December 15, 2009

Pass the honey, honey!

So this is going to be two posts in one because I am behind! And neither of them is soup! But I will be posting about soup in the next couple days, promise.

First up...

For Thanksgiving at my boyfriend's aunt and uncles house, we were assigned to bring a sweet potato dish. I scoured the internet for one that sounded delicious and easy and wasn't pureed, since I wanted my sweet potatoes to stand out and not be just another mushed up potato dish. I found this on Epicurious and it turned out amazing. I modified the recipe only very slightly (cooked at a higher temp, added some cayenne pepper and rosemary).

Wildflower Honey & Whisky-Glazed Sweet Potatoes

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup light-flavored honey such as wildflower, orange blossom, or clover
2 tablespoons Scotch whisky (I used Cutty Sark)
2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
3 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
about 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 375°F (I cooked the potatoes at closer to 400). Butter 2-quart casserole dish.

2. In small saucepan over moderately high heat, combine butter, honey, whisky, and sugar. Bring to simmer, whisking until butter and sugar are melted, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

3. In large bowl, toss potatoes with butter mixture, salt, and pepper. Transfer to prepared dish and bake, tossing occasionally, until tender and glazed, about 45 minutes. Serve warm. (I cooked mine for an hour and they were perfect. When put back into the oven right before being served, the potatoes got super carmelized and crispy and were even more delicious than when I first took them out of the oven!)

These were so incredibly easy to make and super tasty. I think they will be a Thanksgiving staple from here on! Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of them after they were extra sugary carmelized, but this is what they looked like when I first took these morsels from the oven.

The other item I wanted to share is...
When my boyfriend's produce delivery service brought him an acorn squash, I was excited but then realized I've never cooked an acorn squash, what the heck do I do with it?! I found this recipe, thinking it sounded easy and it turned out even better than I had hoped for. Never having cooked any kind of squash besides zucchini before, I was pretty pleased with myself after this one.

This came from Ms. Paula Dean.

* 1 acorn squash, cut in 1/2
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Scoop the seeds and stringy pulp out of the squash cavities and discard.

3. In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Rub the squash cavities and cut sides of the squash with the butter mixture and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Put about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom of the pan.

5. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Serve 1 half per person.

I took mine out when it was falling off the skin and it was so so so so so so so good. I want some right now!

Poor Man's Soup

Otherwise known as "the soup I made yesterday because I'm on a Christmas budget". Or you folks might know it as Split Pea Soup. This was one easy and cheap soup to make. Although this soup has never exactly screamed appealing I have to say I thought it was quite good for a rainy winter evening. I took the original recipe from Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn but I modified it a bit.

Split Pea Soup
modified from The Kitchn

4 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, sliced or diced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups of dried split peas
6 cups broth of choice
1/2-3/4 cup of half & half

In a large, heavy pot (about 4 quarts in size) melt the butter and add the vegetables, and cook until the onions are soft. Add the bay leaves, thyme, garlic powder, and salt & pepper and stir. Add the split peas and stir to coat with the spices and the butter, then add the broth. Turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for an hour. Check on the soup. It should be creamy and soft, but not so thick that it's like a pea loaf. If it's getting too thick, add a little more broth. The soup is ready when the peas are soft, about a hour to a hour & half. Puree in a blender if desired (I did about 3/4 of the soup and left the rest chunky). Add in half & half and serve.

Please excuse the iphone pics. Santa needs to bring me a god damn real camera.

November 25, 2009

"Best stroganoff I've had all month."

This isn't exactly a soup, but no posts for a month is just out of control. So here we go. Last week I made Beef Stroganoff. I have made stroganoff before, but i couldnt find the other recipe I made so I went looking for a new one. I forget where I found this one (sorry!) but it sounded a little different, not quite traditional, but still tasty.

Beef Stroganoff


* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 pound beef sirloin, cut into 2x1x1/8-inch strips
* salt and pepper to taste
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 12 ounces button mushrooms, quartered (I used a mixture of crimini and button, probably more than 12 ounces, I love mushrooms.)
* 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 2 cups beef broth
* 1/4 cup sour cream
* 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I left this out because I forgot to get it at the store. Don't think it was needed though.)
* 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves (instead of parsley I used fresh dill.)

For noodles:

* Kosher salt
* One 12-ounce package wide egg noodles
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I didn't use this)
* Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat a large skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Raise the heat to high and heat 1 tablespoon oil. Season half the beef with salt and pepper, add to the skillet, arranging it in a single layer, and saute, without stirring, until well-browned and still pinkish inside, about 1 to 2 minutes. (It is key to only partially cook the meat at this stage, since it will be finish cooking later in the sauce.) Transfer to a large plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef. Discard any excess oil.

Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and, when the foaming begins to subside, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until well-browned, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the plate with the beef.

Heat 4 tablespoons butter and, just as the foaming begins to subside, add the onion and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute more. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the beef broth and, whisking constantly, bring to a full boil. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the sour cream, mustard, and lemon juice and season with pepper to taste. Set the sauce aside covered.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and cook the noodles until tender but not mushy. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with the butter and season with pepper to taste. (I didn't butter the noodles, seemed a little excessive.)

Add the beef and any juices, mushrooms, and parsley (or dill or both!) to the sauce and reheat over medium heat until just hot. (Do not boil.) Divide the noodles among 4 plates and top with the stroganoff. Serve immediately.


This stroganoff was extremely delicious, but it reminded me more of this hungarian mushroom soup recipe that I love (recipe coming soon!) rather than stroganoff. My boyfriend proclaimed it as the best stroganoff he had eaten all month, and he had actually had stroganoff earlier in the month! I count that as a win. I would definitely make this again. The only thing I changed was adding dill instead of parsley because I just really like dill. I think I used slighly more sour cream than called for also. This made a ton of food, probably about 6-8 serviings. Not traditional though, the paprika and tomato paste I guess are what makes it different. And it tasted pretty light considering how much sour cream and butter was used in the making of the sauce!


