape other half of the dough circle up and over the filling, and pinch edges together to seal the dough.
-Repeat with remaining three dough circles. Transfer calzones to 2 baking sheets or preheated pizza stone (sprinkle the baking sheet/pizza stone with cornmeal). Using the tines of a fork, pierce the top of each calzone a few times to let steam out while cooking.
-Place calzones into the oven, and cook for 10-12 minutes. Let calzones sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Serve with the blue cheese-yogurt dip and extra hot sauce.

Week's Menu Plan

Monday:  grilled cheese & tomato soup and Napa cabbage salad

Thursday: pumpkin bread for breakfast, Maely's chili for dinner

Friday: Mexican pulled chicken with nutella blondies

Saturday (Thanksgiving observed!): brined turkey breast, slow cooker stuffing, Carolyn's sweet potato casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce, Carolyn's pecan pie

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Apple Caramel Crisp with Homemade Caramel Sauce

Now that Bryant's back on inpatient and having to work part of the weekend, we're back to our tradition - I bring him and his coworkers dinner at the hospital.  If you have to work on the weekend, you might as well have some good food and enjoy it a bit.  And it is a lot of fun - often, the residents' wives/girlfriends will come and hang out and eat (well, for an hour or two until the boys need to get back to work).

This time, I made buffalo chicken calzones (which will be my next entry) and apple caramel crisp (oh, and threw a spinach salad on the side to add a vegetable or two!).  I obviously didn't judge the recipe enough because this apple crisp was just MASSIVE.  Seriously. Perhaps good for a potluck or a Thanksgiving style feast but not exactly what I had in mind for feeding 4 or 5 people.  So we currently have a lot of leftovers.  Luckily, it was absolutely delicious. (I suggested to Bryant we could have it Thursday and he replied, "Well, if it lasts that long.")

The homemade caramel sauce for the crisp was simple, easy to make ahead of time and so, so good.  It's a perfect combination with tart Granny Smith apples.  The buttery oatmeal crust is on the top and bottom; the top layer is crisp and the bottom layer soaks up all the extra caramel and juices.  I allowed myself to lick the bowl, spoon and spatula as a reward for a job well done.

Below, I've actually halved the recipe (which I think could still serve 6 or 8). 

Apple Caramel Crisp
 Taken from: A Hint of Honey
Serves 6-8 (This is half of the original recipe but it would be easy to double  - just cook in a 9 x 13" baking dish)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup for thickening the caramel sauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 small/medium apples (or 2 large), chopped or thinly sliced (tart green ones works best for baking)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
-Make the caramel sauce below.
-Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, oatmeal, baking soda, and pinch of salt. Add the softened butter, and with your hands, incorporate until the mixture is crumbly. Press half of the crumb topping into a 8x8 baking dish (or 9" round pan) and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.
-Meanwhile, bring the caramel sauce and 1/2 cup flour to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
-Toss apples with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon until coated.
-Sprinkle apples and nuts on the baked crust. Pour caramel sauce over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven.
-Let sit for 30 minutes before serving warm with vanilla ice cream. (If you serve it immediately it will be too runny.)
Caramel Sauce
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter (salted is necessary; you can soften unsalted butter and mix in 1/4 tsp salt if you don't have salted on hand)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used fat-free half and half)
-To make the caramel sauce, whisk sugar and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until it melts. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. I also used a spatula to scrap the bottom toward the middle of the pan to make sure all the sugar dissolves.
-Let cool. It can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza & Menu Plan

This wasn't even supposed to be our main meal of the day. This was the kind of lunch where you scrounge through the refrigerator to see what you can throw together.  And luckily for us, that something that started as the last ingredients in our fridge ended with a delicious roasted butternut squash pizza with caramelized red onions, sauteed spinach and rosemary. 

We love, love, love pizza but I such a marinara fan that I've only made pizza with different toppings on top of tomato sauce. However, I had some leftover pizza dough that needed to be used today (since it wasn't on my menu plan for the week). However, we didn't have any good toppings to be used on tomato sauce and wasn't about to go to the store.  I did, however, have a leftover half of a butternut squash, half a bag of baby spinach and leftover fresh mozzarella.  I vaguely remembered reading that that to use up leftover butternut squash, someone suggested making a pizza of roasted butternut squash, spinach, feta and pine nuts. And this is a very versatile recipe. I added caramelized red onions but nixed the pine nuts. Feel free to do the same - throw in something extra or leave out what you don't have.  Even as a marinara lover, I highly recommend this pizza!

Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza
Adapted from: A Hint of Honey
  • 1/2 of no-rise pizza dough recipe
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh chopped rosemary or dried (and any other herbs you want to throw on - I used dried thyme)
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Asiago/mozzarella/fresh mozzarella, grated
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Spinach or baby spinach, washed
Roasted Butternut Squash:
  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper
Caramelized Onions:
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
-Prepare no-rise pizza dough.
-If using caramelized onions, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and caramelized, 30-40 minutes.
-Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F. Spread cubed squash on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Toss with minced garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes, tossing occasionally, until tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
-In a skillet over medium to medium-high heat in skillet (could be the same skillet as the onions), add a little olive oil or cooking spray.  Add spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until completely wilted.
-Add pizza stone to oven and cover with cornmeal.  Let heat for 10 minutes.
-While stone is heating, roll out the dough into a thin crust.  Transfer dough carefully to pizza stone.
-Bake crust 8-9 minutes (mine actually puffed up and I had to press down with a spatula to let out the air).
-Brush the crust with the remaining Tbsp. of olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary (I also threw in some dried thyme). Sprinkle with a little cheese. Distribute the roasted squash, caramelized onions, sauteed spinach and feta over the crust. Top with any remaining cheese.
-Bake in oven for about 8 minutes until cheese has melted.
-Remove from the oven and let cool several minutes before slicing. 

Menu Plan

Sunday: Balsamic roasted chicken with couscous and salad

Tuesday: Cajun Shrimp Po'Boys with sweet potato fries and Napa cabbage salad

Wednesday: Mexican seven-layer dip

Thursday:  Butternut Squash and Coconut Curry with rice and green peas

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Asian Salmon

Happy Veteran's Day! Bryant and I both had the day off and spent a wonderful day relaxing and doing little chores around the house (I was also trying to fight off a small cold).  This Asian salmon was great for dinner tonight.  All you do is throw some ingredients in a ziploc bag, let it marinate and then broil for about 7 minutes.  It needed to be marinated for 1-2 hours which makes it more difficult to make for a quick weeknight meal, but overall, this is an incredibly simple and easy dish to make for a day at home.   

We served the Asian salmon with not only leftover sweet potatoes (that I wanted to use up) but also with brown rice - this delicious sauce really needed something to soak up all the juices! We also had roasted brussels sprouts but steamed green beans would have also been excellent.

Asian Salmon
Taken from: AllRecipes
Serves: 2-3
  • 1 pound salmon fillets (I removed the skin)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
-Make several shallow slashes in the skinless side of the salmon filets. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, pepper, onion and sesame oil. Pour half of the marinade  in a ziploc bag and add the liquid.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
-Preheat the oven to broil. In a 8-inch square baking dish or a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, add salmon.  Broil for approximately 4 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other, until fish flakes easily.
-In a medium saucepan, add the second half of the marinade.  Warm over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. 
-Pour the heated sauce over the salmon. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crumb (Coffee) Cake

To celebrate Bryant taking his Step 3 exam on Friday, I asked him what he wanted as a celebratory dinner and dessert.  His answer? Fish'n'chips.  Let me preface this by saying that was understood that this fish'n'chips was to be purchased from a restaurant. I have a quite a story of my disastrous attempt to make healthy fish'n'chips - let's just say the fish resembled smushed pancakes and I threw a small tantrum and refused to eat anything. Bryant was game enough to try it but before his first bite, he found a worm in his fish (even though it had been purchased from a more upscale grocery store).  Of course, the worm just made this story laughable.  And I've learned not to attempt a healthy version of fish'n'chips and stick with the restaurants (or Uncle John) that do it right.

But I digress.  My point was that while I wasn't going to be making dinner, I knew I could make a celebratory dessert.  However, instead of dessert, Bryant requested a coffee cake for breakfast the next morning.  And not just any coffee cake.  A crumb coffee cake.  Actually, the crumb coffee cake.  The kind that uses more butter than I use in a typical month.  The kind that might as well be dessert (correction: this coffee cake IS dessert - I found an almost identical recipe for crumb cake in my Cook's Illustrated magazine).  The kind that elicited a "Best damn coffee cake I've ever had" (his words, not mine) from a coworker of Bryant's when I brought it to the hospital for Bryant and his team on an overnight shift.

