Friday, April 30, 2010

Porn-Free Greek Style Salad

Or, as the original title calls it: "Spinach Salad with Feta, New Potatoes, and Artichokes."

So, why the name change? Well once upon a time, on the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards, someone posted this recipe, adapted from Cottage Living, because they said it was delicious. Then a troll joined the forums and spammed the entire post with extremely graphic photos of lady-bits advertising for a porn site. The original poster was appalled, the troll was banned, and the OP started a new thread for the same recipe, this time entitled "Porn-Free Greek Style Salad" to alert us that the recipe is now available without genitalia. When I saved the recipe, this is the title I saved it under. I kind of like it better.

And that's the origin of the recipe. It's quite good. Not quite as good as my standby Greek salad (this one) but definitely very good. I loved the potato in it. I used a mixture of baby spinach and arugula. I would make it again sometime.


Porn-Free Greek Style Salad
AKA Spinach Salad with Feta, New Potatoes, and Artichokes
Cottage Living, adapted with notes from the CLBB post

6 small red potatoes (about 1 pound), scrubbed
1 10 oz. bag fresh spinach, washed, drained and stems removed
1 cup Greek Vinaigrette, divided (recipe to follow)
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced into half rounds (about 1/2 small onion)
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 14 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound feta cheese, rinsed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Garnish: fresh basil

1. Place potatoes in lightly salted water to cover in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer to 20 to 25 minutes or until tender whe pierced with a fork. Drain, cool to room temperature, and quarter. Set aside. (I cooked my taters in the microwave for 8-9 minutes, allowed them to cool, then cut them in 1/6ths.)

2. Toss spinach with the 1/2 cup Greek Vinaigrette in a large bowl. Transfer to serving platter. (I did this step and the assembly just before serving.)

3. Combine potato, onion and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently with the remaining 1/2 cup of Greek Vinaigrette. Arrange vegetables over spinach, and top with feta. Garnish if desired. (I allowed the vegetables to marinate in the vinaigrette for a few hours before putting it all together.)

Greek Vinaigrette
Leftover vinaigrette is great on mixed greens, fresh mozzarella and tomato salad or sliced tomatoes.

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. fresh chopped basil or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp fresh chopped oregano or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram (optional)
3 T. lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
3/4 cup olive oil
salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week

Makes: about 1 1/4 cups

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

This reminds me of when my mom would sing, "One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato, six potato, seven potato, OR...." And then she would stop at "Or" and we have no idea how it was supposed to end.

I've made breakfast burritos a bunch of times in the past using my mom's tried & true recipe, and I'm a fan of that. I like the chiles. This recipe is very similar except instead of using green chiles, it uses shredded potatoes. I really liked the potato element. I think I might combine these and make breakfast burritos with BOTH the chiles AND the potatoes. I think that would be best for everyone.

Note: I used Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage patties. I love them. You could also use Gimme Lean (get it? Gimme Lean = Jimmy Dean?) vegetarian sausage, but I don't like the texture as much.


Breakfast Burritos
101 Things to Do With A Potato by Stephanie Ashcraft, p.104

4 eggs
1 cup potato, shredded and boiled
1/4 cup ground sausage or sliced sausage links, cooked
1/4 cup grated pepper jack or cheddar cheese
2 or 3 flour tortillas
Sour Cream

Scramble eggs in a frying pan. Add potatoes to eggs and mix together lightly. Add sausage. Top with cheese and let it melt. Place mixture in tortillas. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Yield: 2-3 servings

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Great American Pie Festival

The past four days, we've been in Florida visiting my relatives! And by pure coincidence (I swear), the Great American Pie Festival and National Pie Championships were being held right where we were visiting! No way! So, naturally, we went.


The festival itself was small and standard, with vendors selling everything from tshirts to handmade soap. There was a kids' station where they could decorate pies and roll out dough and stuff. I met this lovely lad over there.


We paid the $10 apiece to enter the Never-Ending Pie Buffet. You walk in and there are like 20 different vendors who've won previous years in the championship's commercial division. They had SLICES of pie. Not just little samples. Actual SLICES for us to take and eat.


