Friday, July 24, 2009

Cheesy Dreams

We had a great time at the Cape last weekend and got to eat at all of our favorite places. The Post Office Cafe in Provencetown, Box Lunch in Wellfleet (where I discovered my new favorite "rollwich" the Cheese Dream, thanks to our friend Ry for pointing it out) and Cooke's in Orleans. We also totally lucked out on the weather, it rained the first night we were there but was gorgeous the rest of the weekend.
When we got married we rented two houses in the center of Wellfleet for the week and we had the wedding right at one of the houses. Every time we drive past it now we refer to it as "Our" house and we get jealous when we see other people there. It was a dream location and we always talk about renting it again for our anniversary and inviting our friends and family back to stay.

The menu this week was a good one. I love it when I succeed at making a plan where the meals build upon each other and share ingredients. This one does.


Oh Boy! This was go-oo-od! All of the flavors worked so well together and I especially loved the squeeze of lime at the end. It made it taste very summery and I never would have thought lime on pizza. I love it when I make a new discovery like this.

1. Corn and Zucchini Pizza with Lime and Cilantro
from The Cheese Board Collective Works
makes 2 large pizzas

For the Dough:
1 T (1 package) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t kosher salt
3 1/2 - 4 cups bread flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer mix the yeast with the warm water until dissolved. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Add the olive oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix on low speed, using the paddle attachment, for 5 minutes to form a wet dough. Switch to the dough hook and, add 1 1/2 cups more flour and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour by the tablespoon as needed to form and soft dough that is a little sticky but not too wet. (I didn't have to add any f the last 1/2 cup of flour.)
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (You can also put it in the refrigerator at this point and let it rise overnight. Let it stand at room temp for 2 hours before making your pizza.)

For the Pizza:
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
yellow corn meal
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
pinch of black pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes (I used a little more)
1 lb Mozzarella, shredded
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 small zucchini, thinly sliced
6 oz. Feta, crumbled
fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 lime, cut into quarters

Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil and set aside. Sprinkle corn meal on two baking sheets. Divide the pizza dough in half and roll out each section to roughly the size of a each sheet. In a bowl, toss the corn kernels with the black pepper and red pepper. Scatter half of the Mozzarella over the pizzas, leaving a 1/2" rim. Place the onion over the cheese and the zucchini over the onion. Scatter the remaining Mozzarella over the zucchini. Sprinkle with the feta and the corn. Place one of the pizzas on the lower oven rack and bake for 8 minutes. Move that pizza to the upper rack and place the second pizza on the lower rack. Continue baking for 8 minutes. Finish baking the first pizza by sliding it off of the pan directly onto the lower rack for 5 minutes. Move the second pizza to the upper rack. Finish baking the second pizza the same as the first. Immediately after removing the pizza from the oven, brush the garlic oil onto the rim, squeeze the lime juice over the top and garnish with the cilantro.


I first saw this sauce on foodgawker and followed the link over to Delish. It looked so good and I couldn't wait to give it a try. I made four chicken breasts and the leftovers lasted the rest of the week in various dishes. The day after, for lunch, I brought another strawberry salad and had a piece of chicken on the side and then for dinner I put some in the quesidillas (more on this below) and then for lunch the day after that I had the rest on another salad, this time with a few kalamata olives and red onion. I couldn't believe how far 4 pieces of chicken could stretch.

By the way, I *love* strawberries on salad (any kind of fruit really, but strawberries especially) and to keep the whole "white" theme going I made a dressing out of white balsamic vinegar. (About 1 T of olive oil, 1 1/2 t vinegar and a pinch of sugar.) The salad also had spring greens, spinach, pecans, red onion and feta. Mmm mm!

2. White BBQ Chicken
from Delish
makes 4 servings

For the Brine:
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 t kosher salt
1/8 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t honey
1/4 t dark brown sugar
1/4 t soy sauce
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Add chicken and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 5.

For the White BBQ Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice
1 t prepared horseradish
1 t lemon juice
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t cayenne pepper (I used more like 1/2 t)

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Heat the grill. Remove the chicken from the brine and pound to an even thickness. (It should be pretty easy to do this after brining because the vinegar in the brine is going to tenderize the meat.) Place the chicken on the grill and brush with the BBQ sauce. Cook 6-7 minutes. Flip and cook another 6-7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. (160 degrees in the middle) Let rest 5-10 minutes. Top with more BBQ sauce.

I was in Spain for three weeks when I was in college and I think I ate at least one bowl of gazpacho every day that I was there. It isn't that I love it so much, but there was something about it there. It was unlike any I had had before. I have since been trying to recreate it but so far not I have not gotten it quite right. This version was good but again, it wasn't the same. It has been a number of years since I was there and I feel like I am forgetting what it even was that made the soup there so unique from what I have had here. I guess I will just have to go back for another taste!

A girl can dream, right?

