Friday, July 30, 2010

Bean Dip

Tonight I made Bean Dip for dinner. So uninspired! I'm hoping to get my cooking mojo back soon. I really am.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spicy Thai Fried Rice

Tonight I made Spicy Thai Fried Rice again. Yum! I'm proud to say we haven't killed the Thai basil plant we've been growing (along with a regular basil plant, which is nearing the end of its life) so I was excited to use it in this recipe in place of the cilantro and basil. I love how ridiculously easy this recipe is, and how I have most of the ingredients on hand anyway. Giant had a sale on "salad shrimp" - little bitty frozen shrimp - so I got two bags for the freezer. Now we can make this all the time!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Crab Cake Burgers

I had some crab left over from the other night so I slapped together these easy-peasy burgers. They are very simple and very yummy. We had them with some corn on the cob and salad. They are much more filling than you would expect! I would make this again.


Crab Cake Burgers
Eating Well

These burgers have a true crab flavor that isn't masked by fillers or strong seasoning. Serve on a bun with tartar sauce or with a lemon-juice-dressed salad of greens, sprouts and sliced peaches. This recipe works best with convenient pasteurized crabmeat, usually found in the refrigerated case near the fish counter. If you prefer lump crabmeat, cut it into small, uniform pieces.

1 pound crabmeat
1 egg -- lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced chives
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 dashs hot sauce -- such as
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1. Mix crab, egg, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, chives, mustard, lemon juice, celery seed, onion powder, pepper and hot sauce in a large bowl. Form into 6 patties.

2. Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the butter stops foaming. Cook the patties until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

Servings: 6

Note: Panko breadcrumbs, also known as Japanese breadcrumbs or bread flakes, are coarser in texture than other dried breadcrumbs. They produce a crispy crust and are less likely to become soggy than finely ground breadcrumbs. Look for panko in the Asian food section of large supermarkets and in specialty Asian markets.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Smoked-Gouda Risotto with Spinach and Mushrooms

I didn't post this last Thursday when I made it because my computer died and I was waiting for my new one. Now that things are slowly up and running, I can post it! The fun thing about this recipe is that I made it quickly between work and a board meeting on Thursday evening. As long as you have someone to stir while you chop and do the mushrooms, it goes pretty quickly. And it was delicious! We didn't have any white wine so I subbed extra vegetable stock and water for the wine, and we did miss the wine (who wouldn't?) but we still really liked it!! I would make this again.


Smoked-Gouda Risotto with Spinach and Mushrooms
Cooking Light, May 1999

Winning recipe--Chef Charles Dale, Renaissance Restaurant, Aspen, Colorado. Charles' tips: Any combination of mushrooms will work. Use cold chicken stock (even though simmering stock is typically used in risotto) to prevent splattering. Make sure there's some liquid left in the risotto; in fact, it should be pourable because the rice will absorb it as it sits. Always salt mushrooms after they are sautéed, or the salt will pull out their natural water and they'll poach.

2 cups water
2 (16-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup chopped shallots
2 cups Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
5 cups chopped spinach (about 5 ounces)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 3 1/2 ounces)
2 cups sliced button mushrooms (about 1/2 pound)
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 1/2 pound)
2 cups sliced oyster mushrooms (about 3 1/2 ounces)
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Rosemary sprigs (optional)

To prepare risotto, combine water and broth; set aside. Melt butter in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup shallots; cover and cook 2 minutes. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 cup wine; cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in Gouda; cook just until melted. Stir in spinach; cook just until spinach is wilted.

To prepare mushrooms, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, and sauté 5 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add 1/3 cup shallots, 1/4 cup wine, chopped thyme, chopped rosemary, and minced garlic, and sauté 1 minute or until wine is absorbed. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Divide risotto evenly among 6 bowls; top with mushroom mixture, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Broccoli Parmesan Casserole

Tonight I made Broccoli Parmesan Casserole and discovered that store-brand cream cheese is not as good as Philadelphia. In a recipe like this, quality matters. It was still delicious though. I ran out of broccoli so I threw in some cauliflower. It was still good. We had it over Wacky Mac. I have a ton of this stuff in the pantry because I keep getting them for free with coupons, but this was the first time trying Wacky Mac. It was good.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Burgers and Tea

Tonight for dinner I made Southwest Pinto Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise. One of our most favorites! I used a storebought chipotle mayonnaise because Gibby bought some last week, but that was a stupid move. It was not the same. Do not make the same mistake. Make your own. It's more delicious.

