Showing posts with label quick meal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label quick meal. Show all posts

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Seasonally Delicious Burger Night

Grilling season is year round at the Good Cook Doris house - you'll find me out in the snow womaning the grill. But now that the weather is finally warm the grill is really in full swing. Spring produce is also finally coming up and it seemd like the perfect combination for celebrating burger month 2020.

This epic burger is part of a fan-frickin-tastic month-long event hosted by Girl Carnivore, but opinions are always my own!

This is less of a burger recipe and more of a burger guide. It takes advantage of seasonal local ingredients and a little bit of creativity! This year we joined a spring CSA that delivers a mix of winter storage crops, early spring crops, and pantry items from local food producers.

It's been a delightful assortment of products. Most exciting are the early spring crops that are new to me - like wild ramps and sunchokes. Each box also comes with a loaf of freshly baked crusty bread. With all of these ingredients to work with I got grilling! I think that the fun part of burger meals is that everyone can customize their burger however they like. The griller's job is to make a good assortment of toppings along with juicy patties and the eaters are in charge of their creations. 

Here's how I assembled my mid-May seasonally inspired burger! 

Ground beef from a local farm that is now offering home deliveries (I prefer 80/20 or 85/15 ground beef - I find it stays nice and juicy)
Fresh crusty bread from a local bakery
Cabot extra sharp cheddar
Local sriracha
Dukes Mayo (my favorite!)

Burger patties: 
Keep it simple and let the beef shine! I like to season generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper when I mix the meat. 
Gently form into patties, being sure to press down and make an indent in the center (helps it from puffing up when grilling).

Choose your toppings! 
I like to cut thick slices of Cabot cheddar to melt on top - the sharper the better
For vegetable toppings, coat in oil and sprinkle with kosher salt

Start the burgers first
Add thicker vegetables with the burgers, add more delicate vegetables when you flip the burgers
Add the cheese when the burgers are almost done, letting it melt into a delicious coating on top
Grill your bread if you want to add a little extra grill flavor

Spread mayo on both sides of the bread and drizzle sriracha to your desired level of spiciness
On the bottom bread, add the grilled veggies
Add the cheese covered burger and top with the second piece of bread
Serve with a side of pickles, simple salad, or some grilled sweet potatoes
Try to fit it all in your mouth! Watch out for the dripping juice!

Now it's your turn! Open the fridge and pantry and see what you've got in there and get yourself to the grill! To help you out, be sure to enter the Burger Month giveaway to win some awesome prizes. They'll help you take your grilling to the next level! 

Want more amazing burger ideas? Check out these bloggers for more burger month creations:
🍔 Girl Carnivore 🍔 A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures 🍔A Day in the Life on the Farm 🍔 A Merry Recipe 🍔 An Affair from the Heart 🍔Art of Natural Living 🍔 Caroline's Cooking 🍔Chef Justin Grimm 🍔Chiles and Smoke 🍔 City Living Boston 🍔Comfortably Domestic 🍔Culinary Adventures with Camilla 🍔 Dixie Chik Cooks 🍔 Everyday Eileen 🍔 Everyday Southwest 🍔 For the Love of Food 🍔Good Cook Doris 🍔Grillax: Fire. Food. Fun. 🍔 Grilling Montana 🍔 Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks 🍔 Jolene's Recipe Journal 🍔 Karen's Kitchen Stories 🍔 Kate's Recipe Box 🍔Kudos Kitchen by Renee 🍔Life Currents 🍔 Life of a Ginger 🍔Making Miracles 🍔Man Meat BBQ 🍔 Miss in the KItchen 🍔Off the Eaten Path 🍔Our Good Life 🍔 Palatable Pastime 🍔 Pastry Chef Online 🍔 Real Life With Dad 🍔Renee Nicole's Kitchen - Everyday Gourmet 🍔 Sarah's Cucina Bella 🍔Savoring Midlife 🍔 Seduction in the Kitchen 🍔 Simple and Savory 🍔 Spoonabilities 🍔 Sumptuous Spoonfuls 🍔 Swirls of Flavor 🍔 The Redhead Baker 🍔 The Spiffy Cookie 🍔This is How I Cook 🍔 Thyme for Cocktails 🍔What's Cooking Italian Style Cuisine 🍔 Wildflour's Cottage Kitchen 🍔Wile E. BBQ 🍔 Wok & Skillet 🍔

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BurgerMonth Sponsors: Cabot, Anvil & Hammer, New York Beef Council, Red Duck Foods, and Spoonabilities for providing prizes for this epic event. All opinions are my own. The #BurgerMonth giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All winning entries are verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness.

