Thursday, April 29, 2010

Applebee's Asian Chicken Salad

I remembered trying this salad years ago when my roommates made it. It's really quite delicious. I'm not a big meat-eater, I usually find myself picking my way around food dishes thinking "man, this would be a great sauce if there just wasn't so much chicken in it!" However, I found myself actually looking for the chicken in this salad! My husband agreed. In fact, he was not sure he believed me that I actually cooked the chicken myself - it was certainly too delicious - until I showed him the pan I had fried them in. Case closed.Add ImageSo, I will say that, if you aren't afraid of calories (which I am not) I think some diced cheese would taste really good with this salad. It just needs a little...something more. The flavors present blend beautifully, I just think it could use a little oomph. I also doubled the green onion content and thought it was a nice touch.The dressing is good - it has a vinegar-y taste, but I think that little zing is fun with the chicken and cabbage. All in all, a great salad. I ate it the night before a race and it was just the perfect light-yet-filling dish.
Oh, and I didn't have cornflakes. I just used Panko bread crumbs that I have a plethora of and am always looking for reasons to use. I'd do it again, given the option between the two. I thought they were better than cornflakes. In fact, I think that Panko bread crumbs just might save the world someday.Lastly, I think if I make this again I'll try doing an oven-fry on the chicken, instead of pan-frying them. It certainly would make for a healthier meal. Still, I really don't know how guilty you can feel when you are shoving your face full of lettuce, cabbage, almonds, and onions. By the way, I was out of carrots, so I skipped them.4 stars.
Recipe below:




6 Tbsp honey

2 tsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbs rice vinegar

1/4 tsp sesame oil or oil

1/2 C mayonnaise


2 egg

2 tsp salt

1 C milk

1 C corn flake crumbs

1 C flour

1/2 tsp pepper

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Oil for frying


6 C chopped romaine lettuce

2 green onion, chopped

2 C red cabbage

4 Tbsp sliced almonds

2 C napa cabbage

2/3 C chow mien noodles

1 carrot julienned or shredded


Preheat oil in deep fryer or deep pan over medium heat. Want temp around 350.

Blend together all ingredients for dressing with an electric mixer. Let chill while preparing salad.

In small bowl beat egg, add milk, and mix well. In another bowl, combine flour with corn flake crumbs, salt and pepper.

Cut chicken breast in 4-5 long strips. Dip each first in egg mixture then into the flour mixture, coating each piece completely. Fry each piece for 3-5 minutes or until coating had darkened to brown.

Mix lettuce, cabbage, and carrots together. Sprinkle green onion on top. Sprinkle with almonds then the chow mien. Cut chicken into bit size chunks. Place onto the salad forming a pile in the middle. Serve with salad dressing on the side. Makes one-dinner size salad.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mushroom Sauce with Noodles

I have a lot of friends who are good cooks. So when my friend gave me this recipe all the while raving, I knew I had to try it. And it was delicious! It reminded me of a mix between a stroganoff and a bourguignon. Mmmmm. Very easy, too! A wonderful comfort meal for a cozy day.

I used portabella caps and baby bella mushrooms. You know, whatever you've got, you use.

Oh, and I was a little skeptical of using 2 whole cups of cream in a dish that I knew I would be eating the majority of (since my husband wouldn't be eating lunch at home the next day). So I used whole milk. It worked like a charm.I also felt that it was a little tart, so I threw in some salt to taste. Yum. Broil up some asparagus with oil and salt and you've got a hearty, delicious, easy meal!

I don't know where she got the recipe, unfortunately, so for now, here is the recipe below.
4 stars.


Serves 4


2 lbs mix of wild mushrooms (shiitake, portabella, baby bellas, porcini)

2 cups tomato sauce

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups heavy cream or whole milk or non-fat evaporated milk

¼ cup white vinegar

1/2 cup fresh parsley

2 TBSP minced garlic

4 TBSP butter

Sautee mushrooms in butter for 5 minutes, add garlic and parsley. Combine tomato sauce,balsamic vinegar, broth, and white vinegar. Add to mushrooms. Cook for about 45 minutes until the sauce has reduced and is pretty thick. Warm the cream or milk and add to sauce. Bring to a low simmer for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, boil fresh pasta and serve.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Junior's Chocolate Candy Bar Explosion Cheesecake

