Thursday, April 30, 2009

Recommended Reading

Check out my newest addition - blogs that I read regularly and highly recommend! It's on the right side. If you have a blog that you love, please send it my way!

Post-Vacation Eats....Fresh Ingredients!

After a long weekend full of delicious (but not so healthy) meals, I'm back in the kitchen cooking up some new recipes. We stopped at the store on the way home from work and wanted a quick meal to eat. When I was checking out the current sale items on the Whole Foods website, I saw a recipe for cous cous salad with sundried tomatoes and salami. It caught my eye and I decided to put it on the menu. I used the recipe as a guideline and put my own twist on the ingredients. For a main dish, we decided on grilled portobello sandwiches. This meal can be made completely vegetarian by omitting the salami in the cous cous salad. It's a gourmet meal that is easily made by anyone!

I grilled an extra mushroom to throw in my salad for lunch the next day. The cous cous salad was even tastier the second day! It would also be a great dish to take to a pot luck.

Grilled Portobello Sandwiches with Goat Cheese
Portobello mushrooms (1 per person)
Bread for the sandwich - tonight I used ciabatta bread
Olive oil
Your favorite herbs and spices (I used dried basil and garlic powder)
Salt and Pepper
Fresh goat cheese, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds (1 per sandwich)

Heat your grill to medium heat (or you can also use a grill pan on your stovetop)
Wipe the mushrooms off with a dry towel or paper towel
Brush the mushrooms with olive oil
Season with salt, pepper, and herbs.
Grill 2-3 minutes per side

Warm sliced rolls/bread on the grill for 1-2 minutes
Place 1 mushroom on the roll, top with goat cheese and enjoy!

Cous Cous Salad with Sundried Tomatoes and Salami
1 cup of cous cous, prepared according to the box
Approximately 1/4 lb. of genoa salami slices, cut into quarters
1/8 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
A handful of arugula
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
2 tablespoons of lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
A dash of red pepper flakes (one or two shakes from the jar)
Salt and pepper

Prepare the cous cous according to the directions in on the box
Remove from the pot and put into a serving bowl
Let cool to room temperature

Stack salami slices and cut into quarters
Chop parsley roughly
Chop sundried tomatoes into pieces about the size of the cut salami

Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, lime juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste

Toss in the salami, parsley, sundried tomatoes and arugula with the room temperature cous cous Pour dressing over the salad
Toss to combine

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Cook time: 5-10 minutes for the cous cous
Pot and lid, cutting board and knife, zester or small grater, measuring cups, tongs for tossing, serving dish, and serving utensils

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Back from Vacation...back to cooking

We had a great trip to DC - saw all the sites, visited with friends and family, and enjoyed the 90 degree weather! Enjoy these food related photos from the trip. The Smithsonian had some interesting food items...sausage trees, cocoa shell mulch, dehydrated bacon...

Now we're back and cooking again. Stay tuned for grilled portobello mushrooms, cous cous salad, steak tips, jicama salad and more! Posts are in progress...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday Night Indian - with a little help

We're getting ready to head on vacation, so we didn't stock up on too much at the grocery store over the weekend. Tonight's dinner was a delicious Indian meal - courtesy of Trader Joe's. It will probably take me longer to type up this post than it did to cook (3 minute cook time). This was a one box, three pouch meal. Lentils, rice, and potatoes and peas. On the side I made two pieces of naan (also from Trader Joe's). It was under $5 - great for the budget as well as the schedule.

Do you have a good weeknight meal that you'd like to share? Send it my way and I'll try it out and post the results!

Monday Night Chili Dinner

Chili is one of the dishes that you can customize based on what you have on hand or who you are serving. I used ground beef, but you could easily use ground turkey, ground tofu, or just extra veggies. The method is the same for whatever ingredients you decide to throw in. This version had kidney beans, black beans, garlic, jalapeno, orange pepper, and red onions. For seasoning I used some salt, pepper, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, and a little green Tabasco sauce.

The basic cooking method is to heat oil in a soup pot and then sweat the veggies until they are soft. Then toss in the drained beans, canned tomatoes, and ground meat if you are using it. Bring it to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Stir in the spices and then just keep warm until you are ready to eat. Easy and tasty!

On the side, I made a quick cornbread according to the recipe on the cornmeal container. It was pretty bland for my taste - it needed some extra salt. I put some honey on and sprinkled it with salt and it tasted fine.

