Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Hi.  It's been a while.  Sorry I have been so absent, but my time has been spent in a very worthwhile way taking care of my baby boy.  Now that he is older, and a little more self-sufficient I am hoping to be back more consistently.   I have been cooking, I just haven't been taking pictures of what I cook.  This is sad because I love to photograph food.  So, I have two goals to share with you today.  
Goal number 1: keep a camera in the kitchen so I can snap some photographs while I cook
Goal number 2: Bake every day until Christmas
Hopefully the combination of these two goals will give me a lot of new stuff to post in the near future!  I have already baked chocolate meltaway cookies, jelly roll cookies, and brown butter butterscotch cookies.  The reason that I am making this a goal is because baking is so relaxing to me, and I find myself overly stressed on a regular basis these days.  trying to get out of the house and get stuff done with a 9 month old who hates the car in tow is no easy task.  If I take time for myself to do something that I enjoy each day I am happier and better able to enjoy my son the rest of the day.  So here is my goal, and I hope to be back with a lot of pictures and recipes for you when these two weeks of baking are over!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mucho Mango Salso

I am not usually a huge fruit salsa fan.  I normally find it to be too sweet for my tastes, but Tim and I had about 8 mangoes, so I figured I would give it a go with a recipe from the Chevy's cookbook.  I actually really liked this recipe.  I don't know that I would choose it over a pico de gallo, or another tomato salsa, but as far as mango salsas go, this one is really good.

Mucho Mango Salsa
Recipe from Chevy's Fresh Mex Cookbook

1 large mango
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 1/2 teaspoons minced cilantro
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon minced habanero (I couldn't find habanero peppers so I used a jalapeno)
2 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients, mix well, serve chilled.
I always think salsas taste best the day after you make them so I made this a day in advance.  If you have time to do that I would recommend it.  It gives all the flavors a chance to mingle a bit.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Early last week I got an e-mail asking if I could make 50 cupcakes for an event on Friday night.  There are few things in this world that I love more than cupcakes so of course I wanted to take on the task.  Given that I have a three month old baby at home I needed to find a recipe that would be relatively low maintenance.  These also had to be transported to a different location so they needed to travel well.  It just so happened that I had been eyeing these black bottom cupcakes that I saw on Smitten Kitchen a while back.  They looked super easy and had no frosting so they would not be hurt by a ride in the car.  I went ahead, multiplied the recipe by five and got to work.  I am not sure if I did something wrong in my multiplication but I somehow ended up with a TON of extra cheesecake filling.  So, I happily filled my mini muffin tin and made some delicious cheesecake bites.  A nice bonus I must say!
The cupcakes themselves turned out deliciously!  They have a rich chocolate base that is not too sweet, but perfectly chocolaty and a creamy cheesecake filling that helps the whole thing go down a little too smoothly.  You may want to go back for seconds or thirds, and I promise, I won't judge you.

Black Bottom Cupcakes
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

8 oz cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temp
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
5 Tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling:
Mix together cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth.  Fold in chocolate.  Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat to 350 degrees.
Prepare a muffin tin with liners or spray the tin with oil.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl mix together water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it.  Stir until just smooth and be careful not to over-mix.  Divide the cupcake batter evenly into the cupcake tin.  Spoon a few tablespoons of filling on top filling the openings almost completely.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are springy and set.  You can keep these at room temperature for 2-3 days, but they taste better cold.  Store them in an air tight container.

To make cheesecake bites:
Take extra filling and pour into mini muffin tin.  Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until totally set.  Store in freezer-they are delicious straight out of the freezer!

Friday, May 20, 2011


I am writing this in hoped that having this on the internet will hold me accountable. I don't want to get to the winter and have zero cans to show for myself again like last year.  I have planned 1 canning day a month between now and September.  Here are the dates: June 18, July 16, August 20, and September 10.  Here are the things that I hope to can:
Strawberry jam
Strawberry Pinot Noir Preserves
Rhubarb butter
Apricot and Vanilla bean preserves
Blackberry Jam with lemon zest
Peaches inn Vanilla Syrup
Cucumber relish
Apple Butter
Tomato Sauce

In reality I am sure that not all of this will get done,  but at least I have my goals in writing.  I am ready to can!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chickpea Burgers

I am not a big red meat eater.  I do like the occasional steak, but regular beef burgers are not really my thing.  I usually opt for a turkey burger or a veggie burger. I have been looking for a good veggie burger recipe for quite some time.  It is hard to find one that stays together and has the right consistency.  This recipe does a pretty good job on the consistency, and the patties do hold together well.  The wheat germ on the outside gives these burgers a nice crispy exterior and a more moist interior.I really liked the flavor of these a lot, and they left me feeling satisfied but not overly full like a regular burger normally does. 

