Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brilliant Brunch: Raspberry-Blackberry Oatmeal Bars

These bars are like a delicious dessert on the go...for BREAKFAST.  Seriously delicious, and they keep really well.  I liked that they were easy enough to slip into my purse (in a bag of course), and eat at work; but they would also be great to serve at a brunch or breakfast, especially as the conclusion of the meal with some whipped cream!  YUMMY.

In fact, I lowered the amount of sugar it called for and still felt like they were delicious and sweet.  I doubled the cinnamon, too, from the original recipe from Everybody Likes Sandwiches.  I mentioned last week that John and I had scored some really cheap blackberries.  Well, I still had some leftover, so those went in.  But, raspberries were on sale this week so I used way more of those (about a 2:1 ratio). 

I'm a berry person anyway, and wanted to try something different.  I knew that it was going to be a busy week this week with John and I recovering from our whirlwind weekend!  It makes a great breakfast for us (I do think your kids will love it too and it makes breakfast fast and easy!).  The mix was simple to put together and they came out looking and smelling amazing.  In fact, we might have had a bar or two RIGHT out of the oven, but I'm not going to say for sure!!
Raspberry-Blackberry Oatmeal Bars
Serves:  10 (20 bars)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold salted butter
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3-4 cups berries (your choice), chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 13x9 baking pan with tinfoil, and grease the tinfoil.  Set aside.  Mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.   Then, stir in the oats and cinnamon.  Cut the buter into tiny pieces and drop into the oat mixture.  Using your hands, combine the mixture until the dough is crumbly.  Add the vanilla yogurt and lemon juice.  Stir with a wooden spoon until well-combined.  Spread a little over half of the dough into the bottom of the 13x9 pan, making sure that there are no holes.  Then in a separate bowl, stir together chopped berries (we used 2 cups raspberries, 1 cup blackberries), sugar, and cornstarch.  Once it is soupy looking, pour it over the oat mixture already in the pan.  Top with remaining oat mixture.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the oats are browned and berries are bubbling.  Cut into 20 squares.  Serve hot or cold.

Don't be intimidated by the ingredient list.  Most of this stuff you already have in the house and it is really just a matter of buying the berries (maybe the yogurt and oats).  It was delicious and a really good alternative in the morning for us busy people.  Let's face it--who ISN'T busy in the morning?

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, June 27, 2011

Date Night Dinner: Cabbay Ole Tex-Mex Pork Ribs

Well, we are back from DC and the cook-off.  Going away for just a few days always knocks me off kilter.  There is something about the whirlwind packing, unpacking, flight-catching, trying to fit everything in, and then getting home with a pile full of dirty clothes that is just exhausting.  Fun, well worth it, but exhausting.

The cook-off was a long day (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.).  Everyone was great and despite a small setback with some missing wine of mine, it was a fun day!  Since a smoker can basically be left alone, John and I got to pop over to many of the other booths and see what was going on!  At the end of the day came judging, and lo and behold, my ribs WON!  I am so excited that in October I will be traveling to Kansas City to cook these ribs again for $5,000.  It's by far the biggest prize I've won so far, and I am thrilled!  The judges loved the interesting depth of flavors and thought that the cabernet was the perfect pairing.  I agree!

The ribs came out amazing with very little effort because we used a real smoker (something I have never done before; how cool am I now?!).  We even got to take the smoker home and it is on its way to Mom and Dad’s as we speak.  We’re planning to smoke some stuff for Fourth of July weekend down in NY!  DC is an amazing city and if you are a US citizen and never made it there, I encourage you to go.  It’s a stark reminder of how many great opportunities we have in our lives as Americans.
Cabbay Ole Tex-Mex Pork Ribs
Serves:  8
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons pepper
2 tablespoons cayenne (adjust to taste)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoon cumin
4 teaspoons paprika
6 pounds pork short ribs
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup small red onion
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 cup Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Combine salt, pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin and paprika.  Rub into the pork ribs (both sides) and let sit for one hour.  Preheat the smoker (or grill).  Chop up the garlic, red onion and cilantro and grind them together into a paste.  Combine with Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon, Worchestershire sauce, and liquid smoke.  Cook ribs about 2 hours until cooked through (160-170 degrees F) basting often with the Cabernet mixture.  Serve and garnish with a little fresh cilantro.

