November 28, 2010

Morrocan Lentil Soup

I was so excited to have friends visiting during cozy fall and thought what better way to spend an evening than sipping wine and making soup with some of my most favorite ladies. I hunted high and low for the perfect vegetarian friendly recipe that we all would devour and found this one!

Though the recipe called for red lentils, I only found generic 'lentils' at the store. I was pretty annoyed but I honestly have no idea if red ones taste different or if they are just red for show.

Everyone ate lots of this soup and it made way more than enough for us four girls and my mister. He and I continued to eat this soup all week!

We doubled most of the spices in the recipe linked above. You could blame the wine we were drinking, but we all agreed more spices could only mean more flavor and who doesn't want that?! I was so anxious to eat this that I forgot to add the frozen peas that the original recipe included, and I was cursing myself on that one. I love little snappy peas in thick stew-like dishes.

Without further ado, here is the Morrocan Lentil Soup as interpreted by Mostly Soup (and friends):

-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
-3 small onions, chopped
-5 cloves of Garlic, minced
-2 Celery stalks, chopped
-1 Carrot
-3 tsp Turmeric
-3 tsp Cinnamon
-4 tsp ground Cumin
-1 tsp fresh Ginger grated or 1/2 tsp ground
-about 4 dashes of cayenne pepper
-salt and pepper to taste
-8 cups of vegetable stock
-12 ounce pack of lentils
-1 tablespoonp Tomato Paste
-3 potatoes peeled and cubed (you could also use sweet potatoes or squash!)
-1 can stewed Tomatoes (I got tomatoes stewed with sweet peppers and onions)
-Sour cream and fresh parsley for serving

1. In large soup pot heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions, carrot, garlic, and celery, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5-10 minutes.
2010-11-13 lentils 001

2. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
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3. Add veggie stock, lentils, tomato paste, potatoes and tomatoes (including juices), breaking up tomatoes with spoon. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until lentils are cooked to desired consistency.
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(3 1/2. This is where you would add in the frozen peas and let them cook for about 5 more minutes if you are using them!)

4. Once your lentils are perfect, taste the broth and add salt/pepper as needed. Ladel into bowls. Dollop each with sour cream and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with pita bread!
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My favorite thing about this soup was the tomatoes. They were so tasty, bursting with all the flavors they were simmering in for what seemed like ages! I wish I would have frozen half of this to eat later!


November 9, 2010

Cranberry Apple Butter

I remember my grandmother making apple butter year after year when I was a kid, always thinking it tasted nothing like butter (and a tad disappointed with that fact). I'm not sure how she was making hers but I remember thinking how insanely talented my grandmother was. If only I knew how easy she was getting off. This is one of the easiest recipes you'll ever make. I guarantee it. That fact is largely due to using a crock pot and an immersion blender but you can still make this recipe even if you don't have those tools.

This recipe was very good. I would've preferred it a little bit thicker, however, I loved how the tartness of the cranberry played off the sweetness of the apple. This recipe made quite a bit of apple butter so this would be a perfect gift to jar up and hand out for the holidays. Impress your friends with your grandma-like skills. We ate this on pumpkin bread and regular toast for breakfast for weeks. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Cran Apple Butter
source: Mommie Cooks

10-12 Apples, Chopped
3 Cups of Whole Cranberries
1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup of White Sugar
1 tsp of Cinnamon
1/2 tsp of Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Cloves
4 Shakes of Salt


Throw it all in your slow cooker and cook it on low for 12 hours. You can also do this using a dutch oven in your regular oven at 400 degrees. Emulsify it smooth with an immersion blender or by batches in a regular blender.

All lined up ready to be chopped

The beginning

12 hours later

Pretty in jars

Even better on pumpkin bread

November 2, 2010

Chicken and Pepper Stew With Olives & Cranberries

I know, this sounds like a strange combination of flavors. That's exactly why I wanted to try it. I thought to myself, "That sounds weird, but I like all those things so let's try it out!" V came over for some pre-halloween crafting and I made us a feast.

