25 4 / 2013

Lunch. Minestrone

Lunch. Minestrone

23 3 / 2013

Homemade flour tortillas!

Homemade flour tortillas!

10 2 / 2013

Italian Wedding Soup - will appropriately be reappearing on the menu for our Thrifty Thursday, Valentine’s Day edition

Italian Wedding Soup - will appropriately be reappearing on the menu for our Thrifty Thursday, Valentine’s Day edition

25 1 / 2013

Present from my adopted olive tree! First press EVOO

Present from my adopted olive tree! First press EVOO

23 1 / 2013

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

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This recipe is from Ina Garten’s newest book Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust. I’ve had the book on my Amazon wishlist since it was available for pre-order and yay, Santa (aka the hubs) brought it to me!

We’ve made three recipes from her book so far and she’s 3 for 3! This is basically a garlicky meat sauce tossed with Parmesan cheese, pasta, and some greens. The recipe says it serves 6, but we think it makes 8 good sized servings (and you could certainly stretch it out a little by adding more of the broccoli rabe).

I made a few modifications to fit our own tastes (and my laziness):

Sausages

  • Instead of roasting the sausages, I took them out of their casings and just broke them up in the pan and cooked them. I had found a similar Giada de Laurentiis recipe that seemed to do it this way. It worked out fine and made for a much more even distribution of sausage throughout the dish. It also saved some time!
  • Instead of hot and sweet sausage, I used all hot sausage - we like things spicy and it was easier for me to just buy one package of meat
  • I swapped out pork sausage for turkey sausage because it is a bit lower in fat and calories
  • The only turkey sausage I can find comes in 1.22lb packs (it used to be 1.25lb - yes I did notice that, Jennie-O), so I used the whole package

Cheese

  • The recipe calls for 1 cup of Parmesan cheese which seemed delicious but excessive so I cut it in half. I also didn’t use fresh grated because that is a bit fussy and can be expensive

Salt

  • I’ve noticed with a lot of Ina’s recipes lately that the amount of salt she calls for seems a bit out of whack, so my general rule is to start with half of what the recipe calls for and then continue adding the rest to my own tastes. Maybe she’s using fancy, flaky, less salty salt?

This recipe is definitely a keeper - very comforting for a winter meal. At 8 servings with the modifications noted above, it came in at around 450 calories per serving. Not bad!

I’m tempted to just make a huge batch of the sauce part and freeze it up to use as a basic pasta sauce.

Random tip: I learned (thanks to a quick google search when I was at the grocery store) that another name for Broccoli Rabe is “Rapini.” So if you’re not finding anything called Broccoli Rabe in your grocery store, look for Rapini instead. 

16 11 / 2012

Sloppy ‘Jobes’

Lately Jason & I have been looking to decrease the amount of meat in our diet. To add substance and protein, we’ve started incorporating more lentils because I’m a little obsessed, but also soy tempeh. We’ve found it can take the place of ground meat in quite a few preparations, and this riff on a Sloppy Joe is just one.

Rather than using a store-bought sloppy joe sauce which usually upsets my stomach anyway, we used Rachael Ray’s recipe for Super Sloppy Joes, substituting 8oz of tempeh (broken up) for the beef. Even though the protein part was cut by over 50% the recipe is still PLENTY to serve four. As you can see from the photo, the Jobes were overflowing!

Pretzel buns really worked well for these sandwiches because they could really stand up to the moisture.

30 8 / 2012

Mixed (Fresh) Berry Pie

Last week for a work potluck I decided to bake a pie, much to Jason’s surprise (and later, delight). Though I’ve helped make lots of pies in the past, I’ve never made one all by myself. So why not try it on a random weeknight?!

This is somewhat of a cobbled together recipe.  I used Ina Garten’s Perfect Pie Crust recipe in combination with the filling recipe from this Mixed Berry Pie with Streusel Topping I found on epicurious. I was looking for a filling that wasn’t loaded with a ton of sugar, had some lemon to add complexity, and used corn starch as a thickener. I snuck in some lemon zest as well because it seems like a waste to not use it when you have a fresh lemon! I may have also added in a dash of cinnamon, but I don’t recall for sure. Depending on how sweet your berries are, you may need more or less sugar, so it’s always important to taste your filling in advance. While you’re at it, taste the pie crust too: quality control is key!