Also of note is that I have been having serious tummy problems and have developed basically an immunity to all things antacid, so last night I tried a new approach and remembered the Ginger Tea I made awhile ago. And it worked! I will be making it regularly. It always helps to keep a knob of ginger in the freezer, FYI. Just peel and slice as needed. Perfect.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Corn and Crab Fritters with Guacamole

Tonight I made Corn & Crab Fritters again. Despite what the fishmongers will have me believe, the price of crab has gone up a LOT lately so I haven't even entertained the idea of making these. But then my friend Carrie told me she'd made them off this blog and it's all I could think about! I must have them again! So I made them tonight. I forgot to spice it up (though I still added like triple the amount of cayenne) and it was still delicious. And I have some crab left over! Hooray!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Butter Paneer Masala

Last night for dinner we had Butter Paneer Masala. Always so delicious. Remember the time I ate it at a restaurant in Stockholm? No? I do. Best. This has officially replaced aloo gobi as my most favorite Indian dish ever.

PS: It is a known fact that when eating Indian food, there is never enough na'an. No matter how much you think you have enough, you don't. Get more.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cocoa Snowflakes

While I was entering some recipes into Living Cookbook (a ginormous undertaking, just so you are aware), I immediately became attached to this recipe and decided I MUST make them. Blame PMS or just pure motivation, but I busted these out super-fast. YUM! They are very, very good. They don't harden up when they cool, which I LOVE. I used a Special Hershey's Dark cocoa powder that was a combination of natural unsweetened and dutch-processed cocoa powders, and it is delicious. I would definitely make these again. These would be an easy and great gift idea, too.

They were supposed to be bite-size, and that is what the yield is referring to. I got about 30 cookies but I made mine like twice as big as they were supposed to be. Oops. Typical Lauren.


Cocoa Snowflakes
Penzeys One

Delicious, bite-sized chewy brownie cookies with a pretty, lacy white top, perfect for the Holidays. Fun for kids to make, even more fun to eat. We haven't found anyone yet who doesn't love these cookies.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs
1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (for rolling cookies in)

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat, add COCOA POWDER, blend well with a fork or a small whisk until smooth. Remove pan from heat, stir in sugar until combined (it will be dark brown at this point). Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add PURE VANILLA EXTRACT, then eggs one at a time, stirring well with a wooden spoon or hand mixer after each addition. Add flour mixture and nuts if desired (skip the nuts if baking for children, as most don't seem to enjoy them), mix well. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, refrigerate until chilled (at least 2 hours). The dough never gets really stiff, but it won't roll into nice balls if it's warm. Preheat oven to 400°. Grab a handful of dough, enough for a cookie sheet, leaving the rest in the fridge. Roll each hunk of dough into a 3/4" ball, then roll in powdered sugar. It is easier to roll the dough into balls if you coat your hands with powdered sugar (kids love doing this). Place the sugar coated balls onto a greased cookie sheet, 2" apart. Bake cookies for 8 minutes at 400°, let cool a minute, then remove from pan. Store in an airtight container to maintain the soft and chewy texture of these cookies. If you'd like a crisper cookie, cook a minute longer (be careful not to burn the bottoms).

Yield: 40-60 cookies

Green Tea Cheesecake White Chocolate Brownie

It has been suggested that I increase my consumption of green tea for some particular health reasons, so I took that as motivation to make this interesting brownie-ish dessert. Matcha powder is kind of expensive ($5 for a little jar) but it was just so perfect in creating the flavor needed. Despite the dark green splotches, the green tea flavor is very mild. It works beautifully with the white chocolate (I used Sunspire White Chocolate Chips). The recipe is correct in saying that it tastes better refrigerated, because it definitely does. I've heard this freezes well so I may make it again sometime. Yum!


Green Tea Cheesecake White Chocolate Brownie
Nook & Pantry

Brownie Base:
8 Tbsp butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
5 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour

Cheesecake Swirl:
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp green tea/matcha powder
About 2 tsp of water, hot but not boiling

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2. Mix the green tea powder with a bit of hot water to form a paste. Mix the cream cheese, egg, and green tea paste until smooth. Taste a bit and see if it's strong enough.

