May 26, 2010

"Fancy" Hot Dogs

Apologies for the blurry picture...

So I was very intrigued by this dish and excited to try it. I found it on Simply Recipes, which is a popular food blog (I think the woman who runs it, Elise, is also working on a cookbook right now). She describes it as beef stroganoff with hot dogs in the place of the beef. Um, yum! But, after making the recipe, I would not describe the dish that way. Although, if you look at her picture, the sauce is much thicker than mine. (What's that you say, you can't even see the sauce in my picture? Exactly! It was very thin and just fell to the bottom of the pile o' food.) 

My other problem was that I used almost an entire onion and her recipe calls for only 1 cup, so it ended up being an onion dish with a side of hot dogs. (When Marshal Mike was finished, all that remained on his plate was a pile of onions. Woops! Sorry, babe!) I also used 7 hot dogs because the package I bought had 7 hot dogs in it. (Why oh why would a company sell hot dogs in a pack of 7? What a bizarre number.) But it looks like my hot dogs were skinner than the ones Elise used, so maybe that all evened out. 

Anyway, the dish tasted good (salty, beefy hot dogs, buttery noodles, fresh, crisp parsley - what's not to love? On a side note, I really love parsley. I could just eat it by itself right off the stem.). (Another side note to my friend Nicole: When MM saw the parsley on top of the food he said, "Oh, the parsley makes it look so fancy." And all I could think of was Sunny Anderson on her ridiculous show exclaiming how fancy parsley makes a dish!) But it was definitely missing something. We agreed that the addition of some vegetable would have made it taste better (and better for us). And maybe the use of mascarpone instead of sour cream. Or even Greek yogurt. (Side note alert! I love this Real Simple recipe for Beef Stroganoff with Yogurt and Dill. Maybe I should go work for Real Simple, I certainly hawk their recipes often enough.)

Anyway, I will try this recipe again with some adjustments. Best thing about it was that it came really quickly. And was a good excuse to eat hot dogs for dinner, of course!

May 25, 2010

Crispy Chicken with Creamy Romaine Salad

Last night I made Real Simple's Crispy Chicken with Creamy Romaine Salad. The recipe calls for chicken cutlets, but I couldn't find any pre-cut, so I bought breasts. I thought about cutting the breasts in half, but was too lazy, so I just made the whole breasts. The chicken turned out beautifully (just had to cook longer). So moist on the inside and the cornmeal crust was wonderfully crunchy and tasty.

The romaine salad was ok. The creamy dressing was just kind of weird and it turns out that Marshal Mike doesn't like red bell peppers. The salad only has three components: romaine, red bell pepper and dressing. Whoops, wish I had known he wouldn't like 1/3 of the salad. Oh well. I would definitely make the chicken again, but would serve it with something else. Maybe just a mixed greens salad or some other vegetable. 

We are having "Fancy Hot Dogs" tonight - sounds great, right?

May 24, 2010

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

A pile of bones and fire hydrants...

So like a good mom I made Patton peanut butter dog treats this weekend. I got this recipe from an online magazine called Sweet Paul. (I tried to get Patton to pose like the dog in the picture, but he squirms too much. He'll never be a cover model.) I expected the treats to be hard like dog biscuits, but they are very soft. Patton seems to enjoy them and that's what I was hoping for. I even tried a bite of one and it tastes like dry, slightly peanut buttery bread. It is nice to know exactly what the dog is eating and knowing for certain there are no animal by-products and other nastiness in these treats!

UPDATE: We found out the hard way that these go moldy fairly quickly, so store them in the fridge!

May 20, 2010

Chicken and Spring Greens Gratin

Last night I decided to make Bon Appetit's Chicken and Spring Greens Gratin. I was a little weary of it because I have tried dishes with Swiss chard before and did not like them at all. For this recipe I used mustard greens and rainbow chard (which is just a combination bunch of red chard and green chard) and ended up really enjoying the finished product. The greens were not bitter at all and the crunchy topping added the perfect textural component. I also added Parmesan to the bread crumbs on top, because, really, why wouldn't you?
Not a very appetizing photo...

Marshal Mike also liked it, which was slightly shocking, but hey, I'll take what I can get!

May 19, 2010

Stir-Fried Beef, Broccoli and Yams

After doggie's first visit to the vet last night, I made Bon Appetit's Stir-Fried Beef, Broccoli and Yams. It was delicious! The recipe called for flank steak, but I couldn't find any, so I used London broil. And I am pretty sure I bought a sweet potato, not a yam, and it was just fine. Marshal Mike commented that the broccoli tastes just like Chinese food broccoli - I am assuming this is a good thing because he ate it all. I loved the addition of the sweet potato; it brought a different dimension to an other wise pretty classic Chinese dish.

May 17, 2010

Patton Update

Patton is slowly adjusting to his new life and we to him. There is one member of the family who is particularly smitten with him:
They make a cute couple, don't they?

