Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More Food!

Who doesn't love good food? And a good blog in which to read about it?

Thanks to Meili for finding this article that can link you to even more culinary delights.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Greek Panzanella

Tonight I made Greek Panzanella. I saw Ina Garten make it on her Food Network show, Barefoot Contessa, and I just had to try it. I will be tasting the onions all night, but it was so yummy! Don't you want to give it a try? Let's do it! Here's what you need:

Slice a nice loaf of crusty bread into 1 inch cubes. Toss the cubes in extra virgin olive oil (or butter if you run out of olive oil like I did), sprinkle with a little bit of salt, and toast under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

In the meantime, chop the following veggies into 1 inch squares and throw them into a large bowl:
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 hot house cucumber (slice lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then chop)
1/2 red onion (I like to slice the onions into smaller pieces)
cherry tomatoes (halved)
kalamata olives (no need to chop these)

Whisk together these ingredients to make the vinaigrette:
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

This is what it looks like after the first 2 ingredients. Pretty, huh?

Throw the bread cubes and a tub of feta onto the veggies and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Toss it all together. Let it sit for 30 minutes before serving. This is a dish that can be enjoyed at room temperature.

Mmmmmmmm! I think I might have to go sneak a few more bites...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd! I made lemon curd! I am preparing a bunch of desserts for my punk's 2nd birthday next week. So far, I've baked and frozen batches of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (a family recipe that my cousin Brooke made for our mothers and daughters gathering in May) and shortbread cookies (which didn't turn out pretty, but they're still tasty). This weekend, I'm going to attempt making pastry puffs which I will then fill with the lemon curd and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Wish me luck!

Lemon Curd
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 stick (6 Tbs) unsalted butter, cut into bits

Whisk together juice, zest, sugar and eggs in double boiler. Stir in butter and cook over medium/low heat. Whisk frequently until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and the first bubble appears on the surface (about 6 minutes according to my recipe, but it took me 12 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly, and chill for 1 hour. Lemon curd will keep for up to 1 week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Autumn Celebration: October

Here's what we ate at our October dinner with Vanessa as our host. Recipes coming soon.

White Chicken Chili

- 1-2 lbs. chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
- 4, 15 oz. cans Northern White Beans, do not drain
- 2, 14oz. cans of chicken broth
- 4, 4oz. can chopped green chilis ( can add or subtract depending on spiciness wishes)
- 1 T dried minced onion
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (if desired)
- 2 cups of sour cream
- 1 cup milk, half and half or whipping cream

Pour all ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a slow boil, add sour cream, and milk ( or half and half or whiping cream). This makes a lot! Usually half of this feeds a family.

Acorn Squash with Cornbread and Cranberry Stuffing

  • 1 whole Acorn Squash, Cut In Half Lengthwise
  • 2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ cups Celery, Diced
  • ½ whole Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1 whole Tart Apple, Peeled, Cored, And Diced
  • ½ teaspoons Dried Thyme
  • ½ teaspoons Curry Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 whole Cornbread Muffins, Cut Into Bite-sized Pieces
  • ¼ cups Dried Cranberries
  • ½ cups Chicken Stock
  • Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
  • Sprinkle Of Parmesan Cheese (optional)

  • 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Scrape seeds and stringy flesh from squash. Place squash in a baking dish, cut sides up. Pour about an inch of water in the bottom of the dish. Put one teaspoon butter and one teaspoon brown sugar in each half.

    3. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Baste squash with the butter and sugar mixture after the 15-minute mark to prevent drying. Put back in the oven for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until fork tender.

    4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet and add the celery, onion, apples, thyme, curry, and cinnamon. Cook until softened. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

    5. Place cubed cornbread on a baking sheet and set next to the squash in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.

    6. Add cranberries and the toasted cornbread to the skillet mixture and gently stir to combine. While stirring, slowly add the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper.

    7. Fill the fork-tender squash with cornbread stuffing and place back into oven until heated through.

    Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

    - 1 box of spice cake
    - 1 can of pumpkin
    - 1 bag of chocolate chips

    Mix spice cake and pumpkin in a large bowl. This takes a lot of arm muscle, but keep going it does mix together! Add as many chocolate chips as you'd like. usually about 1/2 a bag for me.
    Plop several spoonfuls of mixture on a cookie sheet. Cook for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. enjoy.