For the cooking time, I went with the instructions for fresh berry pie found in my reprint of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook: about 40 minutes at 425 degrees fahrenheit. The whole pie was put together and in the oven in well under an hour. The hardest part was waiting until the next day to taste it!

28 6 / 2012

Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes

I have a goal to make a red velvet dessert for every wedding anniversary. For the first anniversary, I went for a straight duplicate of our wedding dessert, red velvet cupcakes. After creating an extensive pinboard of ideas, I decided that Anniversary 2.0 would be celebrated with mini red velvet cheesecakes a la Betty Crocker.

Let me just say that these turned out dangerously good and you should make them soon! I only changed a couple things in the recipe:

  1. Cut the amount of red food coloring in half because 2T seemed even more obscene than 1T
  2. Used chocolate graham crackers for the crust bottom: I couldn’t find the famous chocolate wafer cookies the recipe called for, so I crushed up one pouch of the grahams and mixed it with the butter. After pressing the mixture into the muffin cups I was worried the crusts seemed a little dry so I brushed more melted butter over the top of the crust with a pastry brush

We garnished the cheesecakes with a generous dollop of whipped cream, a shaving of chocolate, and a chocolate mint sprig (due to a snafu, I have no regular mint growing).

So now we have leftover mini cheesecakes that are edible right out of the freezer - can’t say I’m terribly upset about that.

11 5 / 2012

Cajun Broiled Tilapia

It took years, but I think I’m finally starting to like fish enough to cook it at home. This recipe makes me feel like a rock star because it’s so quick, simple, and delicious.

We based this recipe on the ‘Creole Catch’ you can find at Ruby Tuesday, but to be honest, RT’s version doesn’t hold a candle to this. I’m not sure what type of fish they use, but we make ours with tilapia.

Ingredients

  • Tilapia fillets
  • Fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
  • Olive oil
  • Cajun seasoning (I use this one )
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to broil. Line the top of a broiler pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray
  2. Gently pat the fillets dry with a paper towel
  3. Sprinkle each fillet with kosher salt and black pepper. You may want to taste your cajun seasoning for salt to get an idea of how much kosher salt to use. Place the fillets on your prepared broiler pan
  4. Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over the top of each fillet - they don’t need to be drenched - and then pat the fillets a bit to put the salt & pepper back into place
  5. Cover the top of each fillet with your cajun seasoning in a thin, even layer
  6. Sparingly drizzle olive oil over top of each fillet (think abstract art splatters rather than full coverage)
  7. Broil about 4 inches from the flame (this was the top rack position in our oven) for 7-8 minutes, until the fish is opaque and basically falls apart

Serve with lemon wedges and, optionally, rice.  We had this with my Filthy Rice last time, but pictured here is slightly tweaked Cilantro-Lime Rice from Martha Stewart.

01 5 / 2012

Grilled Chicken Caesar Wraps

As we cook day in and day out, I’m learning how true the ‘less is more’ mantra is with respect to food. In these wraps, for example, it’s really the grilled chicken that stands out - the rest is more or less just assembled ingredients. The key with the chicken is not much of a secret at all - don’t try to do too much to it. 

Grilled Chicken Caesar Wraps 

For the Chicken

  • 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • Grill seasoning (we use this one)
  • Lemon juice

Taste your grill seasoning to get an idea of how salty it is.  Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt & pepper, using a light hand on the salt if your grill seasoning seems pretty salty already.

Place some plastic wrap over the chicken & pound the meat out to about 1/2” thickness. The important part is to try and get them a consistent thickness throughout. Squeeze lemon juice over both sides of the chicken, then sprinkle with the grill seasoning and Italian seasoning.  

Grill the chicken, indoors or outdoors until it reaches about 155 degrees F. We use a George Foreman grill frequently because the weather can be unpredictable. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice into thin bite-size pieces.

Assemble the Wraps

  • 4 flour tortillas, slightly warm (burrito size recommended for easiest wrapping)
  • Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • Tomatoes, sliced or diced 
  • Provolone cheese (Mozzarella works too)
  • Creamy Caesar Dressing (go for the good stuff, we use this one, bonus points if you make your own)
  • Croutons
  • Grilled chicken strips

Spread cheese on the tortilla as the wrap base. You don’t need a ton. If you desire, microwave the wrap for about 10 seconds to get the cheese just a little melted.

Add lettuce, dressing, tomato, chicken, and finally the croutons. Make sure not to over-stuff it, or wrapping will be very difficult. Wrap the tortilla burrito-style, following these directions if you’ve never done it before.