October 21, 2009

Too much cheese. Yes, it can happen.

Now that it is officially fall, I decided to venture back into my good friend, "The Big Book of Soups & Stews."

I asked my boyfriend for a particular ingredient that I should feature in this soup, and he said cheese. I looked in the index of the Big Book and decided on Potato Soup With Bacon and Gorgonzola Cheese. I thought about this soup all day at work and knew it was going to be amazing. I went a little overboard though. Let me elaborate after I tell you the recipe.

4 slices bacon, diced.
1 cup chopped yellow onion. (I used a whole onion, I dont bother measuring veggies.)
2 stalks celery, sliced.
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cubed.
1 cup chicken or veggie broth or stock.
2 cups milk.
1/4 cup chopped parsley.
3/4 teaspoon salt.
freshly ground pepper to taste.
4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese or blue cheese for topping (optional).

In a large soup pot over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate, leaving 2 tablespoons bacon drippings in pan. Add onion and celery to pan and saute until vegetables are slightly tender, about 6 minutes. Add potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature to medium-low and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer 1 cup of the vegetables to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. (Note: My bf does not have these items so i just scooped some out and mashed them up with a potatoo masher, and it worked fine. Not quite as creamy but enough for me.) Return to pan and add milk and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and rehehat over medium hehat for about 5 minutes. Ladel into bowls and sprinkle with bacon and chese, if desired.

My changes/additions/mistakes:
-I added about 8 mushroms, quartered. (good decision)
-I added a little more broth than it called for as it didn't seem like enough liquid to me at first. After adding the milk, it turned out I hadn't needed that extra broth. (bad decision)
-I added the bacon back into the soup rather than just using it as a garnish. In fact I got so carried away and excited that I forgot to save a little to garnish for the picture! (good decision)
-I added the full 4 ounces, maybe even 5 ounces, of gorgonzola cheese into the soup and let it melt a bit, rather than using it as a topping. (bad decision)

I thought, "I love gorgonzola! This is going to be amazing! Why would you just put a few crumbles on top of this normal old potato soup when you can mix in a ton of yummy cheese!?" Well, dear readers, because there is such a thing as too much blue cheese. The deliciousness I had envisioned quickly turned into I can't eat any more of this, what a disappointment.

I would still recommend making this soup, but be sparing with the cheese. As with salt you can add, but you cannot subtract once you add it in, and too much is just too much. Also this soup is pretty rich, I would recommend making it as an appetizer rather than a full meal, which is typically how I prefer my soup. I am just not patient enough to make soup for a first course and then follow it with a full meal. But if you are into that sort of thing, or want to make a hearty soup to bring to a potluck this holiday season, this is a great option. But seriously, even if you love blue cheese, don't mix it all in. You will regret it, I promise.


October 3, 2009

A Book Review-Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking With What You've Got

I've been absent from this whole blogging shindig for a bit and I'm sure all three of you followers noticed, yuk yuk. In my absence I've been moving, working hard, and without a home computer to create any blogging masterpieces (another requisite yuk yuk).

In the meantime Michelle and I managed to attend our very first book reading! The book is Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking With What You've Got by Tod Davies. This came recommended to me by a dear friend, and freelance publishing company advocate, Jenn Abel. Not only did she recommend the book but managed to have a copy sent to me with a note from the author. I've never felt so special in my life!

The book reads much like a blog does; short entries about what the author cooked, ate, felt, and experienced in her day. There's an underlying theme throughout the book and that is simplicity. As the title implies, the book exudes a sense of gearing down and viewing cooking not as a chore or a nuisance but as a call to listening to your body and the ingredients you have on hand. Two points I absolutely loved about the book, and identify strongly with, are the fact that she hates to waste things and that she gets a thrill out of thinking up quick dinners that require a short stop at the market, if any at all. Easily two of my favorite pastimes.

Michelle and I got to experience her skill for turning other people's pantry items into quick dinners firsthand at the reading. Attendees were instructed to list and circle the items they currently had stocked at home and Davies turned these into quick and delicious sounding meals off the top of her head. All the while the audience munched away on homemade eggplant caviar (recipe listed in the book, page 154). Pair this with Davies' quick wit and instant charm and I'd say it was a successful first book reading for us indeed.

Inspired by this, Michelle and I went back to my place and decided to cook with what I had on hand. It was not exactly from scratch or extravagant (that's the point right?) but it was delicious. We pan fried pot stickers from TJ's, steamed some broccoli, and made a small salad with cucumbers and asian ginger dressing. I whipped up a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, fish sauce, honey, chopped garlic, and ginger powder. Accompanied by a glass of wine, which Davies seems to add to her meals more often than not, and I'd say we paid proper homage to a great book.

steaming away

et voila!

September 20, 2009

Fish Tacos, Finally

I've been searching high and low for a delicious fish taco in Portland since I moved here in October 2007. Though I haven't tried them everywhere possible, I kind of gave up after a handful of disappointments. One place that is particularly known for their tacos have a taco that has delicious fish but it is smothered in fruity salsa, overwhelming the delicious fish. Another place that is more known for burritos has a very simple fish taco that has kind of skimpy fish and no sauce to be mentioned, only spicy cabbage. Total let down.

In any case, I finally got around to making my own fish tacos. With some help from V, her new dominos, our boyfriends and some tasty Tequila + Squirt drinks, we had a fantastic evening, the highlight of which was the fish tacos if you ask me! Totally fulfilled the craving and I can't wait to make these again.


