Thursday, April 29, 2010

savory bread pudding

Here's another gem from Sara Foster: Savory Breakfast Bread and Sausage Pudding*. We ate it last night, without sausage, and it was delish. I halved the recipe and prepared it Wednesday morning before work. I cut this bread into small cubes (it looks like sausage, actually, in these unfortunate photos) and tossed it with eggs, milk, mustard, thyme, oregano and sauteed spinach and onions.

When I got home from work, all I had to do was preheat the oven and bake for 45 minutes.Served alongside a salad it made a nice light supper. I have made it with the sausage before, and it was tasty that way too. Either way it has the flavorings of a fritatta but the texture of a bread pudding.I hope you like it. I made it.

*Foster, Sara. Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market. "Savory Breakfast Bread and Sausage Pudding." p. 24

Sunday, April 25, 2010

in which I remind Edwin to miss me while I'm in Chicago by preparing a delicious meal

For dinner Friday I made the following:

Blackened Salmon Sandwiches*
Sweet Crash Hot Potatoes (PW's crash hot potatoes made with, you're never going to guess, sweet potatoes)
Carla Salad

For the sandwiches, I combined cumin, fennel seed, oregano, thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to make a spice rub. I coated the salmon fillets with the spice blend and cooked them until well browned in a skillet. Then I flaked the salmon into chunks.
I made a spread with horseradish, plain greek yogurt, honey, salt and pepper. I used Arnold's Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins (instead of Martha's prescribed crusty bread, which I never have) because I love them, and each sandwich got a smear of the horseradish mixture, salmon, arugula and red onion. (I'm thinking I would leave the red onion off next time-- there's plenty of flavor without. Edwin liked it as it was)My friend Carla brought this salad to our house one night and I love it. It is spinach, avocado, red onion, apple, candied pecans, carrots, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It's a sweeter salad, and I thought it would balance out the blackened salmon. I was right!

The sweet crash hot potatoes were...pretty good. They didn't get crispy on top because I did a bad job with the timing. I'm thinking they would have crisped up had I given them an extra 10 or 15 minutes. Regardless, they were yummy. I really prefer my sweet potatoes to be savory, so I loved the roasted flavor of these.

All in all, the meal was well rounded with lots of different flavors and textures, and EDW will definitely miss me. Make this healthy meal soon to remind someone how fab you are.I hope you like it. I made it.

*Stewart, Martha. The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. "Blackened Salmon Sandwiches." p. 197

Saturday, April 24, 2010

bad photos, good pasta

While I'm in Chicago, Edwin will be enjoying an array of leftovers from this week, including Pioneer Woman's Springy Shells. PW mentioned that this dish is fattening and girly, but I made it better on both counts.

You take these green vegetables, plus peas, and cook them. Actually, you don't cook the green onions (PW leaves out what to do with them in the recipe, so I mixed them in after I'd taken the veggies off the heat). Then you layer a ricotta mixture (I used skim ricotta) with pasta (I used whole wheat pasta) and vegetables and bake. I also used less parmesan and cut the butter by half.The whole thing is delish. I mixed my pasta with the ricotta mixture because it would have been hard to spread it evenly. Since I used less parmesan, I thought the final dish needed a bit more salt to pump up the flavor.Edwin loves green vegetables and pasta, and he isn't scared by this girly food (I think Ree thinks it's girly because it doesn't have meat or potatoes) at all. He's used to eating meatless dishes anyway, so no complaints.

Sorry about the wretched photography. I'm not sure what happened.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

readers' choice?

Okay, blog friends, I need your help. I'm going to Chicago with my friend Emmel (hollllllaaaa) to see my mom (she'll be there for a conference) this weekend, and on Saturday night we're eating with the Lynches. (Was that the best convoluted run on sentence ever?)

We're eating at Sushi Samba and I'm already drooling over the menu. If you were a fancy young librarian heading out to Chicago, what would you order? Seviche? Quinotto? Miso marinated sea bass? Keep in mind I'm allergic to shellfish (if it has a hard shell for a home, I can't eat it) but all other options are possible.