    Spicy Pasta with Sweet Potatoes

    1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes (2 cups)
    1/2 tsp each sugar, chili powder, cinnamon
    8 oz dried rigatoni
    1/3 C peanut butter
    1 3-oz pkg cream cheese, cut up
    2 tsp Asian chili sauce (such as Sriraca sauce)
    1 T soy sauce
    6 green onions, thinly sliced

    Preheat oven to 450. Oil a rimmed baking pan; set aside. Place sweet potato cubes in bowl. Toss with 1 T olive oil, the sugar, chili powder and cinnamon. Spread in prepared pan; bake 20 min or until tender. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 C pasta water. In saucepan combine peanut butter, cream cheese, chili sauce, and soy sauce; whisk in 3/4 C of the hot pasta water. Stir over medium heat until heated through. If too thick, stir in additional water. Stir in most of the green onions. Serve sauce over pasta with sweet potatoes and remaining onion.


    4 soft avocados, peeled and seeded
    3 cloves of garlic, chopped (1 tbsp minced)
    lime juice from 1 small lime
    1/4 Cup of salsa or pico de gallo
    1 tsp of sea salt
    2-3 tbsp jalapenos, chopped (optional)
    cilantro, chopped

    Mash avocados, add garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salsa/pico de gallo, and sea salt, mix together.

    Roasted Vegetable Minestrone

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Cream of Tomato Soup

    It is the ultimate late summer dish. It means that school children across the country are sharpening their pencils and filling their backpacks with new supplies in anticipation of a brand new year. It means the crisp, cool air of fall is just around the corner. It means the mountain behind my house will soon turn brilliant shades of red, gold, orange, and yellow. It means that in a few short weeks, my backyard neighbor will soon be exposing his long, silver chest hair to the chilly winter air while sitting in his hot tub, smoking a cigar, in plain view of my toddler's bedroom window.

    It is my dad's cream of tomato soup.

    Step 1: Go outside and pick a bunch of luscious, red tomatoes off the vine. After washing them and slicing off their stems, stick them in a blender and puree the living guts out of them. You're shooting for about 3 cups of tomato puree.

    Step 2: Start a roux using olive oil and flour, then add 2-3 cups of milk. Bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat the tomato puree, along with some dried basil. Bring to a boil for a couple minutes.

    Step 3: (the most critical step!) Allow both mixtures to cool slightly. If you add the acidic tomato to the base of milk too early, the whole thing will curdle. Yuck.

    Step 4: Whisk the tomato puree into the milk mixture and reheat to a simmer.

    Step 5: Add salt and pepper to taste. (Brace yourself. It might be a lot of salt and pepper.)

    Step 6: Enjoy with other seasonal favorites, such as peaches or corn on the cob. Happy autumn!

    Saturday, July 17, 2010

    The Simple Things

    Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting older, but I'm finding that in cooking, as in life, sometimes the simplest things are the most delicious. Like this recipe for guacamole:

    diced purple onion
    lime juice
    (minced garlic if you're feeling adventurous)

    Mix those together (being liberal with the salt and lime juice) till it tastes good. Then spend those extra minutes you just saved (by making a simple dish) with the people you love. Those minutes are as delicious as the guac itself.

    Bon Appetit!

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    Summer Rolls

    Last night, my little sister and I (Meili) made summer rolls. (That's little sis. Isn't she cute?) They are made with thin rice paper, rice noodles, and all kinds of other yummy fillings. We made two types of roll: a shrimp roll with mint and carrot, and a veggie roll, which included avocado, basil, cucumber and carrot.

    The mint and basil came from my backyard garden. Both fragrant herbs threw a flavorful punch!

    We also made two dipping sauces: creamy peanut with lime and soy, and spicy hoisin with chili pepper and vinegar.

    See that giant roll at the top of the southernmost plate? This is what happens when you try to eat a large roll that was rolled rather loosely:

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    Dinner Chez Emily

    This is what we ate at Emily's cute house in the Avenues:

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    Mothers & Daughters

    What could be more fun than Babes a la Mode? Babes AND THEIR MOMS a la mode, of course.

    This month, in honor of Mother’s Day, we Babes decided to invited our mothers to join us. Give them a break from planning and preparing the food at all the other functions they attend, and let them sit back and relax.

    As hostess, I set the theme around our mothers and asked everyone to bring a dish that was somehow connected to their moms. As we ate our dinner, we shared our recipes and the stories that went along with them.

