Sunday, June 28, 2009


My hubby has been working so hard lately that when he found a grill on sale that he really liked I wanted to get it for him as a surpise.  But I have to admit that it is really just as much for me.  I am really looking forward to doing more grilling.  We didn't get it set up until Thursday night though so there is nothing from it on this week's menu, but look out next week for some BBQ action.  
I made this risotto for the first time last summer and was in heaven with the first bite.  It is creamy with crisp pops of juicy corn and the sweetness is cut perfectly by the thyme.  It was a fleeting moment of joy though because Summer was drawing to a close and I knew that fresh corn would soon be disappearing from the market.  Well, it's back and I was ecstatic to have this on the menu this week!  If you make this (you have to make this), do it on a night when you are not in a rush to get something on the table.  It does take some time and a watchful eye, but it is worth every second.  

1. Corn Risotto
from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

2 cups uncooked corn, cut of the cob (from 4 medium cobs)
4 cups chicken broth
2 T butter
1 shallot, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 t thyme leaves
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Puree 1 cup of the uncooked corn in a food processor until smooth.  In a saucepan, heat the chicken broth to a simmer.  In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the shallot and saute until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the rice and saute, stirring, 3 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth and the pureed corn and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has been absorbed, 5-7 minutes.  Continue adding the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently and waiting until the previous addition has been absorbed before adding more.  After the last cup of broth has been absorbed, let the risotto cook 3 minutes more, stirring.  Add the remaining corn and thyme leaves and cook 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.  


I usually shy away from making any kind of Asian food because I feel like I usually just butcher it.  So, I'm not sure what inspired me to put this on the menu but it actually turned out pretty good.  I think the key, at least for me, is to have all of the ingredients ready to go because everything cooks very quickly once you get started.  The cashews were my favorite part of the dish, they grounded it somehow.  

2. Stir-fried Beef with Snow Peas and Cashews
make 2-3 servings

3/4 lb flank steak, cut into 3 long strips with the grain and then sliced across the grain into 1/4" thick slices
1 T soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T vegetable oil
1/4 lb snow peas, stem ends trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 t fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup cashews, chopped (if you buy the "halves and pieces" it will save you money and the step of chopping them)
brown or white rice, cooked according to package directions

Combine the steak and soy sauce in a bowl and refrigerate while you prepare the remaining ingredients.  Whisk the hoisin sauce, water and pepper flakes together and set aside.  Heat the 2 t of the vegetable oil in a large, nonstick skillet, over high heat until just smoking.  Add the steak and cook without stirring for 1 minute.  Toss until browned around the edges, about 30 seconds more.  Remove to a clean bowl.  Add the remaining 1 t of oil and heat until just smoking and add the snow peas, stirring once or twice for 2 minutes.  Clear the center of the pan and add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.  Stir the garlic mixture into the snow peas and add the steak back to the skillet.  Whisk the hoisin sauce mixture to recombine and pour into the pan.  Cook until thickened, about 1 minute.  Stir in cashews and serve.   


My mom makes cinnamon rolls with chili, when I asked her why, she said it's because that's what her mom did.  Well, now it's what I do.  I crave the flavors together.  This soup wasn't exactly chili and the cinnamon buns were definitely not my mom's homemade ones but the flavors were there and it was a quick weeknight fix.  

3. Pork Chili Soup with Cinnamon Buns
modified from Simply Soups
make 4 servings

2 t olive oil
1 lb ground pork
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 T tomato paste
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1/8 t ground coriander
1/8 t ground cumin
1/4 t dried oregano
3/4 t chili powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper 
kosher salt and black pepper
avocado (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the pork, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently until no pink remains.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, celery red bell pepper and garlic.  Cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft.  Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, broth and spices and stir to combine.  Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until all vegetables are very tender.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Top with avocado slices if desired. 

This zucchini pies takes a little time but most of it is unattended in the oven.  I have experimented with the flour before but this is the first time I have used 100% whole wheat.  It was fine for flavor but it changed the texture a lot and next time I will go back to a mix of white and wheat or go with all white.  This makes great leftovers for lunches.  

4. Zucchini Pie
modified from Real Simple
makes ~6 servings
2 medium zucchini, grated (tip, don't cut off the stem end of the zucchini so that you have something to hold on to while grating)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour (or 1/2 cup a-p and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1 cup grated provolone cheese (I can usually only find this kind sliced so I get that and chop it up)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 vegetable oil
4 T Parmesan cheese, grated
2 t fresh basil, chopped
1 t baking powder
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving 1 T of the Parmesan.  Pour into a greased pie plate and bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and let sit 10-15 minutes before slicing.  


