Monday, December 31, 2007

Carrot Cake

I made this for Bernardo's birthday a couple years back. There is a lot of oil in it, but I don't make cake to be healthy. I found the recipe on epicurious.


2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (about 1/2 ounce)
1/2 cup raisins
4 cups powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Lightly grease waxed paper. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and vegetable oil in bowl until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into sugar and oil mixture. Stir in carrots, chopped pecans and raisins.

Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans, about 45 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth and creamy.

Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with another cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Using icing spatula, spread remaining frosting in decorative swirls over sides and top of cake. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.) Serve cake cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples

I like this stuffing recipe a bit better than the roasted veggie recipe. I think it provides better balanced flavors, but it obvioulsy is not vegetarian. I'm going to make this for Christmas this year. This is from the Food Network.

1/2 cup butter,
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon rubbed sage, crumbled
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
4 cups cornbread croutons
4 cups white bread croutons
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Brown sausage in an ovenproof saucepot that has a lid. With a slotted spoon, remove sausage from the pot and pour out the drippings. Add the butter to the pot and melt over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, until softened. Add apple and cook, until softened. Add herbs and stir. Return sausage to pot. Add croutons and chicken broth and bake stuffing in the oven at 375 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes.

Corn Bread Dressing with Roasted Fall Vegetables

I made this stuffing for Thanksgiving. We had some vegetarians coming over, so I wanted to pick on that could be made vegetarian. I also love roasted vegetables, so thought this would be good for two dishes in one. It was delicious, but maybe a little sweet. Don't let that deter you in trying this. Nothing beats roasted vegetables. I use Jiffy Cornbread mix for the corn bread, but you could make from scratch or buy pre-made. To make vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

1 10-ounce bag pearl onions
2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices peeled carrots (about 3/4 pound)
2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices peeled parsnips (about 3/4 pound)
2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled rutabagas (about 3/4 pound)
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
1 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, stemmed, caps halved
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
6 cups 1/2-inch cubes Cornbread for Dressing
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth

osition 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Cook onions in small saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes; drain. Cool slightly; trim and peel. Place onions, carrots, parsnips, and rutabagas in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1/3 cup oil over and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Place mushrooms and garlic on another rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with remaining 1/3 cup oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast root vegetables until tender and brown around edges, stirring every 15 minutes, about 1 hour. Roast mushrooms and garlic until tender, stirring once, about 30 minutes. Place root vegetables and mushrooms in large bowl. Place garlic in small bowl; mash with fork until pureed. Add pureed garlic, thyme, rosemary, and sage to vegetables; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Vegetable mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cool vegetables, cover, and chill. Bring mixture to room temperature before continuing.

Place cornbread cubes on large rimmed baking sheet. Let bread cubes stand at room temperature to dry slightly, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13x9x2- inch oval baking dish. Add cornbread cubes to vegetables; toss to distribute evenly. Add eggs; toss to coat. Drizzle with melted butter; toss to coat. Add broth and stir to combine (mixture will be very moist). Transfer mixture to prepared dish.

Bake dressing uncovered until lightly browned and crisp around edges, about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chicken Caesar Salad

Technically speaking, this is not a traditional caesar salad. There is no raw egg or anchovies in the recipe, but the vinagrette works really well. It's a much healthier version of the salad as it gets its creaminess from emulsifying the mustard with lemon, worcestershire, and olive oil and then mixing it with some parmesan. The saltiness of the anchovies is substituted by worcesteshire, which has anchovies in it (Sorry to the vegetarians who had been eating wocesteshire under the belief that it is vegetarian. It is not.)

You won't believe how yummy this is. Everytime we make it, Bernardo and I say "Holly Cow. How can a salad be so delicious?".

FYI, Bernardo is credited with finding this recipe in Cooking Light.

1 (2-pound) whole roasted chicken, skinned
11 cups torn romaine lettuce (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 cup red bell pepper strips

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 cups plain croutons
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

To prepare salad, remove chicken from bones; shred with 2 forks to measure 3 cups meat. Combine chicken, lettuce, and bell pepper in a large bowl.