The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. One winner for each weekly giveaway will be selected. The prize packages are sent directly from the sponsors. Winners have 48 hours to respond or they forfeit the prize and another winner(s) will be chosen.

The #BurgerMonth Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #BurgerMonth posts or entry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I left my stomach in Lima, Peru

I had the opportunity to travel to Santiago, Chile and Lima, Peru for work at the beginning of March. Even though the days were packed with meetings, of course I still found time to squeeze in some fantastic dining experiences. Here is a shot of the gorgeous ceviche we tasted at Cebicheria La Mar with giant choclo corn, aji pepper, Peruvian sweet potatoes, and plenty of leche de tigre (the liquid that cooks the fish):

While I digest my experience and put together my photos, I wanted to share a recipe from a post way back in March of 2011. As part of the Daring Cooks challenge we made Peruvian recipes. Since I am missing the bright lime and zesty flavors of the many ceviches I had on my trip, I wanted to share this recipe to try to relive the experience!

I used a Wild Alaskan Halibut steak and plenty of fresh lime juice and cilantro. A finely diced red fresno pepper added a little kick to the dish (no aji peppers here, like they have in Peru). The fish "cooked" for about 10 minutes, until just opaque. Here's the fish in the 'cooking' liquid:

Ceviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche):
Adapted from recipe by Annik Franco Barreau
1 lb. Wild Alaskan Halibut steak
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 red fresno chili pepper, minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup  freshly squeezed lime juice (enough to cover fish)
1 tablespoon  fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Rinse fish and pat dry
Cut into 1 inch cubes (anywhere from 1/2 inch - 2 inches, depending on your preference)
Place fish in a thin layer in a non-reactive dish
Combine lime juice, chili pepper, garlic and cilantro in a dish
Pour marinade over the fish and lay sliced onion on top
After 10 minutes (approximately) fish will be 'cooked'
Remove from the liquid and serve

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Evenings: Chilled Asparagus Soup from Mom

My mom is the the master of the "take whatever is in the fridge and make a fantastic meal". Her creations are always creative, unique, and of course delicious. She sent me this recipe last week for a flavorful summer soup that can be served hot or cold, depending on your mood. Enjoy!

Last night I made asparagus soup.  It was delicious hot and very refreshing as a chilled soup garnished with a ring of sweet red pepper, a dollop of sour cream and garnished with lemon zest!

6 cups of water
1 dozen asparagus stalks
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
2 tsp of chicken flavored "Better than Bouillon" soup base (Or, substitute chicken broth for the water if you don't have this)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut asparagus in 1-1/2 inch pieces. Chop onion and garlic
Put water Into a 4 quart pot
Add all ingredients
Cook on a medium heat setting for an hour until asparagus is tender.

At this point the soup can be served hot. It will have the asparagus pieces.

To prepare for a chilled soup, reserve some of the cooked asparagus tips to use for a garnish. Use a hand blender to puree the warm soup.  Chill soup for several hours or overnight.

For garnish
Sweet red bell pepper
1 lemon
Sour cream
Asparagus tips 

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl. Top with red pepper sliced in rings or chopped pieces, a teaspoon/ dollop of sour cream. Add lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice onto the soup. 

The chilled soup could also benefit from some chopped fresh basil as a garnish. 

Served hot you could add baked croutons  and top with shredded carrots for a colorful garnish. 

Thanks for dinner Mom!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Poppin' Munch Madness!

Besides being my birthday month, March is also host to other fun food-friendly activities! With a full month of March Madness basketball, you'll need to to pace your game-time snacking. Keeping that in mind, here's a budget and healthy snack!

The friendly folks at popchips contacted me about a Boston Blogger recipe challenge for their "Munch Madness"  celebration. I had a blast creating a poppin' recipe for my Healthy Snack Wednesday series, so I knew I was was on board for this challenge! The winner gets to take home $250 to Roche Brothers, a $100 AMEX gift card, and a one-year supply of popchips! As an entrant in the recipe challenge, popchips provided me with a snack pack of popchips, coupons to pick up popchips, and a handy recipe notebook. 

A quick note about the contest. All entries will be posted on the popchips Facebook page in the Munch Madness photo album. The two bloggers with the most 'likes' on March 21 will be pop into the 'champion-chip' round! The final round will be an taste test event at Roche Brothers where the winner will be selected by a panel of expert snackers. If you like my poppin' creation, I hope you'll vote and 'like' my photo and spread the word! You can get to the album and vote by clicking here! You also have to 'like' Popchips on Facebook.

With my snack packs ready and assorted ingredients in the pantry, I put on my thinking cap and started brainstorming.

