Saturday, December 14, 2013

Leeks and Mushrooms

Martha really knows her stuff. I do not have near enough free time to be Martha Stewart, but whenever I use one of her recipes or techniques or whatever, it is always pretty damn awesome.

I bought some leeks at Trader Joe's when I was in there the other day because they looked good even though I didn't have a plan for them. They were nice big ones and were pre-cleaned without the giant extra green part that you can't eat. When I had a free night to cook them I looked around for a recipe and Martha had a nice simple one here. It looks really simple, and you think, eh, how special could it be, but I am telling you, this was awesome. Easy to make, and I didn't even include the parmesan because it was so delicious without it (and I was so hungry I forgot it)!

Ingredients (sweetened with some Taye Diggs in the background):
Mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
Olive oil

That is it! And guess what, toss it all together and saute it until carmelized. That is also it!

Martha said to put in the mushrooms first and do some fancy stuff, but I just threw it all in together and it was fabulous. That way the mushrooms still had a little firmness to them when they leeks were good and browned. I think I deglazed the pan with some water, maybe a 1/3 cup; if you like white wine, that would be good too, but I hate white wine.

Plate it and gobble it! I truly looked forward to eating the leftovers. That is how good this was. I love finding a new (to me) vegetable side dish that is easy to recreate.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot

I've been seeing the wonderpot pop up on Pinterest and Facebook.  To digress a bit, is anyone else a bit annoyed by people sharing recipes on Facebook?  I don't know why it bothers me but it does.  Anyhoodle, the wonderpot seems like a genius idea.  Throw pasta and sauce fixin's in a large pot and let it do its thang.  Easy peasy, right?  I made this for dinner and it was solidly okay.  I asked Dave to rate it and he gave it a B+.  Which is to say that we both ate it but weren't terribly impressed with it.  Don't get me wrong, it's not bad.  It just didn't earn rave reviews.  I may still play with it and tweak it because it has potential though.


1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
5 cups chicken broth
12 oz box of fettucine
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
5 oz frozen spinach (about half a bag)
cooked bacon, for garnish

Put sliced onion, artichoke hearts, garlic, olive oil and chicken broth in a large pot.  Break the fettucine in half (I did this in batches because my puny arms couldn't break the entire boxful in one stack) and add it, your dried spices and salt and pepper to the pot and stir well.  Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, until pasta is cooked through.  Stir every couple of minutes to make sure pasta doesn't stick.  Once the liquid has mostly absorbed, dish up and top with crumbled bacon and grated parm.

Adapted from Budget Bytes

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Banana pecan muffins

I believe there are fewer issues more divisive than whether you like nuts in your food.  Allergies aside, people have very strong feelings about nuts versus no nuts.  I'm firmly in favor of nuts in everything and I don't care who knows it!  Dave, on the other hand, is less fond of them.  He didn't seem to mind the pecans in these muffins so I call that a win.

I bought a bunch of bananas intending to make smoothies but then I got lazy during the week and the bananas were turning that lovely shade that signifies they should be baked with rather than eaten plain.  I like my bananas slightly underripe so the thought of an overly ripe banana as a snack is slightly upsetting.

These muffins were tasty and only slightly adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe.  I made half a batch and they fit perfectly in my mini muffin pan.


1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
2 overripe bananas
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 sticks butter melted and cooled
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat your oven to 375 and spray the ish out of your muffin pan with cooking spray.

Mash your bananas and combine with sugar.  Beat vigorously until well combined.  Add the butter, egg and vanilla and beat again.  Mix in flour, baking soda and salt until just combined.  Fold in the nuts with a spatula.  Scoop your batter into muffin cups and bake for 12ish minutes, until golden brown.

Adapted from Tyler Florence's Banana Nut Muffins

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lemon Brownies

Ew... Lemon brownies? There is no cocoa in them, and therefore they are not brown, but they are the consistency of brownies so I don't really have a better name.

Does anybody know where those random recipes that pop up on facebook come from? That is where I found this recipe and it was like a little bit of magic fell from the facebook abyss. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors of almost everything. It goes on my list of things that you add to a dish that needs a little something extra (lemon, garlic, onion or avocado).

1/2 c butter
3/4 c flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice

1 c powdered sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8x8 pan.

Beat first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl, and whisk the next 3 ingredients together in a small bowl, and then add the small bowl to the large and beat until smooth. Pour into pan and bake for 23-25 minutes, edges should be golden brown and center solid but moist.

Whisk the glaze ingredients together (definitely use a whisk, a fork didn't do the job). When the brownies are done and completely cool, pour the glaze over the top. It should set up if left uncovered, and I love that. I love hardened icing.

These have a super-strong lemon flavor, it is not subtle at all. For me, they are absolutely delicious! I used the zest of two whole lemons between the brownie and the glaze, and I think it was about the right amount. I juiced the two lemons, intending the use it in the recipe and then proceeded to spill that fresh squeezed juice all over myself. I was pissed. So instead I used bottled lemon juice and it was just fine.

I really want to try these in both lime and orange and see if they are just as good. I think they might be. Then I could have rainbow brownies! Oooh... I am giving myself even more ideas!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sauteed Chicken Pasta

This was a recipe born out of things I had around the house one weekend when I needed to make a meal, and it turned out to be easy and delicious. Growing up, we never ate pasta (and only ever spaghetti) without massive amounts of Prego on it. I do still have a nostalgic love for cheap pasta sauce with hamburger in it. Trying to get away from that, I like finding new stuff to put on pasta. Also, it feels kind of hamburger-helper-y, and I am, you know, fancier than that, ya'll.