Adjust the cayenne to your spice preference since these were definitely fiery ribs (and you all know how I just love my spices hehe). 

Funny story about the event; the emcee was a DJ for a local radio station and he couldn't figure out how to pronounce my recipe.  He was like why are they cabby?  I said, no cab-BAY, like Cabernet to rhyme with Ole!  Haha, you always need a way when the judges are reading hundreds of recipes to really make them sit up and say hmm.  I like to do it with my recipe name (besides, doesn't Tex-Mex Pork Ribs sound sooo boring?!).
Anyway, we are home, I have a big trophy, and a fun trip coming up.  I know a lot of you are loyal followers so while I have this chance, the women on my blogroll and in my life through Contest Cooking have for the past year really pushed me above and beyond.  I have thought bigger, better, and more creatively in my kitchen.  This win is a result of their encouragement, support, and wisdom (which they always give freely).  I couldn't have done it without them so check out their blogs and I know you will not be disappointed.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Friday, June 24, 2011

Weeknight Dinner: White House Turkey Burger

My mom found this recipe in Family Circle, one of our (many) cooking magazine subscriptions that we share between the 200+ miles.  Her, dad, and even picky sister M, loved them so she quickly passed the recipe on.  I love that the recipe itself was from the White House Executive Chef.  I also love that even though they are “healthy” they are full of flavor.

Regardless of your political standing, everyone can get behind the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative.  Plus, you can tell your kids that they are eating the same meal that is served in the White House!  No matter how old you are, that is pretty cool.  I chose this burger as the perfect way to end Hamburger Week because it’s healthy, fresh, and fun!  And, it comes straight from Washington D.C. which is where John and I are headed right now, literally as you read this post! 

I found out 2 weeks ago that I was chosen as a finalist in the Gnarly Heads Rippin Ribs contest!  We’re on our way to DC and the cook-off is tomorrow.  We chose to go a day early just to hang out and see the sights.  One of my wonderful cooking friends, Elinor and her husband Josh, who is competing, too, will be there; I know it will be a blast with them.   Next Friday, I plan to do another Field Trip post and Monday I will post all about the cookoff as well as share my delicious rib recipe with you all!
White House Turkey Burger (adapted from Family Circle Magazine)
Serves:  4
1 pound ground turkey
¼ cup panko crumbs
1 egg white
2 tablespoons minced scallions
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns

Combine turkey, panko crumbs, egg white, scallions, garlic clove, soy sauce, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Shape into 4 equal patties.  Grill the patties about 5-7 minutes on each side, until cooked through.  Place in between hamburger buns and serve. 

I should note that the White House Turkey Burger is served bunless.  I served them in whole-wheat hamburger buns (to keep it a little healthy, but still keep the overall burger feel).  Otherwise, its just meat on a plate.  But, it is delicious.  John and I won’t be heading into the White House this weekend but just because we’re not there, doesn’t mean we can’t eat like the First Family!

Have a great weekend everyone, see you on Monday with an exhaustive (I’m sure) recap of the ribs and cook-off!  And Friday I will recap the food of the weekend; it’s going to be an exciting week!

Until the next time my oven is on…
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brilliant Brunch: Breakfast Burgers

The more I thought about the types of recipes I wanted to showcase this week, the more I thought a breakfast burger would be a really fun idea.  I was skeptical because I didn’t want it to be flooded with calories.  So, when I found this recipe, I knew I had found a winner!

My sister, M, has a classic saying in our house.  She loves bacon and one day, years ago, Dad asked if she wanted bacon with her breakfast.  For whatever reason, she didn't, and she said, "No, Dad, I don't eat meat in the morning".  When we explained that she loved bacon she told us we were wrong.  This conversation has become a hilarious story in our family still today, which I am sure M really dislikes.  However, it makes for fitting story, paired perfectly with today's burger since I made it without meat.

