28 May 2008

Checking In...

So obviously I haven't been around much, but I have made some changes that I hope will make blogging a bit easier on me. First and foremost, I purchased a laptop. I have been saying I want one for a long long time now, so I figured it wasn't just a passing fancy. I also decided to take my money that the government was so generously sending me and actually use it to stimulate the American economy! Having a laptop, hopefully, will allow me to catch up on my blogging while on the go. One of my biggest obstacles is finding enough 10 minute segments in my day to create a coherent post. Taking my computer with me should help alleviate this problem.

I have been visiting lots of wonderful local markets recently which have truly inspired me to cook. Most of my meals have been very simple creations of roasted vegetables with soft scrambled eggs on the side. Asparagus drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a high heat oven is my current obsession. I have added mushrooms, green onions and baby redskin potatoes lately as well. It all adds up to the most wonderful, simple spring meal. Of course having wonderful local eggs from 2Silos doesn't hurt. If you are local, definitely check them out at the Clintonville Farmer's Market.

Another local place that deserves its own post entirely is Pistacia Vera. I wish I was together enough to remember to bring a camera along when I visit this store. However, their website does a beautiful job of displaying their goods. The next time you are in German Village, you must stop by their shop. The service is delightful and friendly, the atmosphere is airy and refreshing, but most importantly, the pastries are heavenly. Today I visited with my friend Allison and brought a small box of cookies back to my co-workers for an afternoon pick-me-up. I tried a new cookie today - a Red Skin Peanut creation that was like the best grown-up peanut butter cookie. Next time I will do my best to take pictures before gobbling up all the goodies. Regardless, head to Pistacia Vera the next time you really need to impress someone with a truly delicious food gift.

That's all for now... I should be updating soon with more springtime food creations...

18 May 2008

Perfect Sping Quickbread

Lori from The Recipe Girl is one of my biggest inspirations, and she has become one of my internet foodie friends. Lori actually has two websites - one is her food blog and the other is her recipe database. It is really inspiring and cool that Lori decided to take a class one day and figure out how to create a website that has become so incredibly popular. Even though her blog is newer, it already seems to be one of the busiest on the web! Better yet, Lori's recipes and reviews are very reliable and easy to follow. I am flattered that Lori always makes time to come visit my site and comment - it is a huge compliment to me.

I recently visited The Recipe Girl and noticed a recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. It looked really good... except I don't really love those flavors together. So instead, I headed over to the Brunch-Quickbreads section of Lori's recipe site. I found the best recipe for Banana Blueberry Bread ever. It is moist and tender, with subtle banana flavor and beautiful blueberries throughout. This bread was snatched up by my co-workers in record time, which was good for me because I was in danger of eating the whole loaf on my own! I threw the ingredients together after working out in about 10 minutes and about an hour later I had freshly baked Banana Blueberry Bread scenting my kitchen. I think my house smelled better after baking this bread than it ever has before.

Thanks Lori!!

Banana Blueberry Bread
from RecipeGirl.com

Delicious with fresh, plump blueberries...

1 ¾ cups

sifted flour

2 tsp

baking powder

½ tsp


¼ tsp

baking soda

1/3 cup


2/3 cup


2 large


1 cup

mashed ripe bananas (I used 2 bananas)

1 cup

fresh blueberries (I used frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9x5" loaf pan.
Sift first four ingredients (dry) into a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy. Then beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating in one at a time. Add dry ingredients and then banana.
Carefully stir in blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 50 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. (My bread was a little hard to judge- it probably could have cooked an additional 5-7 minutes.)

Let sit for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool.

15 May 2008

Healthy & Delicious - an Epicurious Winner!

Kristi over at The Global Kitchen directed my attention to this delicious chicken recipe over on the CLBB. I am really happy I opened her thread! I immediately decided that I needed to make this dish, originally from Epicurious. It is very healthy, and it has a ton of rich, savory flavor. This is the perfect dish for the girl on the go - I threw it together in less than 15 minutes, and it was ready after about 30 minutes in the oven. I felt virtuous about eating it - I knew that Kali and Molly would approve of this lean protein based dinner with healthy carbs to boot!

Speaking of Kali and Molly, working out is going great! Burning my hand created a minor setback, since the doctor forbade me from going near the gym for one week. It was nice break from the structure of working out so often, but I missed getting into the gym. I have discovered that the gym provides an incredible release for me. I didn't even realize how much I needed or looked forward to working out. I sleep better and feel more energized throughout the day. I have finally started noticing a difference in my body too! I know that I am getting much stronger which is really fun (even if it freaks J out a little bit :)).

Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika

Use leftovers for sandwiches the next day: Place shredded chicken, garbanzos, and tomatoes in a pita bread and top with the yogurt sauce.

Prep: 15 minutes; Total: 35 minutes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt (I used creme fraiche)
4 chicken breast halves with bones(I also took the skin off)
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (I used garbanzos that I had cooked myself)
1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes (I used a can of fire roasted tomatoes, mostly drained)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preheat oven to 450°. Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Pour 1 teaspoon spiced oil mixture into small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside for sauce. Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cilantro to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat. Pour bean mixture around chicken. Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cilantro. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. Serve with yogurt sauce.