Basics are:
Olive oil
Chopped garlic
Chopped tomato
Sliced mushrooms
Cubed/sliced chicken breast
Lemon juice

First, saute the garlic in butter and then add the chopped tomatoes. A few minutes later, add the mushrooms. Dredge the chicken in flour and add it to the pan after a little olive oil.

Start water boiling for your pasta, and get it cooking at the same time. I like angel hair, but in this instance, pretty much anything you like will work.

Cook the chicken through, then add some more olive oil, lemon juice, and the salt, pepper and basil to taste. I try to make sure there is enough liquid to make it a tad saucy, and then throw in your cooked pasta and toss together!

I love garlic and lemon together on pasta. I usually think pasta is pretty boring, but lemon and garlic make everything bright and tasty. It's not really anything revolutionary, but it is basic, has ingredients that are usually in the house, and tastes really good.

Also, this makes great leftovers. It seems like a lot of stuff I make isn't good on the second day. It gets mushy, or discolored or otherwise weird and unappetizing, but this is almost just as awesome reheated!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vanilla granola

Not to brag or anything, but I think this may be the best granola I've made.  And I've made a lot of granola, usually not with much success.  This recipe is adapted from Epicurious and I quartered it so we would actually finish it.  The original recipe makes 8 cups and there's no way we'd eat 8 cups of granola in the 2 weeks it keeps.  It's just not possible.  This recipe makes slightly less than 2 cups, which is perfect for me and Dave, assuming we eat yogurt parfaits every work day.

We've been eating a lot of smoothies lately but I wanted something a little different and instead made yogurt parfaits.  Turns out parfaits are way easier than smoothies so that's an added bonus.  Anyhoo, here's the recipe for granolly.  I think coconut oil adds a little something special to the granola but you could also use canola or vegetable oil. Avoid using an oil that's super heavy or strong-tasting.  I also have a bad habit of slightly burning my granola so putting it back in the oven after turning the heat on ensures it continues to cook without scorching.

Vanilla granola


1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300.  Mix oats, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl.  In a smaller bowl, mix oil, honey and vanilla together.  Pour oil mixture over oats mixture and mix well.  Spread evenly in a pan that's been liberally sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook for 10 minutes, stir granola well, turn off the oven and put the granola back in the oven for 10 more minutes.  Let cool completely and store in a tightly sealed container.

Makes just under 2 cups

Adapted from Epicurious' Vanilla-Scented Granola

Friday, August 30, 2013

Olive oil, chocolate and sea salt cookies

This was a super long summer because I overextended myself.  Sadly, the first thing to go when my time is limited is my baking.  I love to bake so I'm happy to report I'm back from my crazy summer with a fantastic cookie recipe.  I found this recipe via Capitol Hill Style and it's a keeper!  Soft and super chocolatey without being overly sweet, I ate like 4 when I was trying to figure out how to photograph chocolate cookies at 9pm in a kitchen with no natural light (not that it would've mattered after dark).  Shockingly, I didn't make any adjustments to the recipe though I'd like to throw out that the dough is weird.  Usually I eat about a cookie's worth of dough when I make them but something about the olive oil was a little off-putting.  The cookies are divine, the dough was weird.  Weird!

Olive oil, chocolate and sea salt cookies


1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350.  Dissolve baking soda into hot water.  Mix olive oil and sugar together in a medium to large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add vanilla extract and mix well.  Add cocoa powder, flour and salt and mix well.  Mix in the baking soda and water mixture.  Mix in the chocolate chips.  Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop dough onto lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle just a teeny bit of sea salt on top of your cookies.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 or so before removing cookies from cookie sheet.  Devour with a glass of milk.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bokum wings with feta dressing

One of Dave's all-time favorite Korean dishes is Jaeyuk Bokum, a spicy and sweet pork dish.  It's delicious and he's kind of known for loving it in my family.  I was craving some chicken wings and I wasn't feeling a vinegary buffalo sauce so I thought I'd give the bokum sauce another try.  You see, I attempted to make Bokum wings for the Super Bowl this year and used the same sauce I would for the pork and it almost burned my face off.

These wings definitely have some kick so I wanted a cool and creamy sauce to go with them.  I have a deep and undying love for bleu cheese and bleu cheese dressing but no bleu cheese in the fridge.  Bleu.  However, I have 2 containers of feta because Kroger was having a BOGO on it and you don't look a feta BOGO in the mouth.

Bokum wings


15ish frozen chicken wings
2 tbsps kochujang (spicy pepper paste from your friendly neighborhood Asian market)
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 375.  While your oven is heating, mix kochujang, ketchup, honey, vinegar and garlic powder in small saucepan over low heat.  Bring to a simmer and let it cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn your burner to warm and let the sauce hang out.

Once the oven is hot, put your frozen wings on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook for 20 minutes, flip, sprinkle on a little more salt and pepper and let cook for another 20 minutes.

When your wings are done, heat a large frying pan to medium and add your wings and sauce.  Turn wings to coat and let cook only a couple of minutes.  The heat helps the sauce flavor the wings more than just pouring sauce on.

Serve with feta dressing

Feta Dressing


1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder
2 oz. crumbled feta

Mix everything together and stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Serve with hot bokum wings.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe Sliders

I love cheesesteaks.  I've even been to Philadelphia before but not tried a cheesesteak.  I think it's to preserve the cheesesteaks I actually eat as somewhat authentic.  So anyway, I saw this recipe on Pinterest and got super excited.  I think this is an okay recipe but not nearly as amazing as I'd built it up in my mind.  Also, I want my sloppy joe's to be nice and sloppy.  This was more of a loose meat sandwich (which is a terrible name for a sandwich because nothing sounds appetizing about loose meat) so they were messy.