The first thing you need for this, obviously, is a filet of fish. A white fish like halibut, cod, tilapia, or even catfish. I'd say get whatever is on sale. We had a little over a pound of halibut bought fresh from the farmer's market and it was a ton of fish. We each had three tacos and there was leftover fish.

The marinade for the fish was made up of:
Lime juice, lots of it.
A couple splashes of clear tequila. We used Sauza silver (the rest of the bottle was mixed with Squirt and drank by the four of us in the span of a few hours.)
Salt & Pepper
Chili Powder
Some diced up peppers, one step in spiciness below jalapenos
a few cloves of crushed garlic
a little olive oil

We let this marinate for about a half hour or so then put it in the oven at 350. It was a large chunk of fish so it took quite a while to cook all the way through, I think about 45 minutes or so.
20090912_fish tacos_004

The next most important thing is the sauce. When the fish is almost done, whip up the sauce. Here is what we used in ours (this came from our pal Amy P!):
1 1/2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

(Please note that you use TEAspoons for the lime and vinegar, and tablespoons for the sour cream and cilantro. I sort of messed that up and had to send the boys out to get more sour cream to correct my mistake.)

Another important aspect of fish tacos is the pico de gallo. I like my tacos simple. A basic pico de gallo is just tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice. V made this pico before she came over and she added some fresh yellow watermelon(last of the season!) which was amazing. It made the pico a tiny bit sweet but not overwhelmingly sweet. It still tasted like pico de gallo, not fruit salad, if you know what I mean.
20090912_fish tacos_002

You also need:

-Cabbage. We had a head of red and a head of green.
-Guacamole if you are in the mood. (I just bought some fresh stuff from New Seasons, and in fact I didn't even put any on my tacos.)
-And Finally, Tortillas. I prefer Corn.
20090912_fish tacos_005

V also made a really delicious Black bean and corn salad which was great on the side. Black beans, fresh corn from the farmers market, tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder, dash of cayenne, and some salt and pepper.
20090912_fish tacos_003

So you put this all together, squeeze a little fresh lime juice on top, and you get the most delicious fish tacos ever made. The only thing I would have liked would have been a dash of hot sauce but they were still amazing without that!

20090912_fish tacos_008

Voila! Or should I say Ole!? Either way, YUM!

September 8, 2009

Get ready for Fall!

This post is for my sister (Hi, Sister!) and for all the readers out there who want to start making soup but need a basic tutorial to get started. I will lay out the basics of a basic soup and give you a couple of variations to get you started! The soup world is your oyster! Ok that doesn't really make sense. What I'm trying to say is, you can make any kind of soup that sounds good to you since Fall is right around the corner! Ok, here we go.


You definitely need:
-1 onion, yellow or white, diced.
-2 carrots, diced.
-2 sticks of celery, diced.
-2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on your tastes, minced.
-chicken broth (2 boxes or 1 box + water and lots of seasonings) (or veggie broth or beef broth!)
-salt & pepper to taste
-generous amounts of any other seasonings you like or have on hand, such as oregano, curry, sage, dill, dry mustard, rosemary, chili powder, cayenne pepper, etc.

Then also pick up whatever veggies you like such as:
-zucchini or other squash
-bell peppers
-canned crushed or diced tomatoes

Also try some meat such as:
-chicken breasts or tenders (pan fry and chop/shred or try poaching!)
-turkey (same methods as chicken)
-meatballs (we favor the cheap and tasty ones from Ikea!)
-bacon (if using bacon, cook it first, then use the grease to cook the onions to add flavor! Add the bacon back in when the soup is almost done to warm it back up.)
-ground sausage (same method as bacon!)

Some other things you might want to try:
-Pasta - shells or penne work great
-egg noodles
-rice - arborrio, jasmine, whatever
-beans - kidney, black

*One thing to keep in mind before you start, try to chop all your veggies into
similar-sized pieces.*

So, now that you have your ingredients all ready to go, here's what you do!


1. The first step in making soup is to dice up your onion and throw it in a pot with some butter and/or olive oil over medium heat. Stir the onions and let them cook down. This is called Sweating. Sweat the onions until they are nearly translucent. Probably about 7-10 minutes, depending how big you diced 'em.

2. Next, throw in your carrots, celery and garlic. Stir them around and let them cook with the onions for about 7-10 more minutes, still over medium heat, until the carrots are soft, but not too falling apart. This is also the step where I would recommend adding a lot of the spices that you want to use, so that the vegetables will soak them up while they are cooking.

3. Once your onions, carrots, and celery are looking pretty good, cooked and soft but not mushy, add in whatever other veggies you decided to use. My favorites are mushrooms (usually quartered or in slightly smaller chunks), followed by zucchini (cut into 1/4 thick rounds and then halved). The key is to add the veggies and sautee them in the order in which they cook. So carrots take a long time, that's why they are one of the first things to cook. zucchini cooks pretty quick, so its one of the last things you cook before you add the broth. Practice and experimenting make perfect!

4. Stir in your chicken broth. Raise the heat on your burner up to medium high and bring it to a boil. If you are adding in meat, pasta, rice, potatoes or any combination of those things, you will add those in with the broth so that they can cook in the broth. (Egg noodles cook very fast, so you can add those in towards the end rather than when you add the broth, they are the one pasta exception.) If you are using canned tomatoes, add those in at this point too. Once your broth is boiling, reduce the heat to a low temperature so that it can simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Once it's warm, I usually taste the broth and see if i want to add any other particular seasonings.

*If you used chicken, taste the broth before you put the chicken in! Also, once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and shred it or dice it, then drop it back in*

5. If you added pasta or rice, once that's cooked, your soup is done. So keep an eye on it. Soggy pasta is gross. If you plan to add anything else that cooks quickly, such as canned corn, frozen peas, black beans, anything that pretty much just has to be warmed up, add that in the last 5 minutes or so of cooking. If you plan to add kale or any other leafy green that basically just has to wilt, add that in just before you serve it.