3. Melt the butter with the white chocolate. Mix in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and flour (and baking powder if you want to experiment with it). Whisk until smooth but do not over mix.

4. Line a 8 x 8 square baking dish with a sheet of foil (with overhang for easy lifting) or grease and flour it. Pour in half of the white chocolate batter. Then drop half of the cream cheese mixture on top in spoonfuls. Top the batter with the rest of the white chocolate brownie batter, then finally add the remaining half of the cream cheese mixture on top. Use a knife and swirl the brownie and cream cheese together to create a marbled pattern.

5. Bake the brownies at 325ºF for 40 - 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. The center should be almost set. You don't want the toothpick to come out clean because that would mean the brownies have overbaked. Cool in the pan for 5 then lift the brownies out and cool to room temperature. They're best served cold so chill them in the fridge for about 3 hours.

Coconut-Chile Snapper with a Caribbean Bean Puree

This recipe was appealing to me because it reminds me of our honeymoon. Simply prepared fish, beans and bananas, spicy sauce but not too spicy. We liked it. I only did a little bit because of the fish. As usual. The beans and sauce were delicious. I would consider making it again.

The snapper was $19.99/lb so I paid $8 for some perch (wild-caught and sustainable!)instead. This change was not a big deal. Make sure you get a medium-flavored white fish if you're going to substitute.


Coconut-Chile Snapper with a Caribbean Bean Puree
Cooking Light, May 2007

Black beans and banana form the base for the cool component of this dish.

2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 garlic clove -- minced
3/4 cup thinly sliced banana -- (about 1 banana)
1 cup canned black beans -- rinsed and drained
1/2 cup organic vegetable broth -- (such as Swanson Certified Organic) divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded carrot -- (about 1 carrot)
1 cup light coconut milk
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 jalapeños -- minced
24 ounces red snapper fillets -- skinned

1. To prepare puree, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add banana; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans, 1/4 cup broth, juice, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Place banana mixture and remaining 1/4 cup broth in a food processor; process until smooth.

2. To prepare snapper, combine carrot, milk, chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and jalapeños in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Add fish to pan; cover and simmer 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Servings: 4

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Roasted Corn & Poblano Chowder

I wanted to get this up earlier but there were some technical complications. I made this on Thursday night. (Last night I made some Rising Moon Garlic & Herb ravioli - vegan! - because I got home too late to really cook.) But back to the chowder. This is what our conversation was like as we began eating it.

G: "This is delicious."
L: "Oh my gosh, it is. I've had this recipe forever. Why have I never made it before?"
G: "I don't know, but you're going to be making it way more now."

It's really easy (no blender involved!) and VERY good. I took the seeds out of the poblano so it wasn't too spicy, and I reduced the butter, used fat-free half-and-half, and subbed in veggie stock. I try my best with Paula recipes. But this definitely is one of the best chowders I've made. VERY good. Definitely a make-again.


Roasted Corn and Poblano Chowder
Cooking with Paula Deen, Jan/Feb 2006

2 large poblano peppers, cut in half lengthwise
3 cups fresh corn kernels (about 5 ears)
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups peeled and chopped baking potato
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ancho chili powder
2 14.5 oz cans chicken broth
2 cups half-and-half

In an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet, bake peppers, skin side up, and corn, at 500 degrees for 20 minutes, or until peppers and corn look blistered. Place peppers in a resealable plastic bag; seal, and let stand 10 minutes to loosen skins. Peel pepper; remove and discard seeds. Coarsely chop pepper; set pepper and corn aside.

In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat; add onion, red bell pepper, and potato. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally . Add flour, salt, and chili powder, and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth; cook for 15 minutes. Add roasted corn and pepper; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in half-and-half; cook 10 minutes or until heated through. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Carrot Cake Pancakes

I made these yesterday but couldn't post about them because I got real sick last night :( Not from the pancakes! I swear!

These were just meh. We both agreed they are not "pancakey." They're kind of more like carrot latkes. Little patties of spiced carrot. Not pancakes. The butter and honey topping was yummy and just enough sweetness. I wouldn't make these again, but they weren't too bad.