The original recipe comes from and I opted not to make the cheese sauce, instead I just put 1/4 of a slice of provolone on my sliders.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup steak sauce
1 cup beef broth
salt and pepper
slider buns
provolone slices

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook until mostly browned, breaking up pieces.  Add the chopped onion and bell pepper and cook until the onions become soft.  Add salt and pepper.  Stir in steak sauce and beef broth and simmer until slightly thickened, probably 7 minutes.  Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.  Scoop onto slider buns and top with 1/4 slice of provolone cheese.

Recipe from

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Recipe test - Honeyed Shrimp and Polenta

I have tried polenta in restaurants several times and have been wanting to have a go at it. Being vaguely cheap and conscious of always buying things and then having them go bad before I use them, I wanted to try cooking polenta directly from cornmeal instead of buying the pre-prepped tubes.

I found this recipe at, and put it to use. It seemed to do the trick, though the polenta was pretty sticky and I am not sure if that is how it is supposed to be or not. I might consider trying to make it in smaller quantities in the future because this yielded a buttload.

Then I went on to step two, which was to incorporate the polenta into a dish from, Honeyed Prawns and Polenta. I don't like the word prawn, so from now on I will be calling them shrimp, like a good American. On all of the British TV shows I watch they call them prawns and it just sounds icky to me. And it makes me think of the aliens from District 9, which was a fantastic movie. Back to cooking...

I do love shrimp. I like to try almost anything with shrimp, and I like to try to make new things with shrimp. In fact, I tried cooking them directly over the flame of my gas stove on skewers the other day because I was too lazy to bother setting up the grill. A little iffy, but it works!

While the polenta looks like a solid thing here, once you pierce the crusty layer it is all jiggly and soupy. Polenta and shrimp baked and then plated in a pleasing manner with parmesan, parsley and capers because, as blogger The Pioneer Woman says, Martha may be watching.

And then I proceeded to douse it in more parmesan and devour it. The capers were unnecessary, and did not compliment the honey-sweet taste of the dish. Otherwise, pretty delightful. The brown bits of the polenta were the best parts by far. Not such a fan of the soupy part, so baking in a thinner layer would go better in my opinion. The recipe called for currants, which I did not have, and they may have added some more goodness because I can see that they may have been a fruitiness missing that I would have liked. Though I found that the polenta reminded me a bit of corn bread and then I really wanted corn bread and wished I had it instead of the polenta.

I am a bit torn on the shrimp. The tomato paste and honey did work on one level, but I think maybe it could have been thinned and spruced up in some way.

If you love polenta, then this might work out for you. If not, this might not be the best intro.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chuckie's Pasta Salad

My brother makes the best pasta and potato salads.  Seriously, if I go home and he doesn't make at least one of them, I'll probably die.  These salads are so delicious (how delicious are they??) that they make me buy things I never do like bread and butter pickles and mayo.  I think mayo is one of the most over-used condiments ever and I don't like the way it feels on my finger when I'm wiping the last of it off the spoon I just used to make pasta salad.  It's the definition of sqwick.

But back to pasta salad!  I had some leftover pulled pork and needed a side to go with it so I called my brother and wrestled the recipe out of him.  He learned to cook from my dad who never measures anything so I basically scribbled down a list of ingredients and ranges of how much of each to put in.  That's how we do.  The recipe below is for a full pound of rotini but the picture shows but 1/3 of a bag of pasta.

Pasta Salad

1 lb rotini, cooked according to package instructions
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp bread and butter pickle juice
1/4 diced bread and butter pickles
1 tsp garlic powder
generous sprinkling of black pepper

While the pasta is cooking, mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Drain pasta and give it a quick rinse with cold water.  Pour the drained, cooked pasta into your dressing and stir well.  Chill at least an hour and then devour!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thai Red Curry

Curry is one of those things that can be really good or really crappy. At least for me. Red curry seems to be my favorite, and the others I could take or leave. One of my favorite Thai restaurants has a lunch buffet and they often serve red curry and it is always one of my favorite trips. I even talked my mom into it on my last birthday and she liked it, which is saying a lot because my family does not eat very adventurously.

I have had a little bottle of red curry paste in my pantry for a few months now and I finally got around to breaking it out.

These were all my ingredients, aside from the meat. I used this handy recipe from the Thai Kitchen brand since that is the curry paste I had. Basically it just says chop up whatever vegetables you want and some meat. I used chicken and shrimp, but the shrimp wasn't so great it in, so I would stick with chicken in the future.

I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, heating the paste, adding the stock and coconut milk, then adding the fish sauce and brown sugar. Simmer for a bit, then add the meat & veg and simmer some more. So simple!

I think I simmered mine a little too long while I was cooking my rice, because it began to separate a bit. So don't over cook it!

Still tasted good anyway! I finished my bowl and thought about having another! The mushrooms tasted particularly good in there, and the asparagus worked too, even though I was a bit skeptical. I might even go heavier on the curry next time because I think it could have been a bit spicier than the recipe suggests and I already added a bit more than a tbsp.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Faux Soba Salad

I have never been a huge fan of pasta. Blasphemy, I know. It is occasionally a good vehicle for a worthy sauce, but I am ambivalent about it on it's own. I have become interested in finding alternatives for pasta and so far vegetables have done a damn good job! Spaghetti squash will be coming in a future episode, but this time I am using zucchini.