My final words of wisdom: This coffee cake isn't for every day (or even every month).  But it is so, so good, no matter if you're serving it for dessert or breakfast. And if you find a worm in your fish, bring both the fish and the worm into the store as proof and they should give you a refund.

Crumb (Coffee) Cake
Taken from: Smitten Kitchen & Cook's Illustrated (May 2007)
Serves 8

For the crumbs:
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (Cook's Illustrated did not include this)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose which worked fine)
 For the cake:
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (Cook's Illustrated used buttermilk instead)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour (same thing as above - subbed in all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tbsp. softened butter, cut into pieces
-Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan.
-To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a thick dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.
-To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream/buttermilk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla.
-Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula.
-Scrape batter into prepared pan.
-Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs (Cook's Illustrated suggests breaking apart crumb dough, and then rolling broken dough between your thumb and forefinger to form crumbs the size of large peas). They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter, 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before serving (approximately 20-30 minutes).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Curried Lentils & Sweet Potatoes, Week's Menu Plan

This recipe was pretty impressive.  Not just because Bryant deemed it "blogworthy" but really because it took ingredients like lentils and swiss chard and turned it into a good dish.  Not only a good dish but a healthy dish, too.  Lentils are incredibly good for you (particularly high in folate and fiber), sweet potatoes provide Vitamin A and swiss chard are high in Vitamin A and K.  You can check World's Healthiest Foods for more:

This lentils & sweet potato dish needs time (about 45 minutes of cooking time) to soften the lentils so I wouldn't recommend it for a weeknight meal. (I actually had it on for a weeknight last week but then wimped out.)  However, it is nice that not only is it a one-dish meal but it doesn't have to be served immediately - it can just simmer until you're ready to serve.  We had it with some good homemade bread on the side and thoroughly enjoyed this meal!

Curried Lentils & Sweet Potatoes
 Taken from: Smitten Kitchen
Serves 6-8
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth, as needed
  • 2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped tamari almonds, for garnish (optional, I omitted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish
-In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
-Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock, as needed.)
-Stir in chard and salt and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender and chard is cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes total.
-Just before serving, stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice. Spoon into a large, shallow serving dish. Garnish with almonds if desired and scallions.

Week's Menu Plan:
Sunday:  Lentils & Sweet Potatoes 

Monday:  pasta primavera

Tuesday: Asian Salmon

Wednesday: beef bulgogi w/ leftover moo shu veggies

Friday: out!

Saturday: ground turkey and spinach ravioli

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

I hadn't made this lasagna in almost a year but I definitely remembered it.  It had been on my to-make list while I (impatiently) waited for the right season.  And even though we had unseasonably warm weather this week, I decided I had waited long enough.

I made it for dinner Friday night. I roasted the vegetables the night before and it still took me an hour to make and cook after getting home on Friday.  The reason I say this is not to scare you from making it - it is SO, SO worth it! - but to warn you about trying to make it for a quick weeknight meal.  However, if you do the prep work ahead of time, it could be an easy dinner to stick in the oven. And since lasagna typically makes a lot, the leftovers can also be a quick meal (lasagna is also known for being an easily freezable meal, too)!

While I like meat, I didn't even miss it one bit in this lasagna.  It's incredibly hearty and the flavors meld really well together. I love lots of sauce and this roasted tomato sauce is pretty delicious (I added a little extra marinara because I didn't have enough). There are tons of layers in this lasagna, too - it was almost overflowing out of the pan.

To sum it up, let's just say it was so good, we even took pictures!

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Taken from: Everyday Food
Serves 6-8
  • 14 plum tomatoes (about 3 pounds total), halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced inch thick
  • Feel free to add in extra vegetables - I roasted zucchini and red pepper (but you could also use onions, green peppers, etc) 
  • 2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed (I had some kale to use, so I did about 1/3 kale and 2/3 baby spinach; swiss chard or mustard greens would work well, too)
  • 1 container (15 ounces) skim-milk cottage cheese (you can also use ricotta, which is more classic but I prefer cottage cheese)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 9 to 12 no-boil lasagna noodles (preferably whole-wheat)
  • 1/3 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into pieces 