I made sure we tried most of the pies (except the cherry ones, I don't really like cherry). We had some great ones (like Village Inn's candy cane pie) and some terrible ones (Wicks peanut butter pie - ick!). I tweeted the whole thing, so here is the rundown of what we ate and our thoughts.

*Winn Dixie - excellent coconut cream and chocolate cream.
*Rocky Mountain Pies - excellent banana cream, okay caramel apple. The rhubarb strawberry tastes like Smuckers jam though, not pie-ish.
*California Raisin Board's raisin maple crunch is NOT GOOD. We actually accidentally bought one of these. It looks like a pecan pie but when we got home we discovered it was NOT.
*Wicks' - german chocolate pie is yummy, but the peanut butter one just tastes like peanut butter in a crust.
*Harlan Pies - lemon meringue - we're divided. I don't like it, Gibby does.
*Kroger - delicious peanut butter, making up for the previous one. They also have great dark chocolate, and peach lattice.
*Bonert's - peach pineapple. It was nothing special.
*Village Inn - fantastic pecan, and a delightfully surprising candy cane pie.
*Publix - sugar free blueberry is ok.
*Key West - frozen key lime pie on a stick. The star of the day.

The key lime pie on a stick:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Orange-Miso-Glazed Tofu and Edamame

WOW this is a lot of soy. Tofu, miso, AND edamame, all in one dish. Protein, for sure! The tofu was big, thick slabs that were mushy and not the baked texture we usually prefer. Shoot, I didn't even like it all that much (though the edamame topping is delicious). I would like to saute or bake the tofu for longer prior to glazing and broiling it to give it a nicer, crispier texture. I probably wouldn't make this again.

FYI, I just renewed my Shape magazine subscription for another 2 years for $7. I don't think I've ever paid more than that for a subscription in all the years I've been getting it. Hah!


Orange-Miso-Glazed Tofu and Edamame
Shape magazine, September 2009

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon light miso
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups frozen shelled edamame
5 scallions, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 14-ounce package light firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 8 slices
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat broiler to high. Whisk together orange juice and miso in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix in red and yellow peppers and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add edamame and cook for 2 minutes more, then stir in scallions and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the miso mixture. Toss well and cook for 1 minute more or until scallions are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

Place tofu on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush tops with the miso mixture. Place in the broiler 12 to 14 inches from heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip tofu, brush with the remaining miso mixture, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes more. Spoon edamame and pepper mixture on top, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cardamom-Lime Sweet Rolls

I have been meaning to make this for weeks and just now got around to doing it. Boy am I glad I did!!!! You know the cardamom buns I swooned over in Stockholm? These are pretty close! The lime flavor is subtle so it doesn't take over from the cardamom (which I increased a bit), but if you want it to be truly fika-worthy you could skip the lime altogether. I kind of like it with the lime though, especially in the glaze. I was worried about how they would turn out because when I put them in the oven, the rolls looked tiny and weren't even close to touching each other. When I pulled them out of the oven, they were beautiful and delicious. I will definitely make these again.






Cardamom-Lime Sweet Rolls
Cooking Light, January 2008

1 package dry yeast -- (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water -- (100° to 110°)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter -- melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg -- lightly beaten
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour -- (about 10 1/2 ounces) divided
Cooking spray

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom -- (1/2 to 3/4)
2 tablespoons butter -- melted, divided

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1. To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

2. Combine sour cream and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl, stirring until well blended. Gradually stir yeast mixture into sour cream mixture. Lightly spoon 2 1/3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour to sour cream mixture, stirring to form a soft dough.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly tacky).

4. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

5. To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, rind, and cardamom. Divide dough into two equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, roll dough into a 12 x 10–inch rectangle; brush with 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle half of filling over dough. Beginning with a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Repeat procedure with remaining dough, 1 tablespoon butter, and filling. Cut each roll into 12 (1-inch) slices. Place slices, cut sides up, in a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 350°.

7. Uncover dough. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack.

8. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls.