I found this interesting-looking recipe and wanted to modify it not to contain noodles. As soba are fatter noodles, I decided to slice up some zucchini and use it instead.

I sauteed julienned zucchini in sesame oil with some sesame seeds until it was slightly softened. This was one zucchini, which ended up not making a whole lot, maybe enough for 3 people as a side, so multiply as needed. Then cut up some tomatoes (I used cherry), avocado and cilantro.

For the dressing, I whisked together tahini, soy sauce, red wine vinegar (they suggest rice vinegar in the recipe but this seemed fine too), sesame oil, a little water, salt and pepper. I added a little sugar since I wasn't using the tofu cooked with sugar. The dressing seemed to need that sweet element and just adding a bit of sugar did the trick. As you know by now, I don't measure anything, and with a dressing like this, putting things in to your taste works best.

Then just stir it all up in the dressing! I am pretty impressed with this. It seems really fancy but is really easy.

My dressing ended up a bit thicker than that shown in the recipe, but I liked the flavor even thought it looks a bit less colorful and pretty than in the pro pictures.

I didn't realize what a peanutty flavor tahini has. I had to buy a gigantic can of it so I hope I find some good uses for it. This salad was a great departure from most of the flavors that I use all the time, without much of a change of ingredients. It almost has that Asian peanut sauce taste. I hope it holds up in the fridge overnight so I can have it with lunch tomorrow!

Post script: Thick dressing = bad idea. After being refrigerated overnight, the consistency was a little unappetizing. Definitely thin your dressing with more vinegar, soy or water based on your taste if it ends up looking like mine above!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pork and Carrots, Take 2, only much better

So my leftover pork and carrots needed to be used, and this time I am much, much happier with the results. This time I decided on stuffed pork chops with apple and raisin filling. The carrots come in later, for a little spicy Moroccan dip.

First, assembling the filling:
1 peeled and chopped apple
1 small diced onion
ground sage
1 cup white bread cubes
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
Several small pork chops (I pounded out mine)

Sautee the apple, onion and sage in olive oil until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the bread, egg, butter, salt & pepper, then as much chicken broth as the mixture will soak up.

Lay out your pork chops on a lined baking sheet, and fill them to your hearts content!

Roll the pork chop over a bit to get it to stay pretty well closed. I didn't put in the energy of tying them up or skewering them and it was fine. Also, I put the extra filling between the chops on the sheet to cook it up, because I didn't want to leave any deliciousness behind. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, it probably depends on the thickness of your chops, you may need more time. Pork should be cooked to at least 160 degrees.

Plate up and enjoy the amazingness! This was so so good that I can't recommend it highly enough... go... make them now! (Despite the kind of obscene color and texture of the pork, ignore that, I promise, no regrets)

Also, the small bowl of orange on the plate is this Morrocan-Style Spicy Carrot Dip, and it was also very very good. WAY better than yesterday's mash. Definitely choose this over that.

Successes and Failures, know your cauliflower limits

I tried to take on Whole30, and failed, but I still got some good things out of it. Meal planning is a super smart thing to do. It makes shopping and cooking much easier. I, however, very much require dairy and sugar. And "paleo" baked goods are disgusting, but cauliflower makes a good replacement for some things like rice and grains. I am going to continue to strive for a close-to-Whole30 30 days, but I have pretty much broken every rule in the 2 weeks up to now. According to the creators I am not doing it right, but it is still eating better so screw the rules!

So that leads to last night's meal. I decided to make all new things: breaded pork tenders with mint cashew pesto and carrot cauliflower mash. Spoiler alert... the pork tenders were the only really good part.

It all looks good right? Well, the pesto was way too salty and the mash had very little flavor. The pork tenders however were quite good. I just chopped some slices off a pork loin, dredged them in flour with salt and pepper, dipped that in beaten egg, and dipped that in a mixture of panko and parmesan (not at all Whole30). Popped it in a pan until brown and they came out moist and tender. Perfect!

I think part of my pesto problem was that I didn't have enough of the ingredients to adjust my flavors. I think it could be good. It is just spinach, mint, cashews, salt, pepper and olive oil blended together. I couldn't get it well blended because there was so little, and once it was too salty, I was out of spinach and mint to try and fix it. Not sure if I will try again or not.

The carrot cauliflower mash I had high expectations for because the ingredients were so good!

Even just in the pans it looks so good! For some reason my carrots never steamed. How does that happen? I boiled water under the steamer...? I am still confused by it. The onions were delicious on their own, I should have just eaten them: chopped onion, garlic, rosemary, thyme and olive oil. I steamed some grated cauliflower from another recipe in the microwave and then added it all to the blender.

I think I might try this again without the cauliflower. I had used cauliflower in so many recipes lately that I think I wore myself out on it. With salt and pepper it was edible, but I didn't eat much of it. Mostly I just ate the peppers out from underneath with the little bits of mash I didn't flick off. Also, maybe I just don't like mashed things... I am not sure about that, but it could be part of it. I am going to try another version of carrot mash, to be used as a dip, so maybe that will provide some more insight!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Awesome Guacamole

I love avocados. A lot. If there is an apocalypse then I am moving to Mexico to make sure that I continue to get a regular serving of avocados. I always have them in the house. They don't even go on the shopping list because I always know how many are left and if I require more.

So... I make a lot of guacamole. Recently at a few parties, people have raved. I figured I would throw my recipe into the ring with all of the others.