The original recipe arrived in my email from Real Simple. I realize that I post a lot of recipes from them, but its just so convenient to have recipes that are delicious randomly emailed to you daily! I cannot keep up with all the amazing recipes out there on the internet!

In any case, to get back on track, Here is the recipe as I made it, only a few substitutions. (dried cranberries instead of raisins, chicken breast tenders instead of thighs, and just less of everything because I didn't want to feed 8 people.)

Chicken and Pepper Stew With Olives & Cranberries
Makes about 4 to 6 servings, depending how hungry you are!


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (but regular would work too)
kosher salt and black pepper
10 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders (about 2 to 3 pounds)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 each of red, yellow and green bell peppers, sliced.
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup pitted olives (I used kalamata)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cups long-grain white rice


1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. In batches, brown the chicken, turning, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate as it browns and add more oil as necessary.
3. Add the bell peppers, garlic, 1/4 cup of the broth, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the peppers begin to soften, 4 to 6 minutes.
4. Add the olives, cranberries, and the remaining 1 cup of broth and bring to a boil. Nestle the chicken in the vegetables and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
5. Uncover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. (Maybe longer, I might have also used too much liquid)
6. Twenty minutes before the stew is done, cook the rice according to the package directions. Serve with the stew.

2010-10-20 yum 002

I thought this would have been pretty tasty with some feta cheese on top but I didn't think of it when I was at the store. It was kind of a salty sweet combo with the olives and cranberries. The chicken was falling apart and would have been extra delicious if I had used thighs, but the chicken tenders are what I had on hand. This also heated up nicely for lunch the next day!

I always forget to take pictures of the process, but seriously, this was delicious!

October 19, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Black Bean Soup

I was craving cornbread. V's brother suggested black bean soup via Facebook and I set off to find the most delicious black bean soup I could find. Plain old black bean soup sounded kinda blah so I chose this recipe as a starting point.

I cheated a bit because I was too impatient to make my own black beans or to let canned ones stew for a while for added flavor. Instead I bought Trader Joe's Cuban black beans in a can because they are already a little bit spicy. If you want to stew your own or spice up a regular can of black beans, check out the original recipe that I linked to above! I also omitted chipotle powder because I didn't see any at the store and I added bacon and chicken andouille sausage to the mix.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sweet & Spicy Black Bean Soup

2 cans black beans (Trader Joe's Cuban black beans were perfect!)
4 slices of bacon, diced
2 spicy chicken andouille sausages, diced
1 1/2 onion, 1/4 inch dice
2 celery stick, 1/4 inch dice
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons medium heat red chile powder
a few shakes of cayenne pepper and garlic powder
14 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup frozen corn
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lime
Cilantro, minced for garnish

Cook the bacon and sausage in a large soup pot until brown. Remove from pot and set aside.

If needed, add some oil to the pan and toss in the onion, celery, and sweet potato. Saute until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, and garlic powder along with some salt and pepper. Saute a few minutes more.

Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, bell pepper, corn, and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. Puree 1/2 of the soup. Return to the pot. Add the lime juice and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve with cornbread!

2010-10-11 sweet and spicy black bean soup 006

This recipe made a ton of soup, a giant pot that my boyfriend and I ate all week. It was perfectly spicy, a hint of sweetness from the corn and peppers, and it was extremely delicious. It tasted even better the second day. Cornbread was a perfect accompaniment, and I will definitely make this again!

October 12, 2010

Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

The lovely and generous V gave me a crock pot! It was my turn to host Mad Men Monday so I decided to use my new slow cooker to make a hearty beef stew. The only thing I had made in a crock pot prior to this was pot roast, so making a stew was kind of new and I was a little unsure about seasonings, etc.

I searched the internet high and low and found this recipe on Taste As You Go. I liked the idea of using sweet potatoes and made a few modifications. Here is the recipe as I made the stew:

2 pounds stew beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil
1 large white onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 14.5-ounce can beef broth
1/2 cup beer
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon dry nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 cup frozen green beans
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Brown beef on all sides, working in batches if necessary.

