Monday, April 30, 2007

A Great Big Thank You!!!

I'm speechless. (If you don't count the bouncing and squealing part) I've only had this blog a few weeks and this happens. Like I said to Helen, you sure know how to make a girl feel welcome! :)

Thanks to all that voted and all that entered, and thanks to Helen for managing the whole thing!

Stay tuned while I learn the mechanics from creator, Barbara, and I'll try to come up with something fun for HHDD #12 for May!

I know I have big shoes to fill!

See the recipe...

If you like to read cookbooks page by page...

Then go get this book.

I need to start taking notes when I add cookbooks to my shopping cart, because I don't know from whose blog I learned of this book, but I thank you (if you know who you are, let me know!)

I spent most of my free time this past weekend with my nose in this book, and I'm smitten. The weather outside was fantastic, but I didn't care. You'd think I could actually smell the wonderful baked goods! I enjoyed the stories behind each recipe, Leslie really pulls you in and leaves you feeling like you could make her lovely breads at home. I'm only half-way through it, so I should be able to spend the next few days finishing it up.

I love to bake, but I don't have a whole lot of practice with breads, even more daunting to me are yeasty breads. I think I'll start on the easier of the breads and work my way up to the ones requiring starter (even though I want to go the starter-route first, as I like the idea of having a new pet!)

If you have this book, let me know what you think!

See the recipe...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sneaky Tofu

I let him take the first bite.

"How is it," I asked.

"Very good!!" he replied, mouth full.

"Rock on," I thought. "I'm glad you said that," I said.

He paused the TV and looked at me. I explained that rather than use ricotta, like most filled pastas, I'd used tofu. I promised that the recipe actually called for tofu, because there is absolutely no way I would ever thought to do it on my own.

I admit, I had reservations. I watched the whole mess come together and I was nervous. Sure, he was in the very same kitchen with me when I popped the tofu into the food processor (he is a mostly oblivious type), but would it be good? I'm so pleased with it, I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow night's leftovers. I might not yet be wondering what else I can slip tofu into, but its a start!

While I'm at it, I think I'll submit this for this week's Presto Pasta Night. I'm either really really early, or super-late. I'll let Ruth decide. :)

Baked Stuffed Shells

1/4 cup boiling water
6 sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) package reduced-fat firm tofu
1 egg, lightly beaten
18 cooked jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ¾ cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
1 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1 medium)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
3 garlic cloves, minced
Cooking spray
¾ pound low-fat turkey breakfast sausage, casings removed
¼ cup red wine
2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt 1 (28-ounce) can organic crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons grated fresh
Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare stuffing, combine 1/4 cup boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl; let stand 20 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Drain and finely chop. Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, and next 6 ingredients (through egg) in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon 2 tablespoons stuffing into each shell. Set stuffed shells aside.

To prepare sauce, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, and garlic; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Place onion mixture in a bowl.

Coat pan with cooking spray; return pan to heat. Add sausage, and cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add wine; cook until wine is reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 3 minutes). Stir in onion mixture, tomato paste, and next 5 ingredients (through tomatoes); bring to a simmer. Cook 25 minutes or until slightly thick.

Spread 2 cups sauce over bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer in pan; top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over sauce. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until bubbly. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 3 stuffed shells and about 1 cup sauce)

See the recipe...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Oat Bran Breakfast

On a whim, I picked up some Arrowhead Mills Organic Oat Bran hot cereal. I know I'm not supposed to be grocery shopping, but I needed oatmeal for my work breakfasts, and I was there, so... I got it. Dave likes grits, and the it seemed like a decent substitute.

In addition, we're in somewhat of a weekend breakfast rut - but we're ok with it. Bagels in bed, and its lovely. A little bran didn't hurt anybody, and we'll go back to bagels tomorrow.

The directions were easy and quick, I got to stir them around and feel like I was doing something useful. I will say that if you let them cool a little, they lose their shininess, so serve immediately.

Dave had his with just a little butter, salt, and pepper. I had a spoonful of almond butter and some sliced bananas. We were both happy. If you find yourself in need of a healthy hot breakfast that doesn't require a lot of work, pick up your own box!

See the recipe...

Friday, April 27, 2007

He's Such A Ham

Because I wanted to share, here are a couple photos of Liane's cutie-pie son, Noah. I mean, don't you just want to put him in a sammich with some cheese?

I'm desperately trying to teach him to say "pimp." What else is an "auntie" to do? :)

See the recipe...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

April Supper Club!

Wednesday night, my friend Liane hosted our April Supper Club. We decided that night that we should name ourselves, but haven't nailed one down. We've had almost-monthly suppers since October, so its high-time we had a name. Suggestions?

As hostess, Liane chose the theme: Tapas. She'd gotten these adorable tapas plates for Christmas and was itching to use them. (I would be too - they're great!!) She and I both had gotten this lovely tapas book for xmas as well - so we were well prepared. (Not that either of us actually chose recipes from it, but whatevs!)

I'm not sure how we do this every month, but its very six-degrees-of-kevin-bacon. You can start with a dish and connect them through to almost every other dish, everything always goes so well. Even more surprising because only half the members decide what they're making more than a day or two ahead of time. We're connected, Ladies!

I'll start with the bottom left hand corner and go clock-wise around:

Marcie has a supper club rule: goat cheese. Thus far, every single recipe has included goat cheese. I also blame her for my current goat cheese addiction. Her Venetian Sausage Bites were tasty little mouthfuls - the sausage is poached, sliced, browned, and then simmered in balsamic vinegar. Yum!! I knew I'd love them, their sausage/balsamic/goat cheese charms were too much to resist!

