June 30, 2010

Banana Bread

Please excuse the lack of picture, although seeing as the quality of my pictures are usually what's lacking, perhaps my dear readers won't mind a picture-less post!

I made this "Morning-after Banana Bread" this past weekend to use up 3 very ripe bananas that were threatening to dissolve into a nasty black mush on our counter and I am happy to report it is delicious!! I love the subtle espresso undertones. So yummy. And while I think this recipe is great, I think it would be even better with the addition of some oats or a crumb mixture of oats, cinnamon and sugar on the top. And although I don't like nuts in my bread, if you were so inclined, I think walnuts would work well with this recipe.

June 29, 2010

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Broccolini

This is the only Relish recipe I am making this week, although I did decide to pay for a 6 month subscription. There were a couple more that I printed, but they were trumped by other recipes from other sources in the planning meeting (aka MM and I sitting around drinking coffee on Sunday morning).

This was supposed to be made with turkey cutlets, but I couldn't find any at the store and the turkey breasts came in a practically 2 pound package. That is one thing that drives me nuts about pre-packaged meat. I know I should buy the larger package and freeze what we don't need this week, but I hate thinking ahead to thaw chicken. I don't decide what to make for dinner until I get home and am standing in the kitchen. And I don't think the chicken tastes as good after it has been frozen and then thawed. So I buy the super-expensive organic chicken because it comes in smaller packages. I also like to think the chicken had a better life than the Perdue chicken, but after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I am pretty sure they didn't.

The Dijon mustard component made this chicken a little more interesting than your typical run of the mill Parmesan/panko crusted chicken. Had I thought ahead, I think a honey mustard dipping sauce would have been delicious with the finished chicken.

The broccolini was good. The Relish recipe called it Baby Broccoli with Lemon Pepper, but I don't know what baby broccoli is, so I bought broccolini and I don't think Lemon Pepper is a good description of the resulting flavor of the dish. So I am going to call it Lemon Dill Broccolini. (After doing a quick Wiki-search, I have learned that the name "broccolini" is a registered trademark of the Mann Packing Company and the vegetable's generic name is, you guessed it, "baby broccoli".)

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breasts
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts (or 1/2 pound turkey cutlets)
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup panko
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large egg, beaten
olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat the rack with cooking spray. Brush both sides of the chicken with mustard. (I found that this didn't work so well. After you brush one side and flip the chicken to brush the other side, the mustard stays on the cutting board and not on the chicken. I would suggest putting the mustard in a shallow dish and dredging the chicken in it. Might work better.)
3. In a shallow dish combine the panko, Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper. In another shallow dish whisk the egg. Dip each breast into the egg, then the panko mixture. Place the chicken on the prepared baking rack.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the topping is golden brown (As you can see in the picture, mine could have stood another 2 minutes or so.)

Lemon Dill Broccolini
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2

1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh dill, snipped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 bunch broccolini, cut into 3 inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1. In a large skillet, combine the broth, dill, lemon zest, oil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Add broccolini and butter to the skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Transfer broccolini with a slotted spoon to plates.

June 28, 2010

Fettuccine with Smashed Peas, Sausage and Ricotta

May not be a looker, but it is tasty!

This recipe is from Giada's cookbook, Giada's Kitchen, but you can also find all her recipes on the Food Network website. It comes together really quickly and is delicious. I couldn't find tagliatelle, so I used fettuccine and I used sweet Italian chicken sausage instead of pork sausage. I also forgot to save the pasta water, so it wasn't the perfect consistency, but it still tasted good!

June 25, 2010

Linguine with Lentils and Pancetta


This is the second recipe we have tried out of Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera and it was much more successful than the first! The rosemary is really the secret ingredient for this dish. Its subtle sweetness just infuses the whole dish. If I made it again, I would use a different shaped pasta, like orecchiette or some other shape that could catch all the lentils. With the linguine, it was difficult to get all the components on the fork at the same time. I used whole wheat pasta, too, because I thought the earthiness of the lentils would work well with the earthiness of the whole wheat. And it did!

