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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Operation Baking Gals

When I saw Operation Baking GALS posted on Beantown Baker's blog I knew I wanted to participate.  The holidays are coming up and I wanted to send some delicious treats to a soldier and his friends.  Also, it was a great way to try a few cookie recipes that had caught my eye without having to eat all the cookies myself!  Zach helped me with quite a bit of the baking.  We made peanut butter cookies, double chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookie bars, beef jerky, and ranch crackers.  I also picked up some Halloween candy to send off -- Skittles, Starburst and mini Oreoes.    The recipes for the peanut butter cookies and double chocolate cookies will be up soon, they were both absolutely fantastic.  We hope Ryan and his friends enjoyed the treats!

French Toast Bread Pudding: Barefoot Bloggers

This is the first recipe Barefoot Bloggers has done for Ina's newest cookbook, How Easy is That?  I enjoyed this recipe, though I thought it was a bit too lengthy for an average morning meal.  Definitely not on a weekday, and probably for a rare weekend.  I like making bigger breakfasts on the weekends, but not ones I necessarily need to wait an hour and a half for.  I cut the recipe in half and I did like that I got a chance to try my cinnamon apple syrup from Stonewall Kitchen.  I despise maple syrup and so typically leave it out of recipes or avoid recipes where maple is an integral flavor.  Now I have a substitute for maple syrup and it was delicious!

French Toast Bread Pudding
from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? by Ina Garten
serves 4
1/2 large challah loaf, cut into 3/4 inch slices4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups half and half (I used fat free)1 1/2 Tablespoons honey1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher saltconfectioners' sugar and apple cinnamon syrup, for serving

  •   Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  
  •   Arrange the sliced bread in a casserole dish.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, honey, orange zest, vanilla and salt.  Carefully pour the mix over the bread in the casserole dish.  Press down and allow to soak for at least 10 minutes. 

  • Place thecasserole dish in a roasting pan and cover with foil.  Make slashes in the foil with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.  Pour water in the roasting pan, coming about an inch up the side of the casserole.  

  • Bake 30 minutes, then remove the foil.  Bake an additional 35-40 minutes, until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. 
  • Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with apple cinnamon syrup.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 when I'm 30

I've seen this idea on a few blogs now, elly says opa!, APPLE A DAY and Beantown Baker are three I've enjoyed following.  I've decided to take on the idea as my 30th birthday arrives.  

I had a lot of fun making the list, and I hope to have even more fun making all the new dishes.  I used the three lists linked above as a starting point, but some are things I've wanted to try for awhile, some are more basic than others, and some are challenges I can't wait to take on.  I especially like the idea of trying to make more things from scratch.  Yes, marshmallows and mayonnaise are cheap and easy to buy, but I want to try making them myself.

There are a few dishes here I also want to try for myself -- tiramisu, tamales, swedish meatballs for example, that I usually order in restaurants but want to attempt making at home.  There are also a good number of breads on the list, again getting back to my idea of making things from scratch.  Zach and I recently listened to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and it was a good reminder that many things are simple to make at home instead of buying, and that with a little time we can probably have a much better product.  Cheese is on my list mainly because of that book, and it's also why I added pasta and bacon, thinking of how I can make more items from scratch in my own kitchen.  

Some things are on the list because I have always loved my mom's version and haven't attempted to make them myself thinking I'll never get it quite as good as hers.  Angel food cake and beef stroganoff being the first two that jump to mind.  Some others are on the list because they are foods Zach enjoys and I want to try making them for him, pho, mole and paella are in that category. 

So, here is my list of 30 things to make while I am 30, to be started on November 17th.  I don't expect much progress to be made in the first few months with the holidays approaching, we tend to do a lot of traveling during that time. Most will probably be accomplished over my school breaks, expect a lot of posts next summer!

