September 29, 2010

Balsamic-Glazed Pork with Lentils


I love lentils, so was excited to try this recipe, which is in Real Simple's October 2010 issue. It came together really quickly and was very flavorful. 

The pork just melted in your mouth - it was so tender and the balsamic glaze enhanced its flavor beautifully.

September 28, 2010

Cavatappi with Sausage and Tomato

Wow, kind of looks like every other pasta dish on this blog...

This recipe is from an old Williams-Sonoma Pasta cookbook that was my Auntie Pat's. It can also be found on the Williams-Sonoma website.

It is a simple recipe, which I appreciate on a weeknight, but also quite satisfying and delicious. MM loved it (even went back for seconds) and it reheated beautifully for lunch (I think the flavor even improved overnight). The most time consuming part is dicing and seeding 1 lb of tomatoes. (And no, I did not peel them. Are you kidding?)

On a side note, I think cavatappi (also called cellentani) is my favorite pasta shape. I love how the sauce gets stuck in the center of the pasta and, of course, as should be the reason for all things I purchase, I think it is pretty.

September 27, 2010

Chicken Normande with Mashed Apples and Potatoes

Photo from because the last thing I wanted to do at 9:30pm when this piece of work finished cooking was take a picture!

If any dish is the definition of a hot mess, this one is it! And like any hot mess, it seemed totally normal and manageable in the beginning. Then, slowly, it showed its true colors.

I got this recipe out of the Bon Appetit Best of 2001 cookbook, but you can also find it on First, a little back story on the Best of cookbook. Either last Christmas or the one before, my mom and I were perusing the goods at Ocean State Job Lot. If you have ever been into an Ocean State Job Lot, you know how very special they are. If you haven't, well, I wouldn't suggest searching one out now. You just wouldn't get it. And the experience may scar you for life. So they have a whole shelf of cookbooks on super sale (I think it was buy one at $10, get one free, or something ridiculous like that). So I got the Bon Appetit Best of 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005 cookbooks.

Back to Saturday night's dinner. I figured, it's Saturday, we don't have anything to do, I can make a meal that is more involved than one I would choose to make on a weeknight. Well this sucker took me over two hours! Just to start off you have to peel 2 parsnips, 4 potatoes and 2 apples. I hate peeling round things! And I think I need a different kind of peeler because I ended up peeling a comparable amount of skin off my finger.

Anyway, it is going along fine, I cook the parsnips, cook and mash the apples and potatoes, cook the chicken thighs (they got great color), and continue on. (Although reading through the recipe online, I realized I skipped over the "cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces" part. Woops!) I didn't have any brandy for the last part where you reduce the broth mixture, so I used more apple juice. Should be fine. Well, I guess I didn't reduce it long enough because when I poured it over everything in the baking dish, it came up awfully high. Then I started to scoop the mashed apples and potatoes on top and it started to overflow all over the stove top. Now, most sane people would have stopped at this point, maybe drained some of the liquid out. Maybe have gotten a larger baking dish. Oh, no, not me! (And I was a couple glasses of wine in at this point seeing as it had been taking so long!) So I put the pan on a baking sheet to contain the mess and continued to scoop the mashed mixture on top. Some of it sunk. Fine. I finally get it in the oven and leave the kitchen to watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia with MM. (If you have not seen this show, add it to your queue! It is hilarious. Inappropriate at many times, but hilarious!)

The oven timer goes off 35 minutes later and I discover that the oven had turned itself off at some point. It didn't powerfail, which is what it usually does, because the timer still worked (and it had already powerfailed once on Saturday when I was preheating the oven for the cookies). Great! The internal temp was down to 200, so I turn the oven back on and left the slop in the oven for more time.

Long (very long) story short, the mashed mixture on top never got crusty, although everything underneath it was warmed through. And after all that we didn't even like it. It was like soup with chicken thighs and some mashed potatoes. (Although, I must admit I can see how it would have been better if I had cut up the thighs.) Then MM says, "I don't like chicken thighs, they stay too moist and it makes me think they aren't cooked all the way through." So I said, "Are you saying you like dry chicken breasts because you know they are cooked?" "Yes." Ok, fine.

Moral of the story, I should probably stick to Italian food.

September 26, 2010

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies

Crispy, chocolaty, chewy and crazy-good!

Today's post is sponsored by the letter "c." Just kidding.