You can actually prep all the steps up to assembling the lasagna ahead of time (up to 2 days before): 
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons oil, oregano, and 2 cloves chopped garlic; season with salt and pepper (I also threw cut zucchini and red pepper on one side of this baking sheet, too).
-Brush another rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange squash in one layer; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash until tender, about 20 minutes, and tomatoes until slightly shriveled, about 40 minutes.  Stir veggies about every 10 minutes). In a blender, puree 20 tomato halves. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. 
-In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add 2 cloves garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Gradually add 2 pounds spinach and toss until wilted, about 4 minutes. Transfer spinach to a strainer and press to release liquid. When cool, chop spinach and season with salt and pepper.
-In a large bowl, mix ricotta/cottage cheese, cup Parmesan, egg, and nutmeg until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
-Coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Spread one-quarter the tomato sauce in dish (I used about 5-6 oz of sauce), top with 3 to 4 noodles, breaking to fit as needed. Top with half the ricotta mixture, squash (and any other roasted vegetables), one-quarter the tomato sauce, and 3 to 4 noodles. Top with remaining ricotta mixture, cooked spinach, one-quarter the sauce, and 3 to 4 noodles. Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmesan.

 -Set rack in middle of oven. Bake lasagna on a rimmed baking sheet until golden brown at 400 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes. Let lasagna cool 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Light Loaded Potato Soup

I love soup.  I think there was a month there where I might have made a different kind of soup every week. It also might have been a month when it was 90 degrees outside each day.  So imagine my excitement that we finally have (much more) appropriate weather for soup!  And as soon as I saw two different blog posts about this Light Loaded Potato Soup from Cooking Light, I immediately put it on our week’s meal plan.  It didn’t hurt that I had leftover red potatoes, broccoli was on sale and I always have bacon in the freezer.
The soup is remarkably true to its name – it tastes exactly like a loaded potato! The soup is extremely thick and creamy, even though I used skim milk.  Throwing a little bacon on the top (just a little) makes each bowl that much more luxurious. However, I had the leftovers for lunch today without the bacon and it held up just fine without it.  I tweaked the recipe by pureeing ½ of the potatoes in the food processor and mashing the rest. I also threw in some steamed broccoli which I really enjoyed.

Light Loaded Potato Soup
Taken from: Ezra Pound Cake
Serves 4-6
  • 4 (6-ounce) red potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I did 2 Tbsp all-purpose, 1 Tbsp. white whole wheat)
  • 2 cups skim milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 bacon slices
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 teaspoons thinly sliced green onions
  • 1-2 heads of broccoli, steamed
-Steam broccoli.
-Scrub red potatoes and dice into about 1 inch cubes. Place potatoes in sauce pan, cover with water and then bring to a boil.  Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes until cubes are easily pierced with a fork (meanwhile, start cooking onions as below).  Drain potatoes into a colander.  Mash potatoes (I used a whisk) and then transfer half of the potatoes to a food processor.  Pulse until potatoes are creamy.
-While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add broth.
-In a small bowl, combine flour and 1/2 cup milk. Add the mixture to the pan with 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook for 1 minute.
-Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in sour cream, salt and pepper. Set aside.
-Move oven rack to the top-middle section and heat broiler. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and place bacon strips on top of cooling rack. Broil for approximately 3-5 minutes.  Flip over and cook 30 second to 1 minute on the other side.  Drain bacon on paper towels and then crumble.
-Serve soup with cheese, green onions, crumbled bacon and broccoli.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Baked Doughnuts & Week's Menu Plan

For my parents' last morning with us, I wanted to make a nicer breakfast. I mentally ran through some of our favorite options: scones...I didn't have enough time, crumb coffee cake...I didn't have enough butter. I found the link to a baked doughnut recipe that I had stored and bribed Bryant go to the store for all-purpose flour in exchange for doughnuts (seriously, who wouldn't take that deal?).  These doughnuts were easy to make in the morning; they don't need to rise so you just mix the ingredients and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes.  I was also surprised by the ingredient list, too - it didn't have the levels of fat and sugar that one expects from a doughnut. Don't get me wrong, doughnuts are still a treat, but at least this recipe turned into a pretty easy and tasty morning treat!

I did my doughnuts free hand without the doughnut pan (there was no way I was going to shell out for such a pan!).  They definitely didn't come out as pretty but were obviously tasted just as good!

