Saturday, August 27, 2011

Carmelized Onion and Blue Cheese Burgers

This is a little cheap, I know, but I'm just going to include the link here to these burgers:
Pioneer Woman's Favorite Burger. But please be assured they are worth the effort to make, even if I didn't take the time to document them in pictures, or write out the recipe.

The recipe has a great trick for caramelizing red onions, as well as spicing up some mayo and meat.  I went with 1/2 lb burgers, instead of the admittedly daunting 1 lber like the recipe says, but basically stayed true to the recipe the rest of the way.  The bite of the blue cheese with the sweet of the onions is pretty phenomenal.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Empanadas! and a Yogurt Tahini Sauce

The wife and I have not posted anything in some time and I wanted to write this so that her earlier impetus would not be lost. First, we discovered a place in Morristown, NJ that has incredible and incredibly cheap empanadas: Raul's Empanadas. Many of you probably live further West where such food can be acquired easily. But you might want to check out their menu for some awesome ideas for fillings. We also had some really awesome guys seated next to us who were in a heated debate of what they would do in battle if they were in Star Wars.

Here is the recipe that justifies this post:

Yogurt Tahini Sauce
1/4 c. tahini
1/4 c. Greek yogurt
juice of half a lemon
1 minced garlic clove

1. Mix well.

This is an awesome topping on lamb burgers. It also gives you something to do with your leftover tahini if you are sick of making hummus again and again and again. Besides, look at how easy the directions are.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

Thank goodness for fresh produce once again. And thanks to Angela for kick-starting her blog again.I'll post some real recipes once I get another minute but for now here is what we've
been enjoying in our household this spring/early summer - a tiny love song to the farms and markets I will miss when we move out of New Jersey next month (not that you can't get fresh produce in Kansas, of course):
1. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
2. Fresh Eggs
3. Roasted Garlic and Duck Fat bread and Cave Aged Cheddar from Bobolink Dairy
(, with Duck Rilettes
4. More rhubarb...
5. More strawberries...
6. Garlic scapes sauteed and added to the easy risotto recipe

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rice Pilaf

I often fail when cooking rice and potatoes.  Maybe it's because they're meal staples and seem so simple, so I assume I don't need to follow a recipe.  So here's an American tested recipe for rice that is a winner!  My daughter, who will eat nothing for dinner but whatever residual juices remain from a piece of whatever protein she put in her mouth before spitting it out, actually ate all of this rice.  It's now my fail-safe for sure.

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Rice Pilaf
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups basmati rice or long-grain rice
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion , minced (about 1/2 cup)

1. Rinse rice in colander or fine mesh strainer 4 or 5 times.  This rids them of excess starch and makes the rice fluffier and so lovely looking.  Set aside.

2. Bring 2 1/4 cups water to boil, covered, in small saucepan over medium-high heat, add salt and keep warm. (Okay, I skipped this step because I wasn't feeling it, but I imagine it helps the salt to dissolve.)

3. Meanwhile, heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat until foam begins to subside; add onion and sauté until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat grains with butter; cook until edges of rice grains begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.

4. Stir hot seasoned water into rice; return to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 16-18 minutes. Off heat, remove lid, and place kitchen towel folded in half over saucepan; replace lid. (Again, didn't do this step.  It seemed excessive, though in retrospect I'm not sure why using a kitchen towel seemed too difficult and fussy to me.) Let stand 10 minutes; fluff rice with fork and serve.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mushroom Lasagna with Garlic Béchamel Sauce

I'm struggling with what to say about this lasagna.  You should just make it.  I made it for two families that just had babies, and for a dinner party.  It's fancy comfort food, and a pretty inexpensive dish.  Sooo flavorful as well, which was surprising because the ingredients are so simple and basic.

Serves 6 to 8

Olive oil
3/4 pound no boil lasagna noodles
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, or to taste (less is okay)
1 1/2 pounds cremini or portobello mushrooms ( I prefer cremini, but I'm new to mushrooms)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

1.  Béchamel: Simmer the milk and garlic in a saucepan, and set aside. Melt 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time at first and stirring until combined. Once you’ve added half of it, you can add the second half all at once, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick. Set aside, reserving one cup for top and bottom of dish.

2. Prepare mushrooms: Slice mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium in large sauté pan. Cook half the mushrooms with a couple pinches of salt for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and release some of their juices, tossing to make sure they cook evenly. Repeat with additional oil and butter, and remaining mushrooms.  Mix into Béchamel sauce.

3. Assemble lasagna: Spread some of the reserved sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 baking dish.  Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more mushroom sauce (about 1/4 of what remains), and 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Repeat two more times then top with a final layer of noodles, your remaining reserved sauce and last 1/4 cup of parmesan.

4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beef and Broccoli

Emerging from the hazy fourth trimester.  We have been eating, I just haven't had the motivation to blog.  Hopefully this short post (and more coffee in my life) will get things back in motion.  Enjoy!  This was a great way to satiate some good red meat cravings.  Serves 4-6.

Chinese Beef Broccoli (adapted from Pioneer Woman)
1 lb tender chuck, top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced into 1/8-in (3-mm)-thick strips
11/2 lbs broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cooking oil
Freshly ground black pepper to season the beef

3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (can substitute rice wine vinegar or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)

1 In a bowl or ziplock bag, combine the ingredients for the Beef Marinade. Add the beef and let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.

2 In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Stir-fry Sauce.

3 In a wok or large sauté pan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3-4 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain.

4 Rinse and dry the pan and set over high heat.  When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side.

5 Pour in the Stir-fry Sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.

Serve with rice or asian noodles.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Happy Feast Day!