Place sweet potatoes in the base of a preheated 4-5-quart slow-cooker. Layer on the browned beef, onions, garlic and ginger. Pour in beef broth, beer, and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle in nutmeg and thyme.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove about cup of the broth and place in a bowl. Whisk in heaping teaspoon of flour until there are no more lumps. Add the broth and flour mixture back to the slow-cooker. Add frozen green beans and cook the stew for an additional 15-20 minutes.

2010-09-20 007

I served with cous cous, but bread would have been better. The sweet potato didn't come through as much as I would have liked, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it! Definitely was a satisfyingly hearty cold evening meal.

October 5, 2010

Ratatouille Throwback

In my fourth year of high school I was in french class and one of our assignments was to partner up and make a classic french recipe. My partner decided upon ratatouille and well, it sounded french to me. When we made the recipe I kept expecting there to be a grand finale but it turned out it was just a bunch of sauteed vegetables. I was underwhelmed thinking we picked the most unexciting recipe possible. Maybe it had something to do with being raised a vegetarian and more veggies was the last thing I needed to see. Some years later I have a much different take on this classic french recipe. I realize now that its beauty is in its simplicity. Paired with some crusty french bread and a glass of red wine and the meal feels downright decadent.

My inspiration for this comes from it being french week over at The Kitchn. DP and I took the opportunity to pick up a bunch of fresh veggies at the Kruger Farms roadside stand here in St. Johns and I was set. The recipe I got from The Kitchn was perfect, no revisions needed. I served this with some homemade garlic bread and a glass of red wine. Natch.

Dad's Authentic Ratatouille
Source - The Kitchn

Ingredients (feel free to play with proportions as this is a more or less situation):

2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed into 1-inch cubes
6-8 zucchini, coined
3 bell peppers, roughly chopped (red are classic, but use what you have on hand)
5 cloves garlic, whole
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow onions
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs thyme (fresh thyme is the key to making this Ratatouille taste right)
1 can whole tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes that are nice and ripe
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large pot sauté the onions in olive oil until brown, then add peppers and allow to soften. Stir in whole garlic cloves, tomatoes and bay leaf and turn heat down to a simmer and leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sautee eggplant and zucchini (they tend to get mushy if you throw them in with everything else but that can be good too and is easier than dirtying a second pan) until browned and softened.

Add the zucchini and eggplant to the simmering pot along with the sprigs of thyme and some salt and pepper (to taste) and allow to simmer at least another 20 minutes. Simmer longer if you want the flavors to really get good, or just reheat it the next day and you'll have the same effect.

Add the minced garlic on top or serve with some extra garlicy french bread as I did. And don't forget the red wine.


Separate but equal


All together now


The grand finale I was waiting for

September 16, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings-Trial One

I recently met a friend at a bar here in St. Johns which is somewhat known for its chicken and dumplings. I'll admit, I've never had chicken and dumplings before and I didn't that night either. But my friend did and as I looked at the dish I thought, hm, just seems like thicker chicken pot pie without all the fuss, I could probably swing that. And it just so happens that DP loves chicken and dumplings. Probably because he likes to say dumplings but really, who doesn't? I went in search of a recipe and ended up with one from Real Simple that looked easy. I didn't change much about the recipe except for I poached some chicken breasts and shredded them instead of using a store bought rotisserie chicken. Oh yes and I added mushrooms. And peas.

I liked this recipe but it lacked the thickness that I wanted. Next time I'd probably try using a slurry or a beurre manie to thicken it up. I'll definitely give this another go during the approaching fall! I have posted the recipe as I made it.

Chicken and Dumplings
adapted from Real Simple

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 leek (white and light green parts), halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 1 1/2 cups of crimini mushrooms, sliced in half
  • 3/4 cup of frozen peas, or fresh if you have 'em
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 medium sized chicken breasts (2 1/2 to 3 lbs), poached and meat shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill


  1. First poach the chicken. Cover chicken with water in a medium sauce pan. Add any spices you like, I usually go for ones that dissolve easily. After about 15 minutes of boiling, check the chicken. Be careful not to overcook it as it will cook a little bit more later in the recipe. Once it's done, put it on a plate and shred it using two forks.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, leek, and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with ½ cup of the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute (do not let it darken). Stir in the broth, wine, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of flour with the baking soda and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir in the sour cream and egg.
  4. If soup doesn't seem thick enough, this is where I might add in a slurry to thicken it up. Add the frozen peas. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough into the stew and cook, covered, until the dumplings are plump and cooked through, 15 to 17 minutes. Sprinkle with the dill before serving.