Or, in a word: HEAVEN.
A few years ago, while living in New York City, I had the pleasure of tasting the world's best cheesecake: Junior's Cheesecake. It began a love affair with cheesecakes that has culminated in me baking (and sometimes eating) an average of a cheesecake a month for years now. Especially when Juniors' came out with their cookbook which I have been slowly making my way through over the years. After that many cheesecakes, I've learned a thing or two that have helped demystify the cheesecake-making process. I know this might seem long, but it's very straight forward and I'd love to answer any questions that anyone has! SO, get out your mixer (or wooden spoon, whichever suites your fancy), break out that full-fat cream cheese and let's get started!
I do need to let you know beforehand what you are getting into. Once you have this cheesecake all other desserts will pale in comparison. You will find yourself nibbling on a delicate creme brulee while pining for this most amazing cheesecake. Better Than Sex Cake has NOTHING on this. And for what it's worth, my husband doesn't like cheesecake. Like, at all (weird). And he goes back for seconds when I make this. I'm just sayin'...

SO, how do you make the perfect cheesecake? People think it's so intimidating. In reality, the ingredients are simple enough and it's a very simple process, so chances are you have been scared of making them unnecessarily. All you need is to be educated on some simple steps to avoid cracking and to make sure it cooks properly and you will be the envy of everyone at your next party! And let's be honest here, this recipe has so many topping that really, who cares if it cracks a little - you can always cover it up!

While these steps seem long, they really serve just a couple of purposes which, if you can remember those purposes, the following steps will all fall into place without you having to think about them. You are simply trying to:
*Minimize quick temperature changes

*Not over-beat or over-bake the cheesecake
*Create a moist environment in which the cheesecake can cook

That's it! Once you know how to do that, making a cheesecake is a cinch!
So, let's expand on that. The following steps will help avoid the dreaded cracking:
1) Try to bring your ingredients to room temperature first, or at least as much as possible. Cheesecakes don't like a lot of quick temperature changes and the blending will happen better if you have room temperature eggs, cream, and cream cheese (although my cream cheese is always a little bit cold, I never remember to let it sit out for a full hour or anything).
2) DON'T OVERBEAT the INGREDIENTS. This seems to be the biggest problem. The more you whip the cream cheese, eggs, and cream, the more air pockets you will get in your batter. When you cook your cheese cake those air pockets will rise and you will get cracking. You will. Inevitably. So just get it to a creamy, combined texture and call it good.
3) When you add the cream, just stir it in by hand until it's combined instead of using a mixer. This really helps prevent cracking.
4) Use a water bath. It's really easy. You just lay some foil down in a "+" shape like this: and then wrap it tightly around the springform pan, with the tops coming up higher than the springform pan, like this:Voila.
Drop it on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and fill the water in the pan up to halfway up the springform pan like this:And you will prevent all sortsa problems.
5) I find that if I put my cheesecake in my oven uncovered for the entire time it gets really brown on the top. Well, remember how I said to have the foil come up higher than the springform pan in tip #4? Well, I place a piece of foil over the top of the cheesecake for the first 30 minutes and then take it off and let it bake normally for the rest of the tim (see picture above). Having the foil come up higher than the springform pan makes it so the foil never touches the cheesecake.6) Don't check it too often. Cheesecakes don't like changes in temperature too much, so the more you check it, the more likely it is to fall or crack. If you do check it, try to let at least 10 minutes go in between the next check so that your oven temperature can get back up to where it needs to be.
7) Once you take the cheesecake out and have it on the cooling rack, take a greased knife, the thinnest one you have, and run it around the edge of the springform pan, so that the sides of the cake separate from the pan. As the cheesecake cools, it will shrink, and if some of the sides are still stuck to the pan, well, you'll get cracking!
8)Then, walk away. Leave the cheesecake alone for 2 hours before putting it in the refrigerator so the temperature can slowly cool before being put in the refrigerator.
Right, it sounds complex, but again, most of it revolves around just keeping a constant temperature and not over-beating or over-baking the cheesecake. If you can just remember those things, all the individual steps become second-nature.

I've heard all kinds of tips for knowing how long to cook the cheesecake. I've found that the best way is to tap the side of the springform pan and if the center 1/3 of the cake looks wobbly, it's not ready. You want the center 1/3 to be just a little jiggly - like jello and then it's ready to pull out. By center 1/3 I mean this:In the end, it might take a couple of cheesecakes to get to know your oven. My old oven took much longer to cook, while my new oven is right on the minute with the recipe. Placing the foil over the top of the cheesecake can help if you need added cooking time but don't want the top to burn.