Several ripe avocados (not too firm or soft)
White or red onion (your preference, I used white)
Fresh tomatoes (not canned!)
Lime juice (I get lazy here and use bottled)

Pretty much every single one of these ingredients can be added to taste. I choose to go about 2:1:1 on my avocado:onion:tomato ratio. 

First, chop up your cados, onions and tomats. There is a bit of an art to getting the flesh out of the avocado, and if you haven't mastered it, here are my tips:

-Slice the fruit (veg? who knows) in 1/2 long ways, and twist the 2 halves apart
-(this gets a bit dangerous and you can probably use a spoon, but I...) jab a knife into the pit and twist it a bit to loosen and pull it out
-Use a knife to score the flesh still inside the rind (peel? shell?) both long and cross ways so you have a grid
-Use a spoon to scoop out your lovely avocado cubes!

Mix up your chopped ingredients in your serving bowl. I try not to make it too uniform, I like the chunks. Add the salt and lime juice slowly, tasting and stiring to see how much you like. That's it!

I suggest making quite a bit more than you think people will eat, because it goes fast. But it also doesn't store well, and gets brown pretty quick, so you may have to eat the leftovers the same day (oh no!) if the browning scares you.

I didn't make this for Memorial Day, but the weekend before. We made steak skewers marinated in wine, which were delicious (though the wine seemed superfluous, couldn't tell they were marinated once cooked). Won't bother with a recipe because that was all there was to it! So pretty!

Hope you had a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Creamy Taco Mac

In the span of about 10 minutes I went from "I don't want to cook dinner" to "oooh, taco mac!".  Cuz that's how I roll.  I've seen about a dozen variations of taco mac come through my Google Reader (which reminds me, I should probably find myself a replacement for that) and it turns out I had most of the fixin's to try out the recipe.  I made a few substitutions because that's what I do but it got a glowing review from Dave so this is clearly a keeper.  I still want to try it as written though.

The photo was taken right before we dug in, fresh out of the pan.  The pasta definitely absorbed the sauce in the fridge so leftovers weren't quite as soupy.


1 1/4 lb ground turkey
8 ounces medium pasta shells
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp taco seasoning, divided
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 triangles Laughing Cow cheese
1/2 cup half and half
shredded cheddar
hot sauce

Cook pasta according to directions, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water and mixing it with 1 tsp bouillon concentrate.

Brown your turkey, breaking it up really well.  Add about 2 tbsp taco seasoning to the meat.  Once the meat is mostly browned, throw in the onions. Stir them around until the onions start to soften and add the bell pepper and garlic.  After they cook about a minute, add tomatoes and stir.  As soon as the juices start to lightly bubble, add the cheese triangles and melt.  Stir in the cooked pasta.  Add half and half, pasta water, salt and pepper and a handful of shredded cheddar. Simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce and let the flavors meld.

Serve with additional shredded cheddar and hot sauce on top.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

I love quesadillas for using up leftovers but I was recently inspired by Dave's favorite pizza so I had to make quesadillas just to make them.  These quesadillas have chicken breast cooked in bbq sauce, bacon, caramelized onions, cheese and more bbq sauce and they are ridiculously good.

The key to a good quesadilla (grilled cheese too) is to liberally butter your pan before you put it in and again before you flip it.  This begs the question, how do you butter the pan before you flip your delicious item?  You pull out your quesadilla, slap it on a plate, then butter the pan and slide the untoasted side into the pan.

I served these with one of those steam in the bag veggie deals because I couldn't decide what to put with them and then I was too hungry to think anything up.


2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 bbq sauce
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp butter
shredded jack cheese
soft taco tortillas
extra bbq sauce for prep
butter for your pan

Put chicken breasts, chicken broth and bbq sauce in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, stir occasionally and wait for the chicken to get cooked through, about 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add your sliced onion to the melted butter and give it a quick stir to get nicely coated.  Stir every couple of minutes until your onions get soft and browned.

Pull your chicken off the heat and shred.  Add more bbq sauce if desired.  To assemble your quesadilla, put some shredded chicken, a light amount of cheese, a little bbq sauce, then onion and a little more cheese on a tortilla. Top with a second tortilla.  In the same pan you caramelized your onion, put a generous swipe of butter and lay the quesadilla in it.  Let it cook for about 2 minutes and flip, let that side cook about 1.5 minutes.  Pull it out of the frying pan, cut with a pizza cutter and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tupelo Honey biscuits

One of my favorite breakfasts is biscuits and gravy.  My beloved Wheatfields makes a mean biscuits and gravy but I only go home once or twice a year so I have to make my own.  I first had a Tupelo Honey biscuit when we met up with some dear friends in Asheville.  I had the fried chicken and biscuits and damn near wept at how amazing it was.  Flaky, delicious biscuit, perfectly fried chicken and luscious milk gravy over the top.  Just thinking about it makes me want to go back.  I asked for the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook for Christmas and obviously the first recipe I wanted to make from it was their biscuits.

I think these biscuits are deliciously awesome but I'm still on the fence about grating the butter.  I want to make them again the traditional way, by cutting the butter in with a pastry blender.  But I have the KitchenAid attachment that grates for me so it's not the worst thing in the world to have to grate the butter.  And because I never have buttermilk on hand, I use this substitution all the time and it works great.


2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup salted butter, frozen
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and sour cream in a large bowl.  Grate frozen butter with the large holes on the grater and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter.  Add buttermilk and mix until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a rectangle 1-inch thick.  Using a pizza cutter, score the dough into 6 equally sized pieces and put in the oven.  Bake on the top rack for 15 minutes or until light brown and remove from oven.  Let sit about 10 minutes before splitting and serving with sausage gravy.