6. Once everything in the pot seems to be cooked and hot and flavored well, Serve it up! A nice big slice of delicious bakery fresh bread with butter spread on it is my favorite accompaniment to any bowl of soup.

As with most dishes, the leftovers are always almost better than the original meal!

Here are some photos of a few recent soups V and I have made in the past couple weeks. I will tell you what we used for each, though all three were made using this same basic veggie type soup recipe that I detailed above.

Soup #1:
I had a hankering for some soup!
For this soup we used:
onion, carrots, celery, garlic, yellow squash, mushrooms, one box of chicken broth and some water plus a ton of seasonings, black beans, ikea meatballs, and pumpkin flavored prepackaged risotto including some of the seasoning that came with that. This soup turned out super spicy and super hearty thanks to all the risotto.

Soup #2:
I made this at my boyfriend's house only a few days later, because once I start making soup it's pretty much all I want to eat.
For this soup I used:
onion, carrots, celery, lots of garlic, 2 boxes of chicken broth, zucchini, mushrooms, potatoes (I wish I had cut them into smaller pieces!), and black beans. I don't have too many seasonings there, just salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper, and dill. I used quite a bit of all these. There was so much soup leftover that we had to pawn it off on a couple of his friends a few days later. They both had seconds!

Soup #3:
This soup is very similar to the first soup I posted except I think it turned out a little better.
For this soup we used:
onion, carrots, celery, 1 box of reduced sodium chicken broth plus some water and lots of seasonings, mushrooms, a can of tomatoes, a can of corn, zucchini, ikea meatballs, and rice. The carrots in this one were perfectly cooked. Usually I like the carrots to sort of blend in, as I am not a huge fan. But in this soup they were just the right consistency and tasted really good. I don't know how that happened, but I think I declared this one of the best soups we had made, even better than the other meatball soup I posted (Soup #1!)

So, I hope this gets you started. These are the basics that got me hooked on making soup, and just typing all this makes me want some soup right now, and I already ate dinner! Fall is just around the corner, so get out your sweaters and scarves and fear not soup lovers! There will be plenty more fabulous and varied soups to come! In fact, I am going to make a goal of posting in this blog at least twice a month. I have been slacking!

Happy souping!

P.S. Happy birthday to the best co-blogger and best muffin maker in the West!
Love you, V!

July 28, 2009

Whose Pizza Reigns Supreme?

Ugh. It's so hot here that the thought of food itself has been turning me off lately. I think I might live these next (and only) few days of heat that we get living on popsicles. Despite the heat DP and I did manage to get away to Bend last weekend for some R&R. While we were there we had a pizza-off for dinner. As it turns out, it was pretty much an even tie because both of the pizzas were great! I think I won in presentation, if I do say so myself. But flavor was even steven. We bought all of the ingredients, including the pizza dough, ready made from Whole Foods. Next time I'll make the dough from scratch and try using a pizza stone but we had to make do being that we were "roughing it" in a vacation home. Having A/C and a hot tub is really tough guys. DP did bring some fresh oregano that a co-worker gave him and incorporated it into his sauce. He went with a classic vegetarian pizza with black olives, mushrooms, basil and heirloom tomato. While I whipped out a BBQ chicken pizza. Behold, recipes:

DP's Mad Stylin' Veggie Pizza

ready-made dough from your local grocer (or make your own goddammit)
1 small can of pizza sauce
fresh oregano
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese
fresh basil
crimini mushrooms
1 small can sliced black olives
1 heirloom tomato

V's Bitchin' BBQ Chicken Pizza (with a Hawaiian-style edge)
ready-made dough from your local grocer
1 bottle BBQ sauce (or make your own goddammit)
1 chicken breast, poached and shredded
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese
1/2 red onion
1 can of pineapple chunks

First of all, don't judge me for those names. Clever is not a product of heat stroke. Then, take your dough out of the packaging and pat it a couple of times, just 'cause it feels nice. Next, stretch that dough to the size of your pan any way you can. I chose a bend and push method and DP decided he would throw his up in the air (not recommended). Position the dough on the baking sheet and make sure the the whole thing, top and bottom is brushed with olive oil for easy removal and flavor. Next, make your sauce for the pizza. If making the veggie pizza, blend the can of pizza sauce, chopped fresh oregano and chopped garlic. If making the BBQ pizza simply pop the lid. Spread the sauce on the dough and top with shredded mozzarella. Next, evenly distribute whatever pizza toppings you are using. After that, I added a little extra cheese and sauce for flavor and adhesive purposes. Bake in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 12-18 minutes. Behold, pictures:

BBQ Chicken-before and after

Veggie-before and after


and no pizza night would be complete without a movie and candy.

July 14, 2009

233rd Annual Dionysian Ritual of Opulence Over Open Flame

When DP announced that he would be hosting a BBQ for the 4th my mind immediately starting reeling with what food I was going to bring. I have this terrible problem of overcompensating with food when either invited to or hosting a gathering of any sort. What can I say, I like options. So I started off with about 10 ideas and ultimately narrowed it down to 3 dishes.

The first thing was pulled pork. I have always wanted to make this and being that it is mostly hands off I figured it'd be a great recipe to add to the mix. I don't have much experience with slow cookers but there's not a whole lot to it. I used a recipe from the blog Soup Belly. It was really simple but next time I'll probably make my own bbq sauce. Even though I used one I really like, Stubb's, I feel the recipe could've been a touch more homemade. I might try a dry rub beforehand as well. Also, at 10 hours my pork was falling apart and ready to shred. This may have been because I used a boneless pork shoulder. Overall the pork was well received and a cinch to make.

Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot (serves 10)
adapted from Soup Belly

4 lbs of pork shoulder (often called pork butt)
2 large yellow onions
1 cup ginger ale
18 oz. bottle of bbq sauce of choice (feel free to make your own here) plus more for dipping if so desired

Chop onions and scatter half on the bottom of crock pot. Lay pork shoulder on top. Cover with second onion and ginger ale. Cover with lid, turn crock pot on to low and let cook for 10 hours. This can take up to 12 hours but I think my crock pot cooks at a high temperature so be sure to check the pork as you near the end. When it falls apart to the touch, it's nice and ready.

Take pork out and place on a cutting board. Shred the pork using 2 forks. Discard the onions and pork juices and place shredded pork back in the pot. Cover with bbq sauce and cook on low for another 4-6 hours. Serve on buns or alone. Either way is delicious!

Alongside all that pork I couldn't resist making some baked beans. I used a recipe I found via Cooking Light. There was something that tasted off about this recipe to me but people seemed to like it at the party. I'm not sure i'll used it again, although I did like the heat that came from using the chipotle peppers.

Honey-Chipotle Baked Beans (serves 8-10)
from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
1/2 cup minced shallots (about 5 ounces)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped
2 (28-ounce) cans baked beans

Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots; sauté 4 minutes or until golden. Add cumin and garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add tomato puree and oil, and cook for 2 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add honey and the next 5 ingredients (through chiles). Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine beans and shallot mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 300° for 1 hour or until thick and bubbly.

And last, but certainly not least, was cherry pie! I found a recipe for "slab" cherry pie which is basically just pie in giant proportions. I figured that it'd be better for serving a crowd. I even invested in a jelly roll pan for this baby, oh and (!) a Cherry Chomper to do the dirty pitting work. I'm such a sucker for an excuse to buy new kitchen gadgets.

Cherry Slab Pie (serves 12)

taken from The Italian Dish

Slab Pie Dough (pâte brisée)

3 ¾ cups all purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
½ cup ice water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds.

With machine running, slowly pour the ice water through the feed tube until the dough just comes together in a ball.

Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten a little, dust with flour and wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.

Pie Filling

2 ½ pounds (about 6 cups) fresh cherries, pitted, or 2 ¼ pounds (about 6 cups) of fresh blueberries
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stir to combine, set aside.

2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup sanding sugar or granulated sugar

To make the pie:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into a rectangle, a little bit larger than your baking sheet. The original recipe calls for a 15x10 baking sheet, but I used a 13x10 jelly roll pan. To make this easier, place a piece of plastic wrap on your working surface, dust with flour. Place pie dough on top, dust with flour and place another sheet of plastic wrap on top. When your dough is the right size, lay your rolling pin on top of the top sheet of plastic wrap. Start rolling the dough around the rolling pin, leaving the bottom sheet of plastic wrap on your working surface. Dust the dough around the rolling pin as you go, so it will not stick to itself. Lift rolling pin over your baking sheet on one end and unroll dough. Remove plastic wrap from top. Fit into your rimmed baking sheet, pressing into corners (pastry will hang over sides). Spread filling into pie shell.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough to the size of your pan. Using same method as above, drape dough over filling. Fold edge of bottom dough over top dough. Pinch edges to seal Prick the top dough all over with a fork. Brush the entire surface of the pie with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake until crust is golden brown about 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool just until the pie is still warm to the touch. Serve warm or a room temperature. Cut into 12 pieces. Slab pie can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

And because this is already just too much information in one post I'm going to 80's montage the pictures again:


And I just realized I didn't take any pictures of the baked beans. 4th of July is ruined. 10 days after the fact.

July 7, 2009

Slaw for everyone!

For 4th of July, I made a light and refreshing non mayonnaise based Cole Slaw to complement V's Pulled pork, the recipe for which should appear here shortly!

Sesame Coleslaw found on Epicurious

6 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1-pound head)
3 cups shredded peeled carrots
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, trimmed, thinly sliced
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 cup oriental sesame oil
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Additional fresh spinach leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
about a 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (Our addition)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Combine cabbage, carrots and sliced spinach in large bowl.

Whisk vinegar, oil, sugar, ginger and soy sauce in medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Season with salt and pepper. (Cabbage mixture and dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.)

Toss cabbage mixture with dressing. Season coleslaw with salt and pepper. Line platter with additional spinach leaves. Mound coleslaw on platter. Sprinkle sesame seeds over and serve.

This recipe made so much slaw, and we had no platters big enough to hold it all, so we just served it in the bowl that I mixed it in. It was super tasty and everyone seemed to like it!

June 24, 2009

Strawberry Overload

On a recent trip back from The Oregon Gardens, which are amazing and totally worth the short trip and $10, my mom and I stopped at one of the many roadside fruit stands to check it out. We picked a great one and scored an entire flat of strawberries for $14! That is seriously cheap. So now, after giving two pints away and eating them every morning for breakfast, I was faced with what to make/bake with the 4 pints I still had. I decided on Strawberry Cornmeal Muffins and a batch of Strawberry Freezer Jam! And it's no coincidence that these two items go together splendidly, nosiree.

Strawberry Cornmeal Muffins (taken from Eating Out Loud)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped strawberries, plus 1/2 cup for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add beaten egg, oil and milk, stirring until just combined. Fold in 1 cup chopped strawberries. I used smaller berries and simply cut them in half. I suggest chopping the berries no larger than 1/2″.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, then garnish with a few chopped berries. Bake at 400F (200C) for 20-25 minutes or until testing done.

Allow the muffins to cool before removing from the muffin tin. I ran a sharp knife around the edge of each muffin, then popped them out of the tin.