1.  Marshmallows
2.  Tiramisu
3.  Pho
4.  Tamales
5.  Mole
6.  French Onion Soup
7.  Cheese
8.  Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
9.  Pasta
10.  Some sort of Asian dumpling, egg roll, won-ton, spring roll, etc.
11.  English Muffins
12.  Angel Food Cake
13.  Swedish Meatballs
14.  Empanadas
15.  An alcohol item, either a kahula or bailey's style liqueur, or to take over Zach's homebrewing equipment to make my own beer or hard cider.
16.  Salt Crusted something, I've seen great recipes for beef and fish.
17.  Mayonnaise
18.  Gnocchi
19.  Tres Leches Cake
20.  Focaccia 
21.  Homemade Vanilla
22.  Bacon
23.  Sourdough Bread
24.  Beef Stroganoff
25.  Pita Bread or Naan
26.  A Scallop dish, I've recently discovered a love of scallops!
27.  Find a great cut-out cookie and decorate them
28.  Paella
29.  German Apple Pancake
30.  Tortillas

Monday, November 15, 2010

Zucchini Pistou

I saw this recipe during my first reading of July's Cooking Light.  My first reading of a food magazine is usually the day it arrives, flipping through during dinner that night, or as we are watching tv.  Which is then soon followed by my second reading of the same magazine of the previous month -- which involves tearing out pages and cutting out recipes.  I like to keep the latest month's magazines on our coffee table, so as soon as a new one arrives, the old one gets cut up for recipes to file away.   Sometimes a recipe looks so good that it will jump to the 'must be made' pile even while it's still in the magazine and not yet cut-out.  That happened with this recipe.  It looked delicious and we had an abundance of zucchini and basil from our CSA that week.  It was a great way to use up some zucchini and broke me free of my normal habit of sauteeing them in a bit of butter, garlic and oregano.  It definitely made it's way into the 'keeper' binder of recipes.  I did make a few changes.  I made the substitution I use in all pestos -- almonds instead of pine nuts.  I used a mix of zucchini and yellow summer squash.  And, I used fat free half and half instead of heavy cream since that is what we already had on hand. 

Zucchini Pistou
adapted from Cooking Light, July 2010

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups pasta and 1 tablespoon cheese)

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices small zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
2 tablespoons almonds
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion 
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove from pan; cool. 
  • Place 1/4 cup cooked zucchini, basil, 1/4 cup cheese, almonds, and garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped. (Keep mixture in processor.)
  • Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until golden. Return remaining cooked zucchini to pan. Remove from heat.
  • Combine 6 quarts water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain in a sieve over a bowl, reserving 1/3 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to vegetables.
  • With processor on, add reserved liquid to basil mixture; process until smooth. Add basil mixture to pasta. Add cream, remaining salt, and pepper; stir. Top with remaining cheese.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oven Fried Chicken: Barefoot Bloggers

 Yum, yum, yum!  I loved this dish.  It was deliciously crispy on the outside and the meat was moist and flavorful.  The skin was perfect.  I love crispy chicken or turkey skin (who doesn't?  well, besides vegetarians...).  The crust was well flavored; I especially enjoyed the noticeably peppery aspect.  It was good that day and also good warmed up.  We also shredded some of the meat to be used in other dishes.  We would definitely make this again. 

chosen by Vicki of My Fare Lady 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Mushrooms

I made these as an appetizer for our second anniversary dinner.  We celebrated by going to VOLT later in the summer, but on our anniversary we had a nice meal at home.  These I made on the spur of the moment.  I looked at our menu -- steaks, a bottle of red wine, and a panzanella salad and decided it would be nice to have an appetizer to snack on while we did the cooking.  Zach and I love cooking together and had planned to prepare our anniversary meal together; so I wanted these ready for us to snack on while we chopped and prepped.  I found the recipe on  It was written with smoked cheddar, but I love smoked mozzarella, so I made that substitution.  I think they turned out very yummy and delicious!  The smokiness of the cheese was a good play off the flavor of the mushrooms and the bread crumbs rounded everything out and held it all together.  

Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Mushrooms
adapted from

Cooking spray
1/4 cup minced shallots (about 1 large)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound button mushrooms
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 4 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon water

  • Preheat oven to 400°. 
  • Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add minced shallots and minced garlic; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Place shallot mixture in a medium bowl. 
  • Remove stems from mushrooms; chop stems. Add chopped mushroom stems, breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and smoked mozzarella cheese to shallot mixture; toss with a fork until blended. Add olive oil and 1 teaspoon water; stir well to combine. 
  • Spoon about 1 tablespoon filling into each mushroom cap. Arrange mushrooms, filling side up, on a baking sheet. 
  • Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until filling begins to brown and cheese melts. Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Greek Panzanella: Barefoot Bloggers

 This was delicious!  I know my last post was also a panzanella, but they are fairly different sets of flavors.  While Alton Brown's recipe focused on bacon and tomatoes (and who can argue with a bacon-centric recipe?) this one is focused on greek flavors -- oregano, olives, feta.  I was quite excited when I saw it was the choice for July since I had just seen the episode a few days ago where Ina makes the salad.  I really loved it and would definitely make it again.  The dressing had a nice acid bite and everything blended together quite well.  Perfect as a side dish or a summer lunch.  

Greek Panzanella
chosen by Tara of Smells Like Home 

Fried Green Tomato BLTs

I found this recipe after getting green tomatoes in our CSA box one week.  I haven't yet cooked with green tomatoes, but I knew we could always fry them up and eat them.  I wanted something a little different though, and went on a search for a recipe.  I found this one in one of my Cooking Light cookbooks, my newest one called Cooking Light: Cooking Through the Seasons.  What I love about Cooking Light is that even though their recipes are lower in fat and calories, they still use real ingredients -- bacon!  This sandwich was a great use for the green tomatoes; we ended up making it several times throughout the summer.  Their acidity is a great balance to the saltiness of the bacon. 

Fried Green Tomato BLTs

serves 4

8 slices bacon
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices green tomato (about 2 tomatoes)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
8 slices  white bread, toasted (I used sourdough)
8 lettuce leaves


  • Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings. Set bacon and drippings aside. 
  • Combine cornmeal, cheese, and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge tomato slices in cornmeal mixture. 
  • Heat 1 teaspoon reserved drippings and 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. 
  • Cook 6 tomato slices 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 teaspoon bacon drippings, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and 6 tomato slices. 
  • Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise over each of 4 bread slices. Top each slice with 2 lettuce leaves, 3 tomato slices, and 2 bacon slices. Top with remaining 4 bread slices. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information 

Calories: 380
Fat: 13g   
Fiber: 5.1g
WW Points (per sandwich):  8

Friday, July 23, 2010

TBL Panzanella

I know, I know, I've been a bad blogger lately.  Good Eats: The Early Years was my cookbook of the month for June, and I only ever got one recipe posted in it,w ell, technically two, since the macerated strawberries and the shortcakes were from two different episodes.  But, in my defense, school ended in June and things were crazy then I took off to the lake for two weeks in the end of June and July.  I didn't bring the cookbook with me and the lake has no internet access, so no new recipes for me to blog.  Anyway, this cookbook will travel on into July as the cookbook of the month and I hope to get at least one more recipe out of it before we leave for a week in Chicago.  

We made this as part of our anniversary meal.  Our "real" anniversary meal will be in August, when we have reservations at Table 21 at VOLT.  We called back in October and mid-August was the earliest we could get.  So that will be our anniversary treat, but on the date of our actual second anniversary we decided to open a nice bottle of wine (Fabbioli Cabernet Franc Reserve -- local people should check them out, they are great!), cook up some steaks and spend a nice night at home.  This was the salad we made, and it was delicious.  The bread cubes with bacon drippings - mmmmmm.  We had some great grape tomatoes from our CSA and we picked up a great yellow heirloom tomato at a nearby farm stand.  If you are a bacon lover (as I am) definitely try this salad!