And so you don't have to worry that we're just eating doughnuts for the rest of the week, here's our menu plan:

Week's Menu Plan

Tuesday: Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Avocado Creme and steamed broccoli

Baked Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnuts
Taken from: Handle the Heat
Makes 6 doughnuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 6 oz container of non fat organic vanilla bean yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray (or a doughnut pan, if you happen to own one).
-In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. In a second bowl stir together oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, egg and yogurt.
-Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the hole. Gently fold everything together until combined. The batter will be thick.
-Scoop batter into a piping bag or ziploc bag, snip a bottom corner with scissors, and squeeze out the batter in 6 doughnut shapes onto the baking sheet (I learned that the doughnuts spread and puff up while in the oven so don't make them too big and leave room between them!).  You could also make doughnut holes (but adjust the time to cook for only 5ish minutes.)
-Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few moments and then flip over onto a cooling rack while still warm.
-Use a pastry brush the melted butter over your donuts and then dip each donut in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat. Serve immediately after coating with cinnamon sugar mixture for best texture. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken & Cornbread

You'll have to excuse me for abandoning this blog for the past 10 days.  It should be inexcusable but I'd argue I had a very, VERY good reason - visitors! Specifically my parents and my sister who flew in for an almost-family reunion (sadly, we were missing a sister and her fiance).  The visit was WONDERFUL! Such a great time and like all good visits, went by much too quickly.

Since I'm a such a planner, I had planned for their visit - options of what to do each day and the meals to make while they're here.  I had even prepped some of the meals before they came.  However, what I didn't plan for was AFTER the visit.  I dropped my sister off at the airport and realized I had neglected to plan what we'd eat for dinner for the next few days until I could get to the grocery store.  I managed to use up some meals from our freezer but Thursday night, I was stuck.  Luckily, I found this recipe for Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken and had all the ingredients already in my kitchen. (I always buy lots of boneless, skinless chicken breast when it's on sale so I remove the fat, divide it into 3/4-lb. portions, wrap each portion in plastic and freeze them - it makes dinner a lot easier that way!) The meal was not only fast and easy to make but also delicious! Perfect for any weeknight meal.  

The cornbread went really well with this chicken recipe, too. I love cornbread, especially with honey (in fact, I even had one of my old coworkers keep honey in our office for when I had cornbread!). While I had tried a different recipe for our Thursday night meal, my dad's recipe is far superior so that's the one I've listed below.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken
Taken from: Cooking Light
Serves 4
  • 2  teaspoons  garlic powder
  • 2  teaspoons  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  paprika
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used chicken breast because that's what I always have on hand)
  • Cooking spray
  • 6  tablespoons  honey
  • 2  teaspoons  cider vinegar
-Preheat broiler and move rack to top shelf in the oven.
-Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat.
-Place chicken on a broiler pan or baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes (try 3 minutes if using chicken breast) on each side.
-Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush half the honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

Taken from: my dad (and the Fannie Farmer cookbook)
Serves: 8
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (I use skim)
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
-Preheat oven to 425. Spray a 8" square baking pan with cooking spray.
-In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt).
-Add the milk, eggs and oil and blend well.
-Spoon mixture into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes (top will be slightly brown in spots and the cake should feel firm).
-Cool and cut into squares.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mongolian Beef

I don't often go out for Chinese.  I like it but it's been years since I've had takeout and have only been to a Chinese restaurant a handful of times since high school.  But I like making Chinese food at home.  And when I saw this recipe, it immediately made our menu plan.  It also didn't hurt that broccoli AND mushrooms were on sale at the grocery store and we have grass-fed beef sold at our farmers market.  What more could you need? It did not disappoint either - this recipe turned out incredibly well (I might or might not have licked my bowl clean)! The brown sugar adds some sweetness but is nicely balanced from the heat of the red pepper flakes.  It's made our 5-star menu and will be a great go-to recipe.

Another plus? Stir fry is almost always a fast-cooking meal which is great when you want a quick (and fairly easy) dinner. But since it's so quick cooking, it's best to have all the ingredients all prepped (vegetables washed and cut, sauce already made, etc), by the wok and ready to go.  Whether you're making this for a quick dinner, a Chinese food fix or both, enjoy!