Carrot Cake Pancakes
Cooking Light, January 2010

These cakey flapjacks feature warm spices and bright carrot flavor. Our lightened version uses low-fat buttermilk and a small dab of honey butter to top the pancakes.

5 3/5 ounces all-purpose flour -- (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts -- toasted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
dash ground cloves
dash ground ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs -- lightly beaten
2 cups finely grated carrot -- (about 1 pound)
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons butter -- softened
2 tablespoons honey

1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through ginger) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through eggs); add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in 2 cups carrot.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spoon 4 (1/4 cup) batter mounds onto pan, spreading with a spatula. Cook for 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook 1 minute or until bottoms are lightly browned. Repeat procedure twice with remaining batter. Combine butter and honey in a small bowl; serve with pancakes.

Servings: 6

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shrimp Po'Boys

Oh, Shrimp Po'Boys, how I love you. Forever. Such a delicious little meal in so little time. I still use the frozen popcorn shrimp and it never fails me, especially on rainy nights when I do not feel like cooking. The most "cooking" involved is turning on the oven and mixing up the ketchup. Beauteous.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Best Tuna Meatballs

With Jamie Oliver's whole Food Revolution thing going on, he's been posting a lot of recipes on his Twitter. This one caught my eye and sounded interesting, particularly because it doesn't involve canned tuna (I'm sorry, "tinned" tuna). So we tried it out last night. I made it exactly as written, though I simmered the sauce for quite awhile extra since you have to refrigerate the tuna balls for about an hour so they'll stay solid when you cook them.

Well, these were just about the most delicious things I've made in recent history. We loved them and they were fantastic. I was wary of the cinnamon but it's an amazing flavor. I loved everything about this. We were big fans. It was a little bit more time than I'd hoped, so it wouldn't be a weeknight meal, but definitely for special occasions, weekends or company. This gets our highest rating, for sure. Yum!


The Best Tuna Meatballs (le migliori polpette di tonno)
Jamie Oliver

Just about everyone I know is a fan of meatballs, so I thought I’d give you a recipe for these as they are something a little different. I’ve seen them made in Sicily in the same way, using a mixture of swordfish and tuna – not jarred or tinned tuna though. These have to be made with fresh fish and they are subtly seasoned with Sicilian herbs and spices – this recipe is just as good as the meat versions!

For the tomato sauce:
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red wine vinegar
small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped

For the meatballs:
14 oz sustainably-sourced tuna
Olive oil
2 oz pine nuts
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 1/2 ounces stale bread crumbs
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1. First make your sauce. Place a large pan on the heat, add a good glug of olive oil, your onion and garlic and fry slowly for 10 or so minutes until soft. Add your oregano, the tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, then liquidize until smooth. Taste – it might need a tiny swig of red wine vinegar or some extra seasoning.

2. While the tomatoes are simmering, chop the tuna up into 2.5cm/1 inch dice. Pour a good couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan and place on the heat. Add the tuna to the pan with the pinenuts and cinnamon. Season lightly with salt and pepper and fry for a minute or so to cook the tuna on all sides and toast the pinenuts. Remove from the heat and put the mixture into a bowl. Allow to cool down for 5 minutes, then add the oregano, parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, lemon zest and juice to the bowl. Using your hands, really scrunch and mix the flavours into the tuna, then divide the mixture and squeeze it into meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. If you dip one of your hands in water while shaping you’ll get a nice smooth surface on the meatball. If the mixture’s very sticky, add a few more breadcrumbs. Keep the meatballs around the same size and place them on an oiled tray, then put them in the fridge for an hour to let them rest.

3. Put the pan you fried the tuna in back on the heat with a little olive oil. Add your meatballs to the pan and jiggle them about until they’re golden brown all over. You might want to do them in batches – when they’re done, add them to the tomato sauce, divide between your plates, sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with good olive oil. Great served with spaghetti or linguine.

Servings: 4

Grilled Shrimp Pizza

I remember my mom grilling pizza one time, but I never have so this was exciting. The recipe made two 10" pizzas and we grilled each via a different method. One was as written in the recipe, involving being placed directly on the grill. One was in one of the pizza-grilling pans sold at Wegmans. We liked the one directly on the grill better! It was crispier and tasted more like it had been grilled. Big fans. The pizza itself was also very good. The queso fresco made it a little watery so have LOTS of napkins around while you're eating it. We thought this was very good though. We'd make it again.