Chicken fingers...too easy. Mini-quiches...already done. What would show off the flavor of the popchips, be delicious, and still be healthy? The idea struck and I got to work - baked falafel!

In order to please fans of multiple teams, I decided to make a few pieces of falafel in each flavor. First step is  creating the popchips crumbs. Start with one flavor at a time and give them a whirl in the food processor. Be careful to label your flavors (I scribble when I write recipes, don't mind my spelling error)! 

Your popchips crumbs should be light and fluffy, and small enough to substitute for breadcrumbs. Each snack sized bag of popchips yielded approximately 1/2 cup of crumbs.

The next step is to make your falafel mixture. Using the food processor, blend garbanzo beans, parsley, scallions, a dash of olive oil and eggs until well combined. The texture should be like a chunky hummus. Split the mixture into five even portions for mixing. Starting with one portion of falafel mixture, add in half of one of the flavors of crumbs. Mix and continue to add crumbs until the mixture comes together, but is not completely dry. The first picture below is the falafel mix. The second picture is after mixing in the popchips crumbs.

Score each combined falafel and crumb mixture into four equal parts. Form balls and flatten slightly. Add the patties to a labeled baking sheet (you don't want to mix up the flavors!) and continue the process until all flavors are completed. I used a pencil to write the flavors on parchment paper, you can see it at the top of the rows below.

Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and continue baking for 10 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. I served these with low-fat plain sour cream. To spice up the celebration, you could make flavored sour cream or yogurt dip to match the flavors. Another great idea would be to use your favorite hot sauce and mix it with sour cream for a spicy dip. Really, there is no limit to what you can add! The patties themselves are healthy and leave room to add more decadent toppings!

Here's a look at each of the flavors, topped with a garnish representing the popchips flavor. Cheddar for cheddar, salt for salt and vinegar, barbecue crumbs for barbecue, peppercorns for salt and pepper, and scallions for sour cream and onion! The flavor of the chips came through and really worked with the falafel!

An interior look at the patties:

Here's hoping that  my bracket picks will be as successful as my poppin' recipe! And remember, if you have  minute to vote, head over to the popchips Facebook page and 'like' my photo in the Munch Madness photo album! You also have to 'like' Popchips on Facebook.

Poppin' Munch Madness Baked Falafel

5 snack sized bags of popchips (Salt & Pepper, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Cheddar Potato, Barbecue, and Sour Cream & Onion)
2 15-ounce cans of no-salt added garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 scallion (whites and greens), cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and label 5 rows with your selected flavors
Working with one flavor at a time, process popchips until the consistency of breadcrumbs and set aside
Add garbanzo beans, eggs, parsley, scallion, oil, and salt & pepper to the food processor
Pulse until the consistency of chunky hummus
Pour equal amounts of the garbanzo mixture into five separate bowls
Using one flavor of crumbs at a time, mix into a bowl of garbanzo mixture until well combined (you may not need all of the crumbs)
Form four equal sized patties and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet
Continue until all flavors are used
Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and continue baking for 10 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through
Serve with sour cream, greek yogurt, or hot sauce

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Food processor, cutting board and knife, bowls, spatula, baking sheet, parchment paper, serving plates and utensils

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: Endless Possibilities with Greek Yogurt

First, congratulations to the winners of last week’s Healthy Snack Giveaway! They are:

Case of pretzel crisps:  Jacki, one of the participants in the weight loss challenge
Tribe Hummus vouchers: Kathy of @KathyCanCook, and two new readers Kristy and Jeannine


Please email your name and mailing address to lara [at] goodcookdoris [dot] com and I’ll make sure your prize gets out to you! Now on to this week’s healthy snacking.

If you’ve been grocery shopping lately, you’ve seen the explosion of choices in the yogurt section. There is regular, low fat, fat free, fruit-on-the bottom, lactose free, rice yogurt, coconut milk yogurt, probiotic, organic, Greek, and the list goes on.  Everyone has their favorite, but lately I’ve been sticking with Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt is thick, creamy, a little tangy, and full of nutrition. For this week’s healthy recipes I used Chobani low-fat plain yogurt.  I won a case of Chobani in an online giveaway (hosted by Chobani) and decided to put it to use for Healthy Snack Wednesday.  Here’s the rundown on one 6-ounce container of the plain yogurt:  130 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 17 grams of protein. That is some nutritional power! I checked Chobani’s website for a few other nutritional details. The plain low-fat yogurt is gluten-free, vegetarian (gelatin-free), and kosher certified. Pretty powerful for a small container! You could also choose non-fat if you would like to reduce your fat intake. See the end of the post for how you can win some Chobani for yourself!