Now, this particular recipe is a little time intensive because of the ganache. But it's definitely a show-stopper. If you want an easier, but still delicious cheesecake, you could leave off the ganache and just do a dollop of whipping cream or a berry sauce on top.

If you go all the way, be prepared. The cream cheese is just a little tart; the toffee is just a little salty; mix that with the chocolate bar and a creamy ganache on top...and you have, quite possibly, the perfect dessert.

Recipe Below.
Junior's recommends a sponge cake crust, but for this recipe, I use a graham cracker crust, usually this one.

Chocolate Candy Bar Explosion Cheesecake

For Crust:
10 graham crackers
1 Tablespoon sugar6 Tablespoons butter, melted(I like to add 10-12 Ritz crackers to add a salty flavor. Some people add nuts, just do what you like, just increase the butter slightly to compensate for moisture)
3 1.4-oz Heath milk chocolate English toffee candy bars

For the Cheesecake:
8 oz Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar(s)
4 8-oz packages cream cheese (full fat) at room temperature
1 2/3 Cups sugar
1/3 Cup corn starch
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large or extra-large eggs3/4 Cup heavy or whipping cream

For the Top Decoration:
1/3 Cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Cup cold heavy or whipping cream1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1.4-oz Heath milk chocolate English toffee candy bars
Assorted chocolate candies, for example:
chocolate chips, Hershey's Hugs, Reese's Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures, York Peppermint Patties, Kit Kat pieces, Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Nuggets, candy that has caramel in it, white chocolate chunks, Twix Bars, etc...

1) While you prepare the crust, remove all the ingredients for the cheesecake so they can come to room temperature.Preheat the oven to 350 F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the oustide with aluminum foil (like we talked about). To make the crust, crush the graham crackers by placing them in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin. Combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

While the crust cools, chop the 3 Heath bars into small pieces and sprinkle over the cooled crust. Like so (this is one of the best parts about this cheesecake!):2) Melt the 8-oz chocolate bar in the microwave carefully, so as not to burn it (15-20 seconds at a time). Set it aside to cool. Place the first package of cream cheese along with 1/3 cup of sugar and all the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat on low with an electric mixer until creamy - about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheeses. Beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups of sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time until combined completely. Beat in the melted chocolate until combined. Blend in the cream, stirring it by hand, until just completely blended. Don't over-mix! Gently spoon the batter over the crust.

3) Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges look baked and the center appears set, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and run a greased knife around the sides of the cheesecake to separate it from the sides of the pan. Let cool for 2 hours (just walk away - don't move it). Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, prefereably overnight or at least 4 hours.
4) At some point during this process, make the ganache by whipping the cream with an electric mixer on high until the cream thickens and soft peaks just begin to form. Add the sugar and cocoa, then the vanilla. Continue beating until the cream turns a light-chocolate color and stiff peaks form. Don't over-beat it. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to one day.

5) Release and remove the sides of the springform, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the ganache with a metal spatula. Press the candy crumbs into the sides and arrange the chocolates on the top. Use lots of chocolates, so you completely cover the top of the cake! Refrigerate until ready to serve (do not cover at this stage). Slice with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover any left-over cake and refrigerate or freeze up to 1 month.
Recipe originally found in Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook. Graham cracker crust originally from Ina Garten's Mixed Berry Cheesecake Recipe.

6 stars. =) Ok, technically I have to give it 5, but really, it's just so amazing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Emeril's Grilled Salmon with Sweet Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Relish

Oh my goodness. I made this recipe last year and remembered it so fondly I had to make it again. Wow - my memory must have failed me because this was even better than I remembered. Seafood haters beware: this dish may make a seafoodie out of you! Honestly, I think it's the best salmon recipe I've EVER had. And I'm from Seattle, so, you know, I know my Salmon or something.When you get to the "Emeril's Original Essence" part you will be tempted to skip it because it's so many ingredients - but don't be fooled. It's just a bunch of spices thrown together. I don't make how much it calls for, I just add a few shakes of each spice - more of the ones it calls for more of and less of the ones it calls for less of. It really makes the whole recipe.Really, I want every person who reads this blog to make this recipe. Each time I take a bite of that relish my mouth just screams for more! It's really that good.I don't have a grill, so, like usual, I broil it on a cooling rack for 7-10 minutes without turning it. I just take it out when I separate the meat with a fork and it looks just barely cooked through. I also throw a bunch of veggies on the rack as well, spread some oil and a little salt on them and you have got yourself the easiest meal of...well...ever. I think it looks fun, too, so you can just take it straight from the oven to the table. How's that for a 20 minute gourmet, healthy, delicious meal? Food really doesn't get better than this!