Next, we have Sara's Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms. (sausage-sausage) Sara is our newest member, brought by Stephanie last month and she liked us well enough to come back (and host next month! Thanks again!!) Her stuffing was the perfect mesh of sausage and cheese and had a really great texture (due to the cream cheese?) When you bit into it (assuming you didn't just pop the whole thing into your mouth) it didn't crumble into bits, instead giving you two great non-messy bites. They reheated really well, to boot (yay leftovers!)

Top left corner were my Chorizo Puffs with Chipotle Sauce. (sausage-sausage) I'd never done that whole dough-made-on-the-stove thing, as you would with cream puffs, and I found it much easier than I thought. The "puffs" were less puffy and more dense, but it was still a nice contrast with the sausage bits. The sauce was nice and spicy and still creamy, and couldn't have been easier to make in the food processer.

Top right corner you'll find Rachel's Chick-Peas and Spinach Tapas. (connectionless - you just had to be different, didn't you? :)) She served them with pitas, and it was just perfect. Her tapas were light and refreshing, and I really enjoyed the pop of the chickpeas. Rachel has opened my eyes to spinach (I previously disliked it, but she served us a terrific spinach salad at an earlier dinner) and for that, I thank her!

On the spoon is one of Stephanie's Polenta Bites with with Caramelized Mushrooms. (mushrooms-mushrooms) She said it was the first time she'd made polenta that didn't come from a log, and I'm glad she did! These bites were creamy and delicious! I've never made polenta in any fashion, but these little bites sent me out to the store for some polenta! Yum!

Bottom right, you'll see Sara's second dish. (goat cheese-goat cheese) She spoils us. When asked what she called them, she said "Apricot Goat Cheesy Things." I'll take it!! They were yummy, happy little bites, perfect as a snack, an appetizer, or a light dessert! Sara made the point that you should use medoterramean apricots, rather than californian, because they are more tender. Go out and get some - now! :)

We finished the evening with Liane's flans. She made two, but somehow I only have a photo of one. They were creamy and delicious. I think I could have happily eaten an entire flan in one sitting all by myself. And I don't think I was the only one. ;)

Chorizo Puffs (BunUelos de Chorizo)
Recipe courtesy Pilar Sanchez,1977,FOOD_9936_12011,00.html

1/4 pound chorizo sausage, skinned and finely chopped
Bunuelo Dough
Oil, for frying

Bunuelos Dough:
1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
2 eggs

Sauté the chorizo in a skillet for a couple of minutes until it starts to give off its oil. (Drain off some oil if there is a lot.) To make the dough, place in a saucepan over medium heat the water, butter and salt. When the water comes to a boil and the butter has melted, add the flour all at once. Lower the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Continue cooking and stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and beat in the eggs 1 at a time. The dough will separate, then hold together again. (This step may be done effortlessly in a food processor; once the flour has been added and forms a ball, transfer the dough to the processor. Process for 15 seconds. Add both eggs and beat for 45 seconds.) Combine the Bunuelo dough with the chorizo. (This can also be done in the processor.) (May be prepared ahead.) In a skillet heat the oil at least 1/2-inch deep to about 380 degrees F. Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls into the oil and fry over medium hear, turning occasionally, until puffed and golden. Drain on paper towels. (May be kept warm in 200 degree F oven up to 30 minutes.)

Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Gourmet Magazine

2 large egg yolks at room temperature
2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups olive or vegetable oil or a combination of the two
3 canned chipolte chilies or to taste, minced (wear rubber gloves) plus 3 tablespoons of the juice, or to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream

In a bowl with an electric mixer or a whisk beat together the egg yolks, the vinegar, the mustard, and the salt, add 1/2 cup of the oil, drop by drop, beating and add the remaining 1 cup oil in a stream, beating until the mixture is emulsified. Stir in the chilies with the juice, the lemon juice, and the sour cream and chill the dipping sauce, covered, for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Makes about 2 1/4 cups.

Venetian Sausage Bites
Marcie Patchett, April Supper Club

Adapted from:,1977,FOOD_9936_32411,00.html

6 sweet Italian sausages
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar

5 ounces goat cheese

Fill a large, deep skillet 1/2 way with water. Bring the water to a steady simmer and add the sausages. Poach the sausages for 6 to 7 minutes, until firm.

Drain the sausages and slice into bite-size pieces. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add the sausage and cook until brown. Drain off the fat and add the balsamic vinegar. Simmer until vinegar is reduced and syrupy. Top sausage rounds with goat cheese.

Serve immediately.

Polenta Bites with Caramelized Mushrooms
Stephanie Wright, from April Supper Club
Adapted from:,,FOOD_9936_32410,00.html?rsrc=search

For the polenta:
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup polenta
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

For the mushrooms:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound button or cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
Finely ground salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

Cook the polenta: In a medium, heavy pot over high heat bring the cream, stock, salt, and nutmeg to a boil. Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly. When the mixture thickens, switch to a wooden spoon and adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring often, until thick, smooth, and creamy, about 15 minutes. Add the Parmesan and stir. Keep the polenta warm over low heat, stirring occasionally. If the polenta gets dry as it sits, stir in about 1/4 cup of warm stock or cream.

Sauté the mushrooms: In a medium skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the mushrooms and onions in a single layer. Let them sizzle until they have caramelized on the bottom, about 2 minutes. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss them once and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue for about 5 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the butter and cook until it begins to brown, then add the garlic. Continue to cook until the garlic begins to brown. Add the thyme and cook for about 10 seconds. Add the lemon juice and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the wine, and simmer until the mushrooms are glazed with the sauce. Add the parsley. Then stir and remove the pan from the heat.