I wish I could say the same for Gaby; she has been spending the majority of her time hiding under our bed. The poor thing will get used to him eventually. 

Now if we could just get Patton to eat something...

Orecchiette Carbonara

Clearly the victim of a hit and run with a liberal hand of Parmesan

On Sunday night I made Orecchiette Carbonara from Bon Appetit. Any real sticklers of Italian cuisine would scoff that the term "carbonara" gets linked to any pasta dish that includes some kind of pig (bacon, pancetta, etc.), egg and Parmesan. True Roman Carbonara must be made with guanciale (cured pork jowl). (A great article on traditional Roman dishes ran in Saveur's April 2010 issue, should you want to learn more.)

Regardless of all the sticklers and traditionalists, I made this dish and it was delicious! I think the leeks were a lovely addition. And MM gave it his stamp of approval, so really what else could you ask for?

May 15, 2010


Meet Patton!

The newest member of our family! He's awfully cute, very loving and rather stinky (even after his first bath). He and the cats are adjusting just fine - all three of them are in the same room right now and everyone is peaceful. Chloe even decided that she likes his bed:
The one thing he does not like are stairs. This is when we tried to take him outside for his bath:
Hell no! I won't go!

But maybe that was because he heard us say bath. 

We have yet to hear him bark - not sure if that is a good or bad thing. Either way, he's a great addition to our household.

May 14, 2010

Cheddar Chicken

Orange chicken on an orange plate - brilliant!

As promised, here is Cheddar Chicken from Real Simple's May 2010 issue. It was part of an article where women wrote in sharing recipes that reminded them of their moms, or that they made with their moms growing up. Warm and fuzzies like that. They recommended serving the chicken with rice pilaf and steamed green beans, but when Marshal Mike saw the picture in the magazine, he said, "eww, I do not like that kind of rice. When you make it, can you use some other kind of rice?" So I went one better and used a bag of frozen vegetables from Trader Joes and no rice at all. That's right, housewife of the year, right here.

The chicken was pretty good. Mine cooked for only about 20 minutes, because I bought thinly sliced chicken breasts. (I find that neither of us can eat an entire chicken breast when I buy the regular size ones. It is an absurd amount of chicken and probably comes from those poor chickens whose breasts are so large they can't walk or stand because they fall over. Yes, that does exist. Weekend reading assignment: The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan - believe me, it will be worth your time.) 

Anyway, back to the cheddar chicken. The chicken itself was incredibly moist, but I think the ratio of cheddar to Ritz crackers in the topping was way off. Too much cheese (I know, how is that possible?) and not enough crunch! The breading on the bottom of the chicken turned into a soggy mess. Tasted fine, but soggy Ritz crackers? No thanks. I have cooked other breaded meat on a wire rack on a baking sheet before, so maybe I would try that with this dish. And come to think of it, my mom used to make chicken breaded with Ritz crackers for my brother and me and it was delicious. Perhaps I should ask her what she did to hers. (She also served hers with rice!) 

Luckily, Marshal Mike loved the chicken and gave it his stamp of approval. When I was packing the leftover pieces into tupperware, all I could think of is my uncle saying, "That'd be good in a sandwich!" (We have a joke in my family that every leftover will be good in a sandwich and my uncle proclaims it after every meal.)

Oh, what about Trader Joes' frozen medley of vegetables? They were ok. The green beans were the best part - still had some crunch and good flavor. The peas were peas, nothing to write home about. But the broccoli, cauliflower and romanesco were piles of mush disguised as vegetables! Yuck. I guess those kinds of vegetables really shine brightest when roasted. Or at least I think so.

May 13, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I wanted something vegetarian for dinner last night, so I made Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells from Real Simple's May 2010 issue. They turned out pretty well. I wasn't in love with them and I didn't hate them. They were ok, but wouldn't nab the hottest guy at school, if you know what I mean. One thing I did like about this recipe is that it uses fresh spinach, which is must quicker to prepare than the frozen stuff. Just chop and go. I never look forward to defrosting and wringing out all the liquid from the frozen spinach and usually make my sous chef, Marshal Mike, do it. But he was off rediscovering his love of lacrosse last night, so no sous chef, no frozen spinach! (And no cheese grating! I bought the pre-shredded mozzarella cheese. I know people say that it doesn't melt as well, but look at the picture, it melted just fine.)

The one problem I ran into was that when I took the dish out of the oven after broiling, the filing was just barely lukewarm. I think the problem was that the recipe calls for the dish to be on the top shelf when it is cooking and for the broiler. If I make these again, I will put the dish in the center to cook and the top for broiling. I thought it was weird that it would cook on the top rack, but I blindly followed the recipe instead of doing what I knew was right. Oh well. Better luck next time.

