Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yes, definitely the worst blogger ever.

So, seven months between posts. Typical, right? I guess not. Sorry for those of you who have been patient enough to keep checking back. Here is finally something new!

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a service called E-Mealz. Every week, I download menus based on sale items at Publix (such a yuumy store!). Some of the dishes are a little, um, well, let's just say they're not all designed for people who are looking for fresh real ingredients (case in point, a wrap filled with pepperoni and jarred pesto; economical, yes. Real, not so much.) But they make an effort to include fresh fruits and veggies and most of the dishes are easy to make and really good. This is one of the best, easiest and most fun ones! I only wish I'd bought more.

Spicy Pork Roast for Two Dinners
1 lb. chuck roast (on sale!)
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chiles
14.5 oz can black beans (pinto or other beans can be substituted), drained
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 packet beef stew seasoning (cheating, I know but it was cheaper than buying all the spices I needed. Feel free to revoke my real foodie status)

As with most pot roast recipes, this one is made in a slow cooker. Cut the roast in half, combine all the other ingredients and add it all to the pot. I sort of sandwiched the meat, putting half the bean/tomato mixture on the bottom, then the meat, them more beans/tomatoes on top. It will seem like there should be more liquid; there shouldn't. Just make sure the meat is covered, put on the lid and and let it sit for 4-6 hours. This is why I love slow cooker recipes! Seriously, in 4-6 hours, you will have wonderful fall apart tender beef. Reserve one half of the roast (take a little liquid but leave most of the beans and stuff) for the beef and rice bake later. Let the other half cool and then slice/ shred and add it back to the bean mixture. Use in flour tortillas with cheese (and your other favorite burrito accoutrements) and enjoy! I'll post the recipe/ pics for the beef and rice bake when I make it later this week! (I promise)

Here's what the beef and bean mixture looks like, pre-burrito.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Am I the worst blogger ever?

Probably. I have abandoned the blog for many months now and have also abandoned cooking for the most part. Sad, I know. My last serious cooking undertaking was Christmas Eve when I made cassoulet for my family. It was a great meal and it was wonderful to enjoy it with my brothers and parents. I would also tell you about baking cookies later, but it was pretty much... awful. Let's just say, I should never bake. Ever.

But back to the cassoulet. Or rather, what was supposed to be cassoulet but what turned into a lovely sausage and white bean soup. I suppose I should be embarrassed that after slacking off in my cooking efforts for a few months I can't even produce a simple cassoulet, which, incidentally, I have made before with great success (if I do say so myself). But the resulting flop was truly so remarkable so I can't muster being embarrassed. I'm too full of pork induced happiness.

2 lbs. white beans (navy, cannelini, etc.)
1 onion
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
5-6 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
3-4 springs thyme
1 lb. bacon
4 sweet Italian sausages
2 lbs. pork steak
14.5 oz can of chopped or diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil

Soak the beans overnight. You may use a quick soak method if running low on time, but I usually prefer a longer soak. Drain the beans and save the soaking liquid. Begin chopping your vegetables, making sure to cut small, even pieces. (To avoid crying, it helps if your onion is cold and your knife, sharp.) Save the skins and tops to add to your freezer bag for vegetable stock. You do save your scraps for homemade liquid gold, don’t you? I thought so.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and put your Dutch oven (or whatever you are using to cook in) over medium heat. Melt 1 Tbsp. each butter and olive oil. Add your chopped bacon to the pan. After it has browned, remove bacon and add the Italian sausages. Brown on all sides; don’t worry about cooking them through; that will happen in the oven. Remove sausages and cut into chunks (not too large as you will be eating them soon!). Next, brown the pork steaks, remove and cut into chunks. Deglaze the pan (there should be lots of yummy brown bits stuck on the bottom) with some of the soaking liquid, chicken stock or white wine. Scrape up the bits then add your mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery). Stir occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and continue stirring one minute.

Add the meat back to the party (don’t forget the bones from the pork steak- they’ll add lots of flavor), along with your chopped tomatoes. Put the beans on top then cover with water (see, I told you to keep that soaking liquid for good reason). Yes, this will look like a lot of food, but it will cook down some. Also, this soup is very easy to freeze and keep for a long time. Back to business.

Cover the pot and bake in the 400 degree oven for about 1 ½ hours. Time will vary based on your beans, so start checking for bean doneness after you pass the hour mark. When it’s finally finished, (hooray!) remove the bones, bay leaf and thyme springs, season to taste with salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Even if you don’t like a lot of heat, the cayenne is necessary; otherwise your soup will taste like it’s missing something.