Grilled Shrimp Pizza
Cooking Light, Sept.2006

Green salsa (also known as "salsa verde") is available in most grocery stores either near Hispanic foods or stored with other bottled salsas. Queso fresco is a salty, crumbly Mexican cheese you'll find in most major supermarkets or at Latin markets.

2 teaspoons honey
1 package active dry yeast -- (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water -- (100° to 110°)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour -- (about 10 ounces) divided
6 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal -- divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons olive oil -- divided

Remaining Ingredients:
36 large shrimp -- peeled and deveined (about 1 pound)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese -- (8 ounces)
2 cups queso fresco -- (8 ounces) crumbled
6 tablespoons green salsa -- divided
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves -- divided

1. To prepare dough, dissolve honey and yeast in 1 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons cornmeal, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).

2. 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.)

3. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough), roll each into a 10-inch circle on a floured surface. Place dough on 2 rimless baking sheets, each sprinkled with 2 tablespoons cornmeal. Brush each portion with 1 teaspoon oil; coat lightly with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.

4. Prepare grill.

5. Thread 6 shrimp onto each of 6 (12-inch) wooden skewers. Sprinkle shrimp with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill for 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done. Cool slightly, and coarsely chop. Combine cheeses.

6. Remove plastic wrap from 1 dough portion; discard plastic. Slide dough onto grill rack coated with cooking spray, using a spatula as a guide. Grill 3 minutes or until lightly browned; turn. Spread 3 tablespoons salsa over crust, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Top with half of the shrimp and 2 cups cheese mixture. Grill an additional 3 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese melts. Remove and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining dough, salsa, shrimp, and cheese mixture. Sprinkle each pizza with 1/4 cup cilantro. Cut each pizza into 6 wedges.

Servings: 6

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Vegetarian Taco Salad

I've tried many salads with him before, including other taco salads, with minimal-to-good success. This one has probably gotten the best review from him so far! I picked it because it came at "salad" from a different angle. Instead of being cold, cut-up vegetables, it had the cool lettuce and tomatoes, but a hot mixture of beans, cheese, onion, and melted cheese. How could he not like it? Seriously. I loved it, too. We used a great vidalia onion that was perfect. And my favorite tortilla chips ever. High-quality ingredients yield high-quality food! I subbed romaine for the iceberg, which I think was a very good choice. If you feel like indulging more, I bet it would be great with sour cream or guacamole on top. Yum! We would definitely make this again.


Vegetarian Taco Salad
Eating Well

Nobody will miss the meat in this colorful, zesty vegetarian taco salad. The rice and bean mixture can be made ahead and the salad quickly assembled at mealtime.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion -- chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen -- thawed
4 large tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice
15 ounces black -- kidney or pinto beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano -- divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup prepared salsa
2 cups shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce
1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
2 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled tortilla chips
Lime wedges for garnish

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and corn; cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop 1 tomato. Add it to the pan along with rice, beans, chili powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato cooks down, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2. Coarsely chop the remaining 3 tomatoes. Combine with cilantro, salsa and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano in a medium bowl.

3. Toss lettuce in a large bowl with the bean mixture, half the fresh salsa and 2/3 cup cheese. Serve sprinkled with tortilla chips and the remaining cheese, passing lime wedges and the remaining fresh salsa at the table.

Servings: 6

Make Ahead Tip : Prepare through Step 1, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days; reheat slightly before serving.

Monday, July 05, 2010

4th of July!

This year we hosted my family and Gibby's mom at our house for the 4th of July! They came out and stayed with us last night. It was fun! It officially makes me feel grown up because this is the first time we've ever hosted a holiday at our home. Hooray!

During the day I had a bunch of cheeses, crackers, sausagey things, and fruit for people to eat. Nancy brought some beautiful cherries. I had to remind myself to stop eating them because I'm mildly allergic to them, but they were just so yummy! There was pepperoni and salami for the carnivores, too. We had a brie cheese, a delicious applewood-smoked cheddar, and - just for fun - a "sticky toffee cheese" that was actually pretty good!