John and I have been making a lot of burgers lately (it is amazing how many I try that don't make the cut).  So whenever I can skimp on meat, I do.  I also used real potatoes rather than frozen.  These are the perfect brunch that will really impress your guests but also allow you to sleep in.  You can make the “burger” part ahead of time, and then reheat them in the oven, which will give the potatoes a little extra crisp to them!  And then, cook up those eggs, top the burgers, and serve immediately.
Breakfast Burgers
Serves:  4
2 potatoes, grated
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped fine
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 eggs
4 slices American or Cheddar Cheese
4 Sandwich "Thins" or English Muffins

Combine grated potato, onion (about 1/3 cup), red bell pepper (about 1/2 cup), and flour*.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the burgers (be careful not to overcrowd the pan and work in batches if you must).  Cook the patties about 6-8 minutes on each side.  In another skillet, spray the skillet with cooking spray and crack eggs into it.  Make sure to do one or two at a time here.  Flip them after the whites have become slightly hardened and cook about 3 more minutes.  Then, place each egg on top of the burger.  Place in bun, top with cheese, and serve immediately.

*If you do want to include meat (ham, italian sausage, bacon, etc), I would suggest 1 potato and 1 cup of meat.  Cook them about ten minutes longer, or use the oven directions below. 

Without the meat, you're going to have to add the flour into the mixture to make them stick.  My potatoes were very moist so I didn't need to add water, but you might have to, especially using a frozen mix.  I do think you need a flat bottomed baking dish for this (so don't try them on the outdoor grill). 

You can bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, if you prefer, which gives you time to get the eggs done!  Flip them once to get both sides crispy!  Multitasking at its finest.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dorm Room Dinner: Portabella Mushroom Burgers

For the carnivore that resides in my house (aka John), Portabella Mushroom Burgers were looked upon as a strange intrusion into Burger Week.  But, I love mushrooms and couldn’t wait to try them!  The nice thing about them is that they are very meaty which definitely fills you up.  Plus, these I made really healthy (and they were so easy)! 

If you have a small indoor grill, a skillet, or one of those elusive outdoor grills I keep drooling over, you can make these!  Don’t let the fact that you have never cooked portabella mushrooms intimidate you, either.  I’m glad that I finally took the plunge and made them!  I topped the burger with some red onion, roasted red pepper, and arugula.  John added some pesto to his, but I kept mine the plain way.

This is the perfect “hump day” recipe.  You get home, you don’t want to cook; this is almost all about assembly.  And, you can customize the toppings to fit what you have, and/or what you like!  I think avocado would have worked great here, but I forgot to buy some at the market this week.  Shucks.  I bought a few extra mushrooms and had one (or two) burgers during this week when I got home late from work.  THAT is how good they were. 
Portabella Mushroom Burgers (adapted from here)
Serves:  4
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
4 large Portabella Mushroom caps
4 ounces of goat cheese OR 4 slices of provolone cheese
4 hamburger buns

Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Place the mushroom caps into a large bag and top with balsamic vinegar mixture.  Seal the bag and let marinate for at least 15 minutes, no more than 30.  Then, remove the mushrooms and reserve the balsamic marinate.  Preheat the grill.  Grill the mushrooms about 5-8 minutes on each side, until tender.  Baste often with the balsamic marinade to prevent the mushrooms from drying out.  Top with provolone or goat cheese and place in a hamburger bun.  Serve with roasted red peppers, arugula, red onion, and/or pesto if desired.

I am loving this week of burgers, and I hope you all are too.  Two more to go and I know you're going to devour both of them!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weeknight Dinner: Chapli Kabab (Pakistani Burgers)

This is my exotic places burger!  I was on the lookout for Middle Eastern Kabobs a few weeks ago thinking John and I would really enjoy them (and since John loves LOVES kabobs).  So I found a great blog, but their last post was not kabobs but a burger!  A burger straight from Pakistan/Afghanistan.  They sounded delicious and different and I couldn’t wait to try them.

Burgers just say “summer” to me.  It invokes all those childhood memories between Memorial Day and Labor Day, where we would wait for Dad to get home so he could grill up dinner.  Even if we ate an hour later those days, it didn’t matter because it was still light out.  We would go into the backyard and play, and play, and play.  And eat Mom’s homemade ice pops.  Delicious. 

