Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wraps

So... we're in our house!!! We moved in yesterday! There are boxes EVERYWHERE and it is impossible to navigate around the kitchen. It took us until 2:00 to find plates to microwave pizza from last night, and I didn't find drinking glasses or silverware until I started making dinner. And I only found those because I was looking for the potato masher and mixing bowls. And this is how moving goes.

I go back to work tomorrow and Thursday, and then we have Friday off, so I will have a good three-day weekend to hack away at the unpacking. Until then, I may resort to unconventional methods to make foods.

Because I get panicky when things are different for too long, I made dinner tonight. Even though we spent all day assembling furniture and shopping at warehouse stores and cleaning. Even though I am tired. And even though I had to use tupperware instead of a mixing bowl because I couldn't find the mixing bowls. I just needed something normal. And what's more normal than cooking? Nothing.

Tonight's meal was a super-easy wrap. Once I found all the tools it was easy to make and was very yummy. I'd reduce the vinegar a bit because it was a little bit too much, but it was still very good. We would definitely make it again.


Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wraps
Eating Well, July/Aug 09

White beans mashed with ripe avocado and blended with sharp Cheddar and onion makes an incredibly rich, flavorful filling for this wrap. The tangy, spicy slaw adds crunch. A pinch (or more) of ground chipotle pepper and an extra dash of cider vinegar can be used in place of the canned chipotles in adobo sauce. Serve with tortilla chips, salsa and Tecate beer.

2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (see Note)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced red onion
4 8- to 10-inch whole-wheat wraps or tortillas

1. Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle chile and salt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage, carrot and cilantro; toss to combine.

2. Mash beans and avocado in another medium bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in cheese and onion.

3. To assemble the wraps, spread about 1/2 cup of the bean-avocado mixture onto a wrap (or tortilla) and top with about 2/3 cup of the cabbage-carrot slaw. Roll up. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut the wraps in half to serve, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, June 26, 2009

Vegetable Bibimbap

Had a really crappy day, so a 10 minute whirl through the kitchen left us with two big bowls of Vegetable Bibimbap. Yum yum.

Last meal prepared in the hotel! Gotta pack everything up to move into our house on Monday!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Burmese Noodles

Tonight I was going to make something else but everything I needed to prepare it was in the dishwasher (and not washed). So I made this for dinner instead. It is from a cookbook that I want: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It was really yummy and unique.

For those of you who do not know, Burma is a southeast Asian country.

We would definitely make this again! It's easy and yummy.


Burmese Noodles
Deborah Madison

Curry paste
1/2 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves
2 1/4-inch round slices of ginger root, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 red bird chilies or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Noodles and veggies
5 dried shitake or black Chinese mushrooms
8 ounces fresh Chinese noodles or dried fettuccine
1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 can unsweetened coconut milk, cream reserved
1 handful of snow peas, trimmed
2 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
Cilantro, basil, and mint leaves, sliced, for garnish

Use a mortar and pestle, or food processor, to make the curry ingredients into a thick paste.

Soak the mushrooms in the warm water for 15 minutes. Drain the mushrooms and save the liquid. Discard the stems and chop the mushrooms into thin slices. Separate the fresh noodles, if using them. Chop the peanuts.

Heat the oil in a wok until it's hot, and add the curry paste. Cook on high heat for 30 seconds, then turn heat down to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a little water if it starts to stick. After 15 minutes, raise the heat and add the tomato and the mushroom liquid and coconut milk. Simmer for a minute, then add the mushrooms, snow peas, scallions, and soy. Turn off the heat.

Cook the noodles until tender and drain. Add them to the mixture in the wok and lift and mix the noodles until they are covered with the sauce. Put the noodles into a large serving dish and scatter the peanuts and chopped herbs on top.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vegetable Rolls with Chili Mayonnaise

I made something similar to these one time (here) and had similar results: impressive yet easy to make, but very difficult to eat. I thought tonight's vegetable rolls were very good but he didn't like them at all. I'm not sure why. Also I have no idea why Giada de Laurentiis came up with this because it is not Italian.