Linguine with Lentils and Pancetta
Adapted from Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera
Serves 4

1 cup French green lentils
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, cut into slivers
2 stalks celery, diced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 pound whole wheat linguine (or other shape of your choice)
generous handful of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Place lentils in a saucepan and cover with about 2 inches of water. Add salt and cover the pan. Bring to a gentle boil, then set the lid at an angle and reduce heat to low. Gently simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set the lentils aside in their liquid.

2. Combine the oil and pancetta in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the pancetta is golden and crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

3. Add the celery to the pan and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary to the pan and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Drain the lentils and add to the celery mixture with the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Check seasoning.

4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the lentil mixture and toss to combine. Remove from the heat and toss with the parsley and pancetta. Add a little cooking water if it is too dry.

June 24, 2010

Cumin Pork Chops with Avocado Salsa and Green Beans

This is another Relish recipe that was very good. There needed to be more of the cumin, garlic, salt, pepper mixture that goes on the outside of the pork, as the finished pork had no cumin flavor at all. So if you try it, I would recommend doubling the cumin and garlic amounts below. I was worried that the garlic on the outside of the pork would burn, and it does get very brown, but it doesn't taste burnt. Additionally, the pork chops we buy are always so thick, that this time we just bought one and sliced it in half. Saves money, reduces waste, and is better for us as we really don't need to eat that much meat!

The avocado salsa was delicious with the pork, although I went a little crazy with the lemon juice, so that ended up overpowering the other flavors. The green beans with caramelized shallots are nothing to write home about. MM and I agreed that they were missing something. They were just boring.

One convenient thing about this pork and green bean paring is that the pork, green beans and shallots all take about the same time to cook, so if you get everything in place and start all three components at the same time, they will all be ready at the same time. 

Cumin Pork Chops with Avocado Salsa
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2

2 boneless pork chops (or one thick chop sliced in two)
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup chunky salsa
1 green onion, roughly chopped
1/2 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 avocado, diced

1. In a small bowl, combine cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Sprinkle rub all over pork with your fingers.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook pork chops until the juices run clear, about 4-6 minutes per side.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor (aka MM's nemesis), pulse salsa, onion, cilantro and lemon juice. In a medium bowl, combine the salsa mixture and avocado. Mix well. Chill until ready to serve.
4. Serve the pork chops with the avocado salsa on the side.

Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots
From Relish
Serves 2

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, peeled and cut into rings
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook green beans until crisp-tender, about 4-6 minutes. Drain and divide among dinner plates. Top with caramelized shallots and salt and pepper to taste.

June 23, 2010

Salted Oatmeal Cookies


I think these are Marshal Mike's favorite cookies. In fact, the only two desserts he requests are these and peanut butter brownies (and although I have tried making pb brownies from scratch, he prefers the box). I got the recipe from the Washington Post, who adapted a recipe from DCist, who had tried to replicate a Teaism cookie. I have never tried the Salty Oat cookie at Teaism, so I don't know how they compare. 

An ice cream scoop makes a perfect cookie dough mound!

I used French gray sea salt on my cookies, but I am sure you could use any coarse salt you had on hand. You do have to plan ahead when you make these, as the dough has to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before baking.

Marshal Mike happened to successfully arrest a bandit he has been looking for this morning, and I would like to think it is because of the salted oatmeal cookies! Another one of DC's finest citizens off the streets.

Chicken Tostadas

Look at all the colors!

This is another Relish recipe that we thoroughly enjoyed (and actually felt healthy while eating). It came together pretty quickly and was satisfying. 

Chicken Tostadas
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup prepared chunky salsa
2 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 romaine lettuce leaves chopped
1/2 avocado, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1 green onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place the chicken breast on a small rimmed baking sheet (I used a metal 8-inch brownie pan) and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake uncovered until cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Let cool and cut into small cubes.
3. In a medium bowl, toss together chicken, black beans and salsa.
4. Arrange tortillas on a large rimmed baking sheet. Top with shredded cheese, then chicken mixture. 
5. Bake until heated through, the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crisp, about 10 minutes. 
6. Top with lettuce, avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream. Serve immediately.