3. Gazpacho with Chicken and Cheese Quesidillas
soup modified from Simply Soup
makes 4 servings

5 slices white bread, crust removed
1 can chopped tomatoes or 12 oz fresh tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 T red wine vinegar
2 t tomato paste
2-3 cups cold water
1/2 t cayenne pepper
kosher salt and black pepper

Tear the bread into pieces and process briefly in a food processor to make fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, cucumber, olive oil, vinegar and tomato paste. Mix well.
Working in batches, place the tomato mixture and about 1 cup of water in the food processor and process to a puree. Transfer to another bowl and repeat until all of the tomato mixture has been processed. Add the cayenne and season o taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

For the quesidillas, I chopped some of the chicken from the night before into bite sized bits, heated it up in the microwave and tossed it with a little of the leftover BBQ sauce. I used this with some pepper jack cheese.


The last time I made this was the week I started this blog. I was happy to look back and see how much my photography has improved since then. It helps that it is actually still light outside when I make dinner these days and I can shoot with natural light. I got the eggs a little over done but they were still pretty good. I modified the recipe a little from last time too.

4. Huevos Avogados in Salsa Verde
makes 2 servings

1 12oz jar of salsa verde
1/4 cup chicken broth
4 eggs
flour tortillas

Blend the salsa and chicken broth together until it is about the consistency of tomato soup. Bring to a simmer in a sauce pan and carefully slide each egg into the mixture. Cover and cook until the whites are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Serve with the warmed tortillas.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Four Years

Six years ago...

I was lucky enough to find my soul mate. The love of my life.

And four years ago...

I got to marry him!

This was our awesome cake...

It was made by my "beautiful sisters" as a surprise and has a long story behind it involving multiple requests for Sunfish Sailboats, a failed e-bay auction and a lifetime love of Playmobil. We couldn't have asked for a better cake! And yes, it is on a boogy board!

On Tuesday I celebrated four years of marriage to the most wonderful man I know and this weekend we are returning to the scene. Cape Cod (Wellfleet specifically). Because of all of the celebrating and packing and eating of leftovers from a BBQ at our house last weekend I don't have a lot to share, food wise, this week. But I couldn't leave you totally hanging.


shepherds pie recipeI have not only never before made a Shepherds Pie but I can't recall ever eating one either. When I bought the rotisserie chicken a couple of weeks ago it came with a free container of mashed potatoes and after the BBQ last weekend I was left with a package of hamburger patties. I thought to myself, "Hmmm... what can I make with mashed potatoes and ground beef? Obviously, Shepherds Pie!" I looked online at a couple of recipes for the method and then came up with this version.

1. Shepherds Pie
makes 6 servings

1 lb lean ground beef
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 t ground thyme
4 T butter
4 T all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stalk
4 t Worcestershire sauce
mashed potatoes

Heat broiler. Heat 1 t of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meat until no pink remains. Drain the grease off of the meat and set the meat aside. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 t oil. Add the carrots and onion and garlic and cook until just soft. Meanwhile, in a saucepan melt the butter and slowly whist in the flour until no clumps remain. Cook until the color deepens to a golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the beef stalk and Worcestershire sauce and stir until fully incorporated. Let cook over medium heat until thickened slightly. Add the beef, corn, peas, gravy and thyme to the onion mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on the bottom of a large casserole dish and spread the mashed potatoes over the top. Broil until the mashed potatoes golden brown.

pink lemonade ice cream recipeI made this for the BBQ and, perhaps because of more exciting desserts, it was mostly untouched. I am definitely not complaining. This is one of my favorite ice creams that I have made. The flavor has the ability to instantly transport me to the sunny summer days of my childhood. My friend J preferred to eat it with his eyes closed to fully experience the flavor. I'm telling you, it is that good.

2. Pink Lemonade Ice Cream
(I found this recipe a while back and now have no idea of the source. I also modified it slightly. If you know where it came from, please let me know.)
makes 1 quart

1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 T honey
1 T vanilla extract
1 can pink lemonade juice concentrate, thawed
pinch of table salt

Combine all ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Freeze in ice cream maker per manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009


I have a confession to make...

I was afraid of my grill. Well, maybe afraid isn't quite the right word. How about intimidated. I worried that my steak would be cooked too well and my chicken would be dry and my fish would stick and fall apart. (Actually my fish did stick and fall apart but it was okay because I was making fish tacos anyway.) But I pushed through my fears and grilled everything from veggies to hot dogs last week and now I'm just anxious for more.

Yes folks, my eyes have been opened to the wide world of grilling and I am not looking back.