I found real rice paper wraps this time so that was cool. They turn clear! It's so neat. I also used sambal oelek instead of sriracha because I decided to spice things up (teehee, I made a pun)! Sambal Oelek is a little less spicy than sriracha but it's not as smooth and has seeds. It will be fun to use them interchangeably (though my heart belongs to sriracha).

We wouldn't make these again but I thought they were yummy. I just wish we knew of a more efficient, less messy way to eat them.

It should also be noted that I severely injured myself with the grater while grating a carrot. Should've bought pre-shredded carrot! There is blood, but it will stop eventually as per usual. Not like this is the first (or last) time I'll do something stupid in the kitchen.

chili mayo

Vegetable Rolls with Chili Mayonnaise
Giada de Laurentiis

For the Chili Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Asian chili sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar

For the Vegetable Rolls
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and cut into thin slices
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored and cut into thin slices
1 large carrot, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 rice paper rounds
6 butter lettuce leaves, ribs removed
1 1/2 cups cooked cellophane noodles or bean threads, cooled

For the Chili Mayonnaise: In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, chili sauce, lemon juice, fish sauce, garlic, and brown sugar.

For the Vegetable Rolls: In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, carrot, mint, and basil. Add the Chili Mayonnaise and toss well.

Lay a damp kitchen or paper towel on a work surface. Soak a rice paper round in warm water for 20 to 30 seconds until softened. Place the rice paper on the damp towel. Lay a lettuce leaf in the middle of the rice paper and spoon some of the vegetable mixture on top. Place 1/4 cup of the cellophane noodles on top of the vegetable mixture. Roll the rice paper around the filling and seal the ends with a little water. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Store the finished vegetable rolls in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours wrapped in damp paper towels.

Yield: 6 rolls

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pasta With Chickpeas, Chorizo and Bread Crumbs

What a bizarre recipe. I put this on the menu, bought my Soyrizo to substitute for the chorizo (obviously) and then immediately regretted my choice because it just is such a weird-sounding meal. Even while making it, I was so put off by all of it.

And then it was done.

This is actually DELICIOUS and comes together really nicely. The Soyrizo is spicy and yummy and goes well with the chickpeas and pasta. The bread crumbs were wonderful but the recipe makes WAY too much so you could easily cut that down. I also reduced the amount of oil in everything, which was a good decision since sausage (or fake sausage, in our case) is oily in and of itself. We would make this again.


Pasta With Chickpeas, Chorizo and Bread Crumbs
New York Times, 10/17/07

Salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
1/4 pound cooked Spanish chorizo or kielbasa, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
4 cups cooked chickpeas, with their liquid
1/2 pound cut pasta, like ziti or penne (even smaller cut pasta is good here)
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

1. Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add chorizo; heat, stirring occasionally, until chorizo is lightly browned, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and then the garlic; cook until it colors lightly, then add bread crumbs. Toast, shaking skillet frequently, until bread crumbs turn golden brown, about 10 minutes; if necessary, add a little more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and remove to a bowl.

2. Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil to skillet and, over medium heat, chickpeas and about 1 cup of their liquid. Cook pasta until it is nearly but not quite tender; drain, then add it to chickpeas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender; stir in chorizo, heat through, and taste and adjust seasoning.

3. Serve chickpea-pasta mixture in bowls, garnished with crisp bread crumbs and a sprinkling of parsley.

Yield: 4 servings

My Mom's Cake

We went to Connecticut over the weekend and were greeted by a lovely cake my mom made. We'd always said we wanted a cake from Charm City Cakes for our anniversary, but we didn't do it because we moved from Maryland before then and plus Charm City has increased their prices to like a minimum of $1000. No thank you. So she bought some fondant from the cooking aisle in Michael's, and some dye and fondant cutters and stuff, and made us a cake!


It was really yummy, although no one liked eating the fondant. It was a white cake with raspberry and buttercream in the middle. She did not give me the recipe.


Yum yum!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Yellow Curry

Tonight we had Yellow Curry. It wasn't as good as the first time we had it because I used a standard white potato tonight. I would definitely stick to Yukon Golds if I make it again. They give it a nice texture.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Zucchini Vichyssoise

I got tired of the polka dots, so we're on to... different polka dots now. I think it's nice.