Very slightly adapted from the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Magical meatloaf

I love looking at my cookbooks because most of them have been gifts.  I not only get to make fabulous food, I also take a moment for a fond memory of unwrapping the book.  My in-laws have gotten me a Barefoot Contessa cookbook for my birthday the last few years and I decided after a 4 day work trip that I was sick of eating out and wanted to cook something so I went straight to Ina.  She didn't disappoint.

I started with her 1770 House Meatloaf recipe but as is my MO, I made some substitutions but was very happy with how it turned out.  The original recipe called for veal and though I've never tried veal, I have kind of a mental block against it.  It's not rational but it's there so I'm admitting to it.  I also didn't think I had any Panko so I used cracker crumbs instead.  And as soon as I mixed them in with the meat, I found my panko.  Such is life, I guess.

The cookbook has a sauce recipe but I chose to serve with beef gravy instead and put it with mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans.


1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh Italian parsley
3 large room temperature eggs
1 1/3 cups cracker crumbs
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Put the meats, thyme, parsley, eggs, crumbs, milk and salt and pepper in a huge bowl.  Seriously, it's 3 lbs of meat.

Saute the celery and onion in a frying pan until soft.  Remove pan from the heat and put cooled celery and onions in the bowl of meat and goodies.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan.  You want your pan to have a small lip so it can catch the juices from the meatloaf.

Using your hands, mix your meatloaf.  Once everything is mixed well and evenly distributed, attempt to shape it into a loaf.  Mine looked more like a mound o' meat but it was uniformly thick, which is what you're going for.

Bake meatloaf for 45ish minutes.  Depending on how thick you shaped it, your cooking time will vary.  Mine was wide and flat and done in about 45 minutes.  I check for doneness by looking at the juices (should be clear) and kind of poking it with the flat side of a wooden spoon.  It should be springy without being squishy.  Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spicy Orange Stir Fry Sauce

I have a bit of a condiment and sauce obsession. If I could have a bunch of little bowls of dipping sauces at each meal I would be so very happy. The only problem is that sauces that you buy at the store usually seem to suck. Especially Asian sauces. Unless you are buying something basic like soy sauce, the amount of interpretation is so great from brand to brand that none of them seem right. I have been making stir fry with these sauces forever. I have even tried mixing different sauces and it still sucked.

So today I decided to make my own stir fry sauce. I wanted something sweet and spicy and simple. The base of this sauce is orange juice. I zested and juiced a couple oranges. I bought a zester, and dang it, I am going to use the crap out of it!

I added some orange juice from the bottle too, just because I needed more, and it didn't seem to hurt anything. Then I added a couple tablespoons of soy sauce, a couple tablespoons of sugar and about 1/2 a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. That's it! Then I reduced it by half or more, until it was a little caramelized.

I left it simmering while I worked on the stir fry. I used shrimp and some frozen vegetables (bell peppers, snap peas, onions and edamame), but I am sure you could use whatever you like in your stir fry.

I cooked the shrimp through and warmed the already thawed veggies. Then I just poured on the sauce and cooked until the sauce was the consistency I wanted, and coated everything. Serve over rice, and TA DA!

Magic in a bowl! Those 4 simple things made the best stir fry sauce I have had in a long time. I may just throw out some of the crappy sauces that have been hiding out in the fridge for years. The red pepper flakes weren't overpoweringly hot, and the orange juice was the perfect vehicle for sweet and spicy. Obviously this is not an entirely original flavor, but it was so much better than a bottle. Paul Newman, you can suck it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fancy Filled Chocolates

Looking back over our posts so far I have noticed that Sarah has recipes... and I have jumbles of ingredients where the amounts don't actually matter. I swear I do cook things with recipes, I just haven't made a whole lot of those lately. And this one is no different!

Last Christmas I got a big idea to make fancy chocolates for everyone on my list. I had been buying expensive Christopher Elbow and other kinds of chocolates, which are fabulous but the fillings sometimes were weird, and I kept thinking up stuff that I thought sounded better. So I started a list of things like apple spice rum raisin, passion fruit praline and lime curd with toasted coconut. And you know what? They all turned out awesome!

This time I stuck with 2 fillings because I wasn't planning an array of gifts. I brought back one filling that I had done over Christmas, Nutella and caramel, which was a total hit. And I wanted to try something new, and I had some leftover ganache from the bark recipe that I wanted to spice up, so I went with lime chocolate ganache.

I had all of the fillings ready before I started melting the chocolate. I used Nutella straight from the can, and put it in an icing bag so I could pipe it into the molds easily. For the caramel, I used the old standby of melting some caramels with evaporated milk, but any caramel you like that is runny enough to pour or pipe would work.

The ganache was your standard dark chocolate and cream/milk, and then I reduced the zest and juice of 3 limes with a little sugar, and then stirred it in to the still warm ganache. The ganache started out really thick and firm. Surprisingly, the ganache smoothed out quite nicely in the microwave in 30 second increments.

Next comes melting the chocolate to pour into the mold. Thanks to Brian for getting me these awesome  silicone molds for Christmas! I have tried the cheap all-plastic ones, and they are ok, but I tended to crush the plastic in the process of removing the chocolates.

Tempering the chocolate is a good idea because it will give the chocolate a satisfying snap when it hardens. Here is a detailed set of tempering instructions. I was lazy this time and did my no-thermometer version, where I just heat the chocolate slightly hotter than melting point, cool it for a bit and then put it back on the heat. It worked just as well, so it seems the that exact temperatures aren't all that important. Of course, all of this is done with a make-shift double boiler because it will help you not burn the chocolate. Dark chocolate seems to be the easiest thing to work with, but milk and white chocolate are doable too.