Siamese Mushroom!
Chopped up
I really missed Mich for this one, she's a master shredder
This was the fun part
and done.

September 6, 2010

Blueberry Streusel Scones

Having newly discovered my love of baking, thanks to those cupcakes I posted about whenever that was, I decided to make some scones last weekend for breakfast. Scones are another new love of mine, since I recently discovered that scones are delicious and flaky like a biscuit and not hard as rocks as I had been led to believe by a certain big coffee company's poor excuse for scones! In any case, I had been wanting to make something with the blueberries that popped up in our front yard and I found this tasty recipe on Joy of Baking.

Without further ado:
Blueberry Streusel Scones!

Blueberry Streusel Scones:
-2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
-1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
-2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-6 tablespoons (85 grams) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
-1 cup (150 grams) fresh blueberries
-1 large egg, lightly beaten
-1 teaspoon (5 grams) pure vanilla extract
-1/2 cup (120 ml) milk or cream
-Brushing tops of scones:
-Milk or Cream

Streusel Topping:
-1/4 cup (55 grams) brown sugar
-1/4 cup (35 grams) all purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-2 tablespoons (30 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Scones: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Gently fold in the blueberries. In a small measuring cup combine the cream, beaten egg and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough or the scones will be tough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches (18 cm) round and about 11/2 inches (4 cm) thick. Cut this circle in half, then cut each half into four pie-shaped wedges (triangles). Place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream or milk.

For the Streusel Topping: In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until crumbly. Top each scone with a teaspoon or two of the streusel mixture. Cover and refrigerate any leftover streusel mixture.

Bake the scones until nicely browned, about 18 - 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a scone comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. These are best eaten the day they are made but can be covered and stored for a few days. Makes 8 scones.

Note: I did not have any baking powder! so after a little bit of research, I put in about 1 teaspoon of baking soda and about 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. I also discovered mid mix that I did not have vanilla! I just threw in a tiny extra sugar. The scones still turned out delicious though probably not perfect. We ate them all up over the next few days and I marvelled at my newly acquired baking skills. These also weren't nearly as sweet as we expected they would be, given the streusel topping. Super tasty and a great consistency, even with my jankity improvisations!

Sadly, none of my photos turned out so hot, but you can get the idea:

Scones made with blueberries picked out of our front yard!

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August 28, 2010

Coconut Rum Cupcakes!

I was asked to make cupcakes for my boyfriend's little sister's wedding on Labor Day weekend and V pointed me to Ming Makes Cupcakes. I drooled over all the recipes there for a while before deciding I definitely wanted to make something with Coconut. T he bride to be let me pick whatever kind I wanted and I chose to make Cupcake 30, Coconut Rum Cupcakes with Coconut Creem Cheese Frosting.

Since I am not much of a baker, not that I thought it would be hard, but simply because I wanted to make sure the recipe worked okay, I did a test run a couple of weeks ago and a bunch of people (including Ms. Co-blogger V) came over to help me and Matthew eat them as well as to drink the rest of the coconut rum, which was fun and everyone said that these cupcakes were amazing.

Coconut Rum Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cupcakes -
-2 cups flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-½ tsp salt
-1¼ cups light brown sugar
-1 stick of butter
-1 egg
-1 cup buttermilk
-⅓ cup coconut rum

Frosting -
-4 oz. cream cheese
-½ stick of butter
-2 cups confectioners sugar
-3 tbsp coconut rum

Mix flour, soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add buttermilk and flour mixture alternatively while mixing. Add rum and mix well. Pour into lined cupcake pan. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Mix together all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Frost cupcakes.