To prepare vinaigrette, combine oil and next 7 ingredients (oil through garlic) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Pour over salad; toss well. Sprinkle with croutons and cheese; toss gently to combine.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

Technically speaking, I do not use a recipe to make mashed potatoes. However, this recipe from Gourmet resembles what I usually improvise as the most delicious mashed potatoes on the face of the planet (providing you use enough butter and salt). Most importantly, it's got a description of the proper mashed potato method.

2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes (preferably large)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Special equipment: a food mill fitted with medium disk, or a potato ricer

Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Transfer to a 3-quart heavy saucepan and add 5 cups cold water and 1 teaspoon salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes in a colander, then return to pan and cook over moderate heat, shaking pan occasionally, until dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a bowl and keep hot, covered. Heat milk, butter, white pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in saucepan over moderate heat until butter is melted.

Force potatoes through food mill or ricer into hot milk mixture in pan and gently stir with a large heatproof rubber spatula just until combined.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cajun Jambalya

I'm not normally a huge Emeril fan, but he is the king of cajun so I use his recipe for Jambalaya. I purchase the spice mix. Most grocery stores carry his line of spices. Serve with a side of cornbread.

12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
4 ounces chicken, diced
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, recipe follows
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3/4 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
5 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
Salt and pepper

In a bowl combine shrimp, chicken and Creole seasoning, and work in seasoning well. In a large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, 3 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and chicken mixture and sausage. Cook until meat is done, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning.

Creole Seasoning
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes. Bernardo does not. This is a recipe that we feel equally enthusiastic about. These were also a favorite of many at my last job as I would bring them to potlucks. Serve with just about any meat. Sweet, spicey, and smokey make for a delicious flavor combination. This comes courtesy of Alton Brown. TAKE NOTE: the instructions call for 1 individual chipotle pepper, NOT a whole can of peppers. Using an entire can would make these almost ineddible. If you are very adventurous, you can use two peppers MAX.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 whole canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can of peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add butter to potatoes and mash with potato masher. Add peppers, sauce, and salt and continue mashing to combine. Serve immediately.

Feta Spinach Bites

I got the idea for this recipe from a cooking light recipe, but simplified it significantly. I love spanikopita, but HATE dealing with phyllo sheets. I found nifty little pre-formed phyllo cups in the freezer section of my grocery store and began making these. This is another one of my standard recipes when I want to take an appetizer to a party.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 generous pinch salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 10 oz. packaged frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 large egg, beaten
1 box (15) Athenos phyllo cups
1 container crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Heat oil over medium-high heat
3. Saute onions until translucent
4. Add garlic, cook 1 minute
5. Add thawed, dried spinach and salt, saute 3 or 4 minutes until heated through
6. Transfer spinach mixture to bowl allow to cool for 10-15 minutes
7. Add egg to spinach mixture, mix
8. Spoon spinach mixture into phyllo cups, top with crumbled feta
9. Bake until feta begins to brown (15-20 minutes I THINK, but don't really remember, so check them from time to time).

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is one of my go-to recipes when I want to take an appetizer to a party. Goodness knows holiday parties are plentiful this time of year, and I find myself needing an arsenal of recipes. These are extremely simple. They would also make a nice side-dish. I found this recipe on Everyday Italian on the food network.

1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
28 large (2 1/2-inch-diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir the bread crumbs, Pecorino Romano, garlic, parsley, mint, salt and pepper, to taste, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl to blend.

Drizzle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through and golden on top, about 25 minutes. Serve.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

These were common at Christmas time growing up in Pittsburgh. They are simple, buttery treat and aren't extremely sweet. I got this particular recipe from Bon Apetite.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then pecans. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon in pie dish to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.

Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar.)

Sift remaining cinnamon sugar over cookies and serve.

Coffee Cookies

Brandi brought these home from a cookie exchange once. They have quickly become one of my standards.