Mongolian Beef
Taken from: Handle the Heat
Serves 3-4
  • 2/3 lb. flank steak, sliced across the grain
  • 3 Tbsp. corn starch
  •  2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. (heaping) red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 large scallions, sliced
  • 1-2 broccoli heads
  • approx 6-7 mushrooms, sliced (if desired) or any other vegetable (baby corn, thinly sliced carrots, snow peas, etc)
  • brown rice, cooked (I often cook rice ahead of time and store in the freezer.  While the Mongolian Beef does its last 4 minutes of cooking, I heat up the rice over the stove or in the microwave.)
-Cut steak fairly thinly across the grain.  Pat the steak pieces with a paper towel to get rid of any moisture. Toss the steak and cornstarch together and then shake off excess cornstarch using a fine strainer.
-Mix together the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl or large measuring cup.
-Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large fry-pan at medium-high heat and add the ginger and garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add the soy sauce mixture to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes and transfer back to the bowl or measuring cup.
-Heat the wok on medium high and when hot, swirl the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Add the beef and cook, stirring until just browned (approx 1-2 minutes).  Add broccoli and mushrooms to pan (I had precooked my broccoli and mushrooms slightly but I'll try it next time just adding the vegetables raw).
-Pour the sauce back in and let it cook with the meat. Simmer for around 4-5 minutes or until thickened.
-Place beef mixture on top of a bed of brown rice and garnish with scallions.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pizza Sauce, Pesto and Cranberry Vinaigrette for an Apple Walnut Salad

This was a weekend of lasts and firsts.  It was my last local farmers market of the year on Saturday (although I'll see if there's an open farmers market close by since I can't seem to let go).  Since it was the last, I strayed from my weekly list and got extra items, including lots of tomatoes (which will be made into pizza sauce, salsa and tikka masala sauce), cantelope and fresh basil.  The basil smelled irresistible and while there's a ton of basil in this one bunch, I'm slightly kicking myself for not getting an extra bunch or two.  Since I have the last of the fresh tomatoes and basil, it only seemed appropriate to make homemade tomato sauce for a margharita pizza as well as homemade pesto.

However, it's also a first for our area because we finally got rain today! And a great, soaking rain. I can hear it patter outside.  After an October mostly with 80 degree weather and a summer without absolutely no rain (not even clouds), it's a welcome change.  Don't get me wrong - I've loved the summer weather but I'm excited for some true fall weather.  And what better way to spend a rainy day than drinking coffee and cooking (especially with simmering something on the stove)?

Pizza Sauce
Taken from: Smitten Kitchen
Makes approx. 1 cup of sauce (enough for a small/medium pizza)
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Splash of red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
-Bring medium pot of water to a boil. On the bottom of each tomato, slit the skin making an small X mark with a knife.  Poach the tomatoes for one minute only, and then drain them. As soon as they are cooled off enough that you can touch them, peel them (I ran mine under a bit of cold water to speed the cooling process).
-Drain and dry the pot. Put it back on the burner over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and let it heat completely before adding the garlic and stirring it for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and stir it for anther minute. You do not want the garlic to brown. Put the peeled tomatoes in the pot, along with the wine, sugar and salt. Break the tomatoes up with your spoon.
Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. Carefully taste without burning your tongue and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

  • 2 cups fresh basil, roughly torn (I find the basil at the grocery store really expensive and very small portions; I highly recommend a farmers market or at least Trader Joe's which gives you a lot more for your money)
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts (I always have walnuts in the house so I use that instead)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese, if desired (I often omit)
-Place basil, nuts, garlic, salt and parmesan (if using) in a blender or food processor.  Blend, gradually adding oil until mix is thickened.  Taste and adjust accordingly.
-If not using the pesto right away or if you have leftovers, freeze the pesto in an ice-cube tray and then place in the individual pesto portions in a freezer bag for future meals.

Cranberry Vinaigrette for an Apple Walnut Salad
Taken from: AllRecipes
Makes 5-6 servings
  • 2 tablespoons cranberries (if you use dried cranberries that have sugar already, omit sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white sugar (omit if you're using dried cranberries)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style prepared mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

-In a food processor, combine the cranberries, vinegar, sugar (if necessary), and mustard. Puree until smooth; gradually add oil, and season with salt and pepper.
-For an excellent salad for this dressing, combine 1/4 chopped walnuts (toasted, if you'd like), 1/4 thinly sliced red onion, 1-2 sliced apples and lots of greens in a large bowl and then drizzle on cranberry vinaigrette.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce & Week's Menu Plan

I had high expectations for this dish.  It was ranked one of the best recipes on and when I quickly scanned through of a few of the 150 comments, they all sang its praises and offered no changes.