Place or pipe about 1 tablespoon of warm polenta onto a spoon. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the mushroom on top of the polenta. Garnish with grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Coffee Flan
Liane Jones, from April Supper Club

3/4 cup sugar
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
3 3/4 cups whole milk
5 large eggs
4 1/2 teaspoons instant-coffee granules dissolved in 4 teaspoons hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook sugar in a dry small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar melts into a deep golden caramel. Immediately pour into a 9-inch round ceramic or glass baking dish or metal cake pan (2 inches deep) and tilt dish to coat bottom (use caution, dish will be hot). Cool until hardened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Blend remaining ingredients in a blender, in 2 batches if your blender is small, until smooth. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve over caramel in dish, then transfer dish to a 17- by 11-inch roasting pan lined with a kitchen towel. Cover dish loosely with a piece of foil, then pour enough boiling-hot water into roasting pan to reach 1 inch up side of dish. Bake until custard is set but still wobbly in center when gently shaken and a knife inserted in center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Transfer dish to a rack to cool completely, about 40 minutes. Chill flan, covered, until cold, at least 8 hours.

To unmold flan, run a thin knife around edge of dish to loosen flan. Invert a large platter with a lip over dish. Holding dish and platter securely together, quickly invert and turn out flan onto platter. Caramel will pour out over and around flan.

Cooks' note:
Flan can be chilled up to 1 day (before unmolding).

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Creamy Caramel Flan

Liane Jones, from April Supper Club

3/4 cup white sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream
cheese, softened

5 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened
condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can
evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, cook sugar, stirring, until golden. Pour into a 10 inch round baking dish, tilting to coat bottom and sides. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Beat in condensed and evaporated milk and vanilla until smooth. Pour into caramel coated pan. Line a roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place baking dish on towel, inside roasting pan, and place roasting pan on oven rack. Fill roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven 50 to 60 minutes, until center is just set. Cool one hour on wire rack, then chill in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight. To unmold, run a knife around edges of pan and invert on a rimmed serving platter.

Chick-Peas and Spinach Tapas
Rachel Zurowski, from April Supper Club,1977,FOOD_9936_12090,00.html

10 ounces fresh spinach leaves, rinsed, or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen leaf spinach
19-ounce can (2 cups) chick-peas, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
1 to 2 lemons, juiced or to taste
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pita, for serving

If using fresh spinach: Cook the spinach in a saucepan with the water clinging to its leaves, stirring, until wilted. Drain, squeeze dry, and finely chop. If using frozen spinach, follow package directions, drain, squeeze dry, and finely chop.

In a bowl combine the spinach with the chick peas, pepper, chives, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Serve as is or chilled with toasted bread or as a filling for pita pockets.

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms
Sara Mies, from April Supper Club

3 Italian hot sausages, casings removed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg yolk

Olive oil
24 large (about 2-inch-diameter) mushrooms, stemmed
1/3 cup dry white wine

Sauté sausage and oregano in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until sausage is cooked through and brown, breaking into small pieces with back of fork, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to large bowl and cool. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder, then cream cheese. Season filling with salt and pepper; mix in egg yolk.

Brush 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish with olive oil to coat. Brush cavity of each mushroom cap with white wine; fill with scant 1 tablespoon filling and sprinkle with some of remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Arrange mushrooms, filling side up, in prepared dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake uncovered until mushrooms are tender and filling is brown on top, about 25 minutes.

Makes 24.

Goat Cheese Bites
Sara Mies, April Supper Club

Mediterranean Apricots
Plain Goat Cheese
Caramelized Walnuts

Assemble apricots on a serving plate, spoon a dollop of goat cheese on each apricot. Top with a walnut.

See the recipe...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Eating the Pantry

First, let me introduce myself. I am Katie, and I over-grocery-shop. (Hi, Katie!) I love to grocery shop. I love making lists and picking items out and coming home to make whatever dish I've been thinking about all day. I am Katie, and I have a problem. More on this later.

This past weekend, we emptied out our pantry, freezer, and spices cabinet. We took stock of what we had, and then we put it all back. A few items were left out, stray things like the box of hamburger helper and the mix to make beer bread (like from those parties), the boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, yadda yadda, you get the point. Stray foods... things we used to eat way back when.

I also went though my piles of recipes - either printed from the internet or ripped from a magazine and never tried... I had piles. Big piles. Hidden under the oversized chair in the living room big. I think I kept a stack a fifth the size... of recipes I KNEW I'd try.

What accomplishing both these tasks means is that we can try to live off what we have. I need to tame my grocery store beast, and live out of the pantry and freezer. I know I can do it. I know, because as I was going through my stacks, I found this recipe for risotto - and all I needed to get was the italian sausage. It was fate. And fate was tasty.

Tomato and Sausage Risotto

1 (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (10 to 14 ounces) flat-leaf spinach, washed well, tough stems removed, chopped (about 7 Cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).

Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

See the recipe...

Crunchy French Toast

I am so glad that Elise at Simply Recipes has updated her blog - I saw her french toast recipe and had to make it! It was super easy and super yummy! Perfect for a sunny Sunday morning! Thanks!!!

Crunchy French Toast

2 or 3 slices of bread, cut into quarters
1 cup cornflake cereal
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 drops of vanilla Butter and pancake syrup
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

Put the bread pieces on a lined baking sheet into the warming oven (it does not need to be at full temperature) to toast lightly for 5 minutes. Cool the bread completely.