However, these burgers my family never would have even thought to make on those summer nights!  But, they have a unique taste that I really enjoyed.  The website I took them from has a number of really interesting recipes that I hope I will get to try over the next few months.  They refer to these as Afghan burgers, but others have called them Pakistani.  Regardless, I’ve been on a cross-cultural cuisine trip the past few weeks and I hope you guys are enjoying it!
Chapli Kabab (adapted from here)
Serves:  4
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup scallion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
1/2 tablespoon coriander, ground
1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 pitas, or hamburger buns
4 tablespoons yogurt

Mix everything together.  Form into 4 patties.  Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and cook the burgers about 6 minutes on each side, until cooked through.  Place in between a pita, or hamburger bun with a tablespoon of yogurt.  Serve immediately.

An American classic with a huge twist.  No one has to tell me the irony of making a Pakistani burger (people who arrest CIA informants and harbor terrorists).  But, this isn't a political blog, it's a COOKING blog, and I hope that you try these at home.  They were delicious, and so extremely different!  It's always good to try some new things!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, June 20, 2011

Fancy Pants App: Black Bean and Corn Sliders

I have lived in Boston since 2004.  Since then, every single sports team has won their respective championship culminating with the Bruins win on Thursday evening.  Now, for the most part, I am still a New York girl through and through and this blog has heard me expound on the Giants wins and losses time and time again.  But, my family was never big into hockey. 

So, since I moved up here, the Bruins have been my adopted team.  I have gone to games; I have watched them on TV at bars and at home.  And, when they won on Thursday the entire city erupted.  If you have ever lived in a championship city, a town that loves their sports like this town does, then you know how exciting this is.  Whether it is a little league championship, or the Stanley Cup, towns always come together for the big wins and the big losses.  We’re just glad this was a big win and we really enjoyed the parade on Saturday.

I had been planning to do another “week of” for a while, but really had trouble getting myself together.  I knew I wanted to do burgers and have been planning my last few weeks to incorporate some of the recipe ideas I had.  I hope you will find that most of them are not only delicious but also, healthier than a normal burger.

This one was the perfect way to start the week.  A celebration of burgers, and the Bruins. 

Black Bean and Corn Sliders
Serves: 4 (3 sliders each)
3 cups canned black beans (24 ounces)
2 cups corn kernels (either fresh, or frozen)
½ cup chopped red onion
½ cup Worcestershire sauce + 2 tablespoons (for a truly vegetarian dish, use an organic Worcestershire sauce)
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup ketchup
12 brioche rolls

Drain the black beans from the can.  Wash thoroughly.  Toss with corn kernels, red onion, ½ cup of Worcestershire sauce, breadcrumbs, and cilantro.  Form into 12 small patties.  Refrigerate or freeze them for about 20-30 minutes, until hardened (otherwise, they will fall apart on you when you grill them). 

Preheat the grill to medium heat.  Cook the patties 3-5 minutes on each side, until they are browned and heated through.  Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup.  Cut the rolls and apply the ketchup to both sides of the cut bun.  Place a black bean-corn burger in between and serve immediately.  Garnish the plate with extra cilantro, if desired.

Since I don’t have an outdoor grill here, you can make these in a skillet; I make them in my indoor grill.  They come out great either way. 

In an aside, I won a $500 Whole Foods gift card for this recipe back in February.  We used frozen corn then, versus the fresh corn I can get now.  But, the results were still spectacular.  Whether you’re a Bruins fan or just want to try something new, these are the perfect, easy, appetizer. 

Or, make them into bigger patties and serve them for dinner!

Until the next time my oven is on…
Sunday, June 19, 2011

Time-Out: Forty Minute Burger Buns

Welcome to my week of Burgers!!! I know it has been a long time since I've done a full week-of posting.  The last one was in February for Valentine's Day!  But, this summer I have two week-ofs planned, the first being delicious burgers.  It will include everything from vegetarian burgers, to healthy turkey burgers, to burgers with an international flair!