Yield: 24 rolls

Polenta Gratin with Spinach and Wild Mushrooms

This was alright, but it drew comparisons to the Baeckeoffe I made awhile ago, and that was much yummier. I wouldn't mark this as a make-again as a result, but if you aren't interested in the Baeckeoffe (god that's hard to spell) then this might be a good option for you. I used a sun-dried tomato polenta, which worked out nicely.


Polenta Gratin with Spinach and Wild Mushrooms
Food & Wine, March 2006
Commercial wild mushroom mixes (usually a combination of shiitake, cremini and oyster mushrooms) are a godsend: Some invisible helper has already cleaned, stemmed and sliced the mushrooms for you. In this recipe, they are mixed with spinach and cream, then baked in a luscious gratin under smooth rounds of precooked polenta until bubbling hot.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces sliced mixed wild mushrooms -- (5 cups)
1 large shallot -- minced
8 ounces prewashed baby spinach -- (8 lightly packed cups)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup cream
One 18-ounce log of prepared polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 ounces Gruyère cheese -- shredded (1 cup)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the shallot and cook over moderately low heat for 3 minutes. Add the spinach, thyme and nutmeg and cook over high heat until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the spinach evenly in a 2-quart baking dish.

2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour over moderately high heat. Add the stock and cream and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper and pour over the spinach. Arrange the polenta slices on top of the spinach in overlapping concentric circles, pressing to submerge the polenta slightly. Sprinkle the Gruyère on the polenta, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

3. Preheat the broiler. Uncover the polenta and broil 6 inches from the heat for about 2 minutes, or until golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Make-Ahead Tip: The unbaked gratin can be refrigerated overnight.

Yield: 8 servings

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Baguette with Roasted Red Pepper Spread

Last night we had dinner out because we went on a date to see Kick-Ass. We also scored some cookies from the Nestle Cafe to eat during the movie. So freaking yummy.

Tonight I made Baguette with Roasted Red Pepper Spread because I meant to make it this past week and never did. I don't know what's with me lately. I'm just not feeling the cooking. I've been so busy. But hopefully things will start evening out and I'll cook as much as I used to. For now, we enjoyed our sandwich!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quick Shrimp Enchilada Bake

Whenever I make seafood recipes, I think about this episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he's competing against a super-Italian pizza family. The main pizza guy went off on a rant about how apalling it is that we, in America, would have the gall to ruin seafood with cheese. He said the two should never mix (and that Bobby Flay was lame for making a pizza with seafood and cheese - Bobby lost, btw).

This man would disapprove times 1000 if he saw what I put my shrimp into tonight. Oh my. Not just cheese! Beans, enchilada sauce, corn, chiles, tortillas... The shrimp were just another ingredient. A delicious one, as I used the wonderful pre-cooked shrimp from Wegmans. This meal was super easy (hello, it uses a microwave) and very yummy. I wonder how the leftovers will be... we'll see. I would make this again.

OK this picture didn't make it look appealing. I promise it looks better in person. It's just not shape-able.

Quick Shrimp Enchilada Bake

Shrimp enchiladas offer a taste of coastal Mexican cuisine but some versions contain so much cheese, butter and sour cream that they can pack a whopping 50 grams of fat per serving. Our version has vibrant flavor and only half the calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, plus we use precooked peeled shrimp so you can get the dish on your table fast enough for a weeknight supper. The addition of refried beans helps makes these enchiladas an excellent source of fiber as well.

1 pound peeled cooked shrimp, tails removed, diced
1 cup frozen corn -- thawed
8 ounces chopped green chiles -- (not drained)
2 cups canned green enchilada sauce -- or -- green salsa, divided
12 corn tortillas
15 ounces nonfat refried beans
1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheese -- such as Mexican-style cheese blend, Monterey Jack or Cheddar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime -- cut into wedges

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Combine shrimp, corn, chiles and 1/2 cup enchilada sauce (or salsa) in a microwave-safe medium bowl. Cover and microwave on High until heated through, about 2 1/2 minutes.