0.5 cup butter, softened
0.75 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.25 tsp salt
2 cup flour

1. Grate chocolate fine, set aside
2. Cream butter and sugar.
3. Mix in egg, blending well.
4. Stir in dissolved coffee, vanilla, and grated chocolate.
5. Mix salt into flour.
6. Stir flour into wet ingredients, knead briefly.
7. Form unchilled dough into 2 inch balls.
8. Place 4 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
9. Bake at 350 in to 1/3 of oven 10-12 minutes, until edges are slightly dark.
10. Smoosh down warm cookies with spatula and then cool.

Butterscotch Treats

These are a yummy no-bake cookie that I usually make during the holidays. They're a big hit with the nephews. I got the recipe from Brandi.

12 oz. butterscotch morsels
7 oz. dry roasted peanuts
4 TBSP peanut butter
5 oz. can chow mein noodles

Heat morsels and peanut butter until smooth.
Add noodles and peanuts to mixture.
Spoon onto wax paper.
Let cool.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

I got this recipe from my former co-worker, Kelly. These cookies have a very cake-like texture and are not particular sweet. Think pumpkin pie flavored scone-cookie hybrid.

1 stick room temperature butter
1 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1 C packed canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 C powdered sugar
1 TBS packed pumpkin

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Cream butter and sugar
3. Add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla to butter and sugar
4. In a separate bowl, wisk together flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon
5. Mix flour mixture with wet ingredients adding a little bit at a time.
6. Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
7. Bake 10-15 minutes (until tips get a little brown)
8. While cookies cool, mix together icing ingredients.
9. Ice cooled cookies.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Vegetabe Stew

I don't always love Rachel Ray, but I really like this recipe. I like the potato pancakes that are in the original recipe, but they sort of push it beyond the quick category. So, I usually make this and serve on a bed of plain couscous.

3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 pound, 16 to 20, crimini mushrooms, halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can chick peas, garbanzo beans, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, in puree
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

In a medium pot over moderate heat saute garlic and mushrooms in extra-virgin olive oil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add zucchini and onion to the pot and season vegetables with salt and pepper. Saute another 5 minutes. Add beans, cumin, tomato and chopped rosemary. Bring stew to a bubble, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.

The BEST Apple Pie

I originally got this recipe from my college roommate Robin. She is an incredible baker. This is the best apple pie you'll ever eat, and the crust is much easier than a normal pie crust. Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

This is from the September '96 issue of Bon Appetit (Apple Pie Hubbub with Cinnamon Streusel Topping)

6 oz (1.5 sticks) butter, softened
1.5 oz (6 tbs) powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
7 1/4 oz (1.5 c) flour

2 lbs baking apples, peeled, cored, cut into .5" slices
1/4 c sugar
3 tbs butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon

5.5 oz (1 1/4 c) flour
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
5 oz (1 1/4 sticks) chilled butter, cut into small pieces

For crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Combine first four ingredients in large bowl, beat until fluffy. Add flour, beat just until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Press dough over bottom and up sides of 9" pie pan. Freeze until firm, about 10 min.

Bake crust 10 min. Using rubber spatula, press up sides of crust if beginning to fall. Bake until crust is pale golden, about 20 min. longer. Cool completely on a rack.

For filling: Toss apples with remaining ingredients. Transfer filling to crust, mounding in center.

For topping: Mix all but butter in medium bowl. Using fingertips, rub in butter until moist clumps form. Sprinkle topping over filling, pressing gently to compact.

Bake until topping is golden and apples are tender, covering crust edges with foil if browning too quickly, about one hour. Cool to room temperature.

Tortilla Soup

A Mexican Recipe from a German you ask. Yes, this soup is delicious. Be sure to add all of the garnishes. You can make this vegetarian by replacing the chicken stock with a good vegetable stock and omitting the chicken breast. I blend the soup using an immersion blender.