This week I have a variety of recipes to share. Some are snacks, some are meals, but all of them are easy and full of flavor. I’ll include all of the recipes at the end.  For even more ideas, visit Renee's blog at Eat.Live.Blog.

First up a colorful and healthy soup. I had leftover carrots, parsnips, and white beans in the refrigerator along with my yogurt.  Homemade soups are not as difficult as you might think. With about a half an hour and either an immersion blender or blender you can make a healthy homemade soup.  You control the ingredients and most importantly the flavor and saltiness. Swap in plain Greek yogurt instead of blending in heavy cream, milk, or sour cream and you boost the nutritional power of your soup.  You can use this basic recipe and swap in different vegetables, herbs, and spices to put together your own soup creation.

Greek yogurt also makes a great base for dips and spreads. You can take any recipe that calls for sour cream or mayonnaise and swap in an equal amount of yogurt. It’s thick consistency and tangy flavor stands up to bold flavors like spicy hot sauce, refreshingly cool cucumber, or even sweet cinnamon and pumpkin.  Inspired by a tweet I saw from L’Espalier about a spicy cocktail tasting (one w/ sriracha & lime) I mixed up yogurt, sriracha sauce, lime juice and salt.  The dip would be great as a vegetable or chip dip, but I used it to top off a big bowl of quinoa and vegetables.

Greek yogurt can be as a base for a variety of mix-ins.  Stock a few containers of yogurt in your refrigerator at work and you’ll always have the beginning of a healthy snack.  You can start with plain yogurt, but my favorite flavors are honey and pineapple.  Just measure the proper serving size for the mix-ins to manage the fat and calories.  Some fun & healthy mix-ins:

-Fresh or dried fruit
-Granola or cereal like Kashi Go Lean Crunch
-Grapenuts (great way to drown out a noisy office!)
-Chocolate chips
-Fruit preserves
-Canned pumpkin (a great dip!)

Sunshine Soup ( you need a catchy name for a healthy recipe, right?)
Serves 4-6

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch coins
4-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch coins
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Kosher salt to taste (a pinch to start)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups soaked white beans or 3-4 cans of white beans, drained (navy or cannellini beans)
4 cups stock (could be chicken, turkey, vegetable)
1 6-ounce cup of Chobani Plain low-fat Greek Yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium soup pan over medium heat
Add carrot and parsnip coins and toss to coat
Cook for 10-15 minutes until softened, but not mushy
Add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn garlic
Add beans to pot and mix with vegetables
Add stock and stir to mix
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low
Cook for 10-15 minutes
Remove from heat
If you have an immersion blender: Blend carefully in pot
Blender: Transfer soup to blender and blend carefully. You may need to blend in batches
Once soup is blended to desired consistency, add yogurt and stir until smooth
Garnish with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper
Drizzle a little olive oil on top and serve

Prep Time: 10 minutes chopping and assembling
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Cutting board, knife, soup pot, measuring cups and spoons, immersion blender/blender, spoon, ladle, serving dishes

Sriracha Lime Dip
Recipe for 1 container of yogurt
Add more hot sauce depending on your heat tolerance.  The amount below would be considered mild.

1 6-ounce container of plain Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon of Sriracha hot pepper sauce (or  your favorite hot sauce)
Juice from half of a lime
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients well
Serve with vegetables, chips, or pretzel crisps
Or top vegetable stir-fry, rice, quinoa, or even grilled tofu or chicken

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Mixing bowl, measuring spoon, serving dish and spoon

Win a case of Chobani yogurt (12 6-oz containers) in your choice of flavor! You can enter up to three times. You can include all entries in one comment, just be sure to mention them all.  Entries due by midnight on Tuesday, January 25 and the winner will be chosen with and announced on Wednesday, January 25.

This contest is now closed. Thank you for stopping by to enter!

Full Disclosure: I won a case of Chobani yogurt through a Twitter giveaway. I was not asked to review or blog about the products. I did not receive any compensation for my post or recipe. I just love to create fun new dishes!  Chobani generously offered to provide a giveaway on the blog. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of Chobani.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: White Bean Dip and Mac & Cheese+

Happy New Year! 'Tis the season for resolutions, diet overhauls, and lofty fitness goals.  After indulging over the holiday season, it's time to get back to healthy, nutritious, and of course delicious eating.  For my new healthy lifestyle plan I'm participating in a biggest loser style competition at work.  Our first weigh-in was this week and we'll keep tabs on our total percentage of body weight lost until February 28.  The biggest loser can take home a pretty good payout (and second place isn't bad either). The idea is to motivate each other to eat healthier and be more active during the work day.  We're planning lunchtime walks, afternoon stair climbs, and maybe even some pilates and a visit from a nutritionist.