3. Spread 1/4 cup enchilada sauce (or salsa) in the prepared baking dish. Top with a layer of 6 overlapping tortillas. Spread refried beans evenly over the tortillas. Top the beans with the shrimp mixture, followed by the remaining 6 tortillas. Pour the remaining sauce (or salsa) over the tortillas. Cover with foil.

4. Bake the casserole until it begins to bubble on the sides, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil; sprinkle cheese on top. Continue baking until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes more. Top with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 8 servings

Make Ahead Tip : Prepare through Step 3, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Allow the cold baking dish to warm slightly before placing in a hot oven.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rice with Roasted Cauliflower

What's with all the starches lately? I don't know. Maybe it's self-medicating. Whatever the reason, we had a boatload of rice for dinner. It says it serves 8-10? Not if it's your main dish. We ate the whole thing. We were both also very hungry. Good thing that this dinner was really tasty! The flavors are so simple and subtle, but they work so well together. The curry powder is an afterthought - adding just a taste, not turning the whole thing into a curry. This was good. I'd make it again.


Rice with Roasted Cauliflower, Adapted from From Ad Hoc in Napa
1/2 head white cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp canola oil
Pinch Curry powder
6 cups water
1 cup Carolina or long-grain rice
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped green onions

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the canola oil and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, or to taste.

3. Place the cauliflower in a roasting pan (reserve the bowl) and roast until the cauliflower is a deep brown and tender throughout when pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes, tossing every few minutes for even coloring and cooking. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees.

4. While the cauliflower is roasting, cook the rice: In a large saucepan, add the water and a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice and chili flakes and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook the rice just until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the rice well, then spread the rice in a thin shallow layer in a large baking dish.

5. Place the rice in the oven to dry out for 5 minutes. Remove, then stir in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with salt and pepper.

6. Place the cauliflower back in the bowl and toss with the curry powder. Taste and season, if desired, with additional salt and pepper.

7. Gently stir in the warmed rice and butter, tossing until the butter is melted and evenly coats the rice and cauliflower. Stir in the green onions and serve immediately.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mashed Potato, Cheese, and Chive Gratin

To go with our Not-So-Sloppy Joes, I decided we should have some mashed potatoes. This recipe sounded good and easy, since it's baked. I used reduced-fat everything, though that probably didn't really help, but oh well. It was really good! Not too different from a standard creamy mashed potato, though. However, I really like that it can be made ahead of time and then baked later. For that reason, I will hang on to this recipe.


Mashed Potato, Cheese, and Chive Gratin
Bon Appetit, December 2001

These rich and creamy mashed potatoes (thanks to sour cream and cream cheese) can be prepared ahead of time.

3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup chopped fresh chives (about 3 bunches)
1 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1. Butter 6- to 8-cup ovenproof dish. Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes; return to same pot. Add cream cheese and mash well. Mix in sour cream and milk, then chives. Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Spoon potatoes into prepared dish; dot with chilled butter. (Can be made 2 hours ahead; let stand at room temperature.)

2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake potatoes until heated through and beginning to brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Not-So-Sloppy Joes

This is probably one of our favorite, most-made recipes. Not-So-Sloppy Joes. I've been making it since before I even started this blog and still love it, so that says something!


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tilapia Tostadas with Roasted Corn Relish

Even though this is a tostada recipe, I decided to make it into a taco recipe. Tostadas would simply be too messy for us, and I really love fish tacos. The XX Fish Tacos at On the Border are declared one of the most unhealthy restaurant foods ever, and yet I love them so very dearly. So I adapted this to be tacos, simply by forgoing the tostada part and serving it all in a flour tortilla. It was all very good. The fish was flaky and not too fishy-tasting, nicely seared in the pan. The corn relish is AMAZING and we ate the leftovers with a spoon. The tacos as a whole were very good and we really liked them. We agreed that we'd like to keep looking for another recipe, but this was a great one to start off with.