I haven't a recipe to share (we followed the ATK faithfully) but I did want to share the celebration of today's Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Also, I am contemplating what will be our family tradition for such holidays. Any ideas? Recipes? (e.g. Turkey for Thanksgiving, Ham for Christmas, Corned Beef for St. Pat's, Lamb for Easter. What does one serve for Dec. 8th? Perhaps something from the Lourdes region?)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This Week's Challenge: Inspiration

Necessity pressed hard upon us recently so I have had some fun inventing a dish or two. To the right is my turkey-basil pizza of last night. As we wanted to get our 10 month old some protein we cooked some ground turkey without anything (fearing even black pepper would be too spicy). However, he could not eat that pound of ground meat in a few days (frankly, I'd be scared if he did) so I created this:

1 Boboli Crust
Tomato Sauce (enough to cover)
Mozzarella Cheese (enough to cover)
Ground Turkey
Two or three leaves basil (torn)

Heat oven to 450º. Add all but the basil to the crust. Cook in middle for 8-10 mins. Add Basil and serve.

Yes, I know, this is not how we make pizza; but like a few pierogi in the fridge, a pizza crust, a can of tomato sauce, and cheese are a simple way to eliminate leftovers. Speaking of leftovers:

I took the leftovers of this Greek vegetable soup (from The Olive and the Caper) and used them as a sauce to some handmade papardelle and it was awesome:

1 c. olive oil
2 med. eggplants, cut in 1" cubes
12 med. shallots, peeled and left whole
8 cloves garlic, slivered
4 med. tomatoes, chopped or can of chopped tomatoes in winter
3/4 c. dry red wine
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. basil, shredded and whole to garnish

1. Heat oil in skillet. Add eggplant, shallot, garlic, 10-12 mins. Stir frequently
2. Stir in tomatoes, wine, bay leaf, salt, pepper. DO NOT TOUCH. Let simmer 45-50 mins. (Oil will rise to top)
3. Remove bay leaf and remove from heat. Let cool 10 mins. Add shredded basil to whole. Garnish individual bowls with some whole basil.

p.s. if you skimp on the oil, your eggplant will taste too sharp.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Chicken Carbonara

Mary made this a few weeks ago and I've craved it ever since.  I'll admit I've been afraid of this dish because of the possible end result of "scrambled eggs and pasta" that I know people have had to eat (if you're reading this, you know who you are).  But that wasn't a problem at all, and if you want some good comfort food pasta, this is definitely for you.  The recipe is based off of Giada's, but I changed a few things and that is what you see before you... (I will warn you it's a bit labor intensive.  Giada's recipe says the total cook time is 22 minutes, but that would be in the lovely world of having a sous chef.  The prep work probably takes that amount of time, and then you have to cook it.  And if you're like me, just add another 15 minutes to that because I'm just slow.)  Serves 6.

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 slices bacon (I think I'll add more next time) or 4 oz pancetta chopped
4 cloves minced garlic (Or more-- you know you want to)
2 1/2 cups whipping cream (admittedly, this much cream kind of freaked me out, so I just did 2 cups cream and 1/2 c milk)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (didn't have this so I did 2 tbsp of dried)
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 pound spaghetti
3 chicken breasts, browned and cooked through, and coarsely chopped  or 1 roasted chicken coarsely shredded
1 cup cooked peas
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (I used pecans, and this was such a nice touch)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan (the pan needs to be large enough to fit all of your pasta, so make sure it's BIG) over medium heat. Add the bacon and garlic and saute until it is brown and crisp about 8 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, cheese, yolks, and herbs.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add the chicken and peas to the pan with the bacon and stir to combine. Next, add the spaghetti and the cream mixture and toss over medium-low heat until the chicken is heated through and the sauce coats the spaghetti thickly.  Giada says this takes 4 minutes, but it took me about 10, though I was very afraid of cooking it too quickly.  Just watch it and make sure you do not boil the sauce because that will scramble the eggs-- yuck. Season the pasta, to taste, with pepper and salt if needed (the bacon will likely add all the salt you need).

Sprinkle with the nuts and lemon, and serve.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not Your Grandma's Chicken (Noodle) Soup

This recipe is really good for a cold - there's no noodles, but it doesn't matter: it's just a little spicy and feels really nourishing. Make after you've roasted a chicken and want to do something with the leftovers. The recipe is from Tyler Florence's Eat This Book (which, incidentally, Goo tried to do quite literally).
Spicy Chicken Broth with Avocado and Lime

E.V. olive oil
2 medium onions diced
3 garlic cloves minced
3 medium sized ripe tomatoes chopped (adaptation for non-tomato season: use canned diced tomatoes, 1 can is probably fine - this time I had one last lovely tomato, which I chopped and added to the pot along with one can of diced tomatoes)
2 jalapenos minced (if you don't like it spicy, make sure you don't include the seeds)1 quart chicken stock - homemade is best (this time I had a quart of homemade but also added maybe a 1/2 cup of store bought sitting in my fridge, worked great)
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (this is for 4 people - see instructions below)
avocados (1 works for two people, depending on how much avocado you want)
lime cut into wedges
[optional: 1/2 cup chopped cilantro - I never do this, as I hate cilantro]
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a stockpot. Add onions, garlic, tomato, and jalapeno; cook for 15 minutes until vegetables are soft and pulpy. Pour in stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
[Note: at this point in the recipe T.F. encourages you to make your own tortilla chips by frying corn tortilla strips. I am too lazy for this. You can just buy some Tostitos and they work just fine for a garnish.]
Divide shredded chicken among soup bowls - while the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups, in reality each person can just pick off as much chicken as they want and put it in their own bowl, especially if you are working with leftover roast chicken. Ladle soup over the meat. Top with diced avocado (and cilantro, if you want). Each person can squeeze in as much lime as they want, as well as grab as many corn chips as they want.