I'll try to take pictures of my food this trip, but I really haven't managed to do that ever, so don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

just another monday night

I can't tell you how good it felt to make my hummus last night. All the parts fit perfectly into place, and there really is something exhilarating about watching the blade whip a treat together in just seconds. I used this recipe for hummus as a guide, and it resulted in a garlicky, lemony delight. I'll warn you now: I used 3 cloves of garlic and it really is pungent. I enjoy pungency in my hummus, so I'm perfectly satisfied, but if you have an aversion to heavy garlic flavoring or do a storytime in the afternoon (mine are usually just in the mornings), you might want to lay off a little.
I had some for lunch today in a hummus and veggie wrap (whole wheat tortilla, hummus, spinach, shredded carrots-- yum) and am totally impressed. The recipe makes a ton and it's so much cheaper than buying the containers of pre-made hummus at my Ingles.

For dinner, I made Martha Stewart's Chicken Salad with Mango and Mint*, which I found in my Martha cookbook but is available online here. I had to change a bit, because there's no hint of jicama in my grocery store. I also couldn't find pea shoots or lavash, so I left out the peashoots and substituted naan.

I mixed my dressing of soy sauce, oil, lemon and lime juices, honey, ginger and mint and added it to the chicken. Then I tossed the dressing with my greens (the arugula was looking sketchy this week so I used a mixed greens combination) and snow peas. (Oh, blanched snow peas. I love you.)

I realized I forgot to get the mango ready, so I started to peel it with my vegetable peeler. I guess my hands were slick from the nearly peeled mango, because it slipped and I nicked myself with the veggie peeler.

Disclaimer to my family: I am not about to share a revolting story reminiscent of Nana Irma's about grating knuckles in the pear preserves. Don't worry.

It hurt. It really hurt. I'd gotten the tip of my left pinky, and it was all I could do not to drop the mango in the trash can. I said my signature ouch profanity (several times, actually), and ran to rinse my finger under cold water. While I was applying pressure to stop the bleeding, Edwin found bandaids and neosporin (which was expired, but just since January, so I used it anyway).

Then I talked Edwin through the slicing of the mango into matchsticks. I felt like a surgeon with a mangled hand, and I was feeling impressed with myself for remaining so calm, considering my less-than-charming reaction to the bat last week. It wasn't until we sat down that Edwin informed me that he already knew how to core a mango and didn't need my tutoring, and really, everyone probably knows what to do when a recipe says to create matchsticks.

This little escapade reminded us of the jalapeño incident from a few months back. I was making Sara Foster's Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad for the first time and I had finished
slicing up my jalapeño. Fearing a reaction to my skin, I rinsed my fingers under the tap and went about the rest of the recipe preparations.

At some point I inadvertently rubbed the tip of my nose with the back of my hand, and a few seconds later I noticed a sharp prickly sensation on my face. Thinking it must be the jalapeño, I tried rinsing my nose with water, which only spread the pain. By this time I was really suffering, so I rushed to the bathroom to wash my face with facewash. On my way, I barked orders at Edwin to do a quick internet search for home remedies to jalapeño reactions.

EDW reported back: we needed to give the affected areas a milk bath (for future reference, if you want to avoid this problem entirely, you can just rinse your fingers with milk after working with a jalapeño). I was afraid that my fingers were still capable of contaminating my nose, so I made Edwin do the milk rinse. It was stinging inside my nostrils, too, so I begged him to get some up there as well. He ended up soaking cotton balls in milk and stuffing them up my nose while I looked (pitifully, I imagine, and I'm hoping still adorably) up at him with tears streaming down my face.

The jalapeño incident was a real turning point in our marriage. While my nose was plugged with milk-dripping-cotton, Edwin looked down at me and said, "I've never felt closer to you."

So that was my Monday night: hummus in a repaired food processor; pinky finger cut and repair; jalapeño nostalgia. I'm glad there wasn't a bat added to the mix. And that we watched some Glee afterwards. And that I had Moravian Ginger Snaps from Lindsey's wedding weekend for dessert.