All of the burgers (I hope), you will enjoy as we really tried to make them as healthy as possible, but also as interesting as possible.  I think that they can become go-to recipes that you use all summer long.  After making a bunch of burgers over the past two weeks (yes, I didn't give myself much time), I couldn't wait to get started sharing them all with you!  Because of our tightened time frame, I did my best to do healthy versions of the American classic substituting turkey for beef or veggies for meat whenever possible. 

After finishing all five posts I kept thinking that I was missing something.  An elusive "start" to our week of burgers.  Last night it hit me; hamburger BUNS!  I was cleaning out our spice drawer (yes, I have a full drawer of spices) last night and found sesame seeds I bought on sale about 6 weeks ago (for $1)!!!  And it was like a lightbulb.  I knew that I needed some fast buns (no pun intended!) if I wanted to showcase them as the starter of burger week.  A few quick searches later and I had my recipe.
Forty Minute Burger Buns (adapted from here)
Serves:  12 people (12 hamburger buns or 24 slider buns)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 - 3 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add oil and sugar and let stand for five minutes.  The mixture will turn foamy.  Then, add the egg, salt, and enough flour to form a soft dough.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).  Immediately divide into 12 pieces.  Shape each into a ball and place them 3-inches apart on greased baking sheets.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Brush with melted butter and top with sesame seeds.  Cook in the hot oven for 8-12 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool completely before cutting.
Friday, June 17, 2011

Brilliant Brunch: Buttermilk Blackberry Pancakes

This weekend, John and I stopped into a new Russian food store that opened up a few blocks from us.  All of the items are authentically Russian (as in, I cannot read the backs of them).  I like finding small international shops like these because it always leads to some interesting discoveries by John or I (or both).  John always focuses on the drinks section, and I always focus on the foods.

The best part about this particular food store was the BERRIES!  Blackberries were 99 cents, and Raspberries, $1.29.  This is way cheaper than I can find in any of my local Star Market/Shaws.  So, we bought a bunch and I got started making recipes.

As you may have noticed, this weekend was also spent (finally, I know), updating my recipe and category indices.  And while doing that, I noticed that brunch recipes were in need of some major catching up.  Well, be prepared because over the next few weeks I am going to have some truly BRILLIANT brunch recipes for you.  We'll start, with this one.

Buttermilk Blackberry Pancakes (adapted from here)
Serves:  4
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk and 2 tablespoons white vinegar)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup blackberries (sliced in half, or chopped)

Combine the milk and vinegar.  Set aside for 10 minutes.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs together.  Then, add milk-vinegar mixture, and baking soda.  Mix well.  Then, sift together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.  Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones.   Stir in the blackberries.  Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of batter onto a greased, hot skillet.  When the edges are dry and the the batter is filled with bubbles, turn the pancakes.  Let cook an additional 30 seconds to a minute.  Then remove.  Repeat until all batter has been cooked.  Serve with blackberry maple syrup or butter.

When I make red velvet cupcakes, it often calls for buttermilk, but recipes often say you can use milk + white vinegar and let it sit a few minutes.  You can do the same thing here, and I thought they tasted great.  That vinegar gives a similar taste to the buttermilk, and you won't break the bank buying it.  Especially since I always have skim milk and white vinegar in the house (though not usually together!!). 

One more thing, the original recipe calls for a lot of butter to be added into the batter.  I'm sure that tastes great, but we don't really notice the difference without it.  So, I left it out (not only healthy, but also way cheaper!). 

I hope this is the perfect way to start your weekend! 

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weeknight Dinner: Shrimp and Pasta Primavera

Lately I have been in the mood for shrimp.  This is pretty weird since I prefer really nice fish filets to shrimp, but, a craving is a craving.  And, since it wasn't a craving for extra ice cream, or something like that, I indulged.  I immediately thought of pasta primavera because I have such fond memories of the dish growing up.

My mom loves pasta primavera and I remember (I must have been 10-12 years old) for one of her birthdays, my dad decided we were going to make all her favorite foods.  He was off from work, or it was a Saturday, so Mom was banned from the kitchen and we got started.  Dad did the hard stuff, like thinly slice the vegetables, etc.  We also made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, a recipe Dad had from Famous Amos.  I was in charge of mixing the cookies together. 