These were freaking fantastic. Moist and delicate, easy and quick, and they made the whole house smell amazing. I wanted to smear them with butter and jam the instant they came out of the oven. The freezer jam, on the other hand, was only slightly successful. I don't remember where I originally pulled the recipe from so I'm not going to post it. Also, I'm unsure of what method we finally went with as Michelle and I were awfully confused on what to do between the recipe I got off the internet and the print out in the box of pectin. Ultimately, my sources (Michelle) tell me that the jam is delicious but still pretty runny. I guess that means we didn't use enough pectin. I'm going to have to try my hand at this again; I'm not going down without a fight, jam! We should have called the JAMLINE number that was listed on the box of pectin but I was too scared I would end up getting lectured by a grandmother in a rocking chair with a serious passion for jam. And now:





June 11, 2009

So Sagey

When my Boyfriends fridge was suddenly filled with mushrooms, I went searching for a good tasty recipe to use them in. I came across a few things that sounded great, and finally narrowed it down to either a Chicken Marsala or a Creamy Sage sauce, both from Barn Appetit. I went with option B!


Chicken with Mushroom Sage Sauce

3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots (I used 2 whole shallots)
2 garlic cloves (I added this part)
8-10 ounces mushrooms, any sort (I used Crimini sliced and Shiitakes quartered, probably a bit more than 10 oz as I really love mushrooms)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley (Optional, I didn't use any and didn't miss it)
1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage (Fresh from the yard!)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (I used 6 little fillets)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The recipe I used listed a roasted chicken method, but I just cooked my little fillets in a pan with salt and pepper, then set them aside while I made the sauce.

To make the sauce, start by melting the butter in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for one minute. Add mushrooms (and parsley, if using) and sauté for
5-10 more minutes, until the mushrooms have browned. If you are using unsalted butter, sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Add vermouth or white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits that may be sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cream. Bring to a simmer and cook the sauce down until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 minutes).
While the sauce is reducing, add the chicken breasts/fillets back in to the sauce early enough to just warm them. The last step is to stir the fresh sage into sauce, adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Plate and spoon sauce over chicken to serve.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

I served this with minute rice, as that is what I had available, and a side of broccoli. I would have preferred mashed potatoes or a better rice, but I was being lazy and did not realize there were potatoes at my fingertips that I ended up making mashed potatoes with later in the week! Anyway, this sauce was so so so good and so simple, I intend to make it again and again and again. And even though it has the heavy cream, it didn't taste too heavy. I had a hard time putting my fork down and from what I heard from my favorite guy, the leftovers were just as amazing.

May 27, 2009

Focaccia for Dinner

One of the facets of baking that I haven't explored much is bread. Bread using yeast to be more specific. There's a certain lore that accompanies bread making that might turn one off to it. Funny that I wasn't nearly as scared to try my hand at it than I was at making a pie crust. But I will admit that I still stand around the yeast bowl when it's activating asking, "Is it working? Did I do it right? Is it foaming enough?"

Focaccia is one of the easier breads to start with. You usually only have to let it rise once and it takes little to no kneading. To put it simply, if I've managed to pull it off, you'll have no problem. We made a batch for dinner recently adding some pizza-like toppings to make it more hearty. Serve it with a salad and you've got an easy dinner. We also had asparagus 'cause I can't seem to kick my farmer's market asparagus habit. It's just too good.

Hearty Dinner Focaccia
focaccia recipe courtesy Ezra Pound Cake
toppings free-styled

Focaccia Dough:
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 yellow onion, carmelized (couple of teaspoons of oil and/or butter needed)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped kalamata or green olives, or a mixture
feta cheese, sprinkled on to taste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
rosemary, fresh if you have it
coarsely ground black pepper
coarse sea salt

In a large bowl combine water, yeast and honey. Stir to dissolve and allow to activate until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add oil and salt to the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour using a pastry cutter to gently incorporate. Once the dough begins to form and pull away from the sides of the bowl, dump out onto floured surface and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Form into a ball (dough should be smooth to touch) and place in a large lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area until doubled in volume, about an hour.

Meanwhile, start a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter. Chop onion into strips and place in skillet. Sprinkle some salt over onions and allow to slowly carmelize in the pan, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Onions should be golden brown and soft when finished. Chop tomatoes and olives in half. Mince garlic cloves.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Lightly grease a baking pan. I used a 9x13 pan to create a sturdier crust for the toppings. You can also use a 11x17 jelly roll pan for a thinner crust. Punch down the dough and spread into baking pan of choice. Dimple the surface with your fingertips and distribute toppings evenly over the surface. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for about 25 minutes.



Yeah, this was pretty awesome. Mich thought it needed more salt. I wanted more olives. Jessie said, "mmmmmm. I'm drunk", then nodded off.

May 26, 2009

The only way I would eat Spinach as a kid

When I was a kid, I did not like vegetables. Peas mixed into mashed potatoes and green beans smothered in butter were pretty much the only ones I would eat without wrinkling my nose. However, my mom and my grandma would both make this tasty and hearty dish and I would gobble it up even though it is packed with spinach. I recently remembered to ask my mom for the recipe and I jotted it down in the back of my soup book. When we had an abundance of spinach in the fridge, I finally made it. Here is my moms recipe, from her memory.

Jo's Special (or Joe Special? Not entirely sure)

1 lb hamburger
2 box frozen spinach (I used about 3/4 of a giant tub of fresh baby spinach, and wilted it. I would have liked to have more though.)
1 Onion, chopped
Mushrooms (I used about 12 mushrooms, sliced)
Garlic (I used 3 cloves)
A pinch each of Oregano and Numeg (I used more like 3 pinches of each)
Salt and Pepper to taste
3-4 eggs, beaten (I used 3. If i had used more spinach I probably would have used 4.)
(I also added a dash of Cayenne Pepper and a dash of dry mustard)

Cook burger and onion in a large skillet. Cook spinach. Combine. Add mushrooms, garlic and spices. Saute until mushrooms are cooked to your liking. Let the veggies simmer for a little while, 5-10 minutes, then taste. Add more spice if needed. Add eggs and stir constantly, scrambling the eggs. Once the eggs are cooked, it's ready to eat!