Starting with this post, I'll be featuring healthy snack recipes every Wednesday.  Renee (Eat.Live.Blog) and I volunteered to help in the healthy recipes department.  One of the challenges of sitting at your desk all day is coming up with snacks for the 3:00 p.m. sugar low. We'll both be posting every Wednesday with a new idea.

A challenge for snack time is to have something nutritious, filling, and satisfying. It can't just be a few crackers or a piece of chocolate, you need something that will keep you going.  My first recipe is an old standby that is perfect for snack time, cocktail parties, game nights, or really anything.  White bean dip lends itself to endless variations.  You can change the herbs & spices, add different citrus juice, and make your own creation.  And you can dip veggies, crackers, pretzels, baked potato chips or spread it on a piece of toast.

In honor of the first healthy snack Wednesday, I also wanted to give you a quick and easy dinner recipe.  My husband loves Annie's shells & white cheddar.  By itself, a bowl isn't bad for you but there's not much to it.  To add some nutritional kick I mixed in winter squash puree and a handful of chopped spinach. The squash makes turns it the traditional orange mac n' cheese color and the spinach looks like confetti!  Now you probably couldn't trick any kids into eating this but it was pretty tasty.

One of my favorite things to do is to cook a few things on Sunday to have on hand for the week. This week I roasted a red kuri squash (winter squash) while we were hanging out and watching football. I pureed the squash and put it into the fridge for the week. By itself it is a perfect side dish, but it can also be mixed into sauce for pasta (like I did tonight) or even pancake batter for breakfast.

What do you bring to work for snack time? Do you have a favorite healthy dinner trick? I'd love to hear them!!

White Bean Dip
Enough for a few days of snacks
Serving size 1/4 cup

Dip Base
2 cans beans (cannellini beans, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, or great northern beans), drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix-ins and options - I usually pick one in each category
Herbs: Fresh parsley, basil, cilantro, chives, dill
Spices: Hot sauce, red pepper flakes, seasoned salt
Flavorings: Roasted garlic, chopped garlic, ginger, flavored mustard (dijon, horseradish, etc.), horseradish, wasabi
Citrus: Lemon juice, lime juice

Some of my favorite combinations:
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, 1-2 tablespoons fresh basil,and  lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, a sprinkle each of chili powder and cumin, and lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon fresh dill, 1-2 cloves of garlic

The easiest way to make this dip is in a food processor.

Add beans and any herbs and spices to the food processor
Pulse a few times to mix together
Add juice from 1/4 of a lemon and olive oil
Pulse until smooth and well-mixed
Taste and add extra citrus or oil if desired
Season with salt and pepper
Serve with crackers, pretzels, or chopped vegetables
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook/Mixing time: 5 minutes
Food processor, measuring cups, bowl, spoon

Not Your Usual Annie's Shells & Cheddar
Box serving size is equal to 2.5 servings. Pair with a salad for three total servings

1 purple box of Annie's Shells and white cheddar macaroni and cheese
1/2 cup squash puree (you could also use canned pumpkin or squash)
1/2 cup low-fat milk
Handful of chopped spinach leaves

Prepare pasta according to the box directions
In a small bowl whisk together the powdered cheese and milk
Add in squash puree and whisk until somewhat smooth
When pasta is done cooking, drain and return to the hot pot
Add spinach and toss
Add cheese sauce and mix well

Prep time: 5 minutes (while pasta cooks)
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
Pasta pot, colander, slotted spoon, cutting board & knife, whisk, bowl, serving bowls

As an added bonus to our healthy snack series kickoff, today Renee and I got a visit from Jacqueline and the Pretzel Crisp Car (@pretzelcrisps). She had seen Renee's tweet about healthy snacks and offered to drop by with some crisps for us to sample. Jacqueline even threw in a few tubs of Tribe Origins hummus. Did you know Tribe is a local company? They are just south in Taunton!  Pretzel Crisps are low fat and come in a variety of flavors from buffalo to cinnamon toast. The buffalo had a good kick, but wasn't too spicy. I don't love blue cheese, but they did have a fun recipe on the bag for a buffalo crisp topped with crumbled blue cheese and a celery slice. Sounds much healthier than a basket of wings.  We haven't tried all of the flavors yet, but are looking forward to sampling them during our 3:00 p.m. snack breaks.

Full disclosure: We were not asked to write about the snacks and we were not compensated in any way other than each receiving a goody bag full of pretzel crisps to share with our coworkers. Any opinions about the crisps belong to me.