For remaining calm, for being willing to rinse my nostrils with milk, for applying bandaids to my bleeding pinky, Edwin is who I choose to be with me in a kitchen crisis. Thanks, EDW, preesh.

Oh and the dinner? The salad was delicious. Refreshing, with varying textures and tastes, and filling. You can't roll naan like you can lavash, so we just ate it with a mixture of forks and fingers (I'm right handed, so my left pinky was nowhere near my plate). I would make this again.

I hope you like it. I made it.

*Stewart, Martha. The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. "Chicken Salad with Mango and Mint on Flatbread." p. 179

Monday, April 19, 2010


Sorry, friends, for the lack of blog posts. I was going to do one last week about a failed (I thought it was a fail, EDW said it was ok) pesto chicken dish, but I never got around to it. (there was an incident with a bat in our house, which ruined my plan to post). This weekend we went to our friends Lindsey and Stephen's wedding (another library school love). There were many tears and many desserts, but I didn't take any photos of my food.

On a plus side, the food processor part came in and I'm making hummus tonight! And some sort of fancy Martha Stewart flatbread with chicken salad (not mayo based) on it. So be expecting posts soon.

I hope you like it. I (haven't) made it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

spiced mini burgers with couscous salad!

Edwin loves when I announce recipes with detailed titles, and Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad is one of his favorites. He says it has something to do with the way I say it.

Whatever the reason, this recipe is a winner. I made it last year, and hadn't made it again until last night. What was I thinking??! This meal is fantastic!

You combine these veggies:with couscous, lemon juice, and olive oil.

You plate it with tiny beef patties that have been seasoned with cumin (hello my favorite spice), oregano, salt & pepper and cooked on the stove.

Last night I served mine on a bed of spinach to up the green vegetable count, added a side of couscous salsa (which in this photo looks just like chickpeas, but they are mixed with tahini and lemon juice, I promise), topped with feta and voila! Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad!

(I'm guessing this spice combination would make great big grilled burgers. You could use it on the patties, then grill them and top with feta. Then you could serve the burger in a pita with tzatziki. I think it would be divine.)

I hope you like it. I made it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

letter of apology

Dear readers,

I'm sorry my post this morning was so boring. I know you don't care about flying food processor parts, and I promise to get back to our regularly scheduled blogging soon.

Coming tonight: Edwin's favorite recipe title, Spiced Mini Burgers with Couscous Salad. I'll be serving mine with a side of hummus salsa.

Thanks for understanding, preesh.



post processing

I have a Cuisinart Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor that I love. It's a special gadget that makes me feel fancy. When my in-laws gave it to me for Christmas I squealed with joy-- absolute joy.

I set out to make hummus yesterday. I was initially planning on making pesto too, but with the price of basil and pine nuts I decided against it. (I really need to grow some herbs, but I failed miserably when I tried last year.)

So I got everything ready: chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic all went into the work bowl. I put the cover on, but when I tried to snap the last bit in place, it stuck. I tried again. I watched the DVD the processor came with to see if I was missing something. I tried again. This time I heard a snap, and a small piece of white plastic went flying. I nearly cried.

I called the 800 number and spoke to a nice(ish) man named Danny, and he walked me through the troubleshooting. He determined I need a new part, which they'll send to me for free, as it's still under warranty.

So no crying, but no hummus either. Instead of giving up there, I tried to make the hummus in my blender. That just made a mess. The chickpeas were too thick and there wasn't enough liquid in the blender to make it work.

I ended up dumping all the ingredients in a large bag and ate some of it later for a snack. It was like lumpy salsa, with chickpeas instead of tomatoes. It tasted like hummus and really wasn't all bad. So if you don't have a food processor, you can make hummus salsa like me.

I hope you like it. I made it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

utterly domestic

Is there anything more satisfying than baking bread? I feel so quaint when I make anything with yeast, and I'm always a little surprised when the dough rises. It just seems like such a culinary miracle to me, that you can mix flour and yeast and water and actually make bread. I know it's basic chemistry, but I'm as good at chemistry as I am good at math.