June 22, 2010

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Chickpeas

Mmm crispy pancetta

I do not like broccoli rabe. I keep trying it and keep thinking the next time will be different, but it is so bitter, I cannot eat it. And unfortunately for this dish, its bitterness seeped into the chickpeas, so every bite tasted bitter. Yuck. The crispy, salty pancetta was the only redeeming quality this dish offered. 

This recipe came out of a new cookbook I recently bought called, Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera. I am a sucker for cookbooks with lots of photos and this one doesn't disappoint. There are a bunch of dishes in the book that I want to try, and we tried this unfortunate dish first because Marshal Mike saw its picture on the cover and requested it. So if you like bitter, give this recipe a try! We will not be making it again!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Chickpeas
Adapted from Italian Country Cooking: The Secrets of Cucina Povera
Serves 4

5 oz pancetta, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch broccoli rabe, tough stems removed and remainder chopped into 2-3 inch pieces
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (this book makes you feel like a slacker and horrible person for using canned beans, but if I had put in the effort of soaking and cooking dried beans and the result was this bad, I would have been even more disappointed and upset than I was last night)
1 cup vegetable stock or water
3/4 pound orecchiette
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add pancetta and cook until browned and crispy (8-10 minutes). Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. 
2. Lower heat slightly and add garlic to remaining oil. Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute - do not let it burn!) Add broccoli rabe to skillet and cook until wilted. Add drained chickpeas and stock/water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. 
4. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and add to skillet.
5. Toss to combine and add some pasta water if it is too dry. 
6. Transfer to dishes (or large serving bowl) and top with pancetta. (We also threw on some parmesan after I took the above photo.)

June 19, 2010

Steak with Sun-Dried Tomato Butter

Delicious! Absolutely delicious!

This started as a Relish recipe, but they suggested making roasted asparagus with the steak and I am obsessed with fennel at the moment (my grandma would be so proud), so I decided that we would have roasted fennel and carrots (the poor carrots have been living in the crisper drawer for weeks!!). Seriously, the fennel turns into candy. Make this tonight - it is so freaking good. If you didn't like fennel before today, try it roasted and you will LOVE it. I wish I had bought multiple bulbs!

Sirloin filet with sun-dried tomato butter
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, minced (blot oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes)
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced

2 sirloin filets

1. To make the compound butter, mash together the butter, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic in a small bowl. Gently mix in the basil. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm.
2. Preheat grill pan or sauté pan over medium high heat. Rub olive oil on both sides of the steaks. Season both sides with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook each side of the steak for a couple minutes (until nicely browned), then reduce heat and cook until desired doneness.
3. Transfer to a plate to rest and top with sun-dried tomato butter.

Roasted Fennel and Carrots
Serves 2

1 large fennel bulb, tops and bruised/tough outer layer removed (reserve a few fronds for garnish)
Extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

5 small-ish carrots, peeled and cut into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut fennel into 1/4-1/2 inch slices and transfer to foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat all pieces. Roast for 30 minutes.
3. Combine carrots, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add to baking sheet at 30 minute mark. Roast with fennel for additional 20 minutes.
4. Garnish with reserved fronds. Devour!

June 17, 2010

Thai Chicken Noodle Sauté

Another museum-worthy BlB photo!

If you are keeping count, this is the 4th Relish recipe I have made. This one was spectacular! MM said it tasted like takeout, which I assume is a good thing because he cleared his plate. (Well, except for the red peppers, which apparently he doesn't like. I suppose I deserve the bad housewife award seeing as I mentioned in this post that he doesn't like red bell peppers and have already managed to forget that. Whoops!)

Thai Chicken Noodle Sauté
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2-3

1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced (has anyone else noticed that every single Relish recipe has garlic in it?)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/8 cup vegetable oil
5 ounces linguine (I used spaghetti because that is what I had on hand)
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
1/4 white onion, sliced
1/8 cup dry roasted peanuts, crushed (I forgot to buy these)
1 lime, cut into wedges

1. Combine chicken broth, peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sauce becomes smooth and well blended.
2. Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil and cook the pasta until it is al dente. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, sauté the chicken in vegetable oil.
3. After the chicken is cooked, transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the bell peppers and onions to the skillet (add more oil if needed) and sauté until softened, but still slightly crisp.
4. Add the chicken back to the skillet and reduce the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss to combine. Add the peanut sauce to the skillet and toss again. Garnish with peanuts and lime.