2 ears fresh corn, husks removed
4 or 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion (about 3 ounces), peeled, trimmed, and quartered
1 small jalapeno pepper, trimmed and seeded
2 tablespoons corn oil
2 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
2 large ripe tomatoes (1 pound), peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 quarts chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 corn tortillas
1 ripe avocado
1 large chicken breast, cooked, boned, and skinned
1/2 cup grated Cheddar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Using a large knife, carefully scrape the kernels off the corncobs and set aside, reserving the cobs.

Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or a large knife, coarsely chop the garlic, onion, jalapeno pepper, and corn kernels. Reserve.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil. Add the squares of tortillas and cook over low heat until they are slightly crisp. Stir in the chopped vegetables and simmer just until the vegetables are coated with the oil. Do not brown.

Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons of the cumin and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes to maximize the flavor. Slowly pour in the stock, add the corncobs, and cook over low heat until the soup is reduced by one third.

Discard the corn cobs and puree the soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth. At this point, the soup can be passed through the fine strainer, if desired. Return to a clean pot and season with salt, pepper, and additional cumin to taste.

Prepare the garnish: Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the tortillas into thin strips and arrange on a small baking tray. Bake until the strips are crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and dice the avocado. Cut the chicken into thin strips.

To serve, add the chicken and avocado to the soup and reheat over low heat. Ladle the soup into 6 to 8 warm soup bowls and garnish with the baked tortilla strips, Cheddar cheese, and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Balsamic-Glazed Tuna

My friend Meagan always teases me about my balsamic vinegar obsession. I am borderline obsessed. Balsamic is a great way to add low calorie zing to anything from bread to salad to meat to strawberries. This is my favorite way to prepare Tuna. I like to buy Ahi and prepare it a bit rare to retain moisture. Serve with rice and steamed snow peas.


Cooking spray
1 1/4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks (about 3/4 inch thick)
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup diagonally sliced green onions


Place a grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Sprinkle pepper and salt over fish. Place fish in grill pan; cook 3 minutes on each side until medium-rare or desired degree of doneness. Remove from heat.

Combine broth, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Spoon glaze over fish; top with green onions.

Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce

This is one of our standbys. Fast, yummy, and healthy.


1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
4 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooking spray
1/3 cup extra-dry vermouth
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper evenly over chicken. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove from skillet. Set aside; keep warm.

Add 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, vermouth, lemon juice, and capers to skillet, scraping skillet to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 2 minutes). Stir in parsley. Spoon sauce over chicken.

4 servings

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thai fish curry

As a quick after work meal, I will frequently make Thai curry. In that case, I buy jarred red or green curry paste, cook some protein in it, add coconut milk and some veggies and finish cooking. In this recipe, you make your own curry paste, which really is much more yummy. It's better than the thai curry you'll get at your local Asian fusion restaurant (though not as good as a really authentic restaurant). I usually use any firm white fish that looks good. Serve with my favorite, jasmine rice. FYI, this recipe only makes two servings.

1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro stems
2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass (from bottom 6 inches of stalk)
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 large garlic cloves, halved
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 pound 1 1/2-inch-thick sea bass fillets, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup bottled clam juice
Minced fresh cilantro
Freshly cooked rice

Blend first 8 ingredients in processor to dry paste, stopping frequently to scrape down sides of work bowl. (Paste can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.) Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add
2 rounded tablespoons spice paste; stir 1 minute. Add fish and cook
2 minutes, turning occasionally with tongs. Add coconut milk and clam juice and simmer until fish is cooked through, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes. Transfer fish to plate. Boil liquid until reduced to thick sauce, about 8 minutes. Season with salt. Return fish to sauce and heat through. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Crunchy Vietnamese Chicken Salad

We made this salad from Food and Wine magazine's website last week using shredded grocery store rotisserie chicken, so it came together really quickly. I substituted romaine lettuce for nappa cabbage as I'm not a cabbage fan. I just loved it. Next time we make this, I'll probably buy rice paper rounds and turn the salad into sumer rolls. To prepare vegetarian, simply omit chicken and substitute fish sauce with soy sauce. It will still be delicious. Brandi if you're reading this, you would love this!