Last night I made Whole Wheat Flax Bread, from Simply in Season, a lovely little cookbook my sister-in-law gave me. Chocked full of "recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More-with-Less," it's never lead me astray.

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while now, but I couldn't find whole wheat bread flour in Murphy. Our Ingles carries whole wheat flour and regular bread flour, but not whole wheat bread flour. I found what I needed in the bulk section at Poppies last weekend, and set to making this bread as my Friday night's entertainment.

It's not the easiest yeast bread ever. You combine whole wheat bread flour, regular bread flour, oil, honey, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seed meal with water and yeast, and stir until it's a "stiff, smooth dough." Then you're supposed to knead for 10 minutes. 10 minutes felt excessive, and I'm going to try it with my food processor's dough hook next time. (Real Simple says I can knead my dough in the food processor. Does anyone know if that's true?) I couldn't even make it past 8 minutes-- kneading is no fun-- so I gave up and hoped for the best.

8 minutes was fine.

The dough rose beautifully (it's a miracle! Look how big it got!) and I formed it into two round loaves. 30 minutes in the oven, and out came homemade bread. Amazing.
I like a crusty bread, and this really isn't one. It is, however, soft and surprisingly light and yummy. It tastes wholesome but not overly healthy, and I love that it's fiber-full.
I had some sliced and toasted as part of my lunch, and I covered it with Laughing Cow Spreadable Cheese. Next to my spinach salad with homemade blue cheese dressing (I used the dipping sauce from my buffalo chicken strips and thinned it down with a little more buttermilk), it made a tasty lunch.
I should note, this salad and cheese toast is way fancier than I normally eat when Edwin is out of town. He's covering the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival on his blog, and this meal on an actual plate is a far cry from my old gypsy meals eaten over the sink in solitude. I'm proud to report that I've been plating my meals and eating at the table.

Make some bread this weekend. You'll feel domesticly accomplished.

I hope you like it. I made it.

Lind, Mary Beth and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. Simply in Season. "Whole Wheat Flax Bread." p.288.

lemon and pasta and green veggies!

I had leftover asparagus from the tarts I made on Easter, and I decided to make this recipe for Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach and Feta. Can you say delicious?

I really don't even have much to say about it. Just fix it for yourself and enjoy. I think it would be perfect with grilled chicken to make a more substantial meal, but it is fantastic as is.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bracket Food

Every year (okay for the past two years, but I'm making this a tradition), I cook bar food for one night of March Madness. This year I chose last Saturday, the night of the final four games. It was also the night I officially became the winner of my bracket pool, due to some crazy twist of fate and my less than conventional picking behaviors (examples: "Purdue will probably win that one, since chickens are fierce;" "Andy Bernard went to Cornell, I better pick that one;" "Georgetown is fancy. I like fancy" etc).

So Saturday night I made our traditional meal: Grilled Buffalo Chicken Strips with Chunky Blue Cheese Dip*! Thanks, Sara Foster, for teaching me to making delicious food, time and time again.

I cut chicken breasts into strips, covered them with a mixture of butter (sorry, Katrina V., I'm saying hello, butter), hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and spices. Then Edwin grilled them and I basted with more sauce.

While they were cooking, I made the blue cheese dip, which is a magical combination of sour cream, buttermilk and blue cheese. I also cored and sliced a fennel bulb, and sliced up some carrots and celery to round it all out.

And there you have it: bracket food!I hope you like it. I made it.

*Foster, Sara. Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market. "Grilled Buffalo Chicken Strips with Chunky Blue Cheese Dip." p. 146

Monday, April 5, 2010

spring feast

Edwin and I got back from Brevard Saturday night (the cake was a hit) and had a relaxing spring day yesterday. We went for a long walk in the morning, and then I spent some time in the kitchen and Edwin walked Atticus. (Yes, Atticus is our cat. Yes, he is leash trained. No, we don't know how to teach you to do it. We got him on CraigsList and he came that way.)