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This recipe was simple, and I am glad I bought a little electric mixer for $8 to help me with the process because it was about 95 degrees the day I did my test run. Everyone agreed that they were delicious and not too sweet. They were almost like muffins but I loved them. I topped them with shaved coconut by Bob's Red Mill and thanks to all of my taste testers, these were gone within 1 1/2 days!

Can't wait to make these again in a few days for the big day!

July 13, 2010

Birthday Cakes are the Best, especially Carrot Cake

I love volunteering to make birthday cakes for people because I really don't get many excuses to make cake. I'm not one to spend the time on something I'll undoubtedly end up throwing away. But birthdays are occasions to celebrate which means I get to spend time making pretty cakes in honor of the ones I love. And when the ones I love request carrot cake, well, that just turns out to be one of my favorites as well. My mom has spent the last decade or so using a great recipe she got from Bon Appetit long ago. I was having trouble finding my copy of that one so I went in search of a new recipe on the blogs of my favorite food bloggers. I settled on one from Simply Recipes. It turned out absolutely divine. It was moist and beautiful, dense and light, all at the same time. And as the birthday girl said, this cake was all about the cake and not so much the cream cheese frosting which carrot cakes have a habit of drowning in. I made a couple of modifications to the original recipe. I have posted it as I made it.

Carrot Cake
Adapted from Simply Recipes


  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped (more whole or chopped for topping)
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 cups of finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup of drained crushed pineapple


  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp (I accidentally used a whole stick and it was fine)
  • 2 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 inch cake pans. Cut out rounds of wax paper and place at bottoms of cake pans. Butter the top of the wax paper rounds.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in chopped walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.

Pour batter into pans. Set on the middle rack of oven and bake for 45-50 minutes (shift positions of cakes front-to-back if necessary about halfway through), until edges have pulled away from sides and a toothpick or sharp knife tip inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a cake rack.

To prepare frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and beat until mixture is free of lumps. Stir in vanilla and orange juice.

Once cakes have cooled, frost. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts or arrange walnut halves in a crown around the top.

Serves 12-16.



June 24, 2010

Summer is here! And so is this salad.

Yes. Summer, or what seems like summer, has finally arrived. As all of us Portlanders rejoice and pray it's not a wolf in sheep's clothing, I snagged the moment to make a quintessential summer salad. I saw this recipe in Sunset's latest issue and boy was it pretty in pictures, which made me want to make it immediately. I made a few modifications. I added an avocado because, well avocado is good, you see. I also added mustard to the vinaigrette because I thought it needed an emulsifier. The other thing I liked about this salad is that it's basically a potato salad but no mayonnaise and with all the other veggies added, it's light and breezy. Just like our fair city.

Potato Salad with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Sunset, July 2010

3/4 pound purple potatoes

3/4 pound fingerling potatoes

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon stoneground mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-in. dice

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 large ears yellow corn, kernels cut off

1 pt. multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, pitted and diced

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram leaves


1. Bring potatoes to a boil in a medium pot of well-salted water just to cover. Reduce heat and simmer until just soft when pierced (or cut one in half and try it).

2. Whisk 1/2 cup oil, the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a small bowl.

3. Sauté onions in remaining 2 tbsp. oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, then add corn and heat until just warmed through. Season with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and let cool.

4. Drain potatoes and let stand until just cool enough to handle. Taste a shred of skin; peel if bitter. Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces and toss with 1/2 of vinaigrette.

5. Add cooled corn mixture, tomatoes, avocado and marjoram. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste and gently mix together.




June 17, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic recipe but one I don't find myself craving very often. So when the time struck I went in search of a recipe that would satisfy. One of the first places I look for recipes is on the food blog Smitten Kitchen. If you haven't already please check out one of my favorite blogs. This woman manages to be funny and interesting while pulling off food that looks effortless and beautiful despite her small NY kitchen and having a newborn in tow. So when I came across a spaghetti and meatball recipe on her site that was an incarnation of a Barefoot Contessa (also one of my faves) recipe, I looked no further. And I'm glad I didn't because this recipe was flawless, which was to be expected. We stretched this dish for three meals and I dare say I won't be craving spaghetti and meatballs for quite a while.