What Dad didn't know...what none of us knew, is that the recipe made 9 dozen cookies!!  I just remember Mom walking in to baking sheet after baking sheet filled with cookies!  I'm not sure where they all went, although I'm sure we didn't have a problem eating them.  But, I remember being scared to try this pasta dish that we had never had before.  And then, it was SO GOOD.  Dad has his mom's way of adding, subtracting, and making a delicious dish without ever looking at a recipe.  I hope I inherited some of that. 
Shrimp and Pasta Primavera (adapted from here)
Serves: 4
2 cloves garlic
1 yellow squash
1 green bell pepper
3 large carrots
10 asparagus
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound shrimp (30-40 count size)
1 box thin spaghetti
8 ounces cherry tomatoes
1 cup white wine (we used Riesling)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese*

Mince the garlic.  Then, chop the squash, bell pepper, carrots, and asparagus into small bite-sized pieces.  Heat olive oil in a very large skillet.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic and saute about 2 minutes.  Then, add the shrimp and let saute about 5 minutes on each side (until fully cooked).  Remove the shrimp and add the vegetables to the hot skillet, cooking about 10 minutes, until tender.  Start the pasta, according to package instructions in a pot.  Add the white wine and cherry tomatoes, and also return the shrimp to the pan.  Let cook 5 minutes, and add in the drained, cooked spaghetti.  Let simmer together 15 minutes, until fully combined.   Plate and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 
*While it is true I like shortcuts and money savings, the freshly grated cheese here is key.  It tastes way better and the sharpness that you can't find in that powdered stuff, is what really makes the dish go from good to WOW! 

I adapted this recipe from the Culinary Passport, a blog that I loved last year.  When it stopped getting updated, I was crushed!  It seemed like such a novel concept to me, deliberately cooking authentic international dishes. 

I'd like to start researching more cultures and their food habits.  Of course, that would also mean I'd have to travel more.  Lately, I have been itching to get all over the world.  There is something inside of me that is eagerly anticipating the time when I can travel the world and really explore different ways of life and cooking on this planet. 

For now, I will have to stick to transporting myself there through culinary creations!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, June 13, 2011

Stand Out Sides: Roasted Herbed Potatoes

This Saturday, John and I took a little jaunt to Whole Foods.  There we bought some steak and asparagus and got ready for a delicious Saturday night meal.  After a long week, there is nothing I like more than sitting over a nice dinner with some wine (obviously), and chatting about our weeks; generally, I feel like we need that to reconnect and just simply catch up. 

During the week I refer to myself as "The Lump" because after being out of the house for 12 hours, cooking dinner, and doing a variety of other necessary things, there is nothing I want more than to sit watching brainless TV in silence.  I don't think that's too bad, to be honest.  It charges my batteries for the next day, and it unwinds me so I'm not too stressed to sleep! 

Anyway, I had 2 leftover potatoes in the fridge and decided to make roasted potatoes with the steak since we are trying to stay away from anything that is, well, overly fattening.  The episode with John's dad scared everyone, and I hope as a group it inspires us to make some changes.  I'd never made roasted potatoes before but they were honestly so good, I can't imagine stopping.
Roasted Herbed Potatoes
Serves: 2
2 Yukon Gold Potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons parsley
2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Scrub the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks.  Toss with olive oil and then season with garlic powder, pepper, parsley, thyme, and red pepper flakes.  Place (with extra olive oil) onto a baking dish.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Then, turn the oven to broil and let broil for 7-10 minutes, until the potatoes are nicely browned.  Serve immediately. 

I know this is a simple recipe but, I get petrified when I turn on our broiler--just a bright flame, a little too close for comfort, to be honest.  These really were simple and delicious, and (I think) perfect for the summer.  I seriously am counting the days until I move out of this apartment, into one with a roof deck and grill.  I think it will be so much more fun to enjoy summer with those amenities surrounding me!!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sassy Sweets: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Having to bake for a lot of hungry (and expectant) people is a lot of work!!  This week, it was requested that I make oatmeal raisin cookies.  Now, I have made these cookies a lot.  But, they never come out as good as my chocolate chip.  Granted, the chocolate chip ones get made much more, but in general, the chewiness and softness of the chocolate chip cookie (CCC) is always lacking in my oatmeal raisin cookies.