Chef Way The Banhs like to poach the chicken for this vibrant dish, then toss the salad with a homemade scallion oil.

Easy Way To save time, use store-bought rotisserie chicken and skip the scallion oil; the salad already gets plenty of flavor from the spicy, vinegary dressing and abundance of fresh herbs.

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 serrano chile with seeds, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 4 cups finely shredded green cabbage (from 1/2 small head)
  • 2 carrots, finely shredded
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (from 1/2 chicken)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, water, chile and garlic and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let the dressing stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the shallots on paper towels; reserve the oil for another use. Sprinkle the shallots with salt and let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots, red onion, cilantro, mint and shredded chicken. Add the olive oil and the dressing and toss. Sprinkle with the peanuts and fried shallots and serve the chicken salad with lime wedges.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Christy's Vegetarian Chili

I am posting this specifically with Nate and Steph in mind. With their busy schedules, their dislike of cooking, and their return to being poor students it hurts me to think of what they are eating these days. I got this recipe from our friend, Christy, and have made it for Nate and Steph. It's number two on their favorite dinner at our house list.

This is very very easy, cheap, and makes a lot of food. You could make this on a Sunday, let it cook while your studying, and have home cooked food for the first half of the week. Plus, there are so many flavor packed ingredients in this dish, you can omit anything you don't have or like.

Thanks for the recipe, Christy!

(makes ~ 5 quarts)


1/4 C olive oil (or whatever oil you have on hand)
1 C diced green onions
1 C sliced carrots
1½ C diced white onions
1½ C diced celery
½ C diced green pepper
¾ C black olive wedges (3¼ oz can)
3 C sliced mushrooms
2 C sliced zucchini
2-15oz cans tomatoes+juice
2-15oz cans tomato sauce or puree
½ C salsa
½ C diced green chilies
1-15oz can drained kidney beans
2-15oz cans pinto beans
1 t salt
1 t pepper
2 t chili powder
1 t dried chili flakes
¾ C parmesan cheese
6 oz grated cheddar and jack cheese


Saute veggies in oil
Add tomatoes spices and beans cook until hot
You can also put everything in a crock-pot for several hours—flavors will meld and get stronger.
Add cheese before serving.

Slow-Cooked Chicken with Tomatillos, Potatoes, Jalapenos, and Fresh Herbs

This is another one of Rick Bayless's recipes from Mexican Everyday. If you are at all interested in authentic Mexican cuisine, I encourage all of you to buy this cook book. Rick Bayless has been traveling Mexico for decades learning of their regional cuisines. This book is his attempt to pair down the traditionally labor intensive dishes to dishes that are accessible to the home cook. Being a bit of a health nut, all of his dishes are very nutritious.

I'm a little bit ill right now with a cold, and this dish is exactly what I needed. Being one of the few slow cooker recipes I truly love, it is low maintenance and perfect for a weekend dinner. Also, the consistency of the dish ends up as somewhat of a thick stew. I love the balance of the tangy tomatillos with the rich chicken thighs, sweet onions, and velvelty texture of my favorite potato, the yukon gold.

It's time to bust out your crock pot and MAKE THIS DISH.

Serves 4-6

1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1.5-2 lbs. skinless chicken thighs (bone in or out)
1 cup cilantro leaves or 1/3 cup epazote leaves
4 medium red skin or yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick (I use yukon gold)
1 1/4 lbs. tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup sliced canned or jarred pickled jalapenos
2 TBLSP jalapeno pickling juice

1. Spread the onion over the bottom of a slow-cooker. Sprinkle with salt.
2. Continue with layers of the potato slices, chicken thighs, cilantro or epazote, and then tomatillow sprinkling salt evenly over each layer before moving to the next (this is the only salt in the dish, so make sure to add enough).
3. Scatter the jalapeno slices over everything, then drizzle on the pickling juice.
4. Cover and slow-cook on high for 6 hours.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Marinara Magnifica