Seal the cornflakes in a heavy plastic bag. Crush them with a rolling pin to the size of rolled oats. Pour into a pie pan or a shallow dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk to mix the eggs, milk, flour and vanilla until blended. Be sure there are no lumps of unmixed flour. Pour into a pie pan or shallow dish. In batches, lay the bread pieces in the egg mix. Soak about 1 minute on each side in the egg mixture. Be careful not to rip the bread.

Place the bread pieces in the cornflake crumbs. Coat both sides with the crumbs. Place on the lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes on one side. Then flip over with tongs or a spatula and bake another 5 to 10 minutes, until the crumbs begin to turn brown. Eat warm with butter and pancake syrup.

Makes 2 or 3 servings.

See the recipe...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Gnocchi Bolognese

So what if the last two real dinners we had were gnocchi? Are you counting?

Well, thats my hangup. I find something new, and I make it over and over again - 3 or 4 times over a couple of weeks. Just to make sure... its research!

When I mentioned to my (Italian) friend Stephanie that I was going to toss the two together, she seemed shocked. WHY would I mix gnocchi and bolognese??? My favorite Italian place, Filomena's, has it on their menu that way, and its the only thing I've ever had there. And I'm very much ok with that. :)

I had the extra gnocchi frozen from a couple of nights ago... and I was in the mood for bolognese. This particular recipe makes A LOT of bolognese... I just put away 5 baggies of it for future dinners, AFTER we'd already had our dinner. Mind you, its just the two of us. Dave loves it, and its an easy dinner down the road. Woohoo!

Now, totally by chance, I grated enough parm that I had enough rind to trim off and add to my collection in the freezer. As I was putting the bag away, I thought, why not actually use some of these cheese rinds? Why am I freezing them if I'm not going to use them? So, for the first time ever, I threw three in the sauce (near the end). They mostly dissolved... and I can't say that I notice a difference. I've never used parm rinds before, I don't know if I used them in the right dish, so if you have any rind experience/guidance, let me know.

PS: Turns out that Steph misunderstood me, and thought I was having (ruining) my gnocchi with bearnaise, rather than bolognese. Explains the horrified look she gave me. :)

Adapted from:
Spaghetti Bolognese

By: Emeril Lagasse,,FOOD_9936_28747,00.html?rsrc=search

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup diced carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound ground beef or ground veal
1/2 pound pork sausage, removed from the casings, or ground pork
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup beef or chicken stock or broth
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beef and sausages, and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and remove any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan, and until half of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato sauce, beef broth, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the cream, butter, and parsley, stir well, and simmer for 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return the water to a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking, until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese and toss to blend. Divide among pasta bowls and serve with the cheese passed tableside. (Alternatively, toss only the desired portion of pasta with a bit of the sauce at a time in a serving bowl, reserving the remainder for another meal.)

See the recipe...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

HHDD # 11: Mousse!

About a month ago, I went to dinner my girlfriend Jessica to a lovely restaurant I'd been dying to go to. I liked it so much, I convinced my husband to take me there the very next night. Both visits, Michel’s Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Bars were ordered. I'm assuming that Patrick Bazin is pals with Michel Richard. (Lucky!) I have a girlfriend that has been to Richard's Citronelle in DC, and she's also had these yummy little bars. We were delighted to find the recipe in his book.

This recipe is wordy, no doubt about it. But don't be scared, it flows pretty easily, and before you know it, you're done. The first time I made these bars, I skipped making the sauce - and they were still great. This second time, I went ahead and made the sauce, and man-o-man, its well worth it. The nutty goodness that is left in the strainer is sooooo good, you should save it. I would have, but Dave came out (ok, ok, I called him out to taste it), declared the goo "highly edible" and proceeded to smear it on his ice cream. I might have helped. :)

This is my first month participating in Hay Hay Its Donna Day! and I hope you like it!

PS: O yah! Go to Tartelette and vote (ends 4/29)!!

Bottom Layer
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons peanut oil
7 ounces milk chocolate, melted and at body temperature
1 ¼ cups crushed cornflakes

Top Layer
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
5 ounces 60% semisweet chocolate, melted and at body temperature

Hazelnut Sauce (makes ¾ cup)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup (about 2 ounces) roasted hazelnuts, skins removed

Unsweetened cocoa power
1 pint raspberries
Whipped cream

Line an 8-inch square pan with plastic wrap, letting it overhang on all sides.

For the bottom layer, place the peanut butter and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium to medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Reduce the speed to low, add the chocolate, and mix for a minute, or until thoroughly combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the cornflakes.

Pour into the prepared pan. Using a small offset spatula, spread the mixture into an even layer, being sure to reach into the corners. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

For the top layer, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Place the chocolate in a medium to large bowl. Working fairly quickly, fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Fold in the remaining cream.

Pour the mixture over the bottom layer and spread into an even layer, being sure to reach into the corners. Bang the bottom of the pan against the work surface to eliminate any air bubbles in the top layer.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the top layer is set, at least 4 hours. (At this point, the dessert can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

For the hazelnut sauce, stir the sugar and water together in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat just to moisten the sugar, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the caramel is a light amber. If any sugar crystals cling to the sides of the pan as the caramel cooks, brush them down with a damp pastry brush.
Meanwhile, combine the cream and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until warm (warming the liquid will help to keep the sugar from hardening when the liquid is added.) Set aside in a warm spot.

When the caramel is light amber, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the hazelnuts, coating them in the caramel. Return the pan to the heat, add the cream mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes. The nuts should be thoroughly coated and the caramel liquefied, without any solid pieces. Transfer to a large blender (be careful, the mixture will be hot.)