June 16, 2010

Baked Two-Cheese Farfalle

Those crispy pasta bits sticking up are my favorite!

The third Relish dish I made was Baked Two-Cheese Farfalle. (This presented another issue with the serving size selection. We like to have leftovers of pasta dishes, so I had to double the recipe. It would be nice if Relish let you choose the serving size for each recipe instead of one size fits all.) This dish was delicious, but really just like a baked ziti recipe with a different shaped pasta. While we are on the subject of pasta, I just have to mention that I love the De Cecco brand of dried pasta. It is by far the best I have tasted. Luckily Harris Teeter put it on sale recently so I stocked up!

Anyway, back to the recipe. Another nice thing about Relish is they suggest side dishes along with the main dish. The side dish for this was Garlic Rolls, using refrigerated biscuits, which is something I would never buy, but I will admit they were delicious. Probably horrible for us, but we ate them all.

Baked Two-Cheese Farfalle
Adapted from Relish
Serves 4

1/2 pound farfalle
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic
1 28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 teaspoon sugar
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their liquid, Italian seasoning and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer (random disruptive side note: on some random cooking show I recently watched the host referred to "bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer" as "BTB RTS" and now I think of that every time I read that phrase. Ok, carry on.) and cook, stirring and breaking up tomatoes until slightly thickened, about 6-7 minutes. (I just let it cook until the pasta was done.) Season generously with salt and pepper.
4. Add the pasta and half of the mozzarella to the saucepan. Toss to combine. Transfer to a baking dish coated with cooking spray (preferably an awesome Le Creuset that one of your equally awesome friends got for you) and top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until bubbly and the top is golden, 10-15 minutes.

Garlic Rolls
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2 gluttons

1 small package of refrigerated biscuits (there were 5 in the package)
1/2 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place biscuits on ungreased baking sheet.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter and garlic. Brush the mixture onto the biscuits and sprinkle with Parmesan.
4. Bake the biscuits according to package directions.

June 15, 2010

Lentil Burgers and Potato Salad

This was the second meal I made from the Relish menus. The potato salad was absolutely delicious! I highly recommend it. The lentil burgers were another story. They had a good taste, but were very dry. It didn't help that I bought rolls that were way too thick and bready. Dry on top of dry. The other problem was that the recipe for the yogurt dill sauce didn't make enough for our two burgers, so the little sauce that was on the rolls just absorbed right in and didn't do anything to moisten the burgers. And the burgers were incredibly filling. I just barely ate half of mine (although that may have something to do with the fact that I ate more than half of the potato salad by myself. It was so good!).

Lentil Burgers with Yogurt Dill Sauce
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2

1/3 cup dry lentils (I used French green lentils, but I don't know the difference between all the varieties)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/8 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tomato sliced
2 rolls

1/8 cucumber, peeled and diced (This is an example of ridiculousness when the serving size is reduced. Not to mention, cucumbers are not necessarily uniform in size, so my 1/8 of a cucumber could be smaller or larger than your 1/8 of a cucumber. I happened to have a small cucumber and 1/8 was clearly not enough for the two burgers. I would say you need a good 3/4 cup of diced cucumber. On a separate note, I threw a slice of cucumber in my gin and tonic and it was delicious.)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To make cucumber sauce, combine cucumber, yogurt, dill and garlic. Refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Place lentils in a small saucepan and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the lentils are tender but still firm, 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes (I had to toast for slightly longer, but we all know my oven is a special case). Let cool.
5. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Process until finely ground. Add the lentils and pulse until coarsely chopped.
6. In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add the lentil mixture and mix well. Divide into equal parts and roll into balls, flatten with the palm of your hand into 3/4 inch patties.
7. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the burgers and cook over medium-low heat until crisp and browned, turning gently with a spatula, 8-10 minutes per side.
8. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve on buns with a tomato slice and the yogurt dill sauce.