Tonight for dinner I made this soup, which I was really not looking forward to making because I have a lot to do tonight and very little time to do it (should be folding laundry and making grocery list, instead I am posting on my blog and changing the layout). But it actually was very simple to make. Instead of using a food mill, which I do not own, I used my immersion blender and it was just fine. This soup turned out a LOT like our favorite Golden Potato-Leek Soup. The zucchini totally disappeared. So it would be a good way to sneak zucchini in without someone knowing. I think we'll keep using our regular recipe, but this one is very good.


Zucchini Vichyssoise
Barefoot Contessa

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
5 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (4 to 8 leeks)
4 cups chopped unpeeled white boiling potatoes (8 small)
3 cups chopped zucchini (2 zucchini)
1 1/2 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or canned broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Fresh chives or julienned zucchini, for garnish

Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot, add the leeks, and saute over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, zucchini, chicken stock, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then process through a food mill fitted with the medium disc. Add the cream and season to taste. Serve either cold or hot, garnished with chopped chives and/or zucchini.

Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Yesterday I had a terrible day and when I came home, all I wanted was to lie on the floor and order pizza. So that's what we did. Today I had a somewhat bad day, so I still made dinner, but it was this super easy "salad" that is eaten with pita chips. It is OK. It's nothing special. It did its job, fed us well, and we are happily watching Friends now. Not a make-again for us.

I discovered cilantro in a tube so I used that instead of fresh, I used red wine vinegar instead of rice wine because I lost the rice wine vinegar in the cabinet, and I used regular olive oil instead of garlic olive oil. I did use our fancy French gray sea salt though and it was yummy.


Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Cooking Light, April 2009

Sides and Salads. "Organic tomatoes bring the best flavor to this vegetarian dish. I pick them straight from my garden, but you can substitute canned diced tomatoes." —Judy Holder, Elk City, Okla.

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons roasted garlic extra-virgin olive oil (such as Consorzio)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups chopped peeled tomato (about 2 large)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 (6-ounce) bag baked pita chips (such as Stacy's)

1. Combine salt and garlic in a medium bowl; mash with a fork until a paste consistency. Add vinegar, oil, and cumin, stirring with a whisk. Add tomato and next 4 ingredients (through pepper); toss well. Serve with pita chips.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crabby Omelet

While I didn't enjoy the taste of this omelet because apparently I don't like crab unless it's from a claw and dipped in butter, I am proud to say that I successfully made an omelet that was completely cooked through. This is something I have been trying to master for awhile so I am happy to have achieved that. I will probably use this recipe's omelet making method to do things like a mushroom and cheddar omelet. Just not one with crab.


Crabby Omelet
Shape magazine
Adapted from Snow City Cafe
1034 West 4th Avenue, Anchorage, AK

4 large eggs
2 tsp butter
4 oz (about ¾ cup) canned crab
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup grated Swiss cheese

½ avocado, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Crack eggs into bowl and whisk together. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the crab and scallions. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the crab is heated and the scallions are slightly softened. Pour in half of the eggs. As they cook, use a rubber spatula to gently lift up the edges of the eggs to allow uncooked portions to run underneath. When the egg mixture is dry on the outer edges but still slightly runny in the center (about 2 to 3 minutes), flip the omelet over with the spatula. Reduce heat to low and add half of the cheese. Cook for one minute. Remove the omelet from the pan and fold it in half onto a plate. Repeat above steps with remaining ingredients. Top each omelet with avocado slices and season with salt and pepper.

Yield: 2 servings

Monday, June 15, 2009

Starfish Brasserie

Yesterday was our anniversary (1 year, hooray!) so we went out for a nice dinner. We get 10% off at a bunch of local restaurants since we are living in a Residence Inn, so we took advantage of that and went to Starfish Brasserie in downtown Bethlehem, PA. It had gotten some good reviews, it is billed as "fine dining," and it had a nice, seafood-filled prix fixe menu on Sundays.

It BLEW. What a waste of money.