I went ahead and used her suggestion on increasing the amount of sauce you make. I also didn't use any veal and just did a combination of pork and beef since my local grocer didn't have veal available. I re-wrote the recipe as I made it.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the meatballs:
1 lb ground beef
1lb ground pork (I used the italian pork and I highly recommend this)
1 1/4 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 5 slices, crusts removed)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
Olive oil

For the sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 large yellow onion or 2 small ones, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch or so of red pepper flakes
3/4 cup good red wine
1 (28-ounce) can pureed tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
Freshly grated Parmesan

Make the meatballs:
Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, onion powder, egg, and 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Combine very lightly with a fork. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs.

Pour equal amounts of vegetable oil and olive oil into a large (12-inch) skillet to a depth of 1/4-inch. Heat the oil. Very carefully, in batches, place the meatballs in the oil and brown them well on all sides over medium-low heat, turning carefully with a spatula or a fork. This should take about 10 minutes for each batch. Don’t crowd the meatballs. Remove the meatballs to a plate covered with paper towels. Discard the oil but don’t clean the pan.

Make the sauce:
Heat the olive oil in the same pan. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

Serve hot on cooked spaghetti and pass the grated Parmesan.




June 14, 2010

Hot and Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is one that Michelle has been bugging me to post about for quite some time. These cookies were a bit out of the ordinary for a chocolate chip cookie, which can be hard to do. Who would've thought that adjusting the seasoning ever so slightly would create a whole different experience? I really liked these cookies and not only for their spiciness. The texture of them was fantastic as well. So if you're tired of the same old same old, add some heat to your cookies and make them hot and spicy.

Hot and Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies
from No Recipes

1 1/2 sticks of butter at room temperature
3/4 C packed dark brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 C + 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 C bittersweet
chocolate chips or chunks

Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 325 degrees.

Cream the butter and 2 kinds of sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix till combined after each addition. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, mixing until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add it to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir in by hand.

Scoop roughly 1/4 cup of batter for each cookie onto a baking sheet (it’s okay if the balls are jagged) leaving enough room for them to spread. Bake 1 sheet at a time for about 12-15 minutes each or until the edges are set, but the middle is still soft. You may need to experiment with your oven to figure out the perfect cooking time. As these cookies bake, they go from chewy to cakey to crisp, so you can change their characteristic by the amount of time you bake them for.

To get the chewy center, allow them to cool on the pan (not on a rack).




Infallible Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Alright, people. I've been on hiatus, yet again, and during that time it seems I lost my ability to bake. And not just to bake well, but to bake the easiest thing of all, what some may call my specialty - the muffin. Luckily enough for me I managed to pick what would appear to be a recipe so good it's impossible to mess up. Because I tried, not once, but twice. You see, when a recipe tells you to cream the butter and sugar, don't forget the sugar until the last minute, when upon licking the beater it occurs to you that something is off. And certainly don't add the lemon juice in early instead of said sugar, making it nearly impossible to cream the butter. But if you do both of those things, most definitely do them with this recipe. Because despite all that drama I still managed to put forth muffins so lemony and crumbly that I couldn't eat less than two in one sitting. Six times in a row.

Alice’s Blueberry Muffins

From Sweet Savory Life


4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup of sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 eggs

2 tsp. of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of sour cream

2 cups of AP Flour

2 tsp. of baking powder

1/2 tsp. of salt

1.5 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries

*optional 1/4 cup turbinado sugar/sugar crystals


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter, oil, lemon zest, and sugar for 3 minutes until light in color and creamy. Add eggs, sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla beating for an additional 2 minutes. Add salt, baking powder, and all-purpose flour gently mixing everything for an additional minute until everything is fully incorporated, approx. 2 minutes. Batter will be nice and thick. Gently fold in blueberries and pour batter into muffin tin lined with paper cups 3/4 cup full. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar or sugar crystals.Bake for 30 minutes or until done. Makes 12 regular sized muffins.