Quick Potato Salad
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2

3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

1. Place potatoes in a pot of generously salted cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain.
2. In a large bowl, combine vinegar and Dijon mustard, season with salt and pepper. Add hot cooked potatoes; toss. Let cool, tossing occasionally. Add oil, green onions and parsley. Devour.

June 14, 2010


So this week I am trying out this service called Relish. If you haven't heard of it, it is this neat website that puts out a bunch of recipes on Thursday mornings and you can pick however many you would like to try that week and the site organizes a shopping list for you. You can also change the serving size for the recipes, which I found to be both a blessing and a curse (more on that later). You have to pay for this service and while I was interested in it, I was hesitant to shell out money before trying it out. Luckily I found a promotion code on some other blog to try it free for two weeks.

The first recipe I tried was Veggie Chicken Salad Pita Sandwiches for lunch on Sunday. We thoroughly enjoyed these sandwiches (except they made a huge mess because our pita kept falling apart). I bet meat and potatoes Marshal Mike never thought he would eat (and enjoy!) and tempeh fake chicken salad!

Veggie Chicken Salad Sandwiches
(aka Baked Tempeh Salad Pita Sandwiches)
adapted from Relish
Serves 2

1 8oz package Tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
4 sandwich size sliced dill pickles, diced (the original recipe called for 1/2 of a 32 oz jar of dill pickle slices - what? Are you kidding me? Would you like any other vegetables with your pickle sandwich?)
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
course salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 lettuce leaves
2 whole wheat pita pockets

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss tempeh with olive oil. Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat until soft. (The original recipe just calls for raw onion and garlic in the salad. No thanks.) Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Mix baked tempeh with onion, garlic, parsley, celery, pickles, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper.
5. Line each pita with a lettuce leaf and fill with tempeh salad. Serve immediately.

Blueberry-Oat Quickbread

Wow, that picture is so dark, do you live in a cave?

I know, I took the words right out of your mouth. 
So I was trying to find a way to use up some of the remaining buttermilk from the cupcake baking extravaganza last weekend and decided to try this recipe for Blueberry-Oat Quick Bread that I had printed awhile ago. It turned out ok. It baked for 75 minutes (recipe says 50-60 minutes), which is absurd and it ended up really dense. I have come to the realization that this dense bread and my dense vanilla cupcakes last weekend may be because my baking powder expired in 2006. Yes, folks, that's right, 4 years ago. It must have been laughing at me the past 4 years: "You want your food to rise and be fluffy? Ha! You fool!" So yeah, lesson learned and a new container of baking powder was purchased this weekend. The baking powder's ineffectiveness unfortunately does not explain my oven's ineffectiveness.

June 11, 2010

Not a peony update

That, my friends, is the gorgeous poppy that popped up in one of my peony pots. The peonies are doing nothing. Nothing at all. However, the poppy seeds I planted are doing quite well. There are a couple other poppy buds, so we'll see if I have more flowers next week!

June 10, 2010

Prosciutto wrapped chicken

With broccoli of course, because why would we have any other vegetable?

I had planned to just cook the chicken breasts in the pan and call it a night, but when I saw the opened package of prosciutto in the fridge, I was like bring it! (MM and I made "fake" pizzas earlier this week with whole wheat flatbread, tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, and basil.) 

One of my favorite ways to make plain chicken breast is to mix up a bowl of olive oil and dried Italian herbs and then brush both sides of the chicken with it. Very simple, but imparts lots of flavor. I had already mixed up the herbs, so I continued with that plan and then wrapped the prosciutto around it. Then you just cook the chicken in the pan over medium heat as you would normally. The prosciutto got nice and crispy and added pleasant saltiness to the chicken.

And I don't think I need to say anything about the broccoli, except that I may have filled my quota for the month (year? my whole life?).

June 8, 2010

Skillet baked ziti

Cheesy unhealthy goodness!

I made skillet baked ziti last night, which is a recipe I got from the Serious Eats website, which they had adapted from the Best Skillet Recipes book by Cooks Illustrated. This is a good one. Certainly not for those nights you want something light, but is a delicious treat. I followed the recipe mostly, except I used a can of crushed tomatoes instead of chopping whole ones in the food processor (faithful blog readers will know how Marshal Mike feels about cleaning the food processor), and I added a couple chopped carrots in with the sauce because they have been in the fridge for awhile and needed to do something. I also omitted the red pepper flakes because they are gross. I have a hard time measuring cheese, so I just dump tons in, I have no idea how much I used. How could a dish be worse with more cheese? (Well, perhaps my arteries could find a reason.)