Chickpea Burgers
Recipe from Eating Well

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 scallions chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can chickpeas
1 cup cooked brown rice
2/3 cup wheat germ
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 6 inch whole wheat pitas
8 slices  tomato
1 cup baby spinach
4 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt

Heat a small skillet over low heat.  Add sesame seeds and toast until golden brown.  Add coriander and cumin ad cook until fragrant-10 to 20 seconds more.  Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.  Grind with a mortar and pestal-or if you don't have one a ziploc and a heavy rolling pin worked perfectly for me.  Set aside.
Add oil to the pan and heat over medium heat.  Add scallions and garlic, cook until softened.  Set aside. 
Pre heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. 
Coarsely mash chickpeas in a medium bowl. Stir in rice, 1/3 cup wheat germ, lemon juice, salt, pepper, scallion mixture and the reserved spice mixture.  Mix well.  Shape into 4 3/4 inch thick patties.  Place the remaining wheat germ in a shallow bowl and dredge the patties in it. 
Grill the patties until browned and heated through-about 3 minutes per side. Warm up the pitas in the toaster oven or microwave.  Tuck the burgers into the pitas with tomato, spinach and yogurt.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sorry there is no picture.  I did not expect these cookies to disappear as quickly as they did.  Even though this goes against all the rules of food blogging, I am going to post this sans picture.  These cookies are so good, and I need to share them with you. 
I made these cookies last week because I had a whole day with nothing to do and some ripe bananas in the freezer.  I finally got my cooking/baking itch back and am really having fun with it again.  Levi is on a good, consistent routine which helps me know when I will have time to make things, and that is a little easier on me. 
I wanted to make banana cookies instead of just banana bread, or muffins because cookies are more fun.  The chocolate chips make them super sweet and delicious!  The texture of these cookies is really nice.  They are a little sticky, but extremely moist and soft. I froze them for about a week before we ate them last night, but like all cookies, they held up great in the freezer.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 Stick Butter, softened
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 Cup Ripe Bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 Cups Flour
pinch of salt (only if using unsalted butter)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2  teaspoon ground cloves
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until fluffy again.  In another bowl mix the mashed bananas with baking soda and let it sit for a few minutes.  In yet another bowl, mix flour, salt, and spices.  Add the banana mixture to the butter mixture and mix well.  Then add in the flour mixture and stir until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake in preheated oven for about 13 minutes.  These are great fresh out of the oven, but in case you can't eat all of them, let the rest cool on wire racks and then store in an airtight container. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Miso-Garlic-Roasted Tofu Caesar Salad

I love Caesar salad, but have always avoided making it because you will not get this girl to touch anchovies in the kitchen.  I found this recipe and knew right away I had my solution!  The miso adds a nice rich flavor, and you don't really even notice that it is a fish-free version.  I had a hard time finding the miso anywhere, but I ended up going to our local Asian market and getting it there.  It was in the refrigerator section. 
I have made this twice in the past two weeks, once with the tofu as our main dish, and once without the tofu as a side dish.  I like it a lot both ways, but if there are going to be leftovers I would maybe leave the tofu out or keep it separate from the salad.  It got a little soggy by the second day, and I just picked around it at that point.  Either way this is my current favorite salad, and the fact that I have already made it twice is huge since I usually hate making salad.  I give it two thumbs up!

Miso-Garlic-Roasted Tofu Caesar Salad
Recipe from Eating Well Magazine June 2011 Pg 52


14-oz extra firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons miso
2 cloves garlic, minced

4 slices italian bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Dressing and Salad
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons miso
1 clove garlic, minced
8 cups torn romaine lettuce
2 cups torn radicchio
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

To prepare the tofu: pat tofu dry and cut into small cubes.  Combine the lemon juice, miso, and garlic in a large bowl.  Add the tofu and gently toss to coat.  Spread the tofu in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake on the upper rack of the oven, turning a few times during cooking, until browned, 20 minutes.

To prepare the croutons: Toss bread with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake in lower rack of oven until crisp and brown-12-14 minutes.  Shake the baking sheet at least once during baking. 