I got this recipe from the Food52 website, but as I started to get all my ingredients out on the counter, I realized that I was missing a couple, so I used what I had and ended up with a really delicious cookie! (Just ask Marshal Mike, he consumed six (6!) yesterday!) My version is below.

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies
Makes about 40 cookies

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and two sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in three additions, beating until just combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Do not overbeat!

3. Stir in the oats and the chocolate/butterscotch chips, distributing evenly. Drop by tablespoon (or ice cream scoop - I use a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop) on parchment-lined baking sheets, keeping the cookies at least 2 inches apart. Flatten gently with the back of the spoon/scoop and bake for about 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. The cookies are done when the edges are golden. Cool on the baking sheets for a minute, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

4. Devour!

September 24, 2010


So as ridiculous parents of pets, MM and I decided that Patton should dress up for Halloween. I am happy to report that his costume came in the mail yesterday!! Here is a sneak preview:

Doesn't he look vicious? On the other hand, it kind of looks like the shark is trying to eat his head...

What a good sport!

(The costume is from Old Navy, should any readers be interested in outfitting their own canines!)

September 23, 2010

Tuscan Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Apologies for not having a photo - they were all so bad, I couldn't bear to subject you to any of them.

So this recipe is from Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life. Well, I can tell you I will not be craving this recipe anytime soon!  The vegetables called for in the recipe are: plum tomatoes, zucchini and fennel. I cannot stand zucchini, so I substituted carrots. The recipe also calls for 4 chicken breast halves with the ribs. I only used 3 and could just barely get everything into my huge Le Creuset oval baking dish.

The recipe calls for baking at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked), and I took mine out at 50 minutes. This resulted in perfectly cooked, moist, interior of the chicken and overcooked edges of the chicken. And don't even get me started on the vegetables. They were completely undercooked! (Well, except for the tomatoes, which were disintegrating at this point.) It was kind of a disappointment. I want roasted vegetables with my roasted chicken! Golden, tender, slightly crispy, sweet and flavorful! Mine were practically raw! I don't have to wait 50 minutes for raw vegetables!

If I were to make this again (and I may because the lemon on the chicken was great and it was nice to get everything together, stick it in the oven and forget about it for awhile), I think I would crank up the heat and cook the vegetables longer than the chicken.

September 21, 2010

Spaghetti Squash

Let's discuss spaghetti squash.

It seems like a pretty harmless vegetable. Look at it - it isn't showy or demanding. It could easily be overlooked for the more interesting looking butternut squash or the prettier acorn squash. But the name gets you. "Ooh, I like spaghetti, maybe I will like spaghetti squash, too."

Then you roast it and use a fork to pull out the golden spaghetti-like strands of squash. "Oh, how pretty, how unique! This will be great!" No! The name is incredibly misleading! Don't fall for it! Yes, I will concede that the texture of the stands are delightful. But it still tastes like squash! No amount of salt, herbs or Parmigiano-Reggiano will help it!

I vote for a name change so future generations won't be tricked into thinking this squash will taste like one of humankind's greatest creations. Let's call it string squash! (Like string cheese - no one calls it spaghetti cheese!) Or how about yellow rugby ball squash! Try it in a sentence: "Yum, let's have yellow rugby ball squash as our side dish tonight! I think its flavor will complement the roast chicken perfectly."

Whatever we call it, let's please stop calling it spaghetti squash.

September 20, 2010

Chicken Spezzatino

Love that Le Creuset!

Maybe it's because it has (thankfully!) been getting cooler at night or maybe it's because I am so busy at work that cooking a complicated multi-step recipe when I get home is enough to make me stop cooking all together and eat peanut butter toast washed down with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (hey, don't knock it till you try it!) that I have been craving hearty one pot meals that don't require much effort on my behalf. This spectacular recipe is one such dish!

It is from Giada's Everyday Italian cookbook and can be found here. (The biscuit part is not from Giada's original recipe and I think the stew is hearty enough without bread. Although, orzo or some other little pasta that could cook in the liquid might be a good variation.) The Food Network website has a different version of Giada's Spezzatino that also looks great, so I think I will have to try that one too!

September 15, 2010

Orecchiette with Sausage, Beans and Mascarpone

So I don't have a picture of last night's dinner, and I can't believe I haven't blogged about this recipe yet because it is one of my favorites. You can find the recipe here and it is also in Giada's cookbook, Giada's Kitchen.