Tilapia Tostadas with Roasted Corn Relish
Cooking Light, August 2009

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup green salsa
Cooking spray
1 cup yellow corn kernels
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt -- divided
1 cup diced peeled avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets -- cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon canola oil -- divided
8(6-inch) corn tortillas
1 cup packaged angel hair slaw
Lime wedges -- (optional)

1. Combine sour cream and salsa.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to pan; sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove mixture from pan; wipe pan clean with paper towels. Combine avocado and juice; toss gently. Stir avocado mixture into corn mixture.

3. Preheat broiler.

4. Sprinkle fish evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish; dredge fish in cornmeal. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add half of fish to pan; cook 3 minutes. Carefully turn fish over; cook 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and fish.

5. Coat both sides of tortillas with cooking spray. Arrange tortillas in a single layer on baking sheets; broil 2 minutes on each side or until crisp. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates. Arrange 2 tablespoons slaw on each tortilla. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each serving with about 3 tablespoons corn relish and about 1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream mixture. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Blueberry Lime Bars

This recipe was posted on the Cooking Light forums and was adapted from a recipe using strawberries and lemon, but the person who posted it changed it to blueberries and lime. Since I had some blueberries in the refrigerator, I decided to make these bars. I actually made them last night because I was bored. It did not take very long and was pretty easy. The custardy topping isn't as thick as I thought it would be, so proportionally to the crust it's kind of off, but it all tastes very good. And even though I don't usually like egg-based desserts, the custard is not very... well, custardy. It's good. I like it. I liked the lime/blueberry combination. I'd like to try it with blueberry/lemon or even *gasp* the original version with strawberries. I'd make this again. He wasn't a fan, but when is he ever.

I'm going to post the recipe as it was posted on the boards. All notes are care of the original poster, Avariell. The picture is all mine though!


Blueberry Lime Bars
(Adapted from Strawberry Lemon Bars)
From Delicious Fruit Desserts by Dot Vartan

For the crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened

For the filling
3 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon (I used the zest of 2 limes)
1/4 cup lemon juice (I used lime juice)
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup fresh diced strawberries (I used 1 cup fresh blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using an electric mixer), use the paddle attachment to beat the flour, confectioners sugar, and butter together at medium speed until blended. Press the dough firmly into the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of an 8x8 baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or just until turning golden brown. Remove and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and milk. In a separate small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and whisk until combined. Pour into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it gets thick and the whisk leaves a trail, about 5 minutes. (This part took longer for me - probably because I was using an electric stove... maybe more like 10-12 minutes.) Remove the lemon custard from the heat; if you like, you can cool it down a little by placing it in a bowl and placing that bowl in an ice-water bath.

Add the diced strawberries to the lemon custard and stir gently just to combine. Pour the custard onto the crust, spread it out evenly in the pan with a silicone spatula, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set.

Cool completely before cutting into squares. You can dust them with confectioners sugar if you like, but I like to leave them as is so you can see the pretty ruby red bursts of strawberry.

Makes 16.

Austrian White Asparagus with Brown Butter Sauce

I've never made anything with white asparagus before and, honestly, think white asparagus looks kind of scary. Actually kind of phallic. I wonder what Freud would think about my meal. We thought the white asparagus did not taste the same as the green kind, and definitely prefer the green kind. I didn't have brioche crumbs so I used a combination of leftover hamburger bun crumbs from the Homemade Quick Black Bean Burgers I made for dinner, along with some panko. I also significantly reduced the butter (I used about 1 Tbsp). We thought it was OK but, like I said, I think we prefer regular asparagus. Oh well, worth a shot.


Austrian White Asparagus with Brown Butter Sauce
Live Love EAT!: The Best of Wolfgang Puck

12 white asparagus -- peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces butter
1 cup brioche crumbs
1 teaspoon freshly minced parsley leaves

1. Peel the asparagus. Line the asparagus from the spear end and cut into approximately 6-inch lengths. Discard ends.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring salted water to a boil. Cook the asparagus for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender being careful not to overcook.