June 1, 2010

Resurrection by way of pork.

Almost a month and a half since this blog has been updated! Yeesh. Well, I am going to revive this here blog with this delicious slow cooked pork recipe that I made yesterday.

Slow-Cooked Beer-Braised Pork and Black Bean Soup (from Real Simple,again!)

2 12-ounce bottles of beer (I used Blue Heron Pale Ale)
3 cups water (I should have used a little less)
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used more like a tablespoon and wish I used a bit more)
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt (pork shoulder) (The store I went to only had 2 pound chunks, so I used all of it.)
salt & pepper
sour cream
store-bought refrigerated fresh salsa (I bought a jarred one, it worked fine)
fresh cilantro

1. Set the oven to 300 degrees.
2. In a bowl, combine the beer, water, chilies, adobo sauce, cumin, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
3. In a big pan, (I used a 9 x 12 glass pan) spread the onions out, pour the beans over the onions, and the pork on top of that. (I cut my huge slab of meat into 3 chunks.) Pour the liquid mixture over everything. I ground a bunch of pepper over the top of all this.
4. Cover with foil, place on a cookie sheet if your pan is almost overflowing like mine was, and place it carefully into the oven so beer doesn't spill everywhere.
5. Cook covered, until the beans are tender and the pork pulls apart easily, 3 to 4 hours. Try not to uncover the dish until at least 3 hours. You want the heat to stay trapped under the foil.
6. Once the meat is cooked, remove from the oven and use a fork to separate the pork into large pieces.
7. Divide among individual bowls and top with sour cream, salsa, and cilantro.

-The original recipe is for a slow cooker, which I'm sure would be amazing. I don't have a slow cooker (I plan to get one soon because I loved this), so I cooked it in the oven, covered, at 300 degrees for about 3 or 3 1/2 hours.
-I served this with warm corn tortillas and we also had some tortilla chips, which were good for scooping up the beans. It was a little more liquidy than I expected, and I think the 3 cups that were in the initial recipe could be cut back to maybe 2 cups when cooked in the oven rather than the slow cooker.
-It could have been a tad spicier for my tastes, but it did have a nice amount of heat.
-The meat was super tasty and tender, the beans were perfect. This dish was super simple but extremely delicious.
-Our impromptu guests loved it!
-Lots of Leftovers!

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April 20, 2010

Amazing Cream Sauce made easy.

If you're anything like me, you love alfredo but never want to take the time to make the sauce from scratch and alfredo in a jar is just not gonna cut it. I came across the most amazingly delicious and gourmet tasting cream sauce that is the easiest thing to make.

This recipe again came from Real Simple, and did not disappoint me in flavor or simpleness.

I made this sauce twice this past week and I ate the leftovers, so I ate it three times in a week. That's how delicious it is.

So, the basic original recipe is as follows:
1.Season 8 thin chicken cutlets (1½ pounds total) with salt and pepper. In batches, cook in olive oil over medium-high heat until golden; remove.
2.Add 1 pound sliced mushrooms to pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender. Stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup goat cheese, and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Serve with the chicken.

My boyfriend picked up the 4 ingredients at the store: chicken, goat cheese, cream, and mushrooms. He got a garlic and herb goat cheese that was extremely delicious, since we both love garlic. I cut the recipe in half, using 2 regular breasts, which I cut up into 4 total cutlets. Instead of parsley I threw in some green onions I had left in the fridge which added a nice crunchiness. I also roasted some asparagus to go on the side which was great with the dish. I forgot to take a picture but believe me, we were oohing and aahing over it.

The second time I made this, I used shrimp instead of chicken, cooked some onion with the mushrooms, and added some steamed spinach in at the end along with some pasta. So so so good. We agreed, better than regular alfredo sauce. Way better. and easier.

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April 11, 2010

Asian Dumpling Soup with Shiitakes and Edamame

This recipe arrived in my email box from Real Simple and I had to try it out immediately. It reminded me of my serious love of ramen and udon and now that I made this soup in the blink of an eye, I cannot wait to make one with noodles next time.