The whole meal takes about 30 minutes - you can cook the chili while the cornbread is in the oven.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Passover Eats - Part 7: Fresh Horseradish

Passover Eats part 7 comes to you from St. Louis. My mom sent over the recipe she tried for fresh horseradish for this year's seder. I hear it got rave reviews and I'm sorry I missed out! The recipe is below. In the photo above are a new recipe for charoset with cranberries and delicious matzoh ball soup. Enjoy!

This recipe was in the Post Dispatch Food Section on 4-10-09 submitted by Leslie Caplan -"This Soprano Cooks Catering"

Chrain Beets and Horseradish
2-3 pounds fresh red or golden beets with tops still on
6-8 ounces fresh horseradish root
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 cup white wine vinegar or to taste
1/4 cup granulated sugar or taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the tops off the beets, leaving about 1-1/2 inches of stem. Wrap the beets in foil with the stems showing
Bake red beats for 1-1/4 hours or Golden beets for 1 hour

While beets are cooling, peel horseradish root*
Slice horseradish into thin disks and put into the food processor
Add 1 cup water; process until horseradish is finely chopped (Stand back from the processor to protect your eyes)
Spoon the horseradish into a strainer, pressing out as much water as possible

Peel the cooled beats and cut into chunks
Place the beets in the food processor and process until fairly fine

Put the beets, horseradish, salt, vinegar and sugar into a large bowl and mix
Let sit for an hour or so, then adjust sugar, vinegar & salt to taste
Refrigerate for a day or longer
Readjust seasonings if necessary
Serve with gefilte fish

*Note: Before making this recipe, cut a small piece out of the root and taste it to make sure it is not bitter. Bitter horseradish root ruins the chrain. If you don't want to use raw horseradish, substitute 4 tablespoons of bottled white horseradish or to taste.

Faye's note: When I made this recipe, I cooled the beets overnight in the refrigerator and put it all together the next day. After processing the beets and horseradish separately and combining the rest of the ingredients, I processed everything together one last time to have a "finer" consistency.

Per 2- tablespoon serving: 13 calories; no fat; no protein; 3g carbohydrate; 2.5 sugar; 0.5 fiber; 67 mg sodium; no calcium; 60 mg potassium.

Passover Eats - Part 6: Frittata

Toward the end of the eight days, we had a lot of leftover veggies but not enough of each to make a full side dish. We were also a little tired of eating brisket leftovers every night! So I pulled out the frittata recipe and added in the veggies we had on hand. This variation included asparagus and onions. A bonus of making a big frittata is that we had leftovers for breakfast the next morning (much tastier than matzoh and cream cheese).

Passover Eats - Part 5: Dinner!

The last few nights of Passover got busy with meetings and other things that kept me from the blog. Here are a few more posts about our Passover meals. In honor of the BU Hockey Team going to the national championship game, we had a festive meal on Saturday night. It was colorful and delicious! On the menu: brisket, turkey breast, golden beets and asparagus, and a medley of colorful roasted potatoes. Perfect for leftovers! The brisket and beets were covered in the earlier Passover Posts. The turkey is a pretty easy recipe - just make sure to cook it long enough! I don't have exact measurements - it all depends on the size of the turkey.

Lara's Roasted Turkey Breast
Fresh turkey breast
1 orange, zested and sliced
2-3 tbsp. of butter
A few dashes of poultry seasoning
A splash or two of orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Sprinkle some olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan
Arrange orange slices on the bottom of the pan
Rinse and pat the turkey breast dry
Place the turkey, skin side up on top of the oranges
Make a few slits in the turkey skin
Pour orange juice over the top
Rub butter and orange zest all over the top of the turkey, making sure to get it into the slits under the skin
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning
Bake for approximately 2 hours (until internal temperature is 170 degrees or indicator pops up)
If the turkey looks like its getting too brown, put a piece of foil over the top

Let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: Approximately 2 hours
Roasting pan, cutting board, knife, zester, measuring cups

Monday, April 13, 2009

Passover Eats - Parts 5+ Coming Tomorrow!

Stay tuned for more Passover gourmet tomorrow!

Passover Eats - Part 4: Roasted Beets and Asparagus

Passover also rules out one of our stand-by veggies, green beans. So the natural green choice is asparagus. Instead of just a boring steamed asparagus, I found a Mario Batali recipe online for roasted beets and asparagus. His recipe called for a frisee salad - I left that out (too fussy) To make it more colorful (and less messy), I bought some golden beets instead of the traditional red. This was an easy recipe and just requires some time in the oven.