We should have been alerted when we arrived and discovered we were the only people dining there that evening:

Gibby made some good, safe picks. He started with some mussels, which were very tasty, and then he had snow crab legs. It's hard to go wrong when steaming crab legs. Life balanced out though because his dessert was absolutely vile. It was supposed to be a peanut butter cheesecake, but it was this big pile of glop that just was a horrible texture and was kind of like peanut butter mixed with a little bit of flour and plopped on a place with a nasty gelatinous sauce. Ugh. He also ordered a chocolate martini and declared that terrible as well.

I fared far worse, as the only yummy thing I ate was the amuse bouche (a small Thai red curry mussel, which was fabulous), the bread, and Gibby's food. I had shrimp remoulade for my appetizer, which was very cold and not yummy at all. A lot of the food seemed to have come directly from the refrigerator, so this is a common theme. My main dish was tigerfish with udon noodles and a spicy curry sauce. Except they failed to tell me it was skin-on fish, which I think is gross, and it was super-bland when I peeled the skin off. And then the curry sauce wasn't spicy at all, and there was a huge pile of mushy steamed shredded carrots. It was awful. I did not eat much. I ate Gibby's mashed potatoes. They weren't great either but they were potatoes. My dessert was a safe - or so I thought - lemon-poppyseed cake with fresh fruit. Except the cake was the driest thing ever created and tasted weird. The berries were good at least.

Our service was good. The guy was nice and corrected a billing mistake without question. The restaurant looked nice, although they'd had an Open Mic that afternoon so there were some grungy guys still cleaning up from that. The shellfish (mussels and crab) were excellent, and all of my food was terrible. We will not be going back to Starfish Brasserie, this is for certain.

Crispy Rice & Bean Burritos

Tonight I made our favorite old standby, Crispy Rice & Bean Burritos. It's so yummy and fast. Everything is chopped up and in the bowl before the rice is even done cooking, and then ding! Ready to eat!

Today I also had coconut cream pie for my birthday at our monthly staff meeting, and another girl was having a birthday in June so for her birthday dessert she chose a "Tandycakes." I have never heard of this before but it was DELICIOUS and I am going to have to make it sometime. A google search provided me with this recipe, which sounds yummy. Let me know if you make it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ice Cream Cone Cannolis

I like cannoli. A lot. I am not about to deep-fry shells though to make my own, so I liked this super-fast cheater recipe that uses ice cream cones instead of the shells. Then, of course, once we bought the ice cream cones, I found storebought cannoli shells. But I decided to stick with the cones.

It's super easy. We didn't have orange zest so I added a pinch of cinnamon (we have a cinnamon that has hints of orange in it, so it worked just fine). I topped them with chocolate chips instead of sprinkles. They are yummy. Not quite the same as regular cannoli, for sure, but at least they're portable!


Ice Cream Cone Cannolis
Sorrento advertisement

15 oz container Sorrento Whole Milk or Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp grated orange rind
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
8-10 sugar ice cream cones
Multicolored sprinkles

With wooden spoon, mix ricotta, sugar, vanilla, and orange rind until smooth. Add chips and stir until evenly blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Spoon mixture into ice cream cones. Add sprinkles and serve.

Yield: 8-10

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Garlic Mojo Hot Dogs

I used my microwave Tofu Pups, and he used his microwave real hot dogs, and we had ourselves a little hot dog meal. Usually he isn't a fan of toppings on his hot dogs (although I am) so it's always an experiment when I put stuff on top. He liked it! He said he didn't think it should be a make-again but he enjoyed it. He even ate the avocados and tomatoes. And I know it sounds weird for pineapple to be present, but it works very nicely. So. This recipe works nicely for both vegetarian hot dogs and real hot dogs. You should try it out sometime.

hot dog

Garlic Mojo Hot Dogs
Bon Appetit, July 2009

Mojo is a Cuban sauce made from the juice of sour oranges (or, in this case, a mix of orange juice and lime juice). It's truly versatile—the sauce works as a marinade or salsa for beef, fish, pork, and poultry—so no wonder it tastes great with hot dogs, too.