We are corn lovers around here (if you haven't guessed that yet) and so when I came across this recipe for Sweet Corn Ice Cream I had to give it a try.  I also wanted to make something to go along with it that wouldn't be too sweet and these cookies seemed to fit the bill.  All in all it was very good but the consensus was one bowl is enough, which isn't such a bad thing I suppose.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream 
from The Last Course by Claudia Flemming

4 ears sweet corn, shucked
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split open
3/4 cup sugar
9 egg yolks

Slice the kernels off the cobs.  Break the cobs in half.  Place the kernels, cobs, milk, cream, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a sauce pan.  Cook on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat, remove cobs and vanilla bean and puree the corn mixture in a blender.  Let sit for about 1 hour then reheat to a gentle simmer.  Whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar.  Add a small portion of the hot cream to the egg yolks, whisking.  Keep adding hot cream until the yolks are warm to the touch.  Add the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and stir until slightly thickened and it coats the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and press the mixture through a strainer into an ice bath.  Allow the ice cream custard to cool completely over the ice.  Transfer the custard to a container and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.    

Raspberry Cream Cheese Cookies 
from Use Real Butter

2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 t vanilla extract
4 oz seedless raspberry jam

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy.  Mix in flour 1/2 cup at a time, blending well.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. (I only had a couple of hours to refrigerate the dough and turned out fine.)  
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Divide the dough in half, leaving half in the refrigerator.  On a floured work surface, roll the dough to about 3/8" thick.  Cut out the cookies with a cookie cutter.  Gather and reroll the scraps.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet 1" apart and use your thumb to press a 1" indentation in the center.  Fill the indent with ~1 t of jam.  Bake 13-15 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Officially Summer

Despite the fact that the sun has been in hiding for the last two weeks and it looks like it's not going to show it's face anytime this week the food on our plates has still been a reflection of summer.  
Stone fruits are just getting good around here and I love them when they are perfectly ripe but hate it when I get a bad one.  Well, these nectarines were perfect and this salad was a delicious way to use them.  It would have benefited greatly from a little more salt and pepper but I was too lazy to get some after I sat down to eat so instead I just sat there thinking, through every bite, "This would be a lot better with a little salt and pepper."  Silly me.  The dressing called for a tiny amount of buttermilk but the smallest container I could buy was 1 quart so keep your eyes out for a recipe using buttermilk next week, and if you have any suggestions leave them in the comments.    

1. Almond-Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad with Buttermilk Chive Dressing
from Fine Cooking
makes 4 servings (I cut it in half because I didn't think it would keep very well.) 

For the dressing:
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 T sour cream
1 T white balsamic vinegar
1/2 t honey
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T thinly sliced fresh chives
Kosher salt and black pepper   

In a medium bowl combine the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar and honey.  Slowly whisk in the oil to blend.  Stir in the chives and season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the chicken:
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups slices almonds (I had some sliced and some whole, this worked fine because you put them through the food processor anyway.)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 lb. chicken tenderloins, pounded 1/4 " thick (I skipped this step because I was lazy that night remember?)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2-3 T vegetable oil

Lightly beat the eggs.  Pulse the almonds and flour together in a food processor until the almonds are chopped, transfer to a dish.  Season the chicken on all sides with 1 t salt and 3/4 t pepper.  Dip the chicken, one piece at a time, in the egg, shake off any excess and dredge in the almond mixture, pressing lightly (Tip: Use one hand for the egging and the other for the flour so your finger don't get totally caked.)  Set aside.  Heat 2 T of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot.  Cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until light golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side.  Between batches, remove any stray almonds and add more oil if necessary.  

For the salad:
6 cups torn tender lettuce (I used Boston Bibb)
2 ripe nectarines (or peaches), cut into bite sized pieces
Kosher salt and black pepper (This is where I left it out and wished I hadn't)   

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce and nectarine with about half of the dressing.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and divide among 4 plates.  Top with the chicken and drizzle with the remaining dressing.     

Jer worked super late the night I made this so I ate alone and had leftovers for three lunches.  I was a little sick of it by the time I finished it all but considering I ate it for 4 meals and didn't give up on it all together says something.  I have to do a little advertising here for a product that I love, the Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta is so good and, when I compared the nutrition facts to the whole grain pasta it was at lease equal and, in some cases, better (more fiber and protein and fewer calories).  Sometimes I like the whole grain pasta but I worried it might be too heavy in this simple dish.  The mint was and interesting addition, sometimes I would get a clear taste of it and was not so sure about it, but mostly it was a good flavor addition to the whole.