3. Drain the asparagus. Set aside. In a large saute pan, heat the butter. Add the brioche crumbs and saute until golden. Add the reserved asparagus and saute until well coated with the browned butter and brioche crumbs. Sprinkle with parsley, season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Szechuan Black–eyed Pea Salad

So, I'm getting used to using Living Cookbook to store all of my recipes. I'm not quite "there" yet and I've only imported like 4 recipes (I am going to start doing the other 2000 in a moment), but I'm loving it so far. It's just taking some time to adjust. I am resistant to change.

Before I discuss tonight's recipe, I have to share with you what I have been having as my daily treat:


Little boxes of Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk. I have been craving chocolate milk like every day for months, and when I found this in bulk ($13 for 18 boxes?) I bought it impulsively. The boxes sit in your pantry like Parmalat, and then you refrigerate them when you're ready to drink. I am super-addicted to them. I love that my body does not reject organic milk in the same fashion with which it rejects 'regular' milk.

Without further ado, I made this super-fast salad. I was so unimpressed. It won awards at Vegetarian Times. Why? I don't understand. It's so funny because some of the greatest recipes come from this magazine, but then when they have a recipe contest, the winners SUCK. Why? They need better judges, I think. So this was meh and I wouldn't make it again.


Szechuan Black–eyed Pea Salad
Vegetarian Times, November 2009

2 14–oz. cans black–eyed peas -- rinsed and drained
1 medium green bell pepper -- chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeño chile -- seeded and finely minced (2 Tbs.)
1 clove garlic -- minced (1 tsp.)
1 avocado -- cubed (1 cup)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vegan Szechuan sauce
2 teaspoons sugar

1. Toss together black-eyed peas, bell pepper, onion, jalapeño, and garlic in large bowl. Toss avocado with lemon juice in separate bowl. Add avocado to black-eyed pea mixture.

2. Whisk together oil, vinegar, Szechuan sauce, and sugar in bowl used for avocado. Add black-eyed pea mixture, and toss to mix.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Spicy Broccoli Sprout Sushi

Tonight for dinner I attempted to make Spicy Broccoli Sprout Sushi again. Delicious, yes.... but messy as hell because I cut corners and tried to make it "easier." Oh, Lauren, when will you learn?

I tried out this new product I found, Annie Chun's Sushi Wraps & Rice Bowl. It has microwave sushi rice and comes with the nori sheets. Oh, but wait, the nori sheets are like the size of a domino and are individual, so you can't make a big roll and then cut it up. Super-lame. So it didn't fit all the ingredients. I ended up making what essentially amounted to "sushi nachos," since everything was piled on top of each little square of nori. Lame.

Still loved the sushi though. :)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Spicy Malaysian-Style Stir-Fried Noodles

First I would like to mention that I have switched to a new computer and discovered that my recipe program that I've used for 5 years is no longer made, so I am having to switch to a new one. After reviewing options, I have chosen Living Cookbook, but it is terrifying and will require me to enter in all thousand-bajillions of my recipes manually and this is very frightening to me. I have heard great things about LC and have heard it's super-easy to use, but new ways of doing things freak me out.

Tonight I made this noodle dish using frozen lo mein noodles. I didn't know they existed but they were really neat. Much better than using linguine or spaghetti in its place. The only thing I noticed was that they were a little too oily. Not surprising, but something to keep in mind. The rest of it came together quickly and was fairly simple. I sauteed the tofu until it was baked and golden so it would have a more appealing texture. We were kind of disappointed by this dish in general. It was nothing very special and was a little bit reminiscent of one of our older favorites, Sesame Noodles with Napa Cabbage, which was WAY better. I wouldn't make this again.


Spicy Malaysian-Style Stir-Fried Noodles
Cooking Light, October 2009

This popular Southeast Asian street fare is known as mee goreng (fried noodles). Look for the sweet bean sauce and noodles (which are sometimes frozen) at Asian markets; substitute dried linguine for lo mein. You can always use less chile paste to make a milder version.

1 (14-ounce) package water-packed extra-firm tofu, drained
1 (1-pound) package fresh Chinese lo mein egg noodles
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 heads baby bok choy, trimmed and cut crosswise into 2-inch-thick strips
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sweet bean sauce
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1. Line a plate with a triple layer of paper towels; top with tofu. Place a triple layer of paper towels on top of tofu; top with another plate. Let stand 20 minutes. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.