Happy snacking!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Easy Entertaining with Trader Joe’s

As I mentioned in the previous post, my mother-in-law is an expert at using Trader Joe’s ingredients to make quick and flavorful meals. She says, “The joy of Trader Joe’s is that you can take their ingredients, be creative, and in 15 minutes have a dish cooking that is worthy of being served to company.” Her revised book concept is Dinner Party Dishes with Five Ingredients from Trader Joe’s

During our visit she had an opportunity to cook us one of her delicious creations. With a mix of fresh, canned, and prepared foods she put together a full meal with appetizers, salad, entree, vegetable side, and dessert. The meal preparation was quick and everything was ready in advance of our dinner guests’ arrival.

Our appetizers included assorted olives, hummus and whole wheat crackers, and a spinach pie. The spinach pie can be found in the freezer section. After baking in the oven, my mother-in-law cut the rectangular pie into small squares for serving. Inside the flaky pastry crust was a savory mixture of spinach, feta, and spices.

Main course on top and spinach pie on bottom.

After finishing up with the appetizers we moved on to the main meal. First up, a mixed green salad chock full of cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, garbanzo beans, and flavored mixed nuts (with herbs & spices). I contributed a quick salad dressing to top it off. She had picked up an assortment of infused olive oils during our trip to North Market along with a divided serving dish. We sampled four of the oils as part of the salad course. A crusty French baguette was the perfect dipper to try all of the oils.

The meal was straight from the pages of her soon to be written cookbook! The ingredient that inspired this dish was frozen ravioli. My mother-in-law was thinking about a baked ravioli dish that she had growing up in New York. Using Trader Joe’s ingredients, some lemon olive oil we had picked up at North Market and a few things out of the fridge, she put together a layered baked ravioli dish that was hearty, flavorful, and quite impressive! The baked ravioli was full of vegetables, so a simple side dish was all that we needed. She steamed fresh green beans and tossed them in a little lemon olive oil with salt and pepper for the side.

We enjoyed a lively conversation while we devoured dinner. It was hard to stop eating, but we knew that we still had dessert on the way!

My mother-in-law has a go-to dessert that she uses when entertaining. It’s an elegant (and healthy) dish that requires just a little assembly. She fills an ice cream dish with a slice of fat-free pound cake, a dollop of fruit preserves, a generous amount of fresh berries, and tops it off with whipped cream. But no dinner party is complete without multiple desserts. We also enjoyed some rugelach and carrot cake.

Sans whipped cream

This meal was quick to prepare, delicious to eat, and everyone was satisfied (and quite full) at the end of the night. The next time you’re stuck in a cooking rut or short on time and don’t know what to make, just head to Trader Joe’s to put together a great meal! And don’t forget to ask my mother-in-law for her recipe!

Baked Ravioli
2 packages Trader Joe’s frozen ravioli (any flavor, we used one package of asparagus and one package of sundried tomato)
1 jar Trader Joe’s bruschetta mix
1 jar crushed tomatoes
1 can artichokes
1 cup sliced mushrooms (leftover from the salad)
A few tablespoons of lemon olive oil
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large oval casserole dish, spread olive oil in the bottom (covering the entire dish)
Pour the jar of bruschetta in the dish and spread evenly
Place raviolis in a single layer on top of the bruschetta
Spread the artichokes on top of the raviolis
Top the artichokes with another layer of ravioli
Add the mushrooms next
Top with a third layer of ravioli
Spread the crushed tomatoes on top, covering all of the ravioli
Bake for 20-25 minutes until heated through
Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella on top and bake for another 5 minutes until the cheese is golden brown
Serve directly from the casserole dish

Prep time: 10 minutes (opening jars & packages)
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Casserole dish, serving utensils

Quick and Easy Salad Dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt, pepper

Add all ingredients into a small salad dressing bottle or dish with a lid
Shake vigorously until well combined
Toss with salad

Easy & Healthy Dessert
Slices of fat free pound cake or angel food cake
Fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, washed
Fruit preserves (cherry, strawberry, or raspberry
Whipped cream

Place a slice of cake in the bottom of a dessert dish
Add a spoonful of fruit preserves
Add a generous amount of berries
Top with a swirl of whipped cream

Sunday, November 7, 2010

All the Flavor of Thanksgiving…Not the Way You’d Expect

Before I write my next post in the Local Luxury Dinner Party series, I wanted to share my fun dinner!

I have been working hard to plan meals for the week and get a lot of cooking done on Sundays. This takes away the stress of thinking of something to make every night and frees up more time for homework (well, maybe twitter and some TV watching too). Today when I pulled out my notebook to plan, I decided that I wouldn’t consult any cookbooks. I wanted to be creative and come up with my own ideas for the week.