TBL Panzanella

Good Eats: The Early Years, and available on
4-6 servings

4 cups French bread cut into 1-inch cubes
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
2 cups chopped lettuce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chiffonade basil


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread bread cubes on a sheet pan.  Toast in oven until dry, but not browned, around 10 minutes.  
  • Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Drain on paper towels and reserve drippings.  
  • In large bowl, toss bread cubes in half of the bacon drippings.  Set aside.
  • Sear the halved grape tomatoes in other half of bacon drippings, cut side down, until caramelized, about 5 minutes.
  • Combine red wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl, slowly whisk in olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified.
  • Combine all tomatoes, bread, bacon, and lettuce and dress with vinaigrette, toss well, garnish with basil and serve.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sour Cream Coffeecake: Barefoot Bloggers

We made this coffeecake with a few twists.  First, as you can probably tell, a bundt cake pan, not a tube pan; and, second, almonds not walnuts.  Almonds are the nut I use for just about any baking really.  If a recipe calls for pecans or walnuts I generally just substitute almonds.  I just like them better.  It tasted delicious and I believe the leftovers went to the guys Zach works with.  I'd definitely make this to have around for weekend guests, or a brunch get together.  

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
chosen by Gwenn of Cooking in Pajamas

Scalloped Tomatoes: Barefoot Bloggers

This was the one of the two Barefoot Blogger recipes for June.  Yes, I know it's practically the end of July, but I was on vacation for several weeks from the end of June until the middle of July.  We made this in June, but I haven't been able to write it up until now.  It was super!  The tomatoes and bread and basil were all so fabulous.  I think this might be even better to make now, headed into late summer and prime tomato season.  Maybe some yellow, orange, even purple heirloom tomatoes -- yum!  It's a great side dish and I will definitely be trying it again!

 Scalloped Tomatoes

chosen by Josie of Pink Parsley Catering

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Velveted Chicken Stir-Fry

When we got snow peas in our CSA box our first thought was a stir-fry.  I went right to my collection of Cooks Illustrated magazines to study up on the best techniques.  I love Cooks Illustrated for this reason - they painstakingly research every aspect of a recipe so I know it's going to be the best.  If it's not good, chances are I screwed up somehow and it's not the recipe's fault.  So, after reading through a few issues and learning a few pointers and techniques we were ready to make our own stir-fry.  They say a non-stick skillet is actually the best for stir-frys, not a wok.  They also introduced me to the traditional Chinese technique of velveting chicken -- coating chicken pieces in a cornstartch and egg white or oil mixture then parcooking in moderately heated oil.  It really gave the chicken a more authentic texture and flavor.  It was moist, juicy and delicious, not dry or overcooked like stir-frys I have made in the past.  I worked off the recipe for the velveted chicken, but we used the veggies we wanted.  The snow peas were the original basis for the dish.  We saw some great eggplant at the farmer's market we thought would match well.  When we were at the market we also picked up some baby bok choy, garlic scapes and scallions.  Next time I might do either scapes or scallions, but otherwise I think it turned out pretty well. 

Gingery Stir-Fried Chicken with Vegtables
from Cooks Illustrated, May/June 2004


for Marinated Velveted Chicken:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour

for stir-fry:
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (about a 1 1/2 inch piece)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
peanut or vegetable oil
1 recipe of Marinated Velveted Chicken
2 heads of baby bok choy, cut on bias in 1/2 inch strips
1 small eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bunch of garlic scapes (8-10), cut into 1 inch pieces


For Marninated Velveted Chicken:
  • Combine soy sauce, sherry and water in medium bowl.  Add chicken and stir to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Immediately before using mix sesame oil, cornstarch and flour in medium bowl until smooth.  toss chicken in cornstarch/flour mixture until evenly coated.  
For Stir-Fry:
  • Whick broth, sherry, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, sugar, pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons ginger in small bowl; set aside.  Combine remaining 2 teaspoons ginger, garlic, and 1 teaspoon peanut oil in small bowl; set aside.
  • Heat 2 teapoons peanut oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until smoking.  Add half of chicken to skillet, making sure to not overcrowd the pan.  Cook without stirring but separating pieces if needed until gold brown on first side, about 1 minute.  Turn chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on second side, abotu 30 seconds.  Transfer chicken to clean plate, repeat with more oil and the rest of chicken.
  • Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skillet, heat until just smoking.  Add bok choy; stir-fry until crisp tender, remove to clean bowl.  
  • Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skillet, heat until just smoking.  Ad eggplant; stir-fry until browned on all sides, 2-3 mintues.  Remove to bowl with bok choy.
  • Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skiller, hear until just smoking.  Add scapes and scallions; stir-fry until crips-tender.  Push to sides of skillet.  
  • Add garlic/ginger mixture to center of skillet and cook, mashing with a spoon until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir mixture into scallion/scape mixture and cook about 30 seconds longer.
  • Stir in bok choy pieces and eggplant, then add chicken back to skillet as well.  Whisk sauce to recombine and then add sauce to skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and cook stiring constantly until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through.  Serve immediately.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Potato Salad with Bacon and Balsamic Vinager