*Sometimes labeled Pimentón Dulce or Pimentón de La Vera Dulce; available at some supermarkets, at specialty foods stores, and from tienda.com.

Servings: Makes 4 servings

14 May 2008

Cheesy Shrimpy Goodness with Bread

You know how easy it is to start with one recipe and slowly morph it into something entirely new over time? Well, I think I have a tendency to do that a lot... and this dish was no different. I definitely wouldn't file this under healthy, but I would file it under tasty and simple (and impressive). I have modified Emeril's Spicy Crab Stuffed Mushroom recipe a million different ways- I have used the filling to make quesadillas, stuffed mushrooms, dips for bread (as in this case) and slapped onto of scrambled eggs. Basically, I think the basic combination of flavors in this recipe is the perfect backdrop to whatever you have on hand.

I am posting the original recipe, but I used the idea of this dish to create the dip you see pictured above. I didn't have pickled jalapeños around - so I subbed fresh hot peppers. I didn't have crab - so I subbed shrimp. I didn't have mushrooms - so I subbed a cute baking dish. I also didn't have the cheese he calls for - so I subbed a variety of other cheeses that sounded good to me. So what is the same you ask? Well, I used the mayonnaise and garlic and Worcestershire sauce... and I guess that's about it! Like I said, I don't think you can really mess this recipe up - as long as you add some type of cheese and some type of heat and cook the filling in some type of vessel, you will end up with a happy stomach.

Spicy Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Recipe adapted from Everyday Is A Party Cookbook, by Emeril Lagasse, with Marcelle

12 ounces white mushroms, cleaned and stems removed
1 pound lump crab meat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapeños
1/4 pound pepper Jack cheese, grated
1 teaspoon Worcestershire salt
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 heads radicchio, cut in half and grilledPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place mushroom caps on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together crabmeat, garlic, jalapenos, pepper Jack, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, mayonnaise and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Place a heaping tablespoon of the crab mixture into the cap of each mushroom. Bake the mushroom caps for 30 minutes. Serve warm with grilled radicchio.

07 May 2008

Tasty Emeril Recipe- Grilled Flank Steak

I have second degree burns on my right hand. They hurt. Why do I keep injuring myself?! Needless to say, it is making it a little challenging to cook - thankfully I managed to make an awesome meal and take pictures well before burning myself. (I actually burnt my hand while warming up water in the microwave at work to use my French Press, so I wasn't even really cooking! Thankfully, I believe I will survive just fine with my ointment and antibiotics.)

I found this recipe while searching FoodTV's website for ways to marinate flank steak. I have no idea what possessed me to buy this slab of meat a month or so ago, but I am happy that I did. I hoped to cook the steak when I first bought it, so I whipped up the marinade below and threw it in a bag. I soon realized, however, that I wouldn't have time to cook it, so I threw the steak, marinade and all, into the freezer for another day. Well that day came this weekend. I thawed the steak in the refrigerator and heated up the grill. However, I knew I didn't really want tacos - so I decided to just take the steak and add it to a bed of lettuce with some homemade pico de gallo. Some sliced avocados would have been perfect on this salad. I think I overcooked the steak (I really wanted the pretty grill marks, and they just weren't showing up!) but flank steak to me is one cut of meat that can stand up to well-done. The steak definitely had the essence of the marinade. I hate when I take the time to marinate a piece of meat and cannot taste it! In fact, if I make this dish again, I will marinate for at least 12 hours - maybe even 24 hours! I loved the onion flavor with the subtle hint of cumin in the background. It was a delicious salad - and I am sure the complete recipe would be awesome as well!

The complete recipe can be found here: Grilled Flank Steak Tacos with Roasted Poblano Chiles, Grilled Onions and Mexican Crema, Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2006

However - I only used the Marinade part listed below:

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1/8 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 pounds flank steak, trimmed of surface fat and silverskin

In a blender or in the bowl of a food processor, combine 1/2 cup of the onion, the garlic, 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil, half of the lime juice, cumin, oregano and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Process until smooth. Place the flank steak in a shallow non-reactive dish and spoon the marinade over the meat. Turn the steak so that both sides of the meat are in contact with the marinade and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally. (Obviously as I mentioned above, I used a bag and left it in the marinade for a month in the freezer :))

Preheat a grill to high.

Remove the meat from the marinade and shake or use a spoon to remove any excess. Rub the meat all over with the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and season on both sides with the remaining teaspoon of salt. Grill the steak, turning once, to the desired degree of doneness; for medium rare, this should be 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Copyright © 2006 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

Simple Pico de Gallo

2 parts seeded, chopped tomato
1 part chopped red onion
as many chopped hot peppers as you like (I used a lot!)
1 part chopped cilantro (use the stems!)
1 part lime juice
salt to taste
drizzle of olive oil

Okay so I know this isn't really a scientific recipe - but really you should just try it as you go. Add chopped bell peppers or cucumbers or pineapple or whatever sounds good! You can't mess it up!! :)