Roasted Beets and Asparagus
5 golden beets
14 spears of asparagus
2 tbsp. olive oil + 4 tbsp. of olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Spread kosher salt on a baking sheet (covering the sheet)
Place unpeeled beets on the baking sheet
Put in the oven for 45 minutes
While the beets are cooking, cut the woody ends off of the asparagus
When the 45 minutes are up, open the oven and place the asparagus around the beets (on top of the salt)
Return to the oven and cook for an additional 15 minutes
Remove from the oven and place the asparagus on a platter
Drizzle 2 tbsp. of olive oil over the asparagus + a pinch of the salt from the baking sheet
Cut asparagus into 2 inch pieces
Let the beets cool for about 5 minutes and then peel
I cut them into halves, and then half moon shapes
Place in bowl and toss with the balsamic vinegar and 4 tbsp. olive oil
Season with pepper

Arrange asparagus and beets on a serving platter and enjoy! I served this dish at room temperature. It was delicious!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour (non-active)
Baking sheet, platter, bowl, measuring cups, tongs, serving utensils

Passover Eats - Part 3: Breakfast!

Breakfast during Passover is always a hard one. I love to eat english muffins, bagels, cereal, oatmeal, etc. So this was my delicious Saturday morning breakfast. Matzo, kedem orange marmalade, and cream cheese. Quick and oh so unsatisfying. Sunday was matzo brei (no photos - it doesn't really photograph well).

Passover Eats - Part 2:

A little dessert before dinner never hurt anyone. Thanks to my 'old' NFTY friend Amy for posting a very easy and delicious matzo toffee crunch recipe. I tweaked it a little (no toffee on hand) Below is my version! It got rave reviews at work. If only they knew what matzo really does to you.....

Check out Amy's blog for the recipe ( I used dark brown sugar, salted butter, and semi-sweet mini chocolate chips. For the toppings I tried a few different things. I topped a few sheets with chopped pecans, left a few plain, and topped the rest with a delicious cinnamon sprinkle mix from pampered chef. Yum!!!

Passover Eats - Part 1: Brisket

The next few posts will cover the various foods we've had this week for Passover. If they are not new recipes, I'll list what we substituted or omitted to make the recipe Passover friendly. My non-Passover keeping friends always say that this should be a great week for weight-loss (no carbs!), but they have no idea how deadly all the Passover treats can be (K for P Dr. Brown's cream soda, macaroons, chocolate caramel matzoh, crumb cake......). Hope you enjoy this collection of food! First up - brisket!

The last brisket recipe I made had beer - a definite no for Passover. So I substituted in Manischewitz Concord Grape wine, a Passover favorite. I stuck to the basic recipe proportions and techniques in Joy of Cooking to make this delicious meal.

Passover Brisket
5 lb. brisket
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, sliced into 1/4 rings
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup concord grape wine (Manischewitz or Mogen David)
1/2 cup organic (K for P) smoky barbecue sauce (or k for p chili sauce)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Trim excess fat from the brisket
Rub the minced garlic, salt and pepper all over the brisket (use your hands for the garlic)
Cut the onions and measure out everything you need for the recipe
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy pot (with a lid) over medium heat
Put in brisket and sear for 4 minutes on one side
Flip over brisket and add onions to the pot, sear for 4 more minutes
Remove brisket from the pot and put it aside on a plate
Continue to cook the onions until they are browned, about 5 minutes
Add beef broth to the pot and scrape the browned bits off the bottom
Add brisket back to pot and add BBQ sauce and wine
Put the lid on the pot and place in the 350 degree oven
Cook for 2.5 hours
Cool in the pot and refrigerate overnight

When you are ready to serve, slice and return to the pot with the sauce
Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: Active - 15 minutes; Total 2-3 hours
Large heavy pot with lid, cutting board and knives, measuring cups, slicing knife and serving utensils

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Coming tomorrow - Passover Photos

Coming tomorrow - Passover Seder pictures. Stay tuned for brisket, mashed potatoes, gefilte fish, charosets, and chocolate carmel matzoh. Delicious!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Strawberry Bread

The picture does not do this Strawberry Bread justice. I have no idea where I got this recipe, it is in my stack of printed recipes with no title and no source. I found it last summer when we went strawberry picking and needed a lot of creative ways to use up what we picked. It's a quick bread - mix and bake for 1 hour and enjoy! The recipe calls for frozen strawberries, but I just used a few extra fresh ones and added a dash of orange juice for a little extra moisture. Enjoy!