The best part of this recipe is that you just throw everything into the same pot. There is not a lot of fussing or anything. The recipe says that it serves 4, but it could easily serve 6 or more. I don't know whose appetite they base serving sizes on, but they are always way off.

June 7, 2010

Shark and Beach Cupcakes

Apologies up front for the shotty photography. I am clearly in need of a better camera or lessons in how to use my camera!

I made these cuties for my friend Amy's bridal shower this past weekend. Luckily my mom was in town, so she helped me get them all together on time! Naturally, the idea came from the crafty Martha Stewart, which my even craftier friend, Nicole, had found. Nicole also procured the perfect wrappers and the decorations.

I decided to make red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for the beach cupcakes.
I used this great recipe from the blog Simply Recipes, which is actually a guest blog post from Garrett, who runs the blog Vanilla Garlic (should you have an extra 10 minutes in your day, search "Eat Beast" on the Vanilla Garlic site - you will cry you are laughing so hard). I have made this recipe before and love it. I think the cupcakes turn out perfectly: moist, fluffy, just the right amount of crumb. This time around it made 29 cupcakes and there was only enough frosting for about 20 cupcakes, so I am not sure what happened. We used crushed graham crackers as the "sand."

I used Martha's Vanilla Cupcake and Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipes for the shark cupcakes.
Nicole (painstakingly?) cut out all the fins from felt. 

The cupcakes were ok. They had a good vanilla flavor, but were a little dense. I did notice that they settled quite a bit during the cooling process. This recipe also made 29 cupcakes, but had I known there would be so much sinkage, I would have filled the cups a little fuller.

Now, let's discuss the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. If you read the recipe it says that it makes 9 (!) cups of frosting for 28 cupcakes. What? You have got to be kidding me. Who needs 9 cups of frosting? So I halved the recipe and had plenty for my 29 cupcakes. The recipe seems a little complicated, but once you get going, it really isn't. I followed it to a tee and it turned out perfectly. In the end, it was good frosting, but my mom and I agreed that it wasn't good enough to warrant all of the ingredients and time it uses. (If you care about your health, do not look at how much butter goes into this recipe.) I really expected it to be mind blowing, best I have ever had frosting. Sorry, Martha, better luck next time.

June 4, 2010

Risotto style pasta

I love risotto, so was excited to try the risotto cooking method with pasta instead of rice. This recipe is from the blog Love and Olive Oil, and it does not disappoint. I used garlic and herb goat cheese, which worked well. When you mix the cheese in with the hot pasta it coats it perfectly and creates a creamy sauce. Next time I think I will add some kind of green vegetable and some fresh herbs at the end.

June 3, 2010


My mom and I went to the Taylor Swift concert last night. It was AMAZING! Unfortunately we had to watch most of it from the jumbo trons because we were in the last couple rows on the floor and couldn't see the stage. But we loved it nonetheless. Here are a couple mediocre pictures!

June 1, 2010

Crispy Chicken with Roasted Broccoli and Potatoes

So I think I have made this chicken recipe before, but it was BB (before blog), so who knows what I thought of it. The recipe is from Food 52, which is a wonderful site run by two women where readers submit recipes and they test some of them and ask other readers to try others. This chicken turned out crispy and moist, but I felt the coating was lacking in flavor somehow. You season every "dredge" step, so I don't know how it ended up so blah.
Three steps of dredging!

The broccoli turned out well, but it always does. You can find the recipe on this earlier post of mine. The potatoes, however, were a hot mess. I have tried a bunch of different roast potato recipes that always claim to be the best, or make the perfect potatoes (which this one did) and I am always disappointed. Unfortunately I can't find where on the great internet I got this "perfect" potato recipe, but that is fine, since I wouldn't recommend using it anyway! The quest for the perfect roast potato (crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside and plenty salty) continues!