For dinner, we bought some pre-formed hamburgers and chicken breasts (so no raw prepping in the kitchen, hooray!) and a veggie burger for me and we grilled them out back. Nancy made a caesar salad, and we roasted some corn on the grill. I made Honey-Chipotle Baked Beans that were delicious. I left out the chipotle pepper and instead sprinkled some ground chipotle on top to lower the spicy factor, but apparently my perceptions of spice are off because, while I barely noticed it, my dad said it was WAY too hot. Oh well.

It was too hot outside so we ate dinner in the dining room for the very first time. Gibby and I usually eat at our kitchen table since it's just the two of us, so this was momentous.


After dinner, we went out and exploded some ginormous fireworks in our front yard. It was very exciting. I brought out little bowls of Banana Pudding (always a hit!) and my mom made my recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars. I am excited because she also brought me some extra rhubarb to store in the freezer! I can't wait to cook with it!

We'd planned to make s'mores but after all the pudding and squares we all were a little sugar-rushed.

Tonight to detoxify after our families left, I made super-simple Halushki and we were very happy.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque

Last night I made this soup, which looks kind of like baby food but tastes a lot like the African soup I used to make. It's very easy and yummy. I pureed half of the soup with my immersion blender and then added the rest of the sweet potato. We had it with the peanuts sprinkled on top, which was yummy. This was pretty good. I'd consider making it again.


Sweet Potato-Peanut Bisque
Eating Well

This satisfying vegetarian, sweet potato soup is inspired by the flavors of West African peanut soup. We like the added zip of hot green chiles, but they can sometimes be very spicy. It’s best to take a small bite first and add them to taste.

Try chopped peanuts and scallions for a different garnish. Serve with a mixed green salad with vinaigrette.

2 large sweet potatoes -- (10-12 ounces each)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small yellow onion -- chopped
1 large clove garlic -- minced
3 cups reduced-sodium tomato-vegetable juice blend or tomato juice
4 ounces diced green chiles -- preferably hot, drained
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
15 ounces vegetable broth
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
Freshly ground pepper -- (to taste)
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

1. Prick sweet potatoes in several places with a fork. Microwave on High until just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it just begins to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in juice, green chiles, ginger and allspice. Adjust the heat so the mixture boils gently; cook for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and chop into bite-size pieces. Add half to the pot. Place the other half in a food processor or blender along with broth and peanut butter. Puree until completely smooth. Add the puree to the pot and stir well to combine. Thin the bisque with water, if desired. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Servings: 5

Make Ahead Tip : Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Thin with water before reheating, if desired.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Barbecue Portobello Quesadillas

I had originally planned to try this soup tonight, but as I was gathering up the ingredients I discovered my sweet potato had gone bad! HOW? I've only had it a few days! Ugh. So I went to plan B and made Barbecue Portobello Quesadillas. Thank goodness tortillas were on sale last week! Yum. These are so good! I don't even miss the soup.

Tomato Pizza with Garlic and Smoked Gouda

For such a simple recipe, I was not expecting it to go over as well as it did. That may have had something to do with me making two small pizzas - one for me, with the tomatoes, and one for with pepperoni instead. He absolutely loved it. I thought it was quite delicious as well. Like the description says, it DOES taste kind of like a BLT! This is another recipe that would showcase your homegrown tomatoes and basil. We only had basil, since that's the only thing we can manage to keep alive, but even with storebought produce it was delicious. We really enjoyed this. I didn't bother making my own pizza dough and instead used a storebought dough. That worked just fine. Just reduce the cooking time after you add the toppings so it doesn't burn. I would make this again.


Tomato Pizza with Garlic and Smoked Gouda
Cooking Light, August 2001

With its juicy tomatoes and smoked cheese, this pizza has a flavor that's reminiscent of a BLT. Plum tomatoes work best because of their firmness, but any variety will do. We prebaked the crust a few minutes to prevent the tomatoes from making it soggy.

1/2 recipe Pizza Dough
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese -- (2 ounces)
1 1/2 cups sliced plum tomato -- (about 4)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves -- minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a (12-inch) pizza pan or baking sheet coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes.

3. Sprinkle cheese over pizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the tomato slices over cheese. Combine oil and garlic; sprinkle over tomato. Sprinkle with pepper.

4. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Top with basil. Cut into 8 wedges.