Strawberry Bread
1.5 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup sugar
10 ounce package or 1 and 1/4 cups frozen strawberries, thawed
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup nuts chopped (optional)
1/2 cup cooking oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour a loaf pan
Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl
In a separate bowl, mix all liquid ingredients (including strawberries and a dash of orange juice)
Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients, stirring only enough to mix
Do not over mix - batter will be lumpy
Pour into loaf pan
Bake for 1 hour
Cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan

Note: if you use fresh strawberries, cut off the stems and slice them into quarters

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
2 bowls, spatula, loaf pan

Soy Ginger Flank Steak with Lime-Cilantro Rice

Flank steak was on sale at the store and it makes for a very quick and easy dinner. We paired it with a 90-second rice mix (from Trader Joe's) and some fresh peas. Josh picked up the peas at the store, they were so much better than the frozen peas.

The glaze for the steak was soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ground ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. The whole meal was topped with toasted sesame seeds. I cooked the steak on our indoor grill pan. It is a cast iron pan - smooth on one side and grill lines on the other. It fits across two burners on the stove. Quick and easy to clean - Josh's favorite feature.

Last Week's Menu

Here are a few items that don't require recipes.

First up, my quick version of a traditional English breakfast. I wasn't feeling 100% so I wanted a quick meal. Instead of my usual fallback of eggs and bread, I scrambled some eggs, crisped up some hash browns, and cooked some tasty baked beans (from a can). It was delicious!!!

Next up, romaine salad with roasted beets. For perfect roasted beets, check out this post from my friend Amy's blog: It looks easier than the way I did it!

Josh's Request - Slow Cooked Chicken

I'm catching up on some past meals that didn't get posted. This meal was Josh's choice - from my Rick Bayless cookbook, Mexican Everyday. This is an easy meal to cook - a little cutting and then everything into the slow-cooker for 6 hours. Perfect for a Sunday dinner and plenty of leftovers for the week.

The recipe uses boneless chicken thighs, as they get very tender and juicy in the slow cooker. Simple preparation with a lot of flavor. Josh loved the results, I didn't like it quite as much (I'm not a huge fan of dark meat chicken).

The official recipe is "Slow-Cooked Chicken with Tomatillos, Potatoes, Jalapenos, and Fresh Herbs". That is all there is too it - just add onions, cilantro, and plenty of salt. You slice the potatoes, tomatillos, and onions into 1/4 inch rounds. You layer the ingredients and top each layer with salt. Start with onions, then potatoes, then chicken thighs, cilantro, tomatillos, and pickled jalapenos. Drizzle on a little of the jalapeno juice, cover and cook on high for 6 hours.

That's it! It's a one pot dish - meat, starch, and veggies.

Thai Tim's Green Curry Chicken

Tonight's menu was inspired by a nagging request for chicken curry from one our loyal fans (you can sort of make him out in the photo). So Tim - here is a delicious chicken curry recipe for you! I know you were thinking red curry, but this was light, tasty, with just a little kick.

One of my favorite dishes to order at Thai restaurants is Green Curry (with either tofu or chicken). It is usually packed with green peas, green beans, bamboo shoots, green peppers, and sometimes Thai eggplant. I omitted my least favorite veggies and came up with tonight's dish. Instead of rice, I used rice noodles that we had in the pantry.

I used a store bought green curry paste, you could always buy another type of paste and switch the veggies for your own variation. I used the suggested cooking method on the curry paste container and tweaked it a little.

Thai Tim's Green Curry Chicken
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 baby bella (or white) mushrooms, cut into thin slices
1 13.5 ounce can of light coconut milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. green curry paste (add more if you want it really spicy)
Handful of chopped parsley (or cilantro)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat
Add vegetable oil and curry paste and stir well, heat for about 30 seconds
Add diced chicken and stir, coating the pieces well
Add the can of coconut milk and stir
Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add all of the veggies and stir, cover with lid (or foil) and cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies are cooked and chicken is done
Stir in chopped parsley

Cook the rice noodles according to the package (boil for about 8 minutes)

Put a serving of noodles on the plate, top with a scoop of chicken, veggies, and sauce and enjoy!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Pasta pot, large skillet, sp
oons, cutting board and knife, serving dishes and utensils

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for some new recipes from last week - I was sick and didn't get around to posting them all. Flank steak, tacos, and more!

Starting Wednesday I'll be featuring some delicious Passover recipes!

If you are checking out the blog, I hope you'll sign up to follow it (scroll down on the right side). I'd love to see how many people are reading and try to take requests for new recipes.



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