This is my favorite spaghetti sauce in the world. It is rich, tangy, a little bit sweet, and a little bit spicey. It cooks for a long time, but prep is easy which makes it perfect for a Saturday or Sunday. The recipe makes alot, so I usually freeze batches to thaw and reheat. You'll never want to return to jarred sauce again. (Source, Alysha via Cooking Light)


1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups chopped onion (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste


Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion and sugar. Cook 30 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tangy Chicken Fajitas

This is from It is one of a small handful of recipes that Bernardo found and makes himself. Authentic? No. Delicious? Yes. This is one of our go-to recipes. In reality, we don't marinate it for more than 20 minutes as it is usually an after-work meal. We serve with a full buffet of toppings: cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, beans, rice, and sour cream.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 (.7 ounce) packages dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • 3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced

  1. In a large glass bowl combine the oil, vinegar, lime juice, and dry salad dressing mix. Mix together. Add chicken strips, onion and bell pepper. Cover dish and refrigerate. Marinate for 3 to 6 hours.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil. Remove chicken, onion and bell pepper from marinade and saute in oil until chicken is cooked through (juices run clear) and onion is translucent.
  3. Serve on warm flour tortillas with toppings.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Scampi on CousCous

This is a recipe I've made many many times from my favorite food tv chef, Giada Delaurentis of "Everyday Italian". I don't love most of the chefs on the food network, but her food is generally quick, easy, heathful, and delicious. this dish is no exception. The couscous can be a little bit labor intensive, but the flavor is unbelievable. The dish is tangy, light, and complex. Being that I am familiar with the recipe, I purchase ez peel shrimp, and owning a submersion blender to blend the couscous broth, it takes me only about 35 minutes to make the dish. Just do-able after work. The couscous is also a great way to sneak veggies into a finicky child or spouse.

Scampi on Couscous
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed, plus 2 garlic cloves minced
2 (8 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes in their juice
1 (8ounce) bottle clam juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
2 cups plain couscous
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. When almost smoking, add onion, carrot and 1 clove smashed garlic and saute until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, clam juice and white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes, uncovered. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Carefully pour tomato mixture in the bowl of a food processor and puree. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if needed - you want to end up with a broth. Check for seasoning.

Return broth to the pot. Add 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add 2 cups couscous. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let rest for 10 minutes, allowing the couscous to absorb all the liquid. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, add the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the 2 cloves of minced garlic. Heat the oil, making sure not to burn the garlic. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and stirring occasionally, cook the shrimp until they start to turn pink, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or they will become tough. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, red pepper and chopped parsley. Check for seasoning.

To serve, mound the couscous in the center of a platter and top with the shrimp.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Natalie's Special Shrimp Pasta

I created this pasta dish as an homage to my favorite pizza at Brixx in Chapel Hill. I felt like having the ingredients one night, but didn't feel like making pizza dough, so I decided to turn it into a pasta sauce. I usually just kind of throw it together, so do not take the amounts listed literally. Do, however try it as it is quick and delicious. So delicious that I have no picture. We ate it too quickly. You can also omit the shrimp if you are a vegetarian. The goat cheese will melt over the hot pasta and make a creamy sauce.
1 lb pasta (I use whole wheat spaghetti)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup roasted red peppers chopped and drained
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes chopped
1/2 - 1 pound shrimp shelled and deveined (I buy ez peel for ease)
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (less or more depending on how spicy you like it)
Salt (preferably kosher)
goat cheese (small log)
2-3 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
1. Bring large pot of water to boil, salt liberally
2. Add pasta
3. While pasta cooks heat olive oil in very large skillet over medium high heat
4. Add sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, red pepper flakes and large pinch of salt-cook 2 or three minutes
5. Add shrimp, cook about 2 minutes until JUST opaque, reduce heat to medium
6. Pasta should be 1-2 minutes short of being done
7. Strain slightly undercooked pasta (reserving some pasta water) and add to skillet and toss with peppers, tomatoes, and shrimp
8. Spoon in 2 or 3 ladles (2 cups) of pasta water skillet
9. Finish cooking pasta with peppers, tomatoes, and shrimp until liquid has been absorbed
10. Remove from heat
11. Crumble goat cheese and basil over pasta and mix well
12. Serve and garnish with parmesan if you so desire

Monday, September 3, 2007

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella is probably in my top 3 favorite recipes. I made it first for Nate and Steph. It is rather time consuming, so it is really a weekend dinner, but worth every moment of preparation. SOOOO Good. Using good bread and cheese is key. I usually use regular balsamic b/c that's what I have on hand and I never chop capers. Why chop capers, they are already so small.