There are lots of ways to get the chocolate into the mold... you can pour it all over and shake it out, paint it in very carefully, but I go with a sort of in-between method of spooning some into each well and then shaking it around and using a (very clean) finger or toothpick to make sure all of the edges are covered and then shaking the excess out. Then I use a metal scraper to scoop all of the excess chocolate off the top of the mold. I find it to be a nice balance of making a giant mess while still being detail-oriented.

After coating the molds with chocolate I stick them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes so they harden up nicely and are ready for the filling. Keep an eye on your melting chocolate, or take it off the boiler while you wait so it doesn't burn. Once hard, you can pipe, pour, funnel, spoon, smoosh, etc. your filling into the coated molds. I piped the Nutella, used a squeeze bottle for the caramel, and spooned in the ganache and they all worked just fine. Make sure your fillings are level-ish, and slightly below the threshold of the mold so that you have room to cover the bottom of the chocolates. I found the scraper was great for spreading the chocolate over the mold so they have flat bottoms (preferred in this case).

After everything is assembled, stick them back in the freezer or fridge to finish setting them up. The silicone molds made it super-easy to unmold the chocolates because the mold just turned inside out and dropped the chocolates right out! I didn't have to bang them on the table and whack them with kitchen appliances to free them like with the plastic molds.

I mixed in some white chocolate at one point to get that marbled effect, but it is hard to keep consistent because everything just starts turning medium brown after a while. Whatever the color, I haven't hit a bad one yet, chocolate with fun filling is always a crowd-pleaser.

Two things though, plan on making a huge mess of your kitchen, your hands and your clothes, and plan on spending several to many hours depending on the number of trays and different fillings, because even on take-two, I spent 5 hours! I recommend getting creative with the fillings, I feel like that is the most fun part. Next time... maybe squid and mustard!

Pineapple Cobbler

Living in the South has opened me up to a whole new realm of food.  Some of the Paula Deen buttery cliche is true but most of it is just new flavors and new dishes.  I went to an ultimate tournament in November and the tournament organizers include a massive Thanksgiving potluck in your tournament fee so I got to eat some new and delicious food.  The tricky thing about eating after playing in a tournament is that you're so tired and hungry that pretty much everything is the best thing you've ever eaten.  That being said, one dish in particular struck a chord with me.  It was a pineapple cobbler.

Now I've had dump cake before and pineapple cobbler is it's more subtle cousin.  This cobbler is lightly sweetened and the topping is almost pancakey. We finished it in 2 days because every time we walked by, we'd have to swipe a bite or two.  It's that good.

I found this recipe on Southern Plate via Google and the only adjustment I made was to decrease the sugar in the topping and add a bit of salt.


20 oz can pineapple chunks
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup AP flour
1/8 cup brown sugar

1 cup baking mix
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
pinch salt

Put butter, juice from pineapple, brown sugar and flour in a saucepan.  Whisk over medium heat until butter is melted and you reach a uniformly smooth consistency.  Bring ingredients to a simmer while still whisking.  It'll start to look like pineapple gravy, which sounds weird but is amahzing!  Remove your pan from the heat and stir in the pineapple chunks with a spoon or spatula.  Don't try to whisk it.  Pour your filling into a well Pam-ed 9x9 pan.

Mix baking mix and sugar and salt together.  Add milk and stir until well-combined.  I used my quick bread rationale and didn't go too smooth but tried to get everything well incorporated.  Pour the topping over the filling and smooth it out.  Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.  It should get all golden-y brown and you'll see a little of the filling bubbling around the edges.

Recipe very slightly adapted from Southern Plate

Monday, March 4, 2013

Oven Fajitas

I got a Pinterest account some time ago and I can't decide what I think of it.  I use it, I actively pin things and look at things others have pinned but I mostly use it as a place to bookmark things I want to try.  The hard part is actually trying the things I've pinned.  I realized after I made these fajitas that I hadn't actually pinned them, I'd just seen the pin going 'round and 'round Pinterest.  This recipe comes from Budget Bytes, which is one of my go-to blogs for tasty dishes that don't require 2 hours of prep/cooking.

You've got to make the homemade fajita seasoning.  I don't like the storebought ones because they're way too salty.  This seasoning has just a touch of salt and I think the flavor is perfect.

Overall, I really enjoyed the fajitas.  The meat was cooked perfectly and I want to use this same method for all my chicken dishes from now on.  Some of the peppers got a little softer than I usually like but that won't prevent me from making this again.  I also wonder how it would taste with shrimp.


Fajita Seasoning
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp corn starch

2 bell peppers seeded and cut into strips
1 1/2 onions cut into strips
1 1/4 lbs chicken breast cut into strips
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 400.  Mix the seasoning ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  Combine cut up peppers, onions and chicken in a 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle the seasoning evenly over the ingredients in the pan.  Drizzle oil over the seasoned goodies and then mix with your hands to evenly distribute seasoning and oil.  Bake for 40 minutes, stirring really well once about halfway through.

Recipe from Budget Bytes

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Everything Bark

I had a bunch of different kinds of chocolate lying around so I decided on a cleaning-out-the-cabinets dessert. What better than chocolate bark which can literally consist of anything! Here is what I had in the house:

Dark chocolate
Milk chocolate
White chocolate
Slivered almonds
Chopped walnuts
Rice crispies
Golden raisins
Malted milk balls (not pictured)

I plumped the raisins and craisins in hot water first. Then I melted the chocolate. Usually I will use a double boiler, but I was feeling a little lazy so this time I just threw all of the chocolate together in a pot and heated it on low. I haven't had a problem doing it this way, but you have to keep a close eye. After the chocolate was mostly melted, I dumped everything else in and stirred it all up, then dumped it out on a baking sheet when it was all coated. I left a little of the white chocolate out and melted it at the end to drizzle on the top.