Mmmm...just writing about it makes me want to make it again next week!
Oh, and for those who still are not convinced by ranting and raving that they want to use Salmon, I have been told that chicken tastes great with it as well. So, there you go.

You know you want to try it. Just to see if it's as good as I'm saying it is. Do it, I dare you.

Recipe here and below.
And do you even have to ask? 5 stars. No question about it.

Emeril's Grilled Salmon with Sweet Corn, Tomato and Avocado Relish
2 large ears fresh yellow corn, peeled and silk removed
2 Creole tomatoes (or other vine-ripened tomatoes), cored and cut into 3/4-inch dices (about 2 cups)
2 Haas avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dices (about 2 cups)
6 tablespoons red onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
4 salmon fillets with the skin (6-ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Emeril's Original Essence
4 sprigs fresh cilantro, for garnish

Cooking Directions

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the corn and simmer until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain.

When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the ear and place in a medium bowl.

To the corn, add the tomatoes, avocados, onions, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and set aside.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Lightly brush the fillets with the olive oil and season each on the flesh side with 1/8 teaspoon of the Essence.

Add to the grill, skin side down, and cook until the skin is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.

Turn and cook until the salmon is opaque and medium-rare, about 4 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fillets.

To serve, lay the asparagus down the center of four large plates and place the fillets on Grilled Asparagus. Spoon the relish over the fish, garnish each plate with a sprig of cilantro, and serve immediately.

Recipe copyright 2005, Emeril Lagasse

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mexican Chicken and 'Rice'

My friend sent me a link to this recipe the other day and there really was no choice but to try it. I was intrigued by the thought of cauliflower as a rice substitute. So I delved right in and tried it out. Whenever my dish looks just like the original cook's picture, I get excited (and reassured), and that's exactly what happened this time:So, was this meal tasty? Yes. Definitely. I went back for seconds - and maybe thirds. The texture was great - I told my husband it was Mexican Rice and he didn't even notice it wasn't truly rice until I mentioned to him that it was actually cauliflower! How cool is that? My kids both ate it as well. However, I wouldn't place the flavor as Mexican Rice. I would probably just have called it "Yummy Pretend Rice Dinner".
Oh, and I added in Pancetta. It's just Italian bacon - and we all know anything Italian food is synonymous with deliciousness. My husband loves pancetta and he rarely gets it, so I figured this would be a treat for him. It went very well with it.

Oddly enough, I didn't feel like adding cheese to it. I'm sure it's good - and it's rare that I don't think a meal needs more cheese, but the flavors were rich and yummy without it, so I left it out. I served the whole dish with avocados and salsa on top and mangos on the side. Mmmm...

3 stars - worth a try, but not something I'll make often. I am very interested in more recipes from this website, however, as I think that was such a fresh and fun take on adding more vegetables to meals without 'masking' them.Oh, and I don't have a food processor (someday!!), and my blender was turning the cauliflower into a smoothie, so I just chopped it. Turns out cauliflower chops easily because it crumbles apart so easily. It took a few minutes, but wasn't too bad.

Recipe here and below:

Mexican Chicken and "Rice"
slightly adapted from Elana's Pantry

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 head cauliflower, trimmed
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and diced into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
juice from half a lime
1 avocado
grated cheese, if desired (I used Mexican cotija chese)
salsa, if desired

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and over medium heat for 10 minutes, until soft. Add celery to skillet and saute for 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, place cauliflower in a food processor with the "S" blade and process until it becomes the texture of rice. Add cauliflower to skillet, cover and cook 5-10 minutes, until tender.

Mix chilies and chicken into skillet, then stir in salt, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cilantro, and lime juice.