I made a vegetarian spring lunch, inspired by a menu in The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook. We had the Green Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Walnut Oil, and Green Beans*, an Asparagus and Tomato Tart, and Fingerling Potato Salad with Sugar Snap Peas**.
For the green salad, I tossed mixed greens in a delicate dressing made from walnut oil (thanks, Poppies in Brevard, for having walnut oil-- my Ingles didn't) and part of a minced shallot. The greens are then topped with blanched green beans and toasted walnuts. It makes for a springy, healthy and delicious salad.

For the tarts, I used a recipe I found on Tasty Kitchen. I didn't have feta in my fridge (thought I did), so I topped them with goat cheese which was just as yummy. I have made Sara Foster's tomato and feta tarts before, and these are quite similar, but the asparagus really set them apart.

Edwin's favorite was the potato salad. I couldn't find fingerling potatoes, so I used a small potato medley instead, which turned out to make a beautiful salad. I loved the small green and purple taters mixed in with the standard white and red ones. The potatoes are tossed with blanched sugar snap peas and red onion and covered with a creamy tarragon vinaigrette. SO good.

Can I talk about how much I love blanched vegetables? Sara Foster taught me, and I am obsessed. I don't like really cooked vegetables, generally, so blanching is the way for me. It makes them crispy and beautiful. To blanch anything, boil water, add salt, and drop the veggies in. Then just wait for them to turn a brighter color, remove, and dunk in a bowl of ice water (this stops the cooking process).

For dessert we had Lemon Poppyseed Cookies***, and I can't get enough of them now. They are sugary and slightly crunchy, and the lemon flavor really pops.
I would definitely make the salads again. The tarts are yummy but not exactly healthy, what with the puff pastry and all, but they do make a nice treat. As for the cookies, I'm trying to give them away as fast as I can. If I don't, I'll eat every last one. Probably for breakfast.

I hope you like it. I made it.

Stewart, Martha. The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. *"Green Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Walnut Oil, and Green Beans." p. 149; **"Fingerling Potato Salad with Sugar Snap Peas." p. 170; ***"Lemon Poppyseed Cookies." p. 538

Saturday, April 3, 2010

white and coconutty= Easter

I had fond memories of this Italian Cream Cake (I leave out the cherries but follow everything else closely). I made it last year for Wanda's birthday and it was a hit. I don't remember how exactly I found it, but find it I did. I was originally turned off by it because the recipe calls for shortening, and Crisco grosses me out. To the max. Does anyone know a substitute? Surely I could just use more butter. I hate shortening. Sometimes I just suck it up and use a recipe with it, like this one, but I don't like it. At all.

Edwin and I are going to be in Brevard for part of the weekend, and I wanted to bring a sweet treat. We'll be seeing Edwin's parents, sister, and grandparents, and I thought I'd make Italian Cream Cake. Mama (EDW's grandmother) once mentioned to me that she likes it a lot. Plus, it's white and coconutty, which makes it perfect for Easter. Right?

So, I haven't made this cake since July. I had forgotten something: this cake is work! Maybe it's like childbirth and I blocked out the pain? It's not hard,really, but it's very time consuming. Also bowl consuming. I am normally pretty neat in the kitchen and I clean as I go, but I ended up using a ridiculous amount of bowls for this. See?
That was before I'd done the icing. That's just from making the cake. It's probably because I used Crisco.


It's a lot of bowls because there are a lot of separate things happening: you have to add the buttermilk and dry ingredients alternately, which means you can't mix all the dry ingredients first. Then there's the meringue-ing (beating egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff is making meringue, yes?), and folding into the batter...
But the cake looks perfect! See?
I really think having fresh baking soda helped the layers rise evenly. And I just know that keeping it in an airtight container has made my kitchen much fancier.

Despite my complaining, I love this cake. It's definitely worth it, but you should only make it if you have the time and energy. And if cooking with Crisco doesn't bother you. And if you have people to share it with, since it's not exactly good for you.

I hope you like it. I made it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

fiesta! fancy chicken tacos fiesta!