This is probably the reason that I rarely bake cookies (other than my CCCs).  I'm always disappointed.  This recipe, though.  WOW.  I loved it.  Actually, one of the guys at work has been having a rough week; it was also his request for the cookies.  When I reminded him about it yesterday, he told me he had a DELICIOUS oatmeal raisin cookie with icing. I knew what that implied...Danielle get to work and make me some icing NOW!

Just kidding, the guys are always extremely sweet to their lonesome female colleague.  Regardless, I have to say these cookies are going to be a big success with them tomorrow.  I'm thrilled I get to bring them in because they look, smell, and yeah, (I had to) taste delicious.  They came straight from a favorite source (Smitten Kitchen). 
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (adapted from here)
Serves:  18 (3 dozen cookies)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt (I often use a half teaspoon, but I like more salt in my baked goods)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Also, I hardly looked at the directions while I cooked (I am so bad)!  But my recipe goes something like this:  Drop the raisins into 2 cups of very hot water.  Let soak while we do the rest. Combine the flour, nutmeg, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Then, in a different bowl, beat the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Beat well.  Now, with a large wooden spoon, gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined.  Then add the oats and raisins, also folding in gently.   Roll into 1-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheets.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.  Then, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Let bake about 12 minutes (edges will be slightly browned).  Remove and let cool completely.  Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar, milk, and remaining vanilla until an icing-like consistency.  Drizzle over the tops of the cookies and let cool.  I left them in the fridge overnight so the icing would harden up.  That way, when you want to bring them anywhere, you don't run the risk of the icing getting ruined.

It's been an exciting week in my kitchen and I can't wait to share some of those things with you in the next week or two.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stand Out Sides: Mom and Dad's Easy Mac Salad

As you all know, John and I got a lovely long weekend at home with my family.  Since K and E graduated, the graduation party OF COURSE was in full swing.  Right now, the grads have so much new and exciting stuff going on--graduation, engagement, new house, planning engagement parties, and weddings!  It is wonderful to see them and get to be a part of it.

Saturday was spent with Mom and Dad and youngest sister, M and her boyfriend (ironically also) M.  M&M as I will just call them spent a lot of the week prior helping Mom and Dad set-up for the party.  When I got there, it was all about the cooking.  Um, of course it was!!!! 

First Dad and I went to the fruit stand.  When I was younger, I used to be terrified of the store, thinking it was overly crowded and dark.  Now that I actually have to budget for grocery shopping, I just sat around exclaiming over the cheap prices.  Funny how quickly life changes.  Anyway, this macaroni salad has been made by my family for years, but this year, I actually watched Dad make the "dressing" which, to me, is really the key to a good macaroni salad.  I was excited that Mom had the foresight to freeze some and send it home with us.  I know what is for dinner this week!

Mom and Dad's Easy Mac Salad
Serves: 8-10 (a partyful!)
1 box macaroni
2 yellow peppers
1/2 red onion
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons milk
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper

Make the macaroni according to box instructions; let cool.  Meanwhile, dice the peppers and onion.  Then, combine in a smal bowl the mayonnaise, salad dressing, milk, and garlic.  Stir well.  In a very large bowl, combine the macaroni and pepper mixtures stirring well.  Pour the dressing over it, adding more as needed.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

One thing to note was that Dad made additional dressing for the next day so if any got soaked up by the macaroni, there would still be enough liquid there.  I love the way it sticks to the pasta and it is a really delicious salad.  I just know that this week leaves little time for blogging.  Sad but true.

Thursday, I am back with some delicious cookies (of course) requested by the office.  And stay tuned this weekend for some interesting rib recipes that I think you will all love!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Friday, June 3, 2011

Weeknight Dinner: Parisian Summer Pasta

Like I said on Wednesday, Elizabeth Bard's novel "Lunch in Paris" featured a delicious lovers pasta.  It sounded so delicious and the perfect summer pasta dish.  Best of all, half of the ingredients were already in our fridge!  I love when I pick out a recipe that I really enjoy and I magically have lots of ingredients.  It's like it was meant to be.