Serve, topping with avocado, cheese and salsa if desired

Makes about 4-5 servings.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vegetable Paella

Sometimes I tend to hold on to things for a little too long - I just get attached and I don't know when an appropriate time to say 'goodbye' is. So, the other day I was chopping vegetables on my cutting board and when I chopped straight through the cutting board and onto my counter top I took that as the signal that it was time to splurge on a new cutting board.

Behold the new cutting board. She even folds in half so that I can easily slide my chopped goodness straight into the pot. Isn't she beautiful?
But I digress. This post is about a delicious little rice-based dish we like to call "Paella". I recently came across the Cafe Zupa blog and promptly found this Vegetable Paella and couldn't wait to try it. I loved that it had a lot of flavors mixed together but had familiar ingredients. Plus, I loved that it had Swiss Chard in it. Anytime I can mix up our normal vegetables with other ones, I get excited.
Well, some of my excitement ended when I found out that the warehouse that provides my grocery store with produce is currently on strike! So, I settled for collared greens instead, which I thought were delicious in spite of themselves. I also found myself just going crazy for the edamame in the dish as well. They were the perfect amount of crunchy. Edamame are just soy beans. Don't be scared of them. If you buy them frozen and shelled at your grocery store, they're just as easy to use as lima beans (only WAY tastier). There's nothing intimidating about them - go out on a limb, just try them!The consensus about this recipe was that in and of itself, it was delicious. One of my favorite rice-based dishes. However, I couldn't eat it every single day. For what it is, it's a 5 star flavor - but it would get a little heavy after a couple of days. So there you have it - it's a great dish - and healthy, too for a treat every now and again.

Oh, and I served it with Naan bread and a spritz of lime as recommended: perfection.

Here were my substitutions:
1) My grocery store didn't have any saffron threads in stock, so I used Turmeric (an orange spice, found in the regular spice section) as advised by a grocery store associate. Worked like a charm. And much cheaper (I already had it at home). If you don't want to spend the money - just skip it - it's as much for the color as for the taste.
2) I just used some short-grain rice I had in the cupboard
3) Again, I used Collared Greens instead of Swiss Chard. I just used the top 50% of the leaf, before you get to the thicker part of the stalk.
4) I skipped the chili oil altogether.
5) I used black beans (the recipe says to use whatever you want).

5 stars (with the caveat...) =)

Recipe below and here.

Vegetable Paella

adapted from healthy eating

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
1/2 cup water
olive oil
3 large shallots, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/4 cup arborio rice, rinsed
1 Tablespoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
3 cups vegetable stock
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 bunch swiss chard leaves, shredded
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cute in quarters
1 can beans (any variety)
cilantro leaves
chili oil
a few limes

Fry the saffron threads on medium to low heat (do not use oil) until darkened. Remove from heat and when cool, crumble into a small bowl and pour 1/2 cup warm water on top, let sit.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add onion and red pepper, cooking until the onion softens then add garlic. After a minute add in the rice, paprika and curry powder, mixing to coat. Pour in the saffron and water, stock (add 1/2 cup if omitting the saffron), tomatoes, and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for twenty minutes.

Uncover, stir in shelled edamame, chard, artichoke hearts, and beans. Cook uncovered until heated through.

Serve with coriander, a drizzle of chili oil and a small spritz of fresh lime juice.

This is delicious with garlic naan or another flatbread.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup

Please prepare yourself, as I am about to share with you a recipe that just might change your life forever. It's called, quite simply, Roasted Tomato Soup. However, this little soup is anything but normal. Every time I make this unassuming little recipe, I am reminded why I just keep coming back for more. It has such a depth to its flavor - and it's delicious. We've all had tomato soup before, but then you try this and you think "ok, this is what the tomato soup in my dreams tastes like". Only it's real, which makes it even better.
It can be a little time-consuming the first couple of times you make it. After you get it down, it becomes routine and somehow you shave off a good 20 minutes. I always double it because I don't think the recipe makes quite enough - and I'll happily spring for leftovers for days at a time if need be. If you make this for guests be prepared for ranting and raving. Really, it's just SO good.
A few words: I've used fresh garlic as well as the minced garlic that comes in a jar and they are both good. I've used fresh good chicken stock and bouillon in a pinch and they are both good (although you have to watch how much bouillon you put in - you don't want it to take over the flavor of the tomatoes). I've also made it without cream and it was still delicious. In fact, that's how I always eat it now, since it's just as good with or without an added 400 calories. =)

You can decide if you'd like to seed the tomatoes or not. I'm sure it's more professional to seed them, but I just think it takes a lot of time...and I actually think the taste is more rich with the seeds and pulpy tomato goodness in there.