I am pleased to announce that I have modified someone else's recipe and made it my own! I am pumped about this, since this time a year ago, I couldn't really cook anything at all without a recipe. I give you little fancy chicken tacos.

I started with this Real Simple recipe for vegetarian tacos. It was the idea of goat cheese and spinach with tacos that really caught my eye.

Here's my recipe:

2 chicken breasts (washed and patted dry with paper towels), cut into bit sized pieces
1-2 T olive oil
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
handful of fresh spinach
1 1/2 t chili powder
3/4 t cumin
1/2 t paprika
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
crumbled goat cheese
whole wheat flour tortillas, warmed

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium. Add chicken and cook, 4-5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Add corn and cook over medium until corn is warmed, chicken is fully cooked, and husband is home (I ended up turning it to low after it was ready).

In a warmed tortilla, first put a good amount of spinach and follow with the chicken and corn mixture. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Enjoy!

I know it's really similar to the Real Simple recipe, but I did add cumin and paprika (which is how I do regular taco seasoning) and I didn't heat the spinach. I think it would be good with slightly wilted greens, but I knew we'd have some for leftovers and I don't like soggy spinach (which it always is to me after being reheated). They had plenty of flavor and didn't need any salsa. The goat cheese was a really nice contrast to the sweet corn and savory chicken.

I served the tacos with this black bean, avocado, and mango salad with cilantro and lime salad and it was a flavorful, balanced meal. I forgot to add the tomato to the salad but it was perfectly delicious.
I hope you like it. I made it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

turkey burgers, (sort of) spicy slaw, and baked sweet potato fries

It's finally starting to look like spring here, and to me, that means it's time to open the windows and grill. (Of course, we have to close the windows at night, since there's usually a 30-40 degree temperature change between night and day)

I LOVE hamburgers. LOVE them. My father in law and I once bonded over our mutual love and admiration for the grilled hamburger. I think I would choose a good burger as my last meal. There's just something so satisfying about a perfectly grilled burger.

Since EDW and I try to eat healthy most of the time, I have taken to making turkey burgers. They aren't just any turkey burgers though-- they're Sara Foster turkey burgers and they are out of this world. On Sunday, I made us a feast of Grilled Turkey Burgers*, (sort of) Spicy Cole Slaw**, and Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

Sara Foster writes, in Casual Cooking, about ground turkey and its tendency to be flavorless, and she explains that in order to make the burgers fantastic, you have to add other things to increase flavor and texture. These burgers are a combination of ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, green onions, bread crumbs, fresh chives, fresh basil and a little mayo. I mix my ingredients, form the patties, cover the plate and put it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. They tend to be pretty moist, and I have learned that chilling them makes them more solid for transferral to the grill. (I pop lots of things in the fridge or freezer to make them easier to handle: meatballs, turkey burgers, mozzarella cheese to the freezer before I want to slice it...)

The burgers go on the grill (we use charcoal-- not the ready light kind with gas on it-- and Edwin does the grilling) for about 12 minutes.

I have made Sara Foster's Spicy Cole Slaw before, and it's yummy. You use a mix of arugula, cabbage, and basil, and toss it with homemade spicy slaw dressing. I forgot to get cabbage at the store this weekend, so I just used more arugula. It was awesome.

I also made sweet potato "fries," which were delicious but not crispy. They were more like individual roasted sweet potato sticks, but still really good.

To serve, put it all on a plate and enjoy. We used whole wheat burger buns, and I left off the sweet pickles Sara Foster calls for because I hate sweet pickles. I ended up putting a good amount of the greens on top of my burger, but I didn't take a picture of that. What's on my burger is fresh tomato and stone ground mustard.
I hope you like it. I made it.

*Foster, Sara. Sara Foster's Casual Cooking: More Fresh, Simple Recipes from Foster's Market.
"Grilled Turkey Burgers with Sweet Pickles." p. 68

**Foster, Sara. Sara Foster's Casual Cooking: More Fresh, Simple Recipes from Foster's Market. "Spicy Cole Slaw" p. 212