I came across this recipe while looking for something to make with the new potatoes from our CSA box.  Cooks Illustrated was the first place I turned since they always have reliable and delicious recipes, not to mention a great amount of knowledge on ingredients.  I read through a "Primer on Potatoes" to see what I could learn about new potatoes.  They recommended using new potatoes as you would any waxy potatoes, and so I decided on potato salad.  I didn't want to make a traditional mayonnaise potato salad since that style has never appealed to me, and Zach doesn't like mayo all that much.  We both love balsamic vinegar though, so we quickly decided on this recipe; plus, it had bacon.  Finding bacon as an ingredient pretty much seals the deal for me.  This was quite tasty.  It had a nice bite from the vinegar, and it paired very well with the new potatoes.  A nice change if you are bored of the same old potato salad.

German-Style Potato Salad with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar
from Cooks Illustrated, July/August 1994
Serves 6

2 pounds new potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 medium onion, cut into medium dice
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

  • Place potatoes in a 4 to 6 quart pot; cover with water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer, until tender (15-20 minutes for new potatoes)Drain, cool potatoes slightly and cut into 1/4 inch slices.
  • Layer warm potato slices in a medium bowl; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons vinegar and the salt and pepper as you go.  Let stand at room temperature while preparing dressing.
  • Fry bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until bacon is brown and crisp, 7-10 minutes.  Transfer bacon pieces to bowl of potatoes.
  • Add onion to bacon drippings and saute until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add beef broth and bring to a boil, add remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar.
  • Remove from heat and pour mixture over potatoes.  Add parsley and toss gently to coat.  Serve warm. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Green Chili Sliders with Tangy Tomatillo-Lime Sauce

These were super delicious!  The tomatillo-lime sauce is very addicting!  The combination of cilantro, lime and just a bit of heat from the jalapeno keeps you coming back for more.  The burgers were fantastic too!  I adapted the recipe and made them turkey burgers instead of using ground beef and I think it worked just fine.  I also omitted the cheese, since I felt the sauce would add enough flavor, and it did!  I really loved the poblanos in the burgers, they were just the right pepper, especially after being roasted.  They were sweet yet spicy and perfect.  I was going to do full size burgers, but decided to go with sliders as the recipe was written. We will definitely make these again, another great burger recipe from Rachael Ray. 

Green Chile Sliders with Tangy Tomatillo-Lime Sauce

4 Servings

2 large poblano chiles
4 tomatillos, husks removed and coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup cilantro
1 lime
2 tablespoons honey
11/2 pounds ground turkey
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 slider rolls

  • Preheat the broiler. Place the poblanos on a baking sheet and broil, turning, until blackened. Transfer to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel off the skins and remove the seeds; discard. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Using a food processor, mix the tomatillos, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, zest of the lime, juice of the lime and honey until smooth; season with salt.
  • In a large bowl, season the turkey with the cumin, salt and pepper; combine. Mix in the poblanos. Form into 8 3-inch patties.
  • In a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Cook the patties, turning once, about 5 minutes for medium-rare.  Dot the roll tops with the tomatillo sauce and assemble the sliders. Serve with the extra sauce.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Buttery Tilapia with Smashed Potatoes

I found this recipe while going through my file of recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers.  I've been a subscriber to EveryDay with Rachael Ray just about since it started.  I love the easy, weeknight meals.  This is one I've had for awhile.  I never really cooked too much with fish before we got married.  Well, except for the occasional fish sticks during lent, and even that was more 're-heating' not cooking.  It always scared me a bit, just because I hadn't really done it before.  Zach is pretty comfortable cooking with fish, so I've definitely learned from him.  