Cover the top of the feed tube with a towel and process until the nuts are finely ground. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. (The sauce can also be refrigerated, covered, for 3 days.)

One hour before serving, remove the pan from the refrigerator. Using the plastic overhang, remove the block from the pan and place on the work surface. Peel off the plastic. It is best to cut the bars with a warm large knife. Have a deep container of hot water nearby; dip the knife into the water, and dry with a kitchen towel before each cut. Cut into sixteen 4-by1-inch bars.

Using a tea strainer, or a fine-mesh sieve, dust the tops of the bars with cocoa powder: Brush gently so the cocoa fills in any small holes. Let the cocoa sink in for a minute, then dust a second time for a smooth finish.

Arrange 4 bars on each serving plate. Spoon the sauce around the bars, and garnish with the whipped cream and raspberries.

See the recipe...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's up, Tuber?

Tonight, I thought I would jump on the box-grater gnocchi bandwagon, considering the buzz started by Smitten Kitchen. I have suffered for my gnocchi... the last time being many years ago, and I don't even think gnocchi was made.. I think I gave up and was left with a bowl of sticky, floury potatoes. Yuck.

With so many great comments from people that have actually made gnocchi with their very own hands... and having just had stellar gnocchi at dinner (at Grapeseed Bistro) with my family, I had to do it.

After the jump, you'll find two recipes: Smitten Kitchen's Grater-Box Gnocchi, and a recipe I adapted from an Everyday Italian recipe.. I swapped out the pancetta for the sausage, and gnocchi for the orecchiette. Reason being, this is how my husband had it at Grapeseed.

Does this count as making it my own?

PS: A shoutout goes to Ruth at Once Upon a Feast - I couldn't make my very own gnocchi, successfully, without sharing! Go go Presto Pasta Night!!

1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork, and bake them on a baking sheet for 45 minutes to one hour, or until they are fork-tender. For best results, turn the potatoes over halfway through the baking time. Let the potatoes cool slightly.

Peel the potatoes, and then pass them through a potato ricer, food mill or grate them over the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. Add the lightly beaten egg and the salt to the potatoes and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Add the flour to the potatoes a little at a time, using only as much as you need so that the dough will not stick to your hands. When the flour has been incorporated, bring the dough together with your fingertips.

Dump the dough and any remaining floury bits onto a slightly floured surface. Knead the dough as you would bread dough. Press down and away with the heel of your hand, fold the dough over, make a quarter turn, and repeat the process. Knead for about three or four minutes. Form the dough into a ball and then divide it into 6 smaller balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the six pieces using your fingertips into a long rope about ¾ inch thick. Cut the dough into 1 inch pieces.

You can cook the gnocchi as it is now, but traditional gnocchi has ridges. To create the ridges, press each piece of dough against the tines of a fork. With your finger, gently roll the pressed dough back off the fork. This takes a little practice. If you find the dough sticking to the fork, dip the fork in flour before you press the dough against it.

Place the gnocchi in a single layer on a lightly floured or parchment-lined dish. If you'd like to freeze them for later use, do so on this tray and once they are frozen, drop them into a freezer bag. This ensures that you won't have one enormous gnocchi mass when you are ready to cook them.

To cook the gnocchi, place them into a pot of boiling and well-salted water. After a few minutes the gnocchi will float to the top. Continue to cook for one minute then remove and set aside.

Used to make:

Gnocchi with Pancetta and Broccoli Rabe
Adapted from:,,FOOD_9936_25588,00.html?rsrc=search

1 bunch broccoli rabe, stems trimmed
1 pound gnocchi
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound pancetta, medium-sliced (about 6 slices)
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 1 minute. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a large bowl of ice water to cool, saving the cooking water. Bring the reserved cooking water back to a boil.

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and juices form, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

To cook the gnocchi, place them into a pot of boiling and well-salted water. After a few minutes the gnocchi will float to the top. Continue to cook for one minute then remove and set aside.

Strain the broccoli rabe and add it to the pan with the pancetta mixture and toss to coat with the juices. Add the gnocchi to the skillet. Stir in the Parmesan and serve immediately.

See the recipe...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I love tortillas! + Big Burger Ballyhoo 2007

I'll admit it - in college, I used to eat spaghetti in tortillas. What happier way exists to eat leftovers? Got me!

So imagine my joy in finding a (decently) healthy hamburger dinner in a tortilla? Puh-lease. Super-joy!

As you can see from the picture, I didn't get shredded pepper-jack, I just used sliced... and.. I think I added too much refried beans... but it made the broiled burger crunchy on the outside, which was nice. O, and of course, I over cilantro-ed it. I say, add/delete what you like, make it your own. :)

PS: At Lis's suggestion in the comments below, I have submitted this lovely burger wrap to Freya and Paul's:

Southwestern Beef & Bean Burger Wraps

12 ounces 93%-lean ground beef
1 cup refried beans
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapenos
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup prepared salsa
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
4 whole-wheat tortillas, warmed (see Tip)
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Position oven rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray.
Gently combine ground beef, beans, cilantro and jalapenos in a medium bowl (do not overmix). Shape into four 5-by-2-inch oblong patties and place on the prepared pan.
Broil the patties until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 165°F, 12 to 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash together avocado, salsa and garlic powder in a small bowl.
Place tortillas on a clean work surface. Spread each with the guacamole, then sprinkle with lettuce and cheese. Top each with a burger and roll into a wrap.
Serve immediately, with lime wedges.

TIP: To warm tortillas: Wrap in foil; bake at 300°F until steaming, about 5 minutes. Or wrap in barely damp paper towels and microwave on High for 30 to 45 seconds.