Put it in the fridge or freezer until it sets up and then chop it up into little hand-held blocks of goodness.

Really, this is a no-lose recipe. As long as you are putting good stuff in, you will get good stuff out. Just don't burn the chocolate. Also, don't try to make ganache, it gets too thick for stirring stuff into, just stick with straight up chocolate.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Almost Chipotle's Corn Salsa

I remember when Chipotle first came to my hometown.  They were across the street and a few doors down from my dad's office so when I would work for him after school, he would sometimes send me over there to get us a nosh.  And by nosh he meant a burrito.  Each.  I miss working for him.

When I saw this recipe, I was super excited to try it out at home because I love their corn salsa.  Sadly, my cilantro was looking a little lackluster so I left it out and thusly, my salsa was a little lackluster.  I want to try it again with some fresh and crisp cilantro though, so I found it blog-worthy.

This was also my first time chopping fresh jalapenos.  When people advise you to wear gloves, take them seriously!  I somehow got some jalapeno essence under my nose and damn, it burned for a couple of hours.

The recipe below doesn't include cilantro since that's the way I made it. This is the after photo from us munching on it with chips and adding it to our salads.  Also, I used way too big a bowl because my spatial abilities are lacking when it comes to figuring out what size vessel to use.


12 oz bag of frozen corn, defrosted and drained
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion
1/4 lime juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix ingredients together in a mediumish bowl.  Add more salt, pepper, lime to taste.

Recipe from How Sweet It Is

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chocolate-swirled Banana Bread

I have a bi-monthly meeting with some colleagues that I always look forward to.  I decided that I wanted to bring a baked treat for them this week and as I looked around the kitchen, I noticed a couple of ripe bananas.  I like my bananas a little bit green so I sometimes have a hard time deciding when they're ripe enough to bake with but I hit the sweet spot with this recipe.  The bread comes out super moist and delicious and the chocolate swirl adds a little extra oomph.  I highly recommend it.


1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp cocoa-almond spread
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp coconut oil
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup vanilla yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a loaf pan with Pam.
Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Put the cocoa spread and 1 tsp of coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds.  Stir to combine.  It didn't look like it was going to come together but if you keep stirring, it will magically blend.
Mix the remaining coconut oil, canola oil, butter and brown sugar together.  Stir in the bananas.  Mix the eggs in one at a time, blending completely each time.  Mix in vanilla extract. Add yogurt and half the flour mix and stir well.  Mix in the rest of the flour blend, only until it's just incorporated.
Pour half the batter into the loaf pan.  Pour in all the chocolate mix and spread gently to ensure full coverage. Pour the rest of the batter on top and use a chopstick to swirl.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quick Cassoulet

We call this dish "meat stew" 'round our house because that's basically what it is.  Pork, sausage, bacon (when I have it) and tomatoes and beans and some red wine all combine to make a warm and earthy stew.  It's perfect for the rainy, 40ish degree weather we've been having.  I like mine with a fresh from the oven baguette and lots of butter.  I like the La Brea Take & Bake baguettes in the bakery section of the grocery store.  


1.5 pounds pork chops, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp Italian seasoning
12 oz smoked turkey sausage, sliced
3/4 cup red wine
2 cans Great Northern beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with basil and garlic

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Brown the pork with onion, salt and pepper and Italian seasoning, stirring until pork is no longer pink.  Stir in the sausage and cook for a couple of minutes.  Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the wine.  Simmer for 4 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for another 3 minutes.  Stir in the beans, let simmer another minute or so.  Serve with warm baguette.

Adapted from Family Circle

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Five Meat Soup/Pork Marinade

The last 2 weeks have been full of excitement, mainly the awful kind. I was sick with strep and some terrible sinus something for all last week, then it snowed about a foot twice within a week. Spending an entire week at home because of snow and sickness was supposed to create an opportunity for wondrous new dishes, but instead it created an inability to go to the store.

I did a bit of planning ahead when I was invited to see Nick Offerman (Ron! Swanson!) live with some friends. In his honor I decided on a many meat soup! Sadly my infirmity prevented me from seeing the show (saddest face ever) but I went ahead with the meal.

I settled on five meats:
Crawfish Boudin
Pork Carnitas
Sway Fish
Grilled Chicken

I sauteed the boudin and the pancetta, and the pork was pre-cooked and just needed to be shredded. I made a dark roux, threw in some onions and a few cups of stock, the meats and some frozen artichoke hearts and asparagus.

The result was kind of gumbo-like... partially because I did put some file and creole spices in too.

It was pretty good at first. WARNING: this soup may become toxic after 3-4 days. I ate it on Thursday, and both Si and I ate it on Saturday and we were fine, but then he had a bowl on Sunday morning and his stomach started making terrible noises. I felt pretty bad, but I have no idea what happened. I don't know if one of the ingredients deteriorated quickly or there was some weird chemical reaction and the chicken tried to reanimate or what.

So that was traumatic.

Today I wanted to do something with the rest of the pork carnitas and made an impromptu marinade from orange juice, brown sugar, chipotle powder, a tiny bit of molasses and chicken stock. It was delicious! However, I didn't take any pictures, so instead, here is some snow!