1/4 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tomato, halved, seeded, chopped
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse kosher salt
6 grilled hot dog buns
1 1/2 cups finely shredded romaine lettuce
6 grilled all-beef hot dogs
2 avocados, halved, pitted, diced
2/3 cup finely chopped peeled cored pineapple

Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add next 4 ingredients; bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Season mojo sauce to taste with coarse salt and pepper.

Arrange buns on plates. Top each with lettuce, grilled hot dog, avocado, mojo sauce, and pineapple. Serve with remaining mojo.

Yield: 6 servings

Potato Salad with Sour Cream and Scallions

This is super easy and tastes like a baked potato in salad form. It is really yummy and takes about 15 minutes to make if you want to eat it warm (which we enjoy). We used Baco's (they are soy!) instead of bacon and it worked very nicely.

I don't think the picture makes it look very yummy. I can't wait til we're in the house and can take pictures with good lighting. 2 more weeks!

Potato Salad with Sour Cream and Scallions
Everyday Food

2 pounds white new potatoes, quartered and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, plus more for garnish (optional)
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, for garnish (optional)

1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain well.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sour cream and mayonnaise; add warm potatoes, and gently fold to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

3. To serve, season salad again with salt and pepper, if needed; fold in scallions. Garnish with bacon and more scallions, if desired.

Note: The potato salad can also be served warm; instead of refrigerating at the end of step 2, proceed with step 3, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Friday, June 12, 2009

Citrus Pancakes

I've had this recipe on our meal plan for like 3 weeks but I kept brushing it aside so we could go out to dinner. Then I made it tonight and it was awesome and I feel bad having put it off for so long. It was really yummy. The batter is very thin and spreads a lot on the griddle, but it still cooks through nicely. We really liked it a lot, with some honey and orange wedges on top. Yum!! We would make this again.


Citrus Pancakes

To ensure your pancakes turn out light and fluffy, do not overmix the batter. Too much stirring will develop the gluten in the flour and produce tough pancakes. Use a griddle or a heavy nonstick fry pan and heat it thoroughly before adding the batter. Turn the pancakes only once, when bubbles appear on the surface and the bottoms are golden brown.

2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 1/4 cups milk
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
4 oranges, peeled and sectioned
Honey for serving

In a bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt over the eggs and stir to combine. Stir in the yogurt, milk, butter, vanilla and orange zest until smooth.

Heat a griddle over medium-high heat until a few drops of water flicked onto the surface skitter across it. Lightly grease the griddle with butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Pour 1?3 cup of the batter onto the griddle for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form on top and the batter is set, about 2 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the pancakes and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Keep warm until all the pancakes are cooked. Repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the griddle as needed.

Top the pancakes with orange sections and honey.

Yield: 12 pancakes

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Garden-Style Whole Wheat Pappardelle

Pappardelle is a really wide noodle, kind of like pad see yu at Thai restaurants. I couldn't find any pappardelle so I bought some sheets of fresh whole-wheat lasagna and cut them into strips with my kitchen scissors. Smart, right? Even though this recipe sounds like it takes awhile, it really doesn't. It's not too long. Maybe 30 minutes. It would go great with garlic bread but we don't have an oven. We thought it was good and vegetably, but it wasn't enough to "wow" us, so we probably won't make it again.

P.S. I typed this up from the cookbook so if there are typos, ignore them. You're smart enough to figure out what it's supposed to say.


Garden-Style Whole Wheat Pappardelle
The Best of Food & Wine - 1993 Collection

2 small zucchini, cut into 1 1/2-inch long sticks
6 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup sliced green beans (1 inch long)
1 cup peas
1 cup small broccoli florets
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup slivered onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 cups sliced peeled plum tomatoes
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canned broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Whole Wheat Pappardelle
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. One by one, cook the zucchini, asparagus, beans, peas, and broccoli in the water until just al dente. Remove each vegetable with a slotted spoon, refresh under cold running water, and set aside.

2. In a large nonreactive skillet, heat the oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute over moderately high heat until golden. Add the shiitakes and saute for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper and salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the stock and the reserved green vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Stir in the basil and keep warm.