See the recipe...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Truffled Wild Mushrooms Over Whipped White Beans (with Chicken)

Contrary to the picture, dinner wasn't really ALL beige. I forgot the parsley garnish... and yah. It certainly doesn't taste beige, so give it a shot.

This recipe is also from the magazine Lori P. lent me. The Vegetarian Times website is pretty fickle as to what recipes it shows you when you search, so don't get frustrated.

The whipped white beans are dreamy, I think I could eat them all myself as a standalone dinner. (If Dave was out and I wanted something other than cereal) It supposedly feeds 4, but not at our house. I sliced two roasted chicken breasts into it. If you're keen on maintaining its vegan-ness, omit the chicken.

Truffled Wild Mushrooms Over Whipped White Beans

Truffle oil and earthy wild mushrooms turn a simple ragout into a sublime main dish. Truffle oil is a worthwhile investment. A few drops can transform roasted vegetables, bean dishes and even a plain ol’ bowl of mashed potatoes.

2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 lb. wild mushrooms, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. truffle oil

Heat 1 tsp. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add leek and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in beans, broth, garlic and thyme. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer bean mixture to food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Return to skillet, cover and keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 tsp. oil in medium skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté 8 minutes, or until soft and brown. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley.
Spoon whipped bean mixture into shallow bowls. Top with equal portions of mushrooms. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 tsp. truffle oil, and serve.


See the recipe...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Yummy Blueberry Muffins

I'd told Stephanie about these blueberry muffins a few weeks ago, and I'd promised to bring some to her next time I made them. Since she'd spent the night Friday, I figured what better way to breakfast her than to have these!

My husband, who, if asked, will say that he doesn't like blueberries, happily eats these.


Blueberry Muffins with Crumb Topping

These muffins are easy to make: Simply mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, then combine them. Since the baking powder, which lightens the muffins, is activated by moisture, get the batter into the oven immediately. For soft edges, use liners; for crisp edges, use a well-greased, unlined pan. You can easily replace the blueberries with other kinds of fresh fruit, such as raspberries or peaches (chopped into small pieces). In the off-season I used IQF (individually quick-frozen) fruit; there’s no need to thaw.

Crumb topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or foil liners or spray 2 muffin tins with cooking spray.

Make the crumb topping:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in the melted butter, then pinch the mixture until it forms pea-size clumps.

Make the muffins:
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and canola oil and beat with a handheld electric mixer at low speed until combined. Beat in the whole milk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and beat at low speed until the batter is smooth. Stir in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into 18 of the cups, filling them about three-quarters full. Sprinkle the crumb topping on top of each one and bake for about 30 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the blueberry muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before serving.

Once cooled, the blueberry muffins can be kept overnight in an airtight container.

See the recipe...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Really Really Not My Food

So, generally, I'd like to post pictures of food I haven't already dug into... but.. we were hungry... and it had been a few days since I'd blogged, and I'm still new... so I had a couple of bites before I remembered... oops!

What you see is Bobby Flay's Black Pepper Crusted Steak with Toasted Goat Cheese blah blah blah with Giada De Laurentiis' Baked Mashed Potatoes (only I didn't bake them, and I used smoked mozz. instead) and some asparagus with Emeril Lagasse's Sauce Bearnaise... whew! Luckily, I already had the chile sauce for the steak done (frozen extra from earlier).

We had my friend Stephanie over for dinner, so we thought we'd make an evening of it, hence the steaks. She was lovely enough to bring Wegmans awesome chocolate cake and ice cream, and we had a ton of wine. I think I might still be full. :)

Black Pepper Crusted Filet Mignon with Toasted Goat Cheese and Twice Cooked Red Chile Sauce,1977,FOOD_9936_26238,00.html

4 filet mignon steaks, each 1 1/2-inches thick
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 (3/4-inch thick) slices goat cheese
Red Chile Sauce, recipe follows
Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Preheat the grill to high. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling. Meanwhile, combine the cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Liberally season both sides of each filet with the spice mixture. Grill the filets for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium doneness.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler. Remove the steaks from the grill onto a baking sheet, and top each with a slice of the cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is golden brown and soft. Alternatively, use a blow torch or kitchen torch to brown the cheese. Ladle the sauce onto each plate, place the steak in the center, and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Red Chile Sauce:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 New Mexican red chiles, lightly toasted
2 quajillo chiles, lightly toasted
1 ancho chile, lightly toasted
6 to 8 cups homemade chicken stock
1/4 cup creme fraiche
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until soft. Add the chiles and stock, and bring to a simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chiles are soft. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth.

Strain the mixture into a saute pan that has been set on high heat for a few minutes, and cook the sauce until slightly thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Accompanied by:

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs
Adapted from:,1977,FOOD_9936_32174,00.html

1 tablespoon butter
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return the potatoes to the same pot and mash well. Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

[Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Stir the bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Recipe can be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead of time; cover and chill.

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. ]

Skipped the part in brackets. I will say that it’s a great thing to do for holidays… you can get the mash ready ahead of time, and pop it in the oven right at the end of the dinner prep.


Bearnaise Sauce,1977,FOOD_9936_6401,00.html

3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons white wine
10 peppercorns, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon water
3 egg yolks
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves

In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, wine, peppercorns, shallots, and tarragon. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to 1 tablespoon. Add 1 tablespoon of water. Add the egg yolks and whisk, over low heat, until frothy, about 3 to 4 minutes. In a steady stream, add the butter until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Strain the sauce through a chinois and set aside. Garnish with the parsley leaves.