This pasta dish is the perfect marriage of flavors: salty from the sausage, creamy from the beans and the mascarpone and bright freshness from the oregano. It comes together so quickly and is unbelievably satisfying. Tastes pretty good on the second day too!

September 12, 2010

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Bacon and Breadcrumbs

I was craving a baked pasta over the weekend and wanted to use up some random items in the fridge, so I came up with this dish. It was fairly tasty, but I would do a couple things differently if I made it again.

The first problem was that I added a box of frozen spinach to the sauce because I was trying to make it healthier, and unfortunately I don't think the spinach added any flavor to the final dish. Maybe it would have been better if I had had some ricotta to mix in with it. Or it needed some spice. Perhaps there is a reason most recipes add a little nutmeg to spinach!

The second problem was the crispy topping. I decided not to toast the panko prior to baking because I figured the oven would toast it. And it was crunchy, but it was bland bland bland. I was mighty disappointed. Next time I will toast the panko and parsley with olive oil and salt for just a little bit before sprinkling on top.

The recipe below is how I made it this weekend.

Baked Pasta with Spinach, Bacon and Breadcrumbs
Serves 5-6

Extra virgin olive oil
6 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
35 oz can peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes with juice
Dried Italian seasoning
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 lb dried ziti or rigatoni
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and water wrung out
1/2 lb mozzarella, cubed
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (or whatever you have)
Handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil large baking/casserole dish.
2. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt once it is boiling.
3. You want about 2 tablespoons of "fat" in the skillet to cook the onion, so add olive oil to the bacon grease until you have enough. Cook onion for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and stir until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add can of tomatoes with their juice. Use your spoon to break up tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until thickened.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling water until less than al dente. (It will continue to cook in the oven and you DO NOT want over cooked pasta!) Drain.
5. Stir thawed spinach into tomato sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the mozzarella, then mix in the pasta. Transfer to the baking dish.
6. Sprinkle the bacon over the top of the pasta, then the panko and parsley. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt, then sprinkle the top with grated parmesan.
7. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.

September 8, 2010

Fusilli with Sweet Sausage and Fennel Repeat

MM's cousin stayed with us last night and I made Fusilli with Sweet Sausage and Fennel again. It got rave reviews all around. MM even said it was better than the last time!

And on another fennel note, my dear friend Molly sent me a tube of Tom's of Maine fennel flavored toothpaste! I cannot wait to try it! Thanks again, Molly!

September 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Martha Stewart has done it again! These are some of the most delicious cookies I have ever tasted. Salty, crunchy, chewy, chocolaty, what more could you ask for? In some parts of the cookie, it is so light and crunchy it tastes like a meringue.

I made these for my sister and brother-in-law's Labor Day party (which is tomorrow), and I just hope MM and I don't eat them all before we make it to the Eastern Shore! You can find the recipe here, and I would recommend making them soon!

September 1, 2010

My husband is adorable

MM and I are watching last week's rerun of Top Chef and one of the cheftestants said "mise en place" and MM yelled out "onion, celery and carrot!" I started laughing and said, "no, honey, that's mirepoix, but good try." He's so cute.

Chicken Almondine Tenders


So this is one of the first Relish recipes I have made in awhile. It turned out well, although it was even better once we got the honey mustard out of the fridge to serve as a dipping sauce. My only problem with the recipe is that I ran out of the final dredging step (panko and almonds) so the recipe below has increased amounts. And of course I paired it with roasted broccoli and carrots, because we hadn't had roasted broccoli for a couple weeks and were starting to go through withdrawal.

Chicken Almondine Tenders
Adapted from Relish
Serves 2

1/3-1/2 cup flour (however much you need)
1 large egg
3/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds (chopped if pieces are big)
1/2 cup panko
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil

1. Spread flour in a shallow dish; season with salt and pepper. Lightly beat egg in a second shallow dish. Combine almonds, panko and cornstarch in a third shallow dish; season with salt and pepper.

2. Slice the chicken breasts into 1-inch strips and season with salt and pepper. One at a time, coat the chicken lightly with flour, dip in the egg and dredge in the almond mixture, pressing to adhere.

3. Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of your saute pan (you may not need all 1/4 cup, depending on the pan size) over medium heat. Cook the chicken until browned, 2-3 minutes per side. Don't crowd the pan with the chicken; you may need to cook in batches.