On tap tonight, Cheddar Chicken, also from Real Simple's May 2010 issue. We are also buying dog paraphernalia tonight. That's right, dear readers, we are getting a dog this weekend. Don't worry, you will be properly introduced.

UPDATE: These shells taste delicious reheated for lunch! Perhaps they just needed a night in the fridge and time to get to know one another! Also, I purposefully did not cook the shells all the way through, so they wouldn't turn to mush on the second day. Oh, I would also like to say something about serving size. This recipe says it serves 4, which means each person would get 5 stuffed shells. That is a lot of food. I ate 3 last night and felt like a piggy and put 4 in each of the leftover tupperwares (well, 5 went in the last one that I made sure MM took to work this morning) and halfway through my lunch I am full. I will have to see if MM eats all 5. 

May 12, 2010

Peony Update #3

I know, I have been slacking on the peony updates. I keep meaning to take pictures of them, and then forget.
So there is good news and bad news. As you can see above, the bud is starting to open and the plant is growing nice and tall. However, as you can see from the close-up below, the edges of the petals are brown.
Not sure what the problem with the poor little thing is.
One of the other pots is looking pretty good:
You can't see it in this picture, but there is a little tiny bud on one of stems.The other random green plants are from a wildflower mix of seeds that Volkswagen sent with coupons on the side of the packet. Strange marketing gimmick, but I planted the seeds and will use the coupon next time Zeppy needs an oil change (which was a couple weeks ago - oops, haven't done that yet!).

I didn't bother with a picture of the "Home Depot" peony plant because it is still pretty small and the other random flower seeds (I should have saved the packet! I cannot for the life of me remember what I planted!) I planted along the exterior are kind of bigger than the peony plant and they have a nasty case of aphids. Ewww. I bought some eco-bug spray especially for potted plants and aphids this past weekend, but it didn't seem to do anything but make the ends of the leaves shrivel a little. I mean we have had some funky weather here in DC. It was in the 30s the past two nights, today is supposed to get into the 70s or 80s and last weekend it was so unbelievably windy you would have thought it was a hurricane, so maybe that has had something to do with it? I just don't know. All the peony plants in the neighborhood are in full bloom, so maybe next year mine will be big and pretty and fragrant like the others.

Pork Schnitzel with Warm Potato Salad

On Monday night I made Pork Schnitzel with Warm Potato Salad from Food & Wine's May 2010 issue. It was all around a delicious meal and one of the only times I have made breaded pork (or chicken) and the breading actually stayed on! The pork ended up moist, crunchy and delicious. The potato salad could have used a little less vinegar, but it certainly got better as it sat. Marshal Mike worked really late on Monday (there were 134 lockups they had to get through! DC bandits out in full force!) and I ended up making the potato salad about and hour before we ate and then briefly reheated it after the pork was done.

The only issue I ran into was the crisp parsley. It says in the recipe to make sure the parsley is completely dry before dropping in the oil (and I watch enough Food Network to know that water on herbs plus oil do not mix). I washed and dried the parsley about an hour before I used it and thought it was dry. Well, it was like a hot oil firing range when I dropped it in! Pop pop pop pop! Danger! It eventually subsided and I didn't get burned, but whoa, that was a shocker.

May 11, 2010

Farfalle with Spring Vegetables

On Sunday night, I made farfalle with spring vegetables from the May 2010 issue of Food & Wine. All I can say is make this dish tonight! It was great.

Mise en place!

The fennel got pleasantly sweet and the broccolini was tender and flavorful. Frozen peas are frozen peas; I am sure it would have been better if I had used fresh, but I forgot to look for them at the store. I used more lemon juice than the recipe called for, but I am not going to juice one half of a lemon and pitch the rest of it. I also managed to forget the scallions somewhere at the grocery store. I remember picking them up, putting them in a bag and in the cart, but they weren't on the receipt and were no where to be seen at home. Oh well. 
My pictures are getting better, no?

I would make this again, no question, and may find an excuse to make these croutons and add them to everything. So salty, crunchy and flavorful from the herbs (and I used sourdough bread, which helped I think). If you look at Food & Wine's picture you can see that the croutons were supposed to be small (oh, they call them bread crumbs, mine were certainly not bread crumbs), but I couldn't be bothered chopping bread that finely. These worked just as well.

May 10, 2010

Chickpea and Chicken Tagine

Good old Mark Bittman. In the blogosphere and elsewhere, he really can do no wrong. If you haven't heard of his tome, How to Cook Everything, you may be living under a rock. I own a copy of his vegetarian cookbook, appropriately named How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I don't use it very often, but it is wonderful for basics, like pan fried potatoes (ridiculously delicious), french toast, etc. He did this entertaining travel/food show on PBS with Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali a couple years back (I wonder if this was before GOOP?). The three of them ate and drank their way around Spain. Paltrow asked ridiculous questions, Batali was off trying to take over the cooking from whatever Spaniard was doing it and Bittman just calmly explained everything. Worth a watch if you should find it and are bored.