See the recipe...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Leftovers Number One

So tonight, we had the chicken mole + rice leftovers from Easter Sunday. At Dave's suggestion, I made the avocado and black bean salad from late last week to go with it (as the mole was kinda spicy, and the avocado black bean salad is cool and creamy). I think it was a genius idea.

As we were supposed to have Father Pollard over for dinner (no one tell him we were going to have leftovers), I made dessert. Lemongrass and yogurt rice pudding. I think its yummy bliss; Dave thought it was gross. As our friend Liane says, lemongrass is an acquired taste. If you dig it, make it. It didn't require much fussing, and I could eat it all day. Since Father canceled, more for me!

Lemongrass Yogurt Rice with Crushed Raspberries

Mix and match the refreshing lemongrass yogurt rice with the sweet crushed fruit as you go – or you could even spoon the berries and juice into the bowls first and cover with the rice, then dig deep for the berries as you eat.

8 oz. crushed raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ short grain rice, washed
4 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed open
3 cups milk
1 lb. creamy yogurt

Put half the raspberries in a sauce pan and stir in half the sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer until the fruit is soft. Push the fruit and juice through a non-metal strainer into a bowl, discarding the pips. Stir in the lemon juice, then add the remaining raspberries to the puree, crush lightly, and let cool.

Put the rice, lemongrass, milk, and the remaining sugar into a saucepan, bring to a boil, stir well, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool, then discard the lemongrass.

Stir the yogurt into the lemongrass rice, then divide between 6 bowls and serve with small bowls of crushed raspberries.

- flavor the rice with a split vanilla bean rather than lemongrass and serve with a puree of mixed berries.
- Serve the berries with thick yogurt and honey, sprinkled with toasted slivered almonds.

See the recipe...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Monday Dinner

This recipe is from our March Supper Club night. One of the two "new girls" brought it (and we're going to try to keep her - thanks Sara!). It had been a long time since I'd had crescent rolls, and I'm beginning to wonder why. Her recipe, pulled from, didn't actually call for grinding everything up in the food processer, so I'm not sure why I did it, but now that I've done it that way twice, I guess its all ok!

We had this with a simple garden salad. It makes enough for 4 or 5 people, and since there is just the two of us, we have dinner for another night! Rah!

Chicken and Broccoli Braid

c/o Sara M., from March Supper Club

2 cups diced, cooked chicken meat
1 cup fresh broccoli, chopped
½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dried dill weed
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
¼ cup diced onion
2 (8 ounce) packages refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees F).

In a large bowl, toss together chicken, broccoli, red bell pepper, garlic, Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, dill weed, salt, almonds and onion.

Unroll crescent roll dough, and arrange flat on a medium baking sheet. Pinch together perforations to form a single sheet of dough. Using a knife or scissors, cut 1 inch wide strips in towards the center, starting on the long sides. There should be a solid strip about 3 inches wide down the center, with the cut strips forming a fringe down each side. Spread the chicken mixture along the center strip. Fold the side strips over chicken mixture, alternating strips from each side. Pinch or twist to seal.

Brush braided dough with the egg white. Bake in the preheated oven 25 to 28 minutes, or until golden brown.

See the recipe...

Easter Dessert Goes Browniebabes!

I've done a little post editing - I pulled these brownie cupcakes out of the Easter Post and gave them their own entry, and I'll tell you why!

I stumbled across Once Upon a Tart yesterday, and she's hosting a food-blog event - Brownie Babe of the Month. Considering I made these this month, and we really adored them, I thought I'd submit them to her. Wish me luck! :)

The cupcakes were a nice mix of creamy cheese and moist chocolatey goodness.

Black-bottom Cupcakes
By David Lebovitz
From The Great Book of Chocolate

8 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces bitter- or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 ½ all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa power (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely, which is fine.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, if store in an airtight container.

See the recipe...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Dinner

Most people, I guess, would have had ham and spring vegetables and deviled eggs... but not us! Dave picked another recipe (for me to make) from the Dona Tomas cookbook... so we had Mexican for Easter! Yay!

This is not a weeknight dinner - unless you're one of those people that gets in to work at 7 and out at 3 or something... I think I started getting dinner together at 3? Mind you, I made cupcakes in the middle, I put off cooking the chicken for a couple of hours... but the fact is, I got started early. But boy, was it worth it.

Ah, and for those of you that want to sub out brown rice for the white - don't. I tried that the first time I made it, and seriously, the rice took hours. HOURS! Just suck it up and have white rice.

Pollo Con Mole Agridulce (Chicken Breast with Guajillo Sauce, Spices, Orange and Lime)
From Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking, by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky

5 guajillo chiles
1 cup water
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ white onions, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic
¼ fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cubed
¼ teaspoon ground canela (Mexican cinnamon)
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
About 2 tablespoons kosher salt
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ½ cups chicken broth
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for garnish

Place a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the chiles and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, pressing them into the pan and turning occasionally with tongs to prevent burning, until the skins are lightly brown and the chiles begin to puff up. While the chiles are still hot, remove the stems but don’t discard all the seeds since you’ll want some for the heat. Submerge in a bowl of hot water for 20 to 30 minutes to rehydrate. Drain the chiles and combine with the water in a blender. Puree on high speed to make a paste.

Place a large skillet or sauté pan over high heat and add the 2 cups oil; you want a good depth so that the vegetables and pineapple will be submerged during frying. When the oil is hot, add the onion and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until browned around the edges and toward the center. Add the garlic cloves when the onion is about half-cooked and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until browned. Remove the onion and garlic with a skimmer or a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander or China cap to drain. Add a little more oil if necessary and carefully add the pineapple. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. A spatter screen can be quite helpful since the juicy pineapple tends to spatter. Remove from the oil with a skimmer and add to the colander to drain. Wipe most of the oil out of the pan.