When we get lazy about planning around here, we end up eating a lot of red meat. I love to cook brisket, burgers, you name it. But for the sake of the hubby’s cholesterol, we’ve decided to have a non-red meat at home month. So that leaves us to decide on some alternative proteins. Since Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, I’ve been craving roasted turkey. When I checked out turkey breasts at Whole Foods last week I almost passed out from sticker shock. $55 for a turkey breast?!? That’s nuts! So we opted for chicken and tofu for our proteins last week.

I still had a hankering for turkey when I started planning today. I went through the ingredients in the fridge first for inspiration and remembered that I had a container of cranberries ready to be turned into sauce. With cranberry sauce in mind, I started daydreaming about Thanksgiving dinner. To me that means lots of my grandmother’s dressing (aka stuffing) with a little turkey and fixings. I figured that turkey breast would still be pricey, so I arrived on the idea of turkey + stuffing meatballs served with cranberry sauce. I picked up some pre-made stuffing mix (sacrilegious in my family), a pound of ground white meat turkey, and fresh celery. Those three ingredients set me back about $12. Added in with the ingredients I had at home, this meal didn’t break the bank. For the two of us, this will be two meals.

I used a cranberry sauce recipe from the last issue of Gourmet Magazine. The sauce, a mix of cranberries and apples, was a hit at our holiday celebration last year. I have to confess, I made mashed potatoes from a box to serve on the side. I had the box leftover from when I made a King Arthur recipe calling for instant mashed potatoes. I shouldn’t feel bad about boxed potatoes, but I usually write about local, fresh, and homemade!

The verdict on the meal? Delicious! I will definitely be making this again. Next time I’ll use a little more stuffing and add in extra poultry seasoning for a little more flavor. I think it would be fun to make the meat mixture into patty shapes and serve them on fresh kaiser rolls with cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Or maybe potato rolls…. So many possibilities!

I had to laugh, as I sat down to eat I pulled out the latest Saveur to peruse. In reference to my dinner, I had to make an edit to the cover:

Thanksgiving Meatballs served with fresh cranberry sauce with apple (and instant mashed potatoes)
Makes 12 2” meatballs

1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup stuffing mix + a little extra (I used Whole Foods chicken flavor)
1/3 cup finely diced celery
1 lb. ground white meat turkey breast

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil (I used cooking spray on the foil to prevent sticking)
Mix egg and milk together in a large bowl
Add in celery and 1 cup stuffing and mix, making sure to moisten the stuffing
Add in turkey and mix using your hands, be careful not to over mix (you’ll end up with dense meatballs)
If the mixture is too wet, add in a little more stuffing
Form into 2 inch balls and place on the greased baking sheet
Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through the cooking time

Cranberry Sauce with Apple
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November 2009

16 oz. fresh cranberries, washed
1-2 apples (I used Fortune apples), peeled, cored, and diced into 1/2 in cubes
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Combine water, sugar, cranberries, and diced apples in a medium saucepan
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat
Cook over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly
The cranberries will burst and the mixture will begin to thicken (like cranberry sauce!)
You can serve immediately with the meatballs, or to make a nice presentation, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and spray the plastic wrap with cooking spray
Spoon the sauce into the loaf pan, cover with the plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours
Invert the loaf pan onto the plate and slice for serving

Instant Mashed Potatoes
Follow the directions, and if you really want to be gourmet, follow the microwave directions. I did use delicious Kerry Gold butter from Ireland to add flavor.

Serve and enjoy! I’m looking forward to leftovers tomorrow.

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes total (20 minutes meatballs, 15 minutes cranberry sauce, 2 minutes mashed potatoes)
Mixing bowls, spatulas, baking sheet, measuring cups, medium saucepan, microwave safe bowl, serving utensils and plates

Friday, August 27, 2010

So Simple, So Good

Here's an easy way to make use of your farmers market finds.  Don't forget, it's still Massachusetts Farmers Market Week and you can help support the market with a donation of any size at, just click on donate. To check out some other great blog posts celebrating the markets visit In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens.

Now, onto tonight's recipe. I wasn't planning on posting this while I was cooking - I just took a couple pictures with the plan of tweeting them. But my plan changed as soon as I took the first bite.  Tonight's dinner was quick to prepare (thanks to some cooking earlier in the week) and full of great flavor. Even better - it was almost all local!

Last week I picked up some yellow cherry tomatoes from Ward's Berry Farm at the Boston University Farmers Market. On Sunday I roasted them with some olive oil and kosher salt. They made a great topping for pizza bagels and then I put them in the refrigerator and forgot about them until tonight.

After reading about hard neck garlic over at Local in Season today, I picked up two heads from Atlas Farm during my after work trip to the Copley Farmers Market.  Not related to tonight's dinner I also picked up a leek and some local potatoes to turn into soup tomorrow. 