It looks weird, but it is really tasty. I love the combo of the oregano and nutmeg, and eating this reminded me of being 8 years old. Also, super easy to make.

May 22, 2009

How to Cure a Case of the Blues-Baking and Chocolate

I'm so predictable in some ways. When I'm feeling down I put on this CD and bake. It never fails to make me feel better and I hope it never does.

Instead of the usual banana bread recipe that I use, I was feeling something chocolate. I found this recipe on The Sisters' Cafe blog and off I went. Humming and stirring.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
courtesy of The Sister's Cafe
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (about 3)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (I used a 4 oz bar of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, chopped)

Heat your oven to 350. Spray bottom of 8x4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Beat sugar, eggs, and oil in large bowl at medium speed until combined. Beat in banana and vanilla at low speed. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl (I sifted the flour and cocoa as it gives a lighter batter); beat into banana mixture at low speed just until combined (I just stirred with a spoon here as to not over mix the batter). Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

(if you're wondering where the other pieces of bread are, I ate them. for dinner. don't judge me)

The end result turned out great! I wish I had taken it out of the oven a little sooner. I forget that banana bread is always better when left undercooked in the middle as it will finish cooking quite a bit once you've pulled it out, it's the magic of the loaf. It was still damn tasty though. I am glad I made the bittersweet chocolate substitution. I think it left it with more of a rich dark chocolate taste rather than a sweet one. Yum. This recipe is a keeper.

May 21, 2009

Refreshing, Delicious and Beautiful

Recently, V has got me dabbling in White Wine. I remembered I had a recipe for a white wine sangria I found for another friend of mine and decided I should make some for a BBQ we had last weekend. I don't remember where the original recipe came from, and we used different fruit, so here is MY White Sangria recipe!

White Sangria:

6 cups Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc (I used Pinot Gris I think)
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 cup white grape juice
1 blood orange, sliced and quartered
1 grapefruit, sliced and quartered
1 apple, cut in chunks
a dash of fresh mint, diced
1 cup citrus flavored sparkling water

In a large pitcher or other container, combine the wine and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients, excluding the sparkling water, and mix well. Place the pitcher in the refrigerator and let the sangria sit for at least 1 hour (and up to 4 hours). The sangria will sweeten with time, so the longer it sits, the better. Just before serving, stir in the club soda. Serve over ice.

This was the perfect drink to sit outside with, bubbly and refreshing and tasty without being too sweet. We ran out so fast, I wish I had doubled the recipe. I will for sure make this again!

My second time making this, we used different fruits. I think the best combo is Apples, Strawberries, Nectarines, and Blood Oranges! oh and Pineapple! Tried grapes but they just sink to the bottom!

May 15, 2009


Pie crust is one of those legendary things that sounds harder to make than it is. I was scared of them for years and avoided making any pie that wasn't our family's apple pie, as that one has a crust you make in the pan and don't need to roll out. But once you make a pie crust from scratch it's like riding a bicycle. You'll never go back to being that loser with training wheels. I sat myself down with a recipe and a rolling pin last summer to see if I could master the skill and from then on out, I was unstoppable.

One of my favorite things to make with pie crust is quiche. The best thing about quiche, aside from the pie crust making, is you can throw just about anything in a quiche. Once you've got the basic formula down, you can freestyle quiche to your heart's content. It a lot like soup that way.

Here's one I made the other day with asparagus and an orange bell pepper.

Asparagus and Bell Pepper Quiche
Crust from Molly Katzen's Sunlight Cafe
Filling freestyled

Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, COLD
3-5 tablespoons of milk or water (or buttermilk or cream)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. You can also use a food processor throughout this process if you have one (I don't-boo). Take the butter (and seriously people, as cold as you can get it) and incorporate with a pastry cutter until the mix is in pea-sized crumbles. Be careful not to overwork this as the butter will melt and get soft and it will affect the flakiness in the end. Add 3 tablespoons of liquid and mix until just combined. At this point if the mixture is too dry and not coming together, add a little more liquid. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully transport it to a pie pan and trim any edges. You can make a pretty fluted edge or leave it a sloppy mess, either way it tastes good!

1 bunch of asparagus
1 medium bell pepper
5 eggs
1 cup whole milk
4 large slices of havarti cheese
3 tablespoons stoneground mustard (I used a spicy version)
Seasonings of your choice, I chose s&p, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, dry mustard

Chop asparagus and pepper into 2 inch pieces. In a pan over medium heat saute your veggies until they are softened but still have some crunch, throw some s&p in the pan while you're at it, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Spread the mustard evenly on your assembled pie crust. Lay the slices of cheese in an even layer over the mustard. Throw the sauteed veggies over the cheese and arrange in an even layer. Beat eggs, milk and seasonings with a whisk until incorporated. Pour over the veggies and carefully place in the oven to bake for about 30-40 minutes. This can vary a bit so be sure to check the quiche often. You want the middle to be pretty firm when you wiggle the pie plate.

So quichey.

May 12, 2009

Cheese and bacon are always good

A few months ago, V made the most delicious corn chowder ever, and we kept saying "next time we will do this and this and this and it will be even more amazing!" I had a hankering for something rich and creamy and cheesy and delicious on a cold day last week, but we could not quite nail down the recipe that had been used before. I took a look through The Big Book of Soups & Stews, and decided to make this:

Cheddar Chicken Corn Chowder

3 slices bacon, diced
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (We used the whole pepper)
2 cloves garlic, minced (We used 3)
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 1/2 cups unpeeled cubed red potatoes (We used 3 small-medium ones)
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (We used frozen, and a little more than 1 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (We used 2 small breast fillets, poached them in the broth and shredded them instead of cubing them)
1 cup seeded, peeled, chopped tomato (I bought a jar of diced tomatoes instead of whole, oops)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (We used white cheddar, closer to a cup)
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate, leaving 1 tablespoon drippings in Dutch oven. Make sure you don't eat all the bacon while you cook the rest of the soup. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add Stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. If you choose to poach the chicken like we did, add the chicken in at this point as well, so it will cook in the broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in Corn.