This recipe was quick and easy.  I chose it to use the new red potatoes we got in our CSA box this week, and they were delicious.  The scallion and sun-dried tomato butter that tops the fish was excellent.  We even used some on top of the cauliflower we had with this meal.  It'd also be great as a finishing butter on top of a steak fresh off the grill.  The original recipe calls for halibut, but tilapia is a very similar fish and is what we already had on hand.  The only other change we made was to add a splash of chicken stock and a few tablespoons of parmesan to the potatoes, since after smashing and tasting them, they were a bit on the dry side and needed just a little "something extra" flavor-wise. 

Buttery Tilapia with Smashed Potatoes

4 Servings
Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min

6 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons softened
1 sun-dried tomato, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallion
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
1 pound small new potatoes
Four 6- to 8-ounce tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons flour
2-3 tablespoons chicken stock
2-3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

  • In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, sun-dried tomato, scallion and garlic; season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large saucepan, add the potatoes and enough salted water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, then smash the potatoes with 1 tablespoon butter, chicken stock and parmesan cheese; season with salt and pepper.
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper, then coat lightly with the flour. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until golden and firm to the touch, 7 to 8 minutes total.
  • Transfer the fish to serving plates and top with the tomato-scallion butter. Serve with the smashed potatoes.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Couscous with Spring Veggies

We made this as a side dish for our parmesan and sage crusted pork chops.  We got the beautiful summer squash in our CSA box this week and I thought it would make a nice side for the pork.  We also decided on couscous, and then I thought, well why not mix the two together?  So often couscous can be bland and plain, which is nice as a base for a dish with a spicy sauce, but the pork did not have that quality.  So I decided to saute up the veggies and then mix the couscous in at the end to give it a little more flavor.  I like to cook couscous in chicken broth instead of water, again it helps add another layer of flavor.  I used to use the boxed couscous mixes, you know kinda like rice-a-roni, or the packets of noodles and sauce.  But, once I realized how much cheaper it is to just buy a larger container of couscous, those boxes were history.  Also, we like to eat whole wheat options when possible, and you can get whole wheat couscous in bulk, but they don't use it in those box mixes!

Couscous with Spring Veggies
an original recipe!

1 cup chicken broth
1 cup couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small summer squash (or zuchinni), quartered and sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons butter

  • Bring chicken broth to a boil.  When boiling, add couscous, stir.  Cover pot and remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes and then fluff with fork.  
  • While waiting for the broth to boil heat the olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet.  add in onion, bell pepper and squash.  Saute 1-2 minutes, add salt, pepper and oregano.  Saute 4-5 minutes more. 
  • When the veggies are tender-crisp, add couscous to the pan along with butter.  Stir to combine and serve!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops

These were delicious!  I found the recipe while searching for something to do with our sage.  The sage plant went crazy and we had a ton of it.  So far I had just a few sage-centric recipes, a polenta and a pasta, but we wanted to try something else.  I searched my usual resources --, google reader and my shoebox of magazine clippings and this recipe from Cooking Light became one of the top contenders.

We put it on the menu for this week and when reading through the ingredients were pleasantly surprised to find out we didn't need to buy anything at the store!  I love when that happens, and it shows that having a well stocked pantry and freezer pays off!  For example, we had the pork chops leftover from another recipe.  We needed 4 for that recipe, but it's a lot cheaper (per pound) to buy the bulk pack of 8.  So, we got 8 and threw the other four in the freezer for later.  We cut the recipe in half since we used just 2 pork chops, but it was still great.  It's definitely a "keeper" recipe.  The changes I made were to some of the portions as mentioned above and I used bredcrumbs we already had instead of making fresh ones. 

Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops
adapted from 
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop)

1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 large egg white
2 boneless pork chops
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

  • Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, sage, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place flour in another shallow dish. Combine mustard and egg whit in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.
  • Working with one pork chop at a time, dredge pork in flour, shaking off excess. Dip pork into egg white mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat pork completely with breadcrumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining pork, flour, egg white mixture, and breadcrumb mixture.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add pork; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned and done.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Turkey Taco Burgers with Guacamole

This was a super yummy recipe!  It's one I found on Rachael Ray's website.  I know lots of people don't like her show/personality/over-used phrases/scratchy voice, and I myself tend to avoid her in any manner except print (I love her EveryDay magazine!).  But, say what you will about her, she knows how to concoct a good burger!  I like to try different flavor combinations in burgers, especially turkey/chicken burgers since they can get rather bland without some sort of add-in.  So, if I am looking for a new burger idea I usually go to Rachael first.  This was a winner, it had really great flavor and the guacamole was super easy.  I did not not make the salsa from the recipe as I figured one topping was enough, but I added in some tomatoes, cilantro and onion to the guacamole.  We served with a side of refried pinto beans and some baked whole wheat tortillas for dipping with the remaing guacamole. 

Turkey Taco Burgers with Guacamole
adapted from

1 pound ground turkey breast
1 small red onion, 1/2 grated, 1/2 minced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup taco or chili sauce
Salt and pepper
3 ripe avocados, flesh removed from skin, pit removed and discarded
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lime
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Kaiser rolls
Your choice of tortilla chips

  • Place the ground turkey in a mixing bowl, then add the grated red onion, shredded cheddar, ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, taco or chili sauce, salt and some pepper. Mix to combine, divide into 4 patties.
  • Grill burgers on each side for 6-7 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • While the burgers are cooking, put together the guacamole.  Place the avocados in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add the minced garlic, the juice of the lime and the minced jalapeño. Mash together, taste and add more salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir in the tomatoes, remaining minced onion and cilantro.  
  • Toast the rolls until golden brown. Place the burgers on the bottom of the toasted rolls, then top with a spoonful of guacamole. Arrange the tops of the toasted rolls. Serve the burgers alongside some tortilla chips and the remaining guacamole.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Salsa Verde

I made this recipe because I was in the mood for salsa verde, and the cilantro was groing wild in our herb garden.  Once I started looking for recipes and I found this one from Rick Bayless on, I knew I could stop looking.  He's famous for his Mexican dishes, so why bother to look anywhere else?  Plus, we have reservations this July at one of his restaurants in Chicago.  We've been fans of his style of cooking since before he won Top Chef Masters and love wathcing his show on PBS.  I don't have one of his cookbooks yet, but it's only a matter of time, I've got several on my Amazon WishList! 

Salsa Verde

8 ounces (5 to 6 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
5 or 6 sprigs fresh cilantro, roughly chopped 
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup water
  • Roughly chop the tomatillos and the chiles. 
  • In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, chiles, cilantro and water. Process to a coarse puree, then scrape into a serving dish. 
  • Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with salt, usually a generous 1/4 teaspoon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pickled Radishes

Zach doesn't like radishes, I'm flexible about them - I don't despise them, but I don't seek them out either.  But, because of his dislike for them I knew we'd have to find a creative recipe to use up the bunches we kept getting in our CSA boxes.  He does like pickles, so I thought this might be a good way for him to like radishes too.  It was super, super easy and they were quite good!  They reminded me of salt and vinegar chips -- that initial lip-puckering sourness, but then a few seconds later you're reaching back for more. 

Pickled Radishes


4 bunches radishes, washed and spit down the middle with a little stem (about 1/2-inch) still attached
Pickling mix:
1 quart champagne vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup pickling spices
2 cloves smashed garlic
  • Take a large deep dish and lay the radishes out in it. 
  • In a large pot add the pickling ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the boiling mix over the radishes in each dish. 
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap immediately and set aside. Once cooled to room temperature, strain and serve.  Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a month.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

This is our first selection from the cookbook of the month for June -- Good Eats: The Early Years.  We decided to make strawberry shortcake after getting 4 pints of strawberries in our CSA box one week.  I've never been disappointed in any recipe I've made of Alton Brown's, so I figured this would be a winner.  It was.  The shortcakes were tender and delicious.  The strawberries were great as well.  The hint of spiciness from the pepper was a nice compliment to the very sweet, perhaps a tad overripe berries.  The pictures aren't the greatest, so I apologize for that, but Zach was on camera duty. 