2. Penne with Zucchini, Fresh Herbs and Lemon Zest
from Fine Cooking
makes 4 servings

3/4 lb penne (whole wheat if you prefer)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4" half moons
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 t lemon zest
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 T each coarsely chopped fresh: mint, basil and flat-leaf parsley

Cook the penne according to the package directions until al dente.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely tender and just starting to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, an additional 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest, 3/4 t salt and 1/4 t pepper.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.  Add the pasta to the zucchini mixture along with the Parm. and herbs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss to combine, adding some of the reserved water if necessary to moisten the pasta.  
Jer declared after finishing this meal that it was the "best ever".  I should have known, it is basically all of his favorite foods: burgers, potatoes, corn, and bacon.  I really couldn't go wrong.  

3. Cheese Burgers with Oven Fries and Corn with Bacon and Shallots
makes 2-4 servings

For the burgers I mixed 1 lb meat with a little Worcestershire sauce (about 2 t), 1 t onion powder and an egg, formed it into 4 patties, and cooked them in a skillet.  

The recipe for the oven fries is here.

For the corn:
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
~1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen (thawed if using frozen)
Kosher salt and black pepper

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and wipe out the skillet leaving a slight residue of bacon grease.  Cook the shallot until soft and add the corn. Continue to cook until the corn is starting to brown.  Add the bacon back to the skillet and stir to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

I read about an easy enchilada sauce recipe here that only used roasted red pepper soup and a can of green chilis.  I thought it sounded easy and tasty so I decided to give it a try.  It was okay but I didn't love it.  I paired it with a pepper and olive filling that was good but was a little rich by the end.  If you make this I would recommend a serving size of one enchilada and something a little lighter on the side, maybe a green salad. 

4. Roasted Red Pepper Enchiladas with Pepper and Olive Filling
filling from Cabbage Town Cafe Cookbook
makes 4 servings

2 cups roasted red pepper soup
2 cans diced green chilis
3 T olive oil
2 green peppers, chopped
1 t coriander seeds (I left these out because I didn't have any)
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely chopped black olives
black pepper
1/4 t cayenne
1/2 t ground coriander
1 cup grated Chedder or Monteray Jack cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the red pepper soup and green chilis in a saucepan and heat gently.  Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat.  Add the green peppers and cook until the peppers are blistered and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix in the cream cheese, olives and spices.  Spoon a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a 9" square baking dish.  Divide the filling between 4 tortillas, roll them up and place in the baking dish.  Pour the rest of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Bake until  hot and bubbly, 10-15 minutes.       

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Something hot, something cold

We spent a lovely weekend in New York, near Lake George, celebrating our friends' graduations, lounging by the pool, noshing on good food and playing lawn games. Although I will always be a western girl at heart, I am really starting to appreciate the beauty of the Northeast and I think we are going to have great summer enjoying it!

The other exciting part of the weekend is that after an agonizing 9 week wait I found out when we got home yesterday that I passed another of my architecture exams! I was nervous about it because it was the exam I took right after being so sick a couple months ago and I am so glad it is another one behind me now!


This salad is super delicious and is great for summer potlucks and picnics because there is no mayo to worry about in the heat. Whenever I make it I always feel like I need something "carby" to go with it. I think the perfect combo is a hearty bread and good cheddar. I love the combination of cheddar and apples.

1. Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil
from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts4 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes)
1 T white wine or rice vinegar
2 T light brown sugar
4 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
2 granny smith apples, diced
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
2 T thinly sliced fresh mint
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Place the chicken in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1/2". Add 3 t of the salt and 1/2 t of the pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until no trace of pink remains, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar and sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and apples and toss.
Drain the chicken and pat dry. Dice the chicken and add it to the apple mixture along with the peanuts, mint, basil and the remaining salt and pepper. Toss and serve.


I am always putting things on the menu and then not actually wanting to make them. This was one of those things and, as they usually do, it turned out great. Jer even liked it, minus the tomatoes of course. The recipe calls for artichoke bottoms instead of the more common hearts. If you can't find bottoms I think hearts would be fine too. I love a cold salad with something hot on it and the couscous cakes did the trick here.

2. Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes and Feta
from Fine Cookingmakes 3-4 servings

For the dressing:
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T sour cream
1 t fresh mint, finely chopped
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

For the couscous cakes:
3/4 cup couscous
kosher salt
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
zest of 1 medium lemon
3 T vegetable or canola oil

For the salad:8 oz. baby spinach (about 6 lightly packed cups)
1 14 oz. can artichoke bottoms, rinsed, drained and sliced
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 oz. crumbled feta

Make the dressing:
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, sour cream and mint. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Make the couscous cakes:
Put the couscous and 1 y salt in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water to the couscous, cover with a lid or plate, and let sit for 4-5 minutes. Coarsely chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chickpeas and 1 t salt and pulse until coarsely chopped. Uncover the couscous and fluff with a fork. Stir in the chickpea mixture, eggs and lemon zest until well combined. Heat 1 1/2 T of the veg oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Press the couscous mixture into a 1/4 cup measuring cup, smooth the top and invert the cup to release it into the skillet. Repeat the half of the remaining mixture. Lightly press the cakes with a spatula to flatten to about 3/4" thick. Cook, flipping once, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.

Assemble the Salad:
In a large bowl, toss the spinach, artichokes and tomatoes with 3/4 of the dressing. Divide among plates and top each with 3 couscous cakes. Sprinkle with feta and drizzle with the remaining dressing.

I recently went to my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park. What an experience! The park is so cozy and the fans are amazing. It was raining all day and drizzling throughout the game and still the stands were nearly full! I was entertained with all of the vendors running around the stands selling everything from cold bear and "Fenway Franks" to peanuts and cracker jacks and... "chowda". Yep, New Englanders are crazy about their chowder and my hubby is no exception. He loves clam chowder and he is particular about how he likes it. It has to be thick and creamy. When I gave him a choice between three different soups when I was planning the menu I wasn't surprised when he chose this. Although I have made a lot of corn chowder I have never made a clam chowder. Jer approved of the final product although we agreed that it didn't touch our favorite from Cooke's on Cape Cod. Good thing we will be out there soon to get our fix.

3. Clam and Corn Chowder
makes 4 servings

1 10oz. can clams
4 t butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
3 T all-purpose flour1
1/4 cups fish stock
3/4 cup water
1 lb potatoes, diced
1 cup corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
2 cups whole milk
kosher salt and black pepper
chopped parsley, to garnish

Drain and rinse the clams well.Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened. Stir in the flour and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Slowly add half of the stock and stir well, scrapping the bottom of the pan to mix in the flour. Pour in the remaining stock and the water and bring just to a boil, stirring.
Add the potatoes, corn, and milk and stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender.
Chop the clams, if large. Stir in the clams and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
Garnish with the parsley.


Jer has a favorite meal, which he likes to make a huge pan of and eat throughout the week. He hasn't suggested it in a while, but it seemed like he used to suggest it whenever I asked him what he wanted on the menu. Well, my best friend's husband has one of those too and, I believe this is it. So, your welcome Chris.

4. Hot Italian Sausage and Tomato Pasta
modified from Real Simple
makes 4-6 servings

1 lb fettuccine
3 T olive oil
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed
4 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 T red wine vinegar
3/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup Parmesan

Cook the fettuccine according to package directions, Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion softens, 2-3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook about 5 minutes, crumbling as it cooks. Add the tomatoes and cook until the skins burst, about 8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper.
Add the cooked fettuccine. basil and spinach and toss gently to combine. Top with the Parmesan.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

The Repeater

I was feeling in a bit of a rut and I realized that it was because I was making a ton of new food each week and I just needed to make some familiar things.  Funny, that seems a little backward from what most people would consider a rut.  Well anyway, it was satisfying to return to some familiar items, but that didn't stop me from doing a little experimenting...


I have been wanting to try making french toast with a little orange extract in the eggs but I didn't know if Jer would like it or not.  Well, one night last week I was just cooking for myself and I decided to give it a go.  It was awesome!  I think next time I will even add a little bit more.  Note that the amounts below are somewhat approximate, the one tip I have that my mom taught me is that when you are making french toast use one egg for each serving plus one.    

1. Orange Scented French Toast with Mixed Berries
makes 1 serving

2 slices sandwich bread, cut in half
2 eggs
~1 0z milk
a couple drops of orange extract (you could also use vanilla but then it wouldn't be "orange scented")
dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg
fresh or frozen mixed berries , thawed if using frozen

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Mix together the eggs, milk, extract,  cinnamon and nutmeg.  Soak the bread thoroughly and arrange in the skillet.  Cook, turning once until nicely browned on both sides.  Serve with the mixed berries and maple syrup and whipped cream if desired.  

I learned last weekend, while he was helping out with some yard work at our house, that a friend of ours is a bit of a mac & cheese connoisseur so I invited him over for the stove top version I make to say thanks.  I also had a pork tenderloin left over from the week before because they had been buy one get one free and I thought it would be a good accompaniment.