In a bowl, blend flour and milk. Stir into soup. Increase heat to medium-high and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add bacon, tomato, cheese, salt and pepper (and chicken, if you choose to cook it beforehand and add it in, as the recipe calls for originally).) Simmer, uncovered, until flavors are blended and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes longer. If it doesn't seem thick enough, you can add a dash more flour, which we did.

We ate this soup with a big loaf of rosemary bread that I found at Whole Foods which was super tasty. The soup turned out really delicious. Perfectly creamy, the bell pepper added a nice bit of crunchiness, and the tomato, though it was a little saucier than the recipe called for, was delicious. If I make this again, I will make sure and use tomato chunks instead of diced saucy tomatoes from a can. Sometimes I am just lazy and did not feel like trying to peel and de-seed a fresh tomato. I think I would like the fresh tomato addition with the cheesiness. The soup was so pretty and colorful too!



May 11, 2009

Lemon/Lime-Not just for Sprite anymore

After Cinqo de Mayo we ended up with 2 leftover bags of lemons and limes. There was no way I was going to be able to drink enough cheap beer to mow through all of those before they calcified so I decided a citrus dessert was in order. With a little bit of research and a little bit of kismet I came across a recipe for Lemon Lime Cookies via Culinary in the Desert. At first I didn't think much of these cookies but let them sit overnight so all that icing can soak in and man! So lemon-limey, so refreshing, just perfect. I brought what wasn't consumed upon the roomies discovering these to a Naked Ladies party and they were a hit there too!

Consensus: make these ASAP.

Lemon Lime Cookies
Source: Culinary in the Desert

For the cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon fresh grated lime zest
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the glaze

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh grated lime zest
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

To prepare the cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar and zests until creamy. Beat in egg, vanilla and juices. Gradually mix in flour just until combined.

Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place into the oven and bake until edges are golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare the glaze

In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, zests and juice until smooth. Spoon over the cookies and let set for about an hour to firm up.

Makes about 24 cookies.



May 4, 2009

Stir, Stir, Stir-Shiitake and Asparagus Risotto

Well, it's true what they say about risotto, it requires a whole lotta stirring. Mich and I are not very patient cooks but I'd say we pulled this one off without a hitch. It helps to have a glass of wine in hand. I picked up some shiitake mushrooms at the Farmer's Market last week intending to try out a sublime sounding slow-cooked pork recipe that my dear friend Jenn sent to me. But between work and packing to take off for a 3 day weekend in rainy CA, I didn't have time to pull that off. So using the rest of the bunch of asparagus we ate with the chicken parm and the shiitakes, I thought, hey, ho - risotto. And what a lovely idea it was.

Shiitake Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto
Adapted from May 2003 Gourmet via

5 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces (I used a tad less than this)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped (I used 4 large shallots instead)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio as that's the stuff I like to drink)
2 oz Parmesan cheese

Bring broth and water to a boil in a large soup pot. Prepare a bowl with ice water. Throw in chopped asparagus and cooked until slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and put in the ice water bowl to stop the cooking process. Keep the broth simmering over low heat, covered.

Heat oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a large soup pot over moderately high heat. Saute mushrooms until browned and soft, about 4 minutes, season with salt and pepper (I threw in some thyme too) and remove from pot to a small bowl.

Put 2 tbsp of butter in the same pot and saute the shallots until soft. Add rice to the pan and coat with butter, stirring, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Ladle in 1 cup of the simmering broth, stirring, until all is absorbed. Continue this process until most all of the broth is absorbed and your rice is soft and creamy, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese, remaining butter (I skipped this part), and salt and pepper. Add asparagus and mushrooms back in and let stand, covered, for about a minute. Serve with remaining cheese on the side.

Stir stir-drink drink

Eat eat-drink drink

I have to say this turned out pretty outstanding and was still delicious the next day for lunch. Some of the asparagus had too much of a crunchy texture but I think that's due to my dumbass not trimming them down far enough. Well worth all the stirring!

April 29, 2009

You can never have too much cheese!

Since Vanessa keeps posting every day, making me look bad, I thought I would take it back to the old school with a nice warm tasty soup on a cold rainy day.

Coburg Inn Beer Cheese Soup from The Big Book of Soups and Stews

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup diced celery (I used 2 smallish stalks)
1/2 cup diced carrot (I used 1 large carrot)
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
5 cups chicken stock or broth
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (I used more like 5)
2 cups firmly packed grated cheddar (I used smoked medium cheddar)
1 12 oz bottle of beer, allowed to go flat (I used Drop Top Amber, not flat)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add celery, carrot, and onion and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour and mustard and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Slowly stir in stock. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cheeses, stirring until melted. Add beer, salt, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, over low heat to blend flavors, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Note: The soup thickens and the texture improves the second day. Warm carefully over medium-low heat, as it scorches easily. Add more liquid if the soup is too thick.

As you can see, I noted what I changed above in parentheses. This recipe was super easy, and turned out amazing. The only thing I would do differently is to saute the veggies a tad longer. They were a tiny bit crunchier than I would have liked. I was just so impatient to eat! I served this with fresh sliced french baguette.

Veggies and Cheese!

More ingredients and simmering!

Voila! Yummmm!

The perfect end for a rainy spring day, paired with watching Battlestar Galactica with my favorite guy.