This past weekend John's dad was in the hospital.  It was for a few days and he is home now.  But, it meant we spent the weekend in Maine unexpectedly.  By the time we got home, we had eaten out every meal for days.  We both just needed a relaxation day.

A relaxation day, for me as you all know, means making something new and different.  I really took my time over the homemade pasta and then was thrilled to pair this lightly flavored sauce with it!  The bacon is delicious (who could hate bacon?!) and there were lots of vegetables.  The white wine gave it a sweet note.  I didn't add additional salt, just some cracked black pepper.
Parisian Summer Pasta (adapted from Elizabeth Bard's Lunch in Paris)
Serves:  4
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 strips of bacon, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup white wine
1 box of fettuccine or one "ball" of homemade pasta
Parmesan Cheese

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the bacon, onion, and garlic and turn the heat down to medium.  Stir frequently.  Make the pasta according to box directions.  Cut the zucchini into 1/2 inch rounds and then into quarters.  When the bacon is crisp and the onions are translucent, add the zucchini and cherry tomatoes.  Stir in the white wine and let cook down for 5-10 minutes.  Zucchini should be cooked through.  Toss with fettucine and plate.  Top with freshly shaved Parmesan and serve.

This was a delicious summer sauce and you can use homemade pasta or boxed.  Either would be great because the sauce really just shines through!!

My sister K and fiance E are graduating today!  Happy Graduation to them!  We are off to Long Island to celebrate with them and the rest of our family this weekend.  I am really looking forward to it and we will return Monday (hopefully with some delicious new family recipes!).  I hope you all enjoy your weekends too!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Time-Out: Homemade Pasta

A few months ago one of my favorite bloggers Karen made homemade Pappardelle.  She made it look so incredibly easy that I vowed to John we would have to try it.  Well, months have come and gone and I have yet to make it.  I have even made the trip to Whole Foods and bought Semolina Flour, but it has just sat in the cabinet.

That is, until, I read the novel "Lunch in Paris" by Elizabeth Bard.  Lately, I am all about novels with recipes.  Part recipe-book, part chick-lit, all around a great time!  Anyway, Elizabeth Bard's memoir details her love affair and marriage to a French man.  Most of her memories also revolve around food (hmm, sounds like we'd be good friends). 

Anyway, she made a delicious and really interesting pasta dish in the first chapter of her book.  In fact, the sauce looked so good, it inspired me to FINALLY make homemade pasta.  So thank you Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Bard, John and I have had a delicious dinner thanks to both of you!
Homemade Pasta (from Eat Drink Wash Up)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
6 large eggs
4 teaspoons olive oil
kosher salt

Combine the flours and then sift them onto a large work surface.  Form a well with the flour.  In a small bowl, add eggs, olive oil, and salt.  Do not mix it.  Just add them all together. Slowly add it into the well making sure the eggs do not escape!  Carefully break the egg yolks with a fork.  Then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones.  Form into two sticky balls.  Then, dust the work surface with all-purpose flour.  Place some flour on your hands and carefully knead each ball 5 minutes (should be very smooth and elastic).  Make each dough into a ball and flatten it out slightly.  Place the balls in plastic wrap and into the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.  Then, dust the work surface with more flour and dust the dough with flour as well.  Roll the dough into a large rectangle.  It should be paper thin and add more flour to prevent ANY sticking.  Then, slowly roll the dough into a cylinder.  Cut 1/4 inch strips and then unroll the strips carefully.  This took John and I both to do it.  Dust with some semolina flour to prevent from sticking.  Boil a large pot of water and place the pasta in carefully.  It took my fettucini style pasta about 5 minutes to cook.  Serve with your favorite pasta, or Friday's delicious sauce!!

This was SO easier said than done.  First of all, my eggs escaped.  Eek!  That caused a kitchen scream or two.  Also, you have to use a lot of flour so when the pasta is rolled out (it gets very thin) and it doesn't stick to the counter.  It's happened to me and it ripped, a lot.  Took some fancy maneuvering to get it back!  It was VERY well worth it, but it definitely takes a delicate hand!!

Until the next time my oven is on...
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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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