Place the onion, garlic and pineapple in a blender and puree on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until a fine consistency is achieved. Return the puree to the pan and place over medium heat. Gently whisk in the chile puree, canela, allspice, and cloves, salt, orange juice, lime juice, and about ¾ cup of the broth. Decrease the heat to low and gently simmer for about 1 hour, until the flavors begin to marry. Adjust the seasoning with the spices and salt as necessary.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place a large sauté pan over high heat and add the 2 tablespoons oil and the butter. When hot, add the chicken and sauté for5 to 7 minutes, until the first side is browned. Place the pan of chicken into the oven for about 10 minutes, until tender and cooked through. (The second side of the chicken will brown in the oven.)

Remove the chicken from the pan and arrange on individual plates or a serving platter. Place the pan back over high heat and add the remaining ¾ cup of broth. Deglaze the pan, scraping up and browned bits with a wooden spoon, then simmer and reduce for 5 to 6 minutes. Add to the simmering sauce and ladle over the chicken. Serve and once, garnishing each plate with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Serve with:

Arroz Con Chile Poblano (Poblano Rice)
From Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking, by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky

Poblano Marinade
1 cup tomatillos (about 6 ounces)
1 poblano chile, toasted, peeled, stemmed, and seeded
¼ bunch cilantro
Kosher salt

3 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup white onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (about ½ onion)
1 ½ cups medium- or long-grain white rice
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Soak the tomatillos in cold water for a few minutes, then peel off and discard the husks. Place the tomatillos, chile, cilantro, and a pinch of salt in a blender and puree until smooth. Add enough cold water to bring to three cups of liquid and quickly blend together.

Place a saucepan over high heat and add the oil. Add the onion, decrease the heat to medium, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until transparent. Add the rice and continue to sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until toasted to a light coffee color; this will enhance the flavor and keep the rice from clumping.

Add the marinade and salt and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil then decrease the heat to medium. Cover and gently simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff the rice with a fork and adjust the salt just before serving.

See the recipe...

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter!

I think I'll do this in two parts... breakfast now, dinner later. For a long, long time, I had a bit of a food-crush on Donna Dooher... you may have seen her.. she has that show Cookworks on the Food Network... mind you, its not on as much as it used to be (that, or I'm not watching enough television), but she's lovely and Canadian and has that awesome tilt to her voice that you associate with Canada-dwellers. Anyway, her pancakes are to die for! You can get the recipe online, or you can get her book.

I made them this morning with some bacon and we actually had breakfast at the table, rather than in bed. You'd think that on a holiday, that would be the other way around, but we're breakfast-in-bedders... My tweak on this one is that I hold the melted butter out from the wet ingredients, mix wet and dry, and then mix in the butter. I don't like what the wets look like, the cold buttermilk cools the melted butter, so its all weird and lumpy. Doesn't seem to hurt the pancakes. Enjoy!

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
Out to Brunch: At Mildred Pierce Restaurant, by Donna Dooher and Claire Stubbs

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup melted unsalted butter, plus some for frying
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Serving suggestions: whipped cream and maple syrup

In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat the eggs with the buttermilk and melted butter. Combine the dry and the wet ingredients into a lumpy batter, being careful not to over mix, see Cook's Note*.

Heat some butter in a skillet over medium heat. Spoon 1/3 cup of batter into the skillet and sprinkle the top with some of the blueberries. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and maple syrup.

*Cook's Note: Over mixed batter will result in flat, heavy pancakes.

See the recipe...


If you don't live in the metro DC area, or if your news station isn't in to warm and fuzzy bits, you probably won't know what I'm talking about. But this past weekend, the Washington Post reported that George (the lonely eagle from last summer) has shacked up with not just any new lady-eagle... but the VERY HARLOT EAGLE that attacked his mate. Awful, just awful.

Anyway, last night was Saturday night, so I felt like pizza. The recipe guides you through making your own dough, but why do that when I can pick up my very own lump of whole wheat dough from Wegmans? Puh-lease! I also cheat and use jarred roasted red peppers. But you won't tell, will you?

* O yah, and I rent, so I don't have a grill, so I broil instead of grill.

Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Pizza with Goat Cheese, Basil and Red Chili Oil
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay,,FOOD_9936_34470,00.html?rsrc=search

1 (¼-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)

¾ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1¾ to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading and dredging
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for greasing the bowl
8 ounces buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
Tomato-Red Pepper Sauce, recipe follows
12 ounces goat cheese, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Red Chili Oil, recipe follows

Whisk together the yeast and ¼ cup of the water in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to proof. Place 1 ¾ cups of the flour in a large bowl with the salt. Add the yeast mixture, the remaining water, and oil and stir until combined. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth. Grease a large bowl with the remaining oil, add the dough and turn to coat. Cover and place in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Preheat the grill to high. Once the dough has risen, divide it in half, and divide each half into 2 balls. Roll each ball into an 8-inch circle. Brush with oil and grill on both sides until golden brown.
Spread about ½ cup of the sauce on each pizza and top with goat cheese and basil. Place pizza on the grill and cook until bottom crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly. Remove from heat, drizzle with red chili oil, and serve.

Tomato-Red Pepper Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cups canned plum tomatoes, with juice, pureed
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add red peppers and tomatoes and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Let cool slightly.

Red Chili Oil:
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
½ teaspoon salt

In a blender, combine oil, red chili flakes, and salt; blend for 1 minute. Strain into a small bowl or squeeze bottle.

See the recipe...