Try and use a variety of tomatoes, as the recipe suggests. It really broadens the flavor.

Also, I find the easiest way to skin a tomato is to roast them, as the recipe suggests. Then let them cool for about 20 minutes or until they're not too hot to handle. Then simply hold onto the skin and the tomato meat will just fall right off of the skin. So easy. And do me a favor: When you pull the tomatoes, onions, and garlic out of the oven, let them cool a little and then just try an onion slice. You'll know right then and there why this recipe is going to become your new favorite food.

Sometimes I make the croutons (which are really just so good with it), and other times I just don't have the time and I just make toast to go with it.

Lastly, this is also a great food for company - not only is it delicious, but you can make it a day in advance and it's just as delicious. You may want to triple the recipe.

Enjoy! 5 stars.

Recipe Below:

Roasted Tomato Soup with Fresh Croutons

Serves 4


For Soup:

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (mix of fresh heirlooms, cherry, vine and plum tomatoes)

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 small yellow onions, sliced

Vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, optional

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 quart chicken stock

2 bay leaves

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional

3/4 cup heavy cream, optional

½ cup grated Asiago cheese

For Croutons:

Good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (1 baguette or round boule)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

For Soup: Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. If using vine cherry tomatoes for garnish, add them as well, leaving them whole and on the vine. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized.

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot after peeling the tomatoes (set aside the roasted vine tomatoes for later). Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return soup to low heat, add cream and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish in bowl with 3 or 4 roasted vine cherry tomatoes, a splash of heavy cream and grated Asiago cheese.

For Croutons: Heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Friday, April 9, 2010

White Chili

I have to admit that I'm not a big chili person. It really has to be just right for me to really get into it. I love a good taco soup, but just plain old chili is not my favorite.
Until now.
My friend shared this recipe with me and when I saw cannelloni beans I was sold because I had a good 2 cups sitting in my freezer from another recipe that I needed to use up.
This was one of those recipes where I got half-way through and thought, "Really? That's it? This is going to be a disappointment..." But I was riding on my friend's raving recommendation, so I held out hope. Boy am I glad I did!This recipe just might have it all: it's healthy, it's flavorful, it's delicious...and get this: My 3 year-old asked for a SECOND BOWL!
I served it with avocados, cheese, and whole fat plain greek yogurt, to get some extra fat in my kids. I will be adding this to my regular rotation - and you know that means this recipe is good!
Oh, and my grocery store was out of tomatillos, so I used chunky salsa verde. My spices also seemed to have formed a pact and decided to run out all at the same time on me. I've had to buy so many of those expensive little things over the last month that I just couldn't justify coriander seed when I already had ground coriander in my cupboard. It turned out great just the same.

5 stars. Easily.

Unfortunately, I don't know whom to credit for this recipe, so here it is below:

White Chili

Cooking Spray

1 TBSP Vegetable Oil

1 LB. Skinned, boned chicken breast halves, chopped

½ cup chopped shallots

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (14.5 oz.) can tomatoes, undrained, whole or diced

16 oz chicken broth

1 (11 oz) can tomatillos, drained and coarsely chopped-OR 7 oz. can salsa verde

1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chiles, undrained

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed

¼ tsp ground cumin

1 (16 oz) cans cannelloni beans or other whilte beans-drained (or about 2 cups cooker beans)

3 tsp lime juice

¼ tsp pepper

9 tbsp (about 4 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray. Add oil; place over medium-hiigh heat until hot. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Rmove chicken from pan; set aside. Add shallots and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes and next 6 ingredients (tomatoes through cumin). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add chicken and beans; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in lime juice and pepper. Ladle into bowls; top with cheese. Serves 4.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Fresh Raspberries