And they were right - it was delicious.  The sauce was divine.  It's a must to serve it with rice (we had leftover risotto) because it really needs something to soak up the sauce. We kept spooning more sauce onto our plates.  I was even dipping my steamed artichoke leaves into the sauce instead of melted butter! The flavors surprisingly delicate.  There's not much heat to it but I think that adding some crushed red pepper flakes would give it some nice (but not overwhelming) heat.  But I think that's the only change I would make.  Since it's from Cooking Light, it's already a pretty health-conscious meal.  Thank you, Cooking Light!

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut-Curry Sauce
Taken from: Cooking Light
Serves: 4 (which typically means it serves 3 in our house)
  • 1  teaspoon  dark sesame oil, divided
  • 2  teaspoons  minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  cup  finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1  cup  chopped green onions
  • 1  teaspoon  curry powder
  • 2  teaspoons  red curry paste
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 4  teaspoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1  (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4  (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • 3  cups  hot cooked brown rice
  • 4  lime wedges
-Preheat broiler.
-Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.
-Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

Week's Menu Plan
Friday: Apple, Cheddar & Ham Panini and Grilled Ham, Pear & Cheese Sandwich

Saturday:  Chicken Piccata with Summer Vegetables

Sunday: Mongolian beef with broccoli, mushrooms with edamame

Monday: pizza margharita

Tuesday: Rotisserie Chicken, Apple Walnut Salad  with buttercup squash

Wednesday: feta salmon cakes with roasted sweet potatoes

Friday: shrimp & grits

Saturday: sirloin kabobs w/ black eye pea salad, chocolate Guinness cupcakes for dessert 

Sunday: coffee crumb cake for breakfast, chicken tikka masala with brown rice

Monday: Spanish Tortilla with salad, apple pandowdy for dessert

Monday, October 11, 2010


This meal was inspired both by my monthly subscription to Everyday Food magazine as well as by my younger sister.  I love reading through Everyday Food every month (I actually take it to the gym and read it on the elliptical...but then again, I like watching the Food Network while working out, too). It's full of good recipes and ideas.  In case you get Everyday Food, someone has taken the time to painstakingly index every single issue of Everyday Food: Everyday Index. Unbelievable!

But I digress. My point was that ratatouille was one of the featured recipes in this month's issue.  However, I remember how much my younger sister loved the Moosewood cookbook's version of ratatouille.  Moosewood is a famous vegetarian cookbook (well, I guess I should say famous for a cookbook).  I was so eager to try the original Moosewood version that I searched the website to try to find the real thing.  And luckily, a Syracuse newspaper printed what I hope is the authentic version (if you have the cookbook, you can be the judge).

This recipe FAR exceeded my expectations - it was delicious! It was surprisingly hearty for being only vegetables.  There also seems to be a lot of ways to serve it, too.  We had it with a side of fresh bread which was excellent but I think I'll freeze the leftovers and then serve it over pasta next time.  I also rolled it up in phyllo dough and baked it 15 minutes (a suggestion by Everyday Food) which was great the next day at lunch.

Taken from: Moosewood Cookbook
Serves 6-8
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 medium bell peppers, diced
  • 2 small zucchini, cubed (or summer squash, or a combination)
  • 1 small eggplant, cubed
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 medium tomatoes, in chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon each: basil and marjoram (I used 1 tsp. dried basil and 1 tsp. dried oregano)
  • ½ teaspoon oregano (I used 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
  • Dash of ground rosemary (I used a large pinch of dried rosemary)
  • 3 tablespoons Burgundy (or dry red wine of your choice)
  • ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt (approximately)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Optional add-ins: freshly chopped parsley, grated Parmesan cheese, sliced black olives
-Heat olive oil in large, heavy cooking pot. Crush the garlic into the oil. Add bay leaf and onion. Saute over medium heat until onion begins to turn transparent.
-Add eggplant, wine and tomato paste. Add herbs. Stir to mix well, then cover and simmer 10 to 15 minutes over low heat.
-When eggplant is tender enough to be easily pricked by a fork, add zucchini and peppers. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper and tomatoes. Mix well.
-Continue to stew until all vegetables are tender.
-Serve with chopped parsley, grated Parmesan and/or sliced black olives.
-Serve with rice, bread or pasta.