2. Cook noodles in a large pan of boiling water 3 minutes or until done; drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Wipe pan with paper towels. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add salt and bok choy; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and cook 4 minutes.

3. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients, stirring until combined. Add noodles, remaining 1/2 cup cooking liquid, and sugar mixture to pan; toss to combine. Cook 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated, tossing to coat. Add tofu; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, April 02, 2010

Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza

We've tried out a recipe for Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza before and it was just alright. Since this recipe is also from Cooking Light, the recipes are very similar, but this one seemed to come out better. Less soggy, more yummy. I used veggie pepperoni instead of the sausage. I'd make this again as a go-to deep dish pizza, though. It's a really yummy recipe.



Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza
Cooking Light, October 2009

2 teaspoons sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
12.38 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 3/4 cups), divided
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 precooked mild Italian chicken sausages (about 6 ounces), casings removed, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 11.25 ounces (about 2 1/2 cups) flour, cornmeal, and salt in a bowl. Stir flour mixture into yeast mixture until dough forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll dough into an 11 x 15–inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; press dough up sides of dish. Spread 1 1/2 cups cheese evenly over dough. Arrange chopped sausage evenly over cheese.

4. Preheat oven to 400°.

5. Chop tomatoes; place in a sieve. Stir in oregano and basil; drain tomato mixture 10 minutes.

6. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add mushrooms to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in bell peppers; cook for 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Arrange vegetables over sausage; spoon tomato mixture evenly over vegetables and sausage. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until crust browns and cheese bubbles. Cool 5 minutes before cutting.

Yield: 8 servings

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Is It Really Better Than Sex? Cake

Oh, Paula Deen, with your inappropriate cake titles.

First things first: the halushki is excellent warmed up. Big fan. Thanks to the anonymous commenter, who turns out to be PorshaJo! Who knew I had readers who weren't just friends or coworkers? This is very exciting to me. Thank you for encouraging me to make halushki, because I loved it!

Now, this cake. You know I typically don't like to make things with processed or prepared ingredients, but it was a Wednesday night and I was predominantly making this for work. I had an awful week; therefore, everyone needs cake. As the VP of my company said, "Oddly, that logic makes complete sense." So this cake was an easy-peasy recipe that took zero time and was easily assembled last night. I toasted the coconut this morning while I microwaved a muffin for breakfast and took it separate from the cake to be assembled at the office.

I had the first piece (only a few people were in when I came in) and it was DELICIOUS! People came up to me all day telling me how yummy it was. And by 4:00, I reached a point where I had to remove the cake from the front desk so I'd be able to bring a piece home! If I hadn't taken it, I think the whole cake would have been gone! Keep in mind there are maybe 5 people in the office at a given time, and maybe 20 total. Crazy! I'm so glad people liked it.

Now. Despite the boxed ingredients, I did do my best to lighten it. I used a reduced-sugar cake mix, sugar-free fat-free pudding mix, 1% milk, and fat-free Cool Whip in place of the whipped cream. In addition, I cooked the pineapple with like 3 Tbsp of brown sugar instead of 1 1/3 cups of white sugar. Good lord. The cake was sweet enough as is - it REALLY wouldn't have needed a whole cup+ of sugar. No way. I like it the way I made it. And I would make this again in a pinch for other group events. Delicious!


Is It Really Better Than Sex? Cake
Paula Deen

1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 (3.4-ounce) box French vanilla pudding, plus ingredients to prepare
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup flaked, sweetened toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare yellow cake mix as directed using a greased 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. While cake is baking, combine the pineapple and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Remove cake from oven and using a fork, pierce holes into cake. Pour pineapple mixture over hot cake and set aside.

Prepare pudding according to package directions. Spread pudding over cake and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Whip heavy cream and remaining sugar until stiff. Cover top of cake with whipped cream and sprinkle toasted coconut on top.

Yield: 16-20 servings