    For the main course, I prepared a delicious pork roast from the Lion House “Entertaining” cookbook. My mother works as an event coordinator at the Lion House (the perfect job for her, as she loves organizing big events). I laughed as I tried my best to prepare this somewhat fancy dish because, in the end, I ended up turning to my mom for help. Had to borrow a roasting pan from her, and then ask her if she thought it was cooked enough. So much for being an adult and trying to do it on my own….

    Meili brought a tasty salad with cabbage, Ramen noodles, and homemade dressing. I especially loved the story she shared about how this was the only food item her family had to eat after an especially horrible, long, hot hike at Lake Powell.

    Nikki brought a salad her mom makes that the mixes spinach with shell pasta, chicken, and red peppers. Nikki decided to share this with us because often her mom will call her up, tell her she has extra salad, and invite her over to take some of the leftover salad home. Perhaps it’s just a clever ploy by mother to make sure daughter comes home to visit?

    Emily brought a tasty fruit salad that her mom often makes for family functions. The sour cream and coconut blended perfectly together with the sweetness of the other fruit.

    Brooke brought some delicious dairy-free oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I loved that this dessert connected Brooke and her mom both by dietary needs and tradition! But, as many daughters feel compelled to do, Brooke tried out a new improvement on her mother’s classic idea. She baked the dough in muffin tins, making sure to just slightly under-bake it. This caused the tops to fall in, which left a perfect divet in which place a large blob of vanilla ice cream. Delish!

    I have to say my favorite dish of the evening was not a dish at all, but the drink brought by Ashley. She brought us all Shirley Temples, complete with Grenadine syrup and maraschino cherries. When Ashley was approaching young womanhood, her mother took her out to dinner, ordered her a Shirley Temple, and gave her the talk about the birds and the bees. Forevermore, I will connect that drink to Ashley and her coming of age!

    Mother/daughter relationships are an interesting animal. (I know because I’m both a daughter and a mother to daughters.) They have the potential to be the closest, and yet the most volatile of family relationships. How often have you heard a grown woman bemoan the fact that she has “become her mother”? Or how many times have you heard a teenage daughter complain that her mother just doesn’t understand? But the thing here is that, whether a daughter likes to admit it, a mother actually understands pretty well, if not perfectly, as she’s been exactly at that place in her life before. She knows what it’s like to be a teenage girl, to face the pressures of cultural and family expectations for her, and sometimes that experience is viewed by daughters as an “I told you so “ attitude. A mother knows that it takes sacrifice, sometimes undervalued, to raise a strong family. A mother knows that sometimes your life turns out differently than you’d planned, but she also knows there’s beauty and mercy in this. And all these things, daughters could not know unless they make the journey to adulthood and motherhood. So mothers sit patiently by as their daughters dismiss their old-fashioned advice and perceptions, and live their lives, sometimes making the same mistakes they did, sometimes not. And the beauty of it is that often times, daughters make it full circle and end up turning back to their moms for advice (like I did with the pork).

    As we sat around our tables with our mothers (and my grandmother), eating, talking, laughing, and enjoying the evening, Meili looked at me and mouthed the words, “I love this.”

    And so did all the mothers and daughters in the room.

    Brittany's Pork Tenderloin with Baked Apples

    Place 5 lb pork tenderloin in roasting pan. Make seasoning by mixing together 1 tsp salt, 1/8 garlic salt, dash black pepper, 1/2 tsp rosemary. Lightly sprinkle seasoning mixture over pork. Cook in preheated oven at 350 for about 30 minutes or until brown, then add 1 C water. Cover with goil and cook for another 90 minutes at 225. Pull out of oven and let sit about 10 min before slicing. To make gravy, drain meat juices into pot. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 C water and 2 T cornstarch until smooth. Slowly add to pork juice, stirring constnatly over medium-low heat. To thicken gravy, add more cornstarch mixture until gravy reaches desired consistency.
    To make baked apples, slice 4 Granny Smith apples and lay the slices on greased sheet pan. Sprinkle with 1 C brown sugar, and dribble with 4 T melted butter. Cook in preheated oven at 325 for about 15 min or until brown
    Serve pork slices with baked apples and gravy.

    Meili's Asian Noodle Salad

    1 pkg. Ramen noodles (Oriental flavor)
    2 Tbs. sugar
    2 Tbs. sesame seeds
    1 head cabbage, shredded
    1/4 C vegetable oil
    1/2 C sliced almonds or cashews
    4 green onions

    Mix seasoning packet from soup with sugar and oil. Set aside. Toast almonds, watching carefully. (Once they start to toast, it won't take long for them to burn.) As soon as you see the almonds have started to brown, toss the sesame seeds in the pan with them and toast them together. Mix cabbage and green onions together. Just before serving, combine everything together and toss lightly with crumbled Ramen noodles.