Shortcakes with Macerated Strawberries
From Good Eats: The Early Years, and can also found on (Shortcakes and Strawberries)

Macerated Strawberries

2 pints medium size strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup sugar
  • In a bowl combine all ingredients. Let stand in refrigerator for 2 hours. 

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup half and half
Melted butter to brush shortcakes 
Macerated Strawberries (see above)
Whipped cream
  • Heat oven 450 degrees. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening. Mix in half-and-half. 
  • Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Cool and eat with berries and/or whipped cream.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Indian Chicken Curry

I found this recipe while on a search for things to make with swiss chard.  We had gotten swiss chard in our CSA box and I hadn't really cooked with it before.  This was a definite winner.  It was very delicious and had a great Indian/curry flavor.  I was surprised at how complex the flavors were for an easy weeknight meal.  I'd definitely make it again, and you could definitely use spinach instead.  We had it with some whole wheat naan.  I love soaking up the spicy, coconut-y liquid with the naan bread - mmmmmm!

Indian Chicken Curry 
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup chicken mixture and 1/2 cup rice)


4 cups sliced Swiss chard (about 12 ounces)
1  pound skinned, boned chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into thin slices
1  tablespoon cornstarch
1  tablespoon olive oil
1  cup diced onion
1 1/3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup sliced baby carrots
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 cups hot cooked long-grain rice


  • Steam Swiss chard, covered, 2 minutes or until crisp tender. Drain. 
  • Combine chicken and cornstarch in a small bowl. 
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, and stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in chicken, and cook 4 minutes or until browned. Stir in broth, carrots, coconut milk, tomato paste, cumin, curry powder, cinnamon, salt and red pepper. Reduce heat to medium. 
  • Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Swiss chard, and cook 2 minutes. 
  • Serve with rice.

Nutritional Information 

WW Points per serving: 8

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes and Pancetta

After we got garlic scapes for the second week in a row in our CSA Box, we figured we would make the pesto again.  It's great because we can freeze half of it, and use half of it now.  We went with a different application this week, pizza instead of pasta.  It was delicious!  We used the pesto as the sauce and then added toppings we thought would work well -- pancetta, fresh tomatoes and cheese.  When it came out of the oven we added fresh basil leaves, which you can see in the second picture.  They got a bit discolored by the heat, but they tasted just fine!  You can use any kind of pizza dough, either homemade, store-bought dough or a store-bought partially baked crust.  

Pesto Pizza with Tomatoes and Pancetta
Serves 4

pizza dough (I used the recipe below)
1/2 cup pesto 
2 ounces pancetta, cubed
2 tomatoes (I used 1 roma and 1 orange), seeded and sliced into strips
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella


  • Prepare pizza dough or crust on stone with cornmeal, or as directed.  Preheat oven as appropriate for the dough you choose.  
  • Cook pancetta in skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Drain on paper towels.
  • Spread pesto on prepared pizza dough.
  • Sprinkle pancetta on pesto.
  • Arrange tomato slices on pizza.
  • Top with mozzarella.
  • Bake according to directions for pizza dough.  

Pizza Dough 
from The Best of Cooking Light
Makes 2 12 inch pizza crusts

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 package)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
3 1/2 to 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
cooking spray

  • Dissolve yeast and sugar in the warm water in a large bowl.  Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Add 3 1/4 cups flour, oil and salt to yeast mixture, stirring until well blended.  
  • Knead until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes.  I use my stand mixture, but you could do it by hand on a floured work surface.  Add remaining flour as needed to prevent dough from being too sticky.
  • Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.  
  • Punch dough down, cover and let rest 5 minutes.  
  • Divide dough in half , shape each half into a 12 inch circle on a floured surface.  
  • Top and bake at 450 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

NOTE: This dough may be frozen.  After the kneading step, you can separate the dough into two balls.  Coat with cooking spray  and place into a zippered plastic bag to freeze.  Thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.  Shape and bake as instructed.