Simmering away

Anyway, I made his recipe for an expedited tagine last Friday: Chickpea Tagine with Chicken and Apricots. I do not have a tagine and have no plans to buy one, so I was happy that this recipe calls for a large pot instead. Now, if you know my husband, you will know that a tagine is a pretty exotic concept for Marshal "Steak and Potatoes" Mike. But he ate it, and may have even liked it.
 Cat dish makes an appearance again!

I thought the final dish was ok. The house smelled amazing when it was cooking and the sauce straight out of the pan was so flavorful and yummy. But I found the final product lacking. I have never had chicken thighs before (at least to my knowledge) and I thought they had no flavor whatsoever. I couldn't find skinless ones, but I thought the skin would add some flavor and at least keep them moist (we just peeled it off before we ate it), but no luck. I would make it again, because it felt healthy and I liked the way it smelled. MM asked for chicken breast next time, so maybe we will try that.

May 6, 2010

Pasta Ponza

 My pathetic unappetizing picture of the finished dish.

I tried a recipe from Giada's new cookbook, Giada at Home (which Giada has signed, because, yes, we are besties), last night called Pasta Ponza (recipe can be found here). The dish originated from a trip she took with her family to the small island of Ponza off the coast of Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ponza is also featured in this month's La Cucina Italiana magazine.

This dish was really easy to put together and had delicious flavors. My only issue with it was the texture at the end. The breadcrumbs turned to mush. This may have been because I didn't have any Italian breadcrumbs on hand (although I could have sworn some were in the cupboard) and I didn't feel like washing the food processor, so that ruled out making my own, so I used Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). They just didn't get crunchy enough in the oven, which is odd, because they are usually crunchier than Italian breadcrumbs. I suppose I could have left them in longer, but the pasta was done cooking and I was hungry. Because I did really like the flavors altogether: the juicy, sweet cooked tomatoes, the salty, vinegary capers, along with the mounds of Parmesan cheese (the Pecorino Romano was $11 for one tub (!) so I used the Parmesan I already had), I will make this again, but I think I will try to bake the whole thing together to see if the breadcrumbs will get crunchy.

The most exciting part of this was the gorgeous tomatoes I bought:
Kind of look like bowling balls in this picture!

And I used the ridiculous cat bowls my mom bought me:
They are Japanese and we found them at a consignment shop in RI. They just make me smile when I look at them. And everyone knows I am a crazy cat lady anyway, so I might as well have cat dishes!

Marshal Mike was feeling really sick last night (those damn bandits!), so he slept from about 7-9:30pm. When he reheated his pasta at 9:30, I asked him what he thought and he said, "I'm sick, I can't taste anything." And he shoveled some more into his mouth. Great.

May 5, 2010

Sesame Chicken


I have realized that I have no abilty to take pictures of food. The photo I took of this meal last night looked awful. Luckily, Martha Stewart takes pretty pictures.

So this dish was pretty good (you can find the recipe here). Marshal Mike liked it better than I did. I thought it needed a little more flavor and reading the reader reviews on the website this morning, lots of people wrote in saying to double the sauce. So I will certainly try that next time. Another thing that could have affected the taste was that I used Basmati rice instead of brown rice, because that is what I had on hand and I didn't feel like buying another package of rice. I normally love Basmati rice, so I don't know what the problem was. Maybe it was because I was cooking at about 9:30pm and my brain and taste buds were shot.

Overall, this recipe is worth trying and we will probably make it again. It comes together pretty quickly once you have everything in place.

May 2, 2010

Red Sox

Marshal Mike and I went to the Red Sox game in Baltimore last night.
 How did I manage to pick a night when Varitek isn't playing?

What an upsetting game. The Sox were doing well up until the 5th inning when Grady Little, I mean, Terry Francona should have taken Daisuke out. Pitching coach Farrell even came out to talk to him. (Not sure what they talk about seeing as Daisuke speaks hardly any English.) Although we did have the Japanese contingency sitting behind (complete with Japanese flag and all), nothing could be done to save Daisuke's ass. He started the inning with a three run lead and when they pulled him, the Sox were down by six. Yuck. 89-year-old Wakefield came in to close the inning. Nice work. Should have been the end of his night's work. The 6th inning did not go well for him. In the end, the Sox lost 12-9. So sad. The Orioles ended up sweeping the weekend series. Sad sad sad.

However, one of the best parts of going to the park is having an excuse to eat unhealthy food! We started the night with hot dogs and mid-way through MM decided he was still hungry. On to the cheeseburger:
Action shot!

We were luck enough to be sitting in a Sox section. I heard lots of Boston accents, so I was happy. And Ortiz had a good night - two homers!
I hope this week goes better for my beloved Sox.