    Nikki's Spinach-Pasta Salad w/ Chicken
    1-2 cups shell or elbow pasta
    1 lb. cooked cut up chicken
    1 cup chopped red sweet peppers
    1/3 cup bottled creamy caesar dressing
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 6oz. baby spinach (I didn't use whole bag)
    4 oz. crumbled feta cheese (I didn't use this much)

    Cook pasta as directed on package.
    Combine pasta, chicken an peppers.
    Drizzle w/ salad dressing.
    Toss to coat. Season w/ salt and pepper.
    Before serving add spinach leaves and feta cheese. Add additional dressing if neccessary.

    Emily's Fruit Salad
    1 small can of mandarin oranges (drained)
    1 can of pineapple chunks (drained)
    1 cup (more or less if desired) mini marshmallows
    chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
    1 sliced banana.
    8 oz sour cream

    Mix together, add banana right before serving. Refrigerate.

    Brooke's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
    350 degrees 8-9 minutes

    1 C Shortening
    3/4 C sugar
    3/4 C brown sugar
    1/2 t salt
    1/2 t water
    2 eggs
    1 t baking soda
    1 t vanilla
    1 1/2 C flour
    2 C Oatmeal
    1/2 bag chocolate chips

    Ashley's Shirley Temples

    1/4 cup lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
    1 1/2 tablespoons grenadine syrup
    1 maraschino cherry
    In a highball glass, over ice, combine lemon-lime soda and grenadine. Stir well and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Rocket Salad

    My great friend Becky made a heavenly salad for the baby shower she threw for me two years ago. I gobbled up several helpings that afternoon, and have been making it for myself and my family ever since. It is one of the more flavorful salads you will ever taste, and the easiest to make.

    Mix one part lemon juice with two parts olive oil. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Toss this simple dressing with arugula, making sure not to soak the lettuce too much. You want to barely coat the arugula, not drown it. Then sprinkle a generous portion of shaved parmesan over the top and enjoy!

    I did this as if to make myself a salad, then added a heaping handful to my smoked turkey wrap. Just turkey, avacado, and this beautiful arugula salad, wrapped in a flour tortilla. The arugula is peppery and fresh. Perfection.

    P.S. The name comes from Italy. I was fortunate enough to accompany my grandpa and his new wife to Rome a few years ago, and every meal we ate included, what translated to, "rocket salad." We couldn't figure out what kind of lettuce it was until we came home and discovered it was arugula.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Indian Night

    This is what we ate at Smash's new house with her new man:

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    The Right Stuff

    I don't bake alot. It's something I find easy and therapeutic and homey and wonderful, but because of the extra calories it inevitably brings into my diet, I just don't do it. Even as a mom, I think that for the past three years you could count on two hands the number of times I've made sweet treats.

    That is until this little bottle of happiness was given to me a few weeks ago.

    Enter: Vanailla Mexicana
    Ever since this bottle of happiness found its way into my life, I can't stop baking. (because, really, where else do you use vanilla??) I've made frosting, maple syrup, french toast, banana bread, and countless batches of cookies. And I can't seem to stop. As a result, I'm going through eggs and butter at a rate I've only ever experienced at my mother's house!

    My latest success was a batch of sugar cookies with homemade chocolate frosting. The cookies are in the shapes of little cellos, made with love by yours truly for a party with students last week. (Yes this vanilla has caused me to loose my sanity: I chose to bake 50+ cookies by hand rather than just buy some from the store. Never mind the convenience of store-bought cookies; think of the flavor you sacrifice when you choose them over those containing Vanailla Mexicana!!)

    The cookies turned out nicely, but the frosting, oh! the chocolate frosting! The recipe I use doesn't call for any vanilla, but because my little Mexican friend was in the cupboard, I decided to just add a splash, and now I'll never go back. Neither will you.

    Bon Appetit

    Chocolate Frosting with a Twist
    Beat 2 cubes of butter with 5 tablespoons of milk. Add enough powdered sugar till you reach desired frosting consistency. (it'll be a lot!) Toss in a couple spoonfuls of cocoa (more if you're Meili) and a splash of vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
    May be stored in freezer for future use.