Tell me the title doesn't make you DROOL just looking at it! Go ahead, just try and tell me.
Here's a picture from the website, I have nothing else to show for these beauties.
After having Sarabeth's famous lemon-ricotta pancakes years ago, I began a quest to find a recipe that makes pancakes that are as delicious and light as theirs'. I've tinkered with various recipes, and I have to say that Bobby Flay has done it again - I just really thought they were perfection. I made a couple of small changes and one change that I thought was crucial:
1) I added a teensy bit less lemon (I thought it was over-doing it with the lemon curd on top as well)
2) I added a little extra nutmet (I'm a fanatic!)
The third change really was a deal-breaker:
3) I separated the egg white and yolks, dumped the yolks in as directed, and then whipped the egg whites until they were fluffy and a little stiff and then I folded them in once the batter was completely done.
I think this made all the difference. They're pretty dense little guys, so the fluffy egg whites lightened the pancakes up and let them cook all the way through just perfectly. My camera was broken when I was making them, which really is a shame because they were some of the prettiest pancakes I've made.
I served them with just a little bit of butter, a tiny pinch of salt, and a smidgen of maple syrup and lemon curd on them...and of course, the fresh raspberries can't be left out! The salty, lemony, sweetness of the toppings was just perfect with the nutmeg. Mmmmm...these just might be my "fancy breakfast" staples from now on!
Oh, and I only had ground white wheat flour from Trader Joe's and I didn't think it affected the taste in the least.

5 stars!

Recipe below and here.

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Butter, for griddle
  • 1 (11-ounce) jar prepared lemon curd
  • Fresh raspberries, for garnish
  • Confectioners' sugar, for garnish


Preheat a nonstick griddle.

Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk together the cheese, eggs, milk, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. Brush the hot griddle with butter. For each pancake, pour approximately 1/4 cup measure of the batter on the griddle and cook on both sides until light golden brown. Repeat until no batter remains.

Empty the contents of the lemon curd into a small saucepan and warm over low heat. Alternatively, remove the lid and place in a microwave oven on 50 percent power for 2 minutes, stopping after 1 minute to stir the curd. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the curd over the pancakes, top with fresh raspberries, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wild Mushroom Quesadillas with Warm Black Bean Salsa

Loved these. It was one of those recipes that looked so yummy on paper and then as I was making it I was thinking "hmmmm...not so sure about this". I mean mushrooms, black beans, and barbecue sauce? Trust me, it's delicious for a low-key, comfort-foody, casual meal.
I reduced the barbecue sauce to about 3 tablespoons because I don't love a lot of store-bought sauces in my cooking. Goodness knows I salt things enough as it is...I don't need an extra 1000mg of sodium from the ingredients themselves! I thought it had the perfect taste. Something about that salsa had me begging for me the whole night! I kept eating it by the spoonful.
I had some extra zucchini sitting in my fridge, so I chopped those up and threw them in with the mushrooms as well. My toddler will eat anything in a tortilla (he thinks it's "just like pizza!"), so I figured it'd get a few more veggies in him.
I didn't have room in my budget for crimini and shiitake mushrooms, so I did crimini and plain old white button mushrooms. Again - deliciousness!

Recipe below and here.

4 stars - definitely will make it again!

Wild Mushroom Quesadillas with Warm Black Bean Salsa


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, plus some for drizzling
  • 16 crimini mushroom caps, baby portobellos, with stems, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 12 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced, stems discarded
  • Coarse black pepper and salt
  • 1 tablespoon (a few sprigs) fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 4 large flour tortillas, 12 inches in diameter
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup smoky barbecue sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and the sliced mushrooms to the hot skillet. Season mushrooms with black pepper, salt and thyme. Saute the mushrooms 10 minutes or, until dark and tender, then remove from heat. Transfer the mushrooms to a dish and return the skillet to the stove over medium heat.

Add another turn of extra-virgin olive oil to the skillet and add the onions, garlic and jalapeno pepper; saute for 2 or 3 minutes, then add beans and corn to the pan. Stir in chopped tomatoes and barbecue sauce, then season salsa with salt and pepper. Transfer warm salsa to a serving dish.

Heat a griddle pan or large nonstick skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add a drizzle of oil to the pan and 1 flour tortilla. Cook tortilla 1 minute, then turn it over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sharp cheddar over 1/2 of the flour tortilla. Cover the cheese with 1/4 of the cooked sliced mushrooms. Fold the plain 1/2 of the tortilla over top of the filling and gently press down with a spatula. Cook the filled quesadilla 30 seconds to a minute longer on each side to lightly brown and crisp the quesadilla and melt the cheese. Remove the quesadilla to a large cutting board or transfer to a warm oven to hold, then repeat with remaining quesadilla ingredients.

Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve with warm salsa for topping.