And the BEST part of my visit to the market today - ground cherries are back! These look like baby tomatillos - but have a personality all of their own. A little tart, a little sweet, and so addictive. I can polish off an entire container in one sitting. Even peeling off the little husks doesn't slow me down. Next year I'll have to try growing these in my expanded garden. Until then, I will buy as many as I can before they go out of season.

Now, back to dinner. My basil plants really enjoyed these rainy days and I had a lot to use. This was the finishing touch for dinner. The sauce was spicy from the garlic, but sweet from the tomatoes. The basil was bright and summery. I'm sitting here licking my lips just thinking about it. I might have to go heat up the leftovers for dessert.

Whole Wheat Linguine with Roasted Yellow Tomato Sauce
Serves 2

Roasted Tomatoes
About 20 yellow cherry tomatoes
Olive oil 
Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cover a baking sheet with foil
Spread the tomatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet
Drizzle enough olive oil on top to cover the tomatoes and use your hands to toss them in the oil
Sprinkle with kosher salt
Roast for about 15 minutes, until tomatoes split open
I chilled mine in the fridge all week

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Roasted tomatoes
1 clove, hard neck garlic
Pinch of kosher salt
1 Tablespoon-ish of fresh basil

When you're ready to make the sauce, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat
When oil is hot, add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until fragrant
Add in tomatoes and salt and mix well
Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes (while the noodles cook)
When the sauce has thickened a little, remove from heat and put into a serving bowl

Add cooked pasta to the sauce and toss
Top with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese


Local ingredients: Tomatoes, garlic, basil
Pantry items: Salt, olive oil, pasta, Parmesan cheese

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes
Pasta pot, colander, cutting board, knife, baking sheet, small skillet, spatula, serving bowl and utensils

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pizza with Panache

Pizza is a dish that lends itself to creative thinking. You can make it traditional, innovative, sweet, or savory. My favorite pizzas are light on sauce with a few great tasting toppings. Whenever I go home to St. Louis I try to get a St. Louis thin-crust pizza with hamburger and onion (sometimes black olives too). The best part of St. Louis pizza (and salads at the pizza places) is provel cheese. Provel cheese comes in ropes, it was created about 50 years ago for the purpose of topping St. Louis pizzas. It’s a combination of provolone, white cheddar, and Swiss. It melts well, doesn’t get stringy, and stays hot (watch out for burned mouths).

When I’m here in Boston and thinking about pizza, I prefer to make it at home. It’s faster than delivery and we can make it exactly the way we like. Homemade pizza is also a great way to use up all those leftover ingredients in the fridge.

We had picked up some premade pizza dough and the grocery store and set it out on the counter to warm up to room temperature. Like the start of most of my kitchen adventures, I looked in the fridge and pantry to see what we had on hand.

From the freezer I pulled out at tin of Pestos with Panache’s Succulent Strawberry Pesto. I’ve enjoyed corresponding online with the pesto maker, Lauren, and had a chance to meet her in person at the SoWa Market earlier this summer. The strawberry pesto isn’t sweet – it’s a fabulous traditional pesto with the addition of bright red strawberries.

To top of the pizza, I chose shredded Monterey jack cheese and a few golden delicious apples.

This is a quick meal and perfect for a light dinner. You could also make the case for serving it at breakfast accompanied by some fluffy scrambled eggs and a cup of tea.

Pizza with Panache
1 container/bag of prepared pizza dough (or a pre-baked crust like Boboli)
1/4 cup Pestos with Panache Succulent Strawberry Pesto
1-2 golden delicious apples, cored and sliced into thin slices (I did not peel my apples)
Monterey Jack cheese, as cheesy as you like
Sprinkle of corn meal for the baking surface

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Measure out pesto (it is frozen) and warm for about 10 seconds in the microwave to make it more spreadable and set aside (don’t completely melt it)

Stretch out, toss, or roll out pizza dough to desired shape and thickness
Place the dough on a pizza stone or baking sheet covered with the cornmeal, this helps to prevent sticking
Bake the crust for 6 minutes

Remove the prebaked dough from the oven
Using a silicone brush, spread pesto all over the crust
Top with the apple slices, spreading evenly over the crust
Top with as much cheese as you’d like

Return pizza to the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and the edge of the crust is golden brown
Remove from oven and let the pizza sit for a minute or two, so you don’t lose all the cheese when you slice it

Serve with a lightly dressed salad and try to save a few pieces for lunch the next day!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 16-20 minutes
Pizza stone, cutting board, knife, bowl, pizza cutter, serving utensils


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