Sometimes, when I am making my menu I get stuck at the end and I know I really need one more thing on the list. This is often when I turn to Mac & Cheese. Anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time must know this. I think I could have just as easily named the blog "101 Pasta and Cheese Combinations" or maybe something a little more eloquent but you get the gist. Sometimes I like to make it from scratch but more often I prefer the good old stuff from the box. After all, this is usually the afterthought, end of the list meal, remember? This week I went for the Annies Shells and Cheese and decided to play on the Corn Risotto I made a few weeks ago and add some fresh corn and thyme* to it. I also had some grape tomatoes left over from the salad below so I sauteed them in some olive oil with a little salt and pepper until they burst and put them on top. Jer grilled some hot dogs too, because around these parts the two go together like pb and j.

1. Shells and White Cheddar with Fresh Corn, Thyme and Burst Tomatoes

*I used two boxes of pasta and added the kernels from four ears of fresh corn to the pot during the last two minutes of cooking time. I stirred in about 1 t of fresh thyme at the end.


This steak was actually the very first thing I cooked on the new grill and I have to say I think it came out just about perfect. Rare enough for Jeremy and done enough for me with a nicely charred outer surface. We nic-named the dressing the "Super Magic Delicious Sauce" because that is exactly what it is. For the rest of the week we ate it on everything. YUM!

2. Chili-Lime Steak Salad with Creamy Lime Dressing
from Our Best Bites
makes 4 servings

For the Chili-Lime Steak:
1 t chili powder
1 t granulated garlic
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t oregano
1/8 - 1/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 lime
1-2 lbs flank steak (tenderloin, NY strip or tri-tip could also be used)

Juice the lime into a small bowl, add the spices and stir to combine. If it seams a little too dry you can add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to thin it out. Place the steak in a shallow dish and use your hands to rub the mixture on all sides. Pre-heat the grill and let the steak sit for 15 minutes. Grill for 5-7 minutes on each side (if using flank steak). When it is finished remove the steak and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing it into 1/4" strips against the grain.

For the salad:
1-2 lbs flank steak, prepared as above
1 head romain lettuce
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 avocados, sliced
1 can black olives, halved or quartered
2 ears of corn steamed and kernels cut from the cob

For Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing:
1 1oz. package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (do not follow the directions on the package)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup milk
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup salsa verde
hot sauce to taste

Place all of the ingredients above into a blender and blend it up.


I cut this out of an old Real Simple Magazine a couple of years ago, but having not really had a properly functioning grill for all of that time, I always passed it over. I'
m glad I finally got around to making it. I have to say a word here about the photo too. I have not really talked about the photography on this blog because I really don't what I am doing on the camera end of things. I do have a lot of photoshop/post production experience and it is that alone that has salvaged most of my pictures. Well, I am trying to learn more about actually using the camera to it's full potential and while I have a long way to go I am happy to report that this is the first image on this blog that was shot on manual mode! A small accomplishment to some maybe but for me it was a big step. And, I think it was the best exposure I have gotten strait out of the camera that I can remember. I am really excited to keep learning and improving.

3. Grilled Chicken Chop Salad
from Real Simple
makes 4 servings

1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 cup + 2T extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lbs chicken cutlets
4 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2" thick slices
4 plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise in half
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/2" thick rings
1/2 t kosher salt
baby spinach

In a medium bowl whisk together the mustard, apple juice, vinegar, 2 T water, 1/4 t pepper and 1/2 cup oil. Rinse and dry the chicken and place it in a bowl or re-sealable bag. Pour 1/2 cup of the dressing mixture over the chicken and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium. Toss the vegetables with the remaining 2 T of oil, 1/4 t pepper and 1/2 t salt. Grill the chicken and veggies, turning once, for about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop. Divide the spinach 4 ways and top with the chicken, veggies and remaining dressing.


I have been wanting to try the Super Magic Delicious Sauce on fish tacos ever since I first made it so this week I did. All I did was drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper on two fillets of cod and grill it over medium heat for about 10 minutes. In the meantime I sliced some cabbage and poured some of the dressing over it. A note: cut up more cabbage than you think you need because it will shrink while it sits in the sauce. I put the tortillas on the upper level of the grill while the fish cooked and they got nice and warm. I had a little avocado on mine as well and topped the assembled taco with a little more sauce. Easy peesy.

4. Grilled Fish Tacos

I didn't use much of the cabbage for the tacos above so I made this old favorite to use it up. I first had it in high school and have been making it ever since. This was the first time I really paid attention to the amount of the ingredients so that I could post it here and you all wouldn't end up with something inedible.

5. Cabbage Crunch Salad
makes 4-6 servings

For the salad:
1 small head head of cabbage, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced
2 packages Ramen Noodles, Oriental flavor
1/2 cup almonds, sliced or roughly chopped

For the dressing:
seasoning packets from 2 packages Ramen Noodles
1/2 t sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
dash of sesame oil (optional)

Mix all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Stir and let sit a few minutes before serving.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Ah, the joys of the store bought rotisserie chicken...  Apparently I can't stop talking about them.  

My market has this game you can play at checkout to win coins that can then be used for discounts on items around the store.  There are silver, blue, red and gold.  The silver is the least valuable and in turn is the most