Asian Dumpling Soup With Shiitakes and Edamame

Serves 2 (2 giant bowls)
Total time, about a half hour.

1 32-ounce container chicken broth
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
8 frozen pot sticker dumplings or Japanese gyoza
1 medium carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced
4 asparagus stalks, choped into bite size pieces
4 ounces shiitake or white mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 scallions, sliced

1.In a large saucepan, bring the broth and ginger to a boil.
2. Add the carrots, asparagus, and garlic and simmer about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the potstickers, and mushroom and simmer until the potstickers are heated through and the mushrooms are cooked to your liking.
4. Stir in the soy sauce, edamame and spinach, let simmer just a few minutes so the spinach will wilt and the edamame warms up.
5. Scoop into bowls and sprinkle with the scallions.

I made a few minor adjustments to the original recipe, but nothing major. The original recipe called for low sodium broth and low sodium soy sauce, both of which I decided against. I also did include the extra salt that the recipe called for but in retrospect, the salt really wasn't needed so I left it out here. I suppose if you did use low sodium broth and soy sauce, the extra salt would be tasty. I also used fresh asparagus instead of watercress, because I couldn't find any at the store and I am not particularly fond of them in general. The edamame was interesting, I've never had it in a soup before, but it was a tad too chewy. Maybe I didn't let it sit in the hot broth long enough or maybe edamame in soup is just not for me. I think I would use peas next time. I added the spinach because I had some in the fridge and thought it would be a good addition. We ate this with some veggie spring rolls as an appetizer.

This soup was so hearty and healthy and so delicious. I am not kidding when I say this is definitely in my top three soups ever and I will be making similar style soups again and again and again and again.

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March 11, 2010

Muenster Mushroom Chipotle Cream Soup!

Ok that title is a mouthful. I have been calling this Spicy Cheesy Mushroom Soup. This recipe came to me highly recommended by my friend Meredith who hosted a soup party a while back and asked all her guests to bring some soup. A girl after my own heart.

This soup was brought to her party and was a hit with everyone who attended. Meredith got me the recipe and I whipped it up with a few additions (noted below). The original recipe came from

Muenster Mushroom Chipotle Cream Soup (with Meatballs, not pureed)

2 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup russet potato or yukon gold potato, peeled and diced
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cups white mushrooms, chopped
salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups muenster cheese, grated
1 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo
1 cup heavy cream
2 portabella mushrooms chopped and sauteed (or roasted and chopped)
a dozen or more frozen meatballs (from Ikea!)

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil and butter.
2. When butter is melted, add potatoes, onion and white mushrooms; season with salt and pepper.
3. Saute until onions are translucent, add broth, cheese and chipotle. Stir to combine and allow to simmer until potatoes are very soft, stirring frequently--do not worry if cheese seems to clump. (**I put in two of the chiles and some of the sauce, thinking it would not be that hot. I also added the meatballs in this step so they would cook in the broth.**)
4. Puree soup in a blender or food processor, strain through a sieve back into a saucepan (press on solids to remove all liquid)(**I left the puree step out because I did not want to deal with a blender/food processor. Instead I removed the adobo chiles at this point**) and add cream and portabellas.
5. Heat gently until just simmering.
6. Serve hot.

I made this so long ago, (but due to computer issues I am just posting it now) that I do not honestly remember what other additions I made to the original recipe but i don't think there were many. I pretty much stuck to the recipe except for leaving out the puree step and adding meatballs. Instead of the 4 portabellas that the recipe called for I used two and used meatballs to sort of replace the portabellas.

This soup turned out really great. It was a little bit too spicy though because of the adobo chiles. I'm glad I removed them whole rather than chopping them first or blending it like the recipe called for. But I think if I had used only one chile instead of two, it would have been just the right amount of spice. The meatballs were a nice addition, I just love those frozen Ikea meatballs in soup.

Apparently my photos of this soup got lost in my move to a new laptop and I am really sad because I just typed this whole thing up! You will just have to take my word for it. This is one delicious soup if you like mushrooms and cheese and spicy!