2. Pork Medallions with Stovetop Mac & Cheese and Broccoli
makes 4 servings

For the Pork:
2 T all-purpose flour
1 t ground cumin
1 t kosher salt
1 t black pepper
1 1/2 - 2 lb pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/2" slices
1 T vegetable oil
1 T butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 T white wine vinegar
coarse ground mustard 

Heat the vegetable oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Mix together the flour, cumin, salt and pepper on a large plate.  Lightly coat each piece of pork with the flour mixture and place in the skillet.  Cook until golden brown and crispy, 4-5 minute per side.  While the pork is cooking whisk together the broth and vinegar.  Remove the pork from the skillet and set aside.  Pour the broth mixture into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits.  Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened.  Serve the pork with the sauce and the mustard.

This dish makes great leftovers for lunches and is a great way to disguise a lot of veggies if you have a picky eater in the house who doesn't really like them.  

makes 4-6 servings


The only thing I would change next time I make this is to make the meatballs a lot smaller.  I think that is more traditional too.  I love the escarole in this which is something I have never really worked with before.

make 4 servings

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Monday, June 1, 2009

I could almost smell the salt air.

I have a list a mile long of projects around the house and it seems like no matter how many things I cross off it doesn't get any shorter.  Well, we are trying to change that and, because we are in full swing house project mode, my cooking has suffered a bit.  Even so, I managed to make a couple of meals last week, and a key lime pie for Memorial day!  


My in-laws were in Key West a couple of weeks ago and they brought me back a key lime cookbook and gave me some key lime juice.  Since we were headed over to their house to BBQ for Memorial Day I thought I would make a key lime pie to share.  I've never actually been to the Keys but, with a bite of the creamy tangy goodness in my mouth I could close my eyes and almost smell the salt air.  

1. Key Lime Pie
modified from Key Lime Cookbook and King Arthur Flour's All-Purpose Baking Cook Book
makes 1 9" pie

For the crust:
1 cup vanilla wafer cookie crumbs (about 35 small cookies)
1/8 cup powdered sugar
4T butter, melted

Heat the over to 350 degrees.  Use a food processor to combine the ingredients well.  Press crumb mixture into a 9" pie pan. (Use a measuring cup to press and smooth the sides and bottom.)  Bake for 20-22 minutes, until it is golden brown.  Set aside to cool while making the filling.

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 15 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Key lime juice, fresh or bottled
zest from 1 lime
1 cup sour cream

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft.  Add the condensed milk and beat until well blended.  Stir in the Key lime juice and zest.  Add the sour cream and mix until smooth.  Pour the filling into the cooled crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  Serve with whipped cream.  

This was simple and tasty.  I made the full recipe and it made good leftovers.  Also, I used fresh corn that was lightly steamed on the cob but it still had a little crunch.  It is amazing how something so minor, like the texture of the corn, in a recipe can have such a big impact.

2. Cumin Chicken with Black Beans
modified from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

4 thin sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1  jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
corn kernels cut from 4 cobs (lightly steam on the cob before removing)
1 1/4 cups cherry or grape tomato halves
2  scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Combine cumin with cayenne pepper and rub over chicken.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté chicken for 4 minutes per side. Remove to a cutting board.  Return the skillet with pan drippings to medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, and 3 tablespoons water and cook, stirring, 1 or 2 minutes, until ingredients are just heated through.  Remove from heat and toss with the scallions, cilantro, and vinegar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice chicken and arrange on top of beans.


For some reason I don't find the picture of this meal very appetising but it was actually very good.  The potatoes were perfectly tender and it was quite spicy.  You'll just have to take my word for it I guess. 

3. Spicy Pork Tenderloin with Potatoes and Peppers
from Real Simple
makes 3 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1  1-pound piece pork tenderloin
  kosher salt and pepper
1 pound new potatoes, quartered
2  large garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/3 cup jarred hot cherry peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place it on one side of the skillet; place the potatoes and garlic on the other side and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring the potatoes and turning the pork, until the pork is browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Add the wine, broth, and cherry peppers. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the pork is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

3. Stir the parsley into the potatoes and serve with the sliced pork.


I had another meal on the menu this week which was something with salmon.  I had put off making it because I didn't feel in the mood for salmon for most of the week but come Friday I knew I needed to use the it before it went bad.  When I took it out of the refrigerator and rinsed it off it started to fall apart!  It was the weirdest thing and I thought it was probably best not to eat it.  So I put Jer in charge of dinner for the night and he decided on hot dogs; and hot dogs aren't a proper meal in our house unless they are accompanied by mac & cheese!  We had the Annie's brand Shells and White Cheddar to which we sometimes like to add corn and peas. 

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