I hope you enjoy this yummy soup as much as my family did and it will warm you during this cold spell. And here's hoping your next mistake is as fortuitous as this one was.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Breakfast for Supper

Having a pretty low key night and decided to make some eggs. Aren't they wonderful? Simple. Delicious. And can be made a hundred different ways! I've recently taken to eating them over easy, runny, so when you cut into them, the yolk runs spilling all over the plate and you must chase it with your bread to get every last golden bite. Tonight's edition was "toad in the hole" aka eggs in a basket, aka birds in a nest, aka everyone has a different name for this dish! There are a million different names for this dish, but the end result is always delicious. Take some bread- doesn't matter if it's wheat, white, rye or sourdough- cut out a hole in the middle. Butter in the skillet, addthe bread, crack an egg in each hole, cook a couple of minutes and flip. Don't forget to season the eggs before flipping; I have found two cracks of black pepper per egg is perfect. Now slice into perfection and start chasing!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

This yummy soup is warm and inviting, perfect for a cool autumn evening. I love the musty smell of the sage with the earthiness of the squash and garlic! The recipe is pretty straightforward and doesn't take long to make. I made a huge batch in just over an hour- not bad for a Sunday afternoon! I choose to use vegetable stock and no cream or butter to make this a vegan dish, for no apparent reason : ) As usual, free free to add or take out any ingredients you wish.
**Warning-This is spicy! Cut down on the spices or add cream to cool it down. **

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. carrots, chopped*
2 lbs. butternut squash, chopped*
1 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch sage leaves, roughly chopped
approx. 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper (as always!)

Saute onions in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute more. Add carrots and squash and stir well. Add mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and sage leaves an stir to combine. Pour in vegetable stock (I choose Swanson's Organic Vegetable Broth) making sure it covers the vegetables, turn heat to high and bring to boil. Lower heat, cover and allow to simmer until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and blend thoroughly, transferring in batches to a blender or using an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. You could also freeze in small portions in zip top bags to enjoy all week long!

* Cut carrots and squash in pieces of uniform size to ensure even cooking .

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hello from Tennessee!

Well, I finally made it! Technically, I made it here a few weeks ago, but this is my first chance to write. So here I am, back in Tennessee, living in my hometown... with my parents... without a job. Wow. That's sort of depressing! You'd think that without a job I would have tons of free time to bake and cook all sorts of delicious things. I have made a few yummy meals, but mostly I've been enjoying being spoiled by my mom's homecooking and eating more fast food in the past two weeks than I had in two years in Boston : )
Fortunately, I have made a few discoveries in the local food scene. The Nashville Scene had several articles about farm to table eating and some great chefs who use local ingredients, so once I have a job I know where I'll be heading to eat! It also seems I just missed the Tomato Art Festival in East Nashville, which is very disappointing. East Nashville is a very interesting area; Rob and I have briefly explored the Five Points area (including the Boston seafood restaurant Batter'd and Fried) and I can't wait to check out The Turnip Truck to start buying local produce.
Here is a recipe I made a few weeks ago for a lunch at church. The first time I made it was at Whole Foods and it was equally successful this time. It's very simple and very easy to spice up. Here's the basic recipe with a few ideas for seasoning!

Sauteed Apples, Leeks and Mushrooms
2-3 leeks trimmed, washed and thinly sliced
3-4 apples peeled, cored and cubed
1 lb. mushrooms rinsed and chopped
olive oil
butter (optional)

Heat two tablespoons of oil (or one each of butter and oil) in a large saucepan with high sides. The leek, apple and mushroom slices should be roughy the same size to ensure even cooking. First add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and stir occasionally. When the leeks are soft but not browned (about 5 minutes), add the apples. Season, stir and repeat with the mushrooms. The apples will take approximately 4 minutes to cook and the mushrooms 2-3 minutes.
* The first time I cooked this, I used this recipe exactly. The second time, I didn't use butter and I added a few teaspoons of chopped thyme at the end. I think adding rosemary or carraway seeds could be equally delicious. This dish is easily adaptable; you can use one apple, one leek and a handful of mushrooms to make a small serving or double, triple, even quadruple the amount to feed a big crowd for the holidays. The butter adds a great flavor but is not necessary if you wish to keep the dish vegan. Give it a try and see what flavor combinations you'd like to try with it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Have you missed me?

So, I apologize for being away for a whole month! Things have been pretty wild around here, and I'm sure they won't be slowing down anytime soon since Rob and I are moving. Don't worry, I'll still be blogging (hopefully more frequently) and making delicious, clean, REAL food! I'm actually looking forward to discovering the local food scene in Nashville; the last time I lived in TN, I was definitely not as into food as I am now, so it will be fun to find farmer's markets, reastaurants and other foodies!

There probably won't be any recipes for a while, but I will keep you up to date with what I'm cooking, where I'm going, etc. Also, I just signed up for The Daring Kitchen. That means, each month a recipe will be released on the website and all members have a month to make the recipe and post it.Look for those soon!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer Salad

To celebrate the beautiful summer weather we've been having, I made a simple sald for supper tonight. I used Locally Known summer salad mix and topped it with a gorgeous chopped heirloom tomato and some chicken with a brown butter-balsamic glaze. Very easy and light. Enjoy!


I used four thighs, baked for about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. This I did earlier today; I ran some errands while Rob payed bills on-line and baby-sat the oven : ) I then removed the skin and stored them in the fridge. Right before I finished the sald, I broke the chicken into bite size pieces.

Brown Butter-Balsamic Glaze

I melted a few tablespoons on butter in a skillet, waited for the foam to subside (the sign that the butter is "browned") then added some balsamic vinegar. Stir that around then add the chicken to coat it with the yummy goodness and warm the chicken through. Toss the salad, tomatos and chicken (pour the chicken and remaining glaze on the lettuce), then plate and top each with shaved parmasean cheese.