To prepare salad and dressing: Whisk oil, lemon juice, miso, and garlic in  a medium bowl.  Put lettuce, radicchio, and croutons in serving bowl.  Pour dressing over lettuce, and top with Parmesan.  Toss to coat, and top with tofu.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Couscous Salad with Garbanzos and Vegetables

This salad was delicious and surprisingly filling. I expected Tim to still be starving after we ate, but he said he was full.  If Tim is full then that is a good indicator that this is a hearty meal.  The recipe says to use whatever vegetables are in season.  The original suggestion was cucumbers and tomatoes but since the tomatoes we have in the store right now are a far cry from real tomatoes I decided to go with red and green peppers.  Those worked really well and I will continue to go that route until we get some good summer tomatoes in the markets.  I felt like we were eating a light, fresh meal that reminded me Spring is on it's way despite the cold temperatures.  It was nice to have a little taste of warmer weather in our kitchen, if only for one night.
One suggestion I will make when buying ingredients for this recipe is to go to Whole Foods or another store that sells grains in bulk to buy the couscous.  It is way, way cheaper that way.

Couscous Salad with Garbanzos and Vegetables
**Recipe from the Chicago Tribune Good Eating Section

10 Oz couscous
2 Cups boiling water
1 teaspoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Cup diced cucumber
1/2 Cup garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 Cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 Cup sliced green onions
1/4 Cup chopped nuts, optional

Combine couscous, boiling water, and 1 teaspoon olive oil in large bowl.  Stir with a fork and cover for five minutes.  Fluff with fork and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, for vinaigrette, combine vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in small bowl.  Stir with fork until salt is dissolved and mustard is incorporated.  Add the olive oil and whisk until combined.  Remix before adding to salad.
Add tomatoes, cucumber, garbanzos, feta, onions, and nuts (if using) to the couscous.  Toss.  Add dressing and toss again.
Serve with hearty bread and butter.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mesquite Grilled Steak Fajitas

 I am not a huge red meat fan, but since this meal was for Tim, I went with steak fajitas.  This recipe uses skirt steak which is always a good start.  The marinade is delicious, and I plan to use it a lot in the future, especially once grilling season is here!  Just be sure to plan ahead as you are supposed to let the meat marinate for 6-8 hours. You can just mix it all up in the morning and by the time dinner time rolls around you will be ready to go.
Mesquite Grilled Steak Fajitas
**recipe from Chevy's Fresh Mex Cookbook

2 pounds skirt steak

Agua Negra Marinade
1 Cup soy sauce
2 Cups pineapple juice
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

Combine all marinade ingredients with a whisk in a mixing bowl.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Place the meat in a resealable container.  Pour marinade over the meat, and make sure the meat is evenly coated.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.
Preheat grill.  Place the beef on the grill and leave undisturbed until grill marks form, then rotate meat 90 degrees to create a second set of marks.  After 2 to 3 minutes turn the beef to cook the other side.  Transfer to a work surface and slice. 
Serve with warm tortillas and normal fajita accompaniments.  We had red rice, salsa, beans, and tomalito

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sweet Corn Tomalito

If you have ever been to Chevy's you know this is the best part of the meal.  It is the little clump of corn pudding served atop a corn husk.  It is so sweet and so good.  I always save it til the end and then savor every bite of it.  Now that I know how easy this stuff is to make, I will probably be making it a lot more often.  I also am thinking of working this into our Thanksgiving menu. 

Sweet Corn Tomalito
*Recipe from Chevy's Fresh Mex Cookbook

6 cups fresh corn kernels (can also use frozen-just thaw and drain)
3/4 Cup milk
1/4 Cup butter
1/2 Cup prepared masa for tamales (or use dried masa harina and follow liquid ratio on package)
2/3 Cup sugar
3/4 Cup cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup milk

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Blend 3 cups of corn and the milk in food processor until smooth.  Whip butter, masa, and sugar together in food processor for about 2 minutes.  Add all ingredients, including pureed corn and the remaining corn kernels, and mix well.  Pour mixture into a 9x13 pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Set the 9x13 in a large roasting pan filled with 3/4 inch of cold water.  Bake for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the mixture reads 175 degrees and mixture is set.  Serve hot.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Big Flavor Black Beans

I liked these beans, but thought that they could use a little more flavor.  I turned the leftovers into soup by thinning with a little water. I added more salt and another tablespoon of Chipotle puree and let it cook until heated through.  This was much more flavorful, I really liked it!  I served it with a little sour cream.  When tomatoes are in season you could also top it with fresh pico de gallo. 

Big Flavor Black Beans
*recipe from Chevy's Fresh Mex Cookbook

2 Cups dried black beans
3 quarts water
3/4 Cup yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle puree (I will add extra but adjust to your liking)  **see note below**
1/3 Cup ketchup
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
 **for chipotle puree use a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and puree in food processor. 