1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 (12-inch) lengths of crusty baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (12 cups)
3/4 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (preferably white)
3 tablespoons capers (packed in brine), rinsed, drained, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 (19-oz) can cannellini beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 lb lightly salted fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/3-inch dice
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil


Arrange oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife, then transfer to a small bowl and add 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well. Put bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with 3 tablespoons garlic oil, tossing to combine, then divide bread between 2 large shallow baking pans, arranging in 1 layer. Toast in oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Leave oven on.

Gently toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon oil (not garlic oil), 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then arrange in 1 layer on a large shallow baking pan. Toss green beans in same bowl with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, then arrange in 1 layer in another large shallow baking pan. Roast vegetables, switching position of pans halfway through roasting and shaking pans once or twice, until tomatoes are very tender but not falling apart and beans are just tender and browned in spots, 12 to 16 minutes. Cool vegetables in pans until ready to assemble salad.

While vegetables roast, add vinegar to remaining garlic oil along with capers, sugar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and whisk to combine well.

Put green beans, tomatoes (along with any pan juices), toasted bread, beans, mozzarella, and basil in a large bowl, then drizzle with dressing and stir to combine well. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to develop, then stir just before serving.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Grilled Salmon Vera Cruz

Rick Bayless is one of our favorite chefs, and conincidentally a Chicago restaurant owner (our three regular blog readers and commenters are all IL natives). He cooks classic and updated Mexican cuisine, but not what you think of Mexican. His dishes are frequently light, quick, and flavor packed. Tonight, we made this grilled Salmon which lived up to our expectations of his recipes. We served with a side of grilled quash. I only used 2 salmon steaks tonight, and plan use leftover sauce over grilled chicken tomorrow. For you vegetarians, this sauce would be nice over a mixture of grilled summer veggies and a bed of white rice.


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill and the salmon
1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
7 cups diced (1/2 inch) ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 cup pitted, roughly sliced green olives (preferably manzanillo olives)
1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
3 pickled jalapeƱo peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
Salt, to taste
6 salmon steaks (7 to 8 ounces each), about 1 inch thick


1. Prepare the sauce: Place oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes, chopped thyme, lemon zest, and half of the olives, capers, and peppers. Simmer briskly, stirring, for about 5 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in 1 cup water and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt. Cool.

2. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let it burn just until the coals are covered with gray ash and very hot. Reduce the heat on one side of the gas grill to medium-low or set up the charcoal grill for indirect cooking by banking all of the coals to one side, leaving the other half of the grill empty. Set the cooking grate in place, cover the grill and let the grate heat for 5 minutes.

3. Oil the grill and both sides of each salmon steak; sprinkle fish with salt. Cook the salmon over the hottest part of the grill for about 4 minutes, until nicely browned underneath. Carefully flip over the fish onto the cooler side of the grill; cook 2 to 4 minutes more for medium-rare.

4. Spoon the sauce into a deep platter and nestle the fish in it. Let stand at room temperature for about an hour to bring together the flavors of the fish and the sauce.

5. To serve, sprinkle the fish with remaining olives, capers, and peppers; garnish with the thyme sprigs. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 460 calories, 15g carbohydrates, 42g protein, 25g fat, 110mg cholesterol.
Nutritional Breakdown: New Wellness, Richmond, Va

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Hello everyone. Welcome to my recipe blog. I don't think I have to explain why I've made this. FYI, I will only post recipes AFTER I've made them and given the Natalie stamp of approval. Bon Appetite.