3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the whole wheat pappardelle until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well and return the pasta to the pot. Add half of the liquid portion of the sauce, leaving most of the vegetables behind, and toss lightly. Add half of the Parmigiano and toss again. Transfer the pappardelle to a platter or plates and spoon the remaining sauce and vegetables on top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Avocado & Cheddar Sandwich

Last night we made Avocado & Cheddar Sandwiches. I had a client til after 8PM so I got home late and I didn't want to order out because hi, we close on our house in 2 weeks so it's time to buckle down with the finances, so I made sure we had the ingredients for these sandwiches. Yummy yummy and takes like 5 minutes to make! Instead of chipotle mayo we used a storebought spicy mayonnaise Gibby bought for his sandwiches.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Corn Chowder

I've made a lot of corn chowder in the past. Most had other things mixed in (1, 2). The one we made tonight was easy and didn't have a lot of ingredients, but I don't think it is better than my mom's recipe. It's a good soup, and I'd recommend it, it just isn't better than what we've already had.

Notes: I didn't use the "pickling cukes," I pureed the soup with an immersion blender, and I used light cream and vegetable stock.


Corn Chowder
Boston Globe

2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
6 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off cobs
5 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
2 pickling cukes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. In a soup pot, melt the butter and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes.

2. In a food processor, work half the corn kernels until they are coarsley ground. Add them to the onion with the whole kernels, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add the cream; taste for seasoning, and simmer 2 minutes more. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish each with yellow pepper, cukes, and parsley. Serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, June 08, 2009

Crunchy Chocolate Truffle Pie

I've had this recipe for quite awhile (3 years?) and never tried it because... well... it sounds scary. It's vegan. It has tofu. But it's a pie. So I figured since we don't have an oven, I might as well try it out. It is super-easy to make. I bought some little 100-calorie packs of Mr.Salty chocolate-covered pretzels to smash up and pour on the pie. I gave it to him and he said, "What's weird about this? Something is not right." When I explained it was made with tofu he said, "Yup, that's it." He is not interested in eating any more of it. I, however, didn't think it tasted bad at all. Silken tofu has a liquidy texture to begin with so it's not like it was spongey like extra-firm tofu, and since it was pureed it was nice and smooth. Mixed with all the other ingredients, I felt like the nuttiness of the tofu blended in with the peanut butter. I liked this and would eat it again. For a vegan pie, it's pretty good!


Crunchy Chocolate Truffle Pie
Vegetarian Times

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12-oz. container firm silken tofu
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 9-inch premade graham cracker crust
1/2 cup chopped chocolate-covered pretzels

1. Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir chocolate, and heat 30 seconds more. Repeat heating and stirring until chocolate is just melted. Set aside.

2. Combine tofu and maple syrup in food processor, and blend 3 minutes, or until smooth. Add peanut butter, and process until smooth. Add melted chocolate, and process once more until smooth.

3. Pour peanut butter-chocolate mixture into pie crust, smoothing the top; refrigerate 20 minutes. Sprinkle pretzels on top, and serve, or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Yield: 12 servings

Not-So-Sloppy Joes

Tonight we had Not-So-Sloppy Joes, which we've had a bajillion times, and I continue to think are the best sloppy joes ever.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fruit Salad with Citrus-Mint Dressing

After last weekend's failed attempt at clams we tried again this week! Since it was the hotel's grill that screwed everything up, they bought us more clams. Except instead of little bottleneck clams, they bought us really big ones! We still made them the same way, with the grill and the finishing butter, but the big ones were so much brinier than the small ones. I didn't like them. I enjoyed my grilled bread with butter. Here are the clams:

To go with it this week, I made another fruit salad. This one has melon, kiwi, and is supposed to have papaya but our papaya was too bitter so we left it out. I didn't make the dressing in my mini-chopper because I'd already used it for the pie (which I will post about tomorrow, probably) so I just chopped up the mint as fine as I could get it. This turned out great because there were little hints of mint but it wasn't overpowering. It was a really tasty fruit salad that we would happily make again.