In a large stock pot soak the beans in the water overnight.
When you are ready to cook, add the remaining ingredients, except the salt, to your stock pot and bring to a boil.  Stir, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours-until beans are cooked to desired done-ness.  They should still have a bit of a bite to them, but be mostly tender.  When the beans are cooked through, add salt and cook for another minute or so.  Serve warm or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chevy's Red Rice

For Valentine's Day I made our whole dinner from the Chevy's cookbook.  Tim loves Chevy's so he was very happy with the meal. Their recipes are fun to make, and allow me to use ingredients that I don't always think to use and that is always fun for me.  The next several posts will be recipes from that meal.  I want to start with the red rice because that is always my favorite.  Every time I have made it I have not been able to stop eating it!  It is so flavorful, and has just enough spice-and you can adjust this level to fit your tastes as well.  It is easy to make, but tastes like you slaved over the stove all day.  Try this next time you are serving Mexican food.

Red Rice
**Recipe from Chevy's Fresh Mex Cookbook
6 beefsteak or 8 plum tomatoes
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 Cups water
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons chipotle puree  **see note at bottom**
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 Cup canola oil
2 Cups long grain white rice
1/2 Cup chopped yellow Onion

**For chipotle puree buy a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and puree in food processor until smooth**

In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat char the tomatoes until the skin splits and they become aromatic.  Transfer to blender or food processor and puree.  Stir in cilantro and set aside.
In a large saucepan combine water, pureed tomatoes, garlic, chipotle puree, and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Heat the oil in another large saucepan or dutch oven over high heat until just before oil begins to smoke.  Add rice and stir to coat.  Saute until most of the grains are bright white or slightly brown 7-10 minutes.  Add the tomato mixture to the rice and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 10-20 minutes until rice is cooked.  Fluff with fork and serve warm.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nutella Brownie Bites

These only have three ingredients.  I was skeptical too, but I had a large quantity of Nutella that I figured was better baked and shared rather than me eating it by the spoonful day by day.  These actually tasted better than I expected them to.  They had a subtle Nutella flavor, and a moist consistency.  They were not show stoppers, but were nothing short of yummy.  A satisfactory way to indulge your sweet tooth a little bit.  Dessert of the home-made variety definitely doesn't come any easier than this.  I topped mine with leftover caramel which added a little more flavor and made them more moist.  The original recipe tops the brownies with crushed hazelnuts, so do whichever you please.

Nutella Brownie Bites
Adapted from Savory Sweet Life
Makes 12 brownie bites

1/2 Cup Nutella
1 Large Egg
5 Tablespoons flour
topping of your choice-crushed hazelnuts, or caramel sauce works well

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a  mini muffin pan

Mix Nutella and egg until smooth.  Add flour and stir until blended.  Spoon into muffin pan.  If you are using nuts as the topping, add them now.

Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes.  If using caramel, use your finger to make a small indent in the top of each brownie.  Spoon a small amount of caramel in the indent.  Allow to cool slightly and serve.  Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pearl Couscous with Shrimp

I have been trying really hard to add more protein to my diet.  I am normally perfectly  happy to eat all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and lots of carbs, but meat doesn't usually cross my mind.  It's not that I don't like meat, it's just that it is not the first thing that I think of when planning our meals for the week.  Now that I am in my third trimester of pregnancy it has come to my attention that I am supposed to seriously increase my protein intake.  I was probably eating less than enough to begin with, so I am really trying to be intentional about eating the protein- filled foods that I know I need.  This week is the first in my new protein rich life.  On our menu this week are 2 meals that include meat/fish.  This is already a big improvement so I am starting off strong!
We had this couscous for dinner tonight alongside a burnt carrot salad with garlic chips and goat cheese. I love couscous but hadn't made it in a long time, so I really enjoyed this.  The nuttiness of the couscous adds a nice solidity to the dish, as the rest of the flavors are pretty subtle.  The shrimp and zucchini add a nice texture.  This was a nice healthy meal that leaves you feeling satisfied but not weighed down after a couple weeks of excessive holiday eating.  The couscous came together easily, but looks beautiful and tastes great.  Use Israeli, or pearl couscous.  It has a chewier texture than traditional couscous.

Pearl Couscous with Shrimp
*Recipe from The Chicago Tribune

8 oz Israeli (Pearl) Couscous
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 yellow squash, or zucchini, diced
1/2 pound raw, peeled, deveined shrimp, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 Cup shredded fresh parmesan
2-3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro or chives
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook couscous as directed on package.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a non-stick skillet.  Add onion and cook until golden-about 5 minutes.  Add squash and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turns pink-about 2 minutes.

Place couscous in a serving bowl.  Stir in shrimp mixture.  Stir in cheese and cilantro.  Season with salt.