Fruit Salad with Citrus-Mint Dressing
Cooking Light, April 2005

Serve this potassium-packed fruit salad (662 milligrams per serving) with breakfast or as a light dessert. Use a mini chopper to combine the dressing ingredients--it's the ideal size to blend the small amount of dressing for the salad.

6 kiwifruit, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
2 cups (1 1/2-inch) cubes honeydew
2 cups (1 1/2-inch) cubes cantaloupe
1 medium papaya, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons mint
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange peel
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Combine kiwifruit, honeydew, cantaloupe, and papaya in a medium bowl.

Place sugar and remaining ingredients in a mini chopper food processor; pulse until mint is finely chopped. Pour sugar mixture over fruit, and stir gently to coat.

Yield: 6 servings

Mesa Grill

I've been watching Bobby Flay since I was 11 or 12, pre-Food Network. I think he's a jerk and I love him at the same time. I've always wanted to go to Mesa Grill, one of his restaurants in New York City. And now that we live an hour-ish outside the city, it's easy to go there! And our parents were able to come, too! So we had an early celebration for my birthday, which isn't until the end of the month. This is going to be a crazy photo-filled post so prepare yourself. And yes I'm aware that many photos suck. I couldn't use flash or it was too bright, so I had to go without. I'm going to break it into sections.

The Setting
Here is the inside of the restaurant. We were up on a balcony.

The Family
me and gibby
Me & the husband

Nancy (mother-in-law), Marc (brother), my mom, my dad, and Gibby

My dad had Grilled Asparagus Salad with toasted pecans, Maytag blue cheese, wild roasted mushrooms, and red chile-mustard vinaigrette. It was really yummy (we all tasted around).

Nancy and I both got Crispy Squash Blossoms with ricotta, corn, sweet + hot yellow pepper sauce. I've always wanted to try squash blossoms. These were incredible!

My mom got Sophie's Chopped Salad with her own special dressing and crispy tortillas, which was a big salad of apples and olives and cotija cheese and tortillas and some other stuff. It was pretty good.

goat cheese
My brother got Goat Cheese "Queso Fundido" with rajas + blue corn tortilla chips, much to everyone's surprise (he is usually not adventurous). I tried it. I still don't like goat cheese. He liked it though.

Gibby got the Shrimp + Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale with fresh corn + cilantro sauce and LOVED it. It was very good. We'd never had tamales before.

My dad ordered the "plate of the day," which was Spice-Rubbed Bison Filet with corn + ancho chile sauces + crispy red onion. He liked it a lot. He didn't like the glazed carrots he ordered along with it. They were really boring.

chile relleno
I got the Cornmeal-Crusted Chile Relleno filled with roasted eggplant + Manchego cheese with sweet red pepper sauce + balsamic vinegar. Absolutely amazing. Very, very yummy. Not too spicy though, even for a poblano pepper. This is a recurring theme.

Gibby got the Chipotle Glazed Rib Eye with red + green chile sauce. He thought it was good but he was thoroughly disappointed because it was not at all spicy.

Nancy ordered the Ancho Chile-Honey Glazed Salmon with a spicy black bean sauce, tomatillo salsa, + roasted jalapeno crema. She really liked it. It wasn't spicy.

Marc went for a classic with the Spice Rubbed New York Strip Steak with house-made Mesa steak sauce. Bobby Flay is known for his steak sauce. Marc liked this.

My mom got Mango + Spice-Crusted Tuna Steak with green peppercorn-green chile sauce + toasted pinenut couscous. I tried it. It was very yummy. She liked it a lot.

Marc and Gibby both ordered the Churros dusted with cinnamon sugar + star anise with dark chocolate dipping sauce. Words cannot describe. We all agreed this was the best dish of the night. They both loved it so much that when they ran out of churros, they ate the chocolate with a spoon.

I ordered the Toasted Coconut Layer Cake with coconut cream sauce. I feel like he made this one time on Throwdown. Anyway the waiter had seen me opening presents from Nancy, so they put a candle in the cake and people sang happy birthday and I was really embarrassed, but the cake was amazing so it made up for it.

My dad ordered the Blackberry Mango Crostada with blackberry sauce + vanilla blackberry swirl ice cream. It was really yummy. He was really happy with it.

I didn't try Nancy's Cafe Con Leche Flan with espresso caramel because I do not really like the texture of flan. She liked it though!!

My mom got the Pineapple Buttermilk Upside-Down Cake with caramelized rum sauce + pineapple vanilla ice cream. I'd considered getting that too. It was really yummy.

So that was our crazy, one-time-visit to Mesa Grill. Loved it!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Cuban Black Bean Patties with Pineapple Rice

We've made this recipe many times and ALWAYS forget to take a picture. I think we always figure that since we've made it so many times, we must have taken a picture of it already. Nope! No picture. Still delicious. I improvised the cheese by tearing up the deli slices of pepper jack (Gibby uses them for sandwiches) and throwing them in. It was nice to have little pockets of cheese! Yum.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Farro Vegetarian Jambalaya

I couldn't find farro (or spelt) ANYWHERE so I used barley because the internet said it would be a good substitute. I thought this recipe was good. It's made like a risotto kind of, where you just have to keep stirring to get the grains to absorb the liquid. I probably won't make this again.

P.S. Emeril opened a restaurant at a casino in our town, so we're going to go there soon! Yay!


Farro Vegetarian Jambalaya
Emeril Lagasse

6 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups whole grain farro (or spelt), picked over for impurities and rinsed
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups quartered cremini mushrooms
1/4 pound okra, halved lengthwise
1/4 pound whole baby carrots, tops removed and scrubbed
1 small zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch thick half circles
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer. Lower the heat to keep warm.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, and celery and cook until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and farro to the pan and cook, stirring, until the faro is toasted and coated with oil, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, okra, baby carrots, zucchini, bay leaf, and thyme, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the warm stock, salt, black pepper, and cayenne, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the stock, 2 cups at a time, as the previous addition is absorbed, cooking and stirring, until all the stock is used and the grains are plump and tender.

Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the parsley and adjust the seasoning,to taste. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Vineyard Rice Salad

To go with our panini I made this quick salad. Microwave brown rice, chop stuff up, voila! All set. I thought it was just ok. I probably won't make it again.


Vineyard Rice Salad
American Dietetic Association's "Cooking Healthy Across America" - from a magazine clipping

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups cooked rice, white or brown
2 cups red seedless grapes, quartered
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Stir together oil, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt in large bowl. Add cooked rice and mix well to combine thoroughly. Add grapes, onions, and pecans. Stir gently. Serve immediately or refrigerate (serving at room temperature enhances the flavor).

Yield: 4 servings

Caponata Panini

It's been awhile since I made a Giada recipe! Maybe it's been awhile since I found a Giada recipe worth making? This was pretty good. Then I thought how awesome it would be with some kalamata olives! I omitted the capers because we don't like capers really. I liked this a LOT.


Caponata Panini
Giada de Laurentiis

4 sourdough demi-baguettes or rolls, halved lengthwise
4 slices provolone cheese, halved
1 1/3 cups caponata, recipe follows
Special Equipment: a panini grill

Preheat a panini grill.

Using a grapefruit spoon or fingers, scoop out a 1-inch wide trough along the cut sides of the baguettes. Place 2 half-slices of the provolone cheese on each bottom half of the baguettes. Spoon 1/3 cup of the caponata on top of the cheese. Place the top halves on the baguettes and grill the panini until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.


1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cored seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
3 tablespoons raisins
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the celery and eggplant and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, raisins, and oregano to the pan. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Season, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, June 01, 2009

Broccoli & Bowties

Tonight we had Broccoli & Bowties. Technically this is a make-again but the last time I made it was three years ago and I was living by myself and Gibby and I were dating long-distance so he's never had this before. AND the last time I made it I used peas and shrimp instead of broccoli. What was going through my head? I have no idea. I do know that I cooked well for myself when I lived alone. Good for me. Anyway so I made this for dinner tonight - with the broccoli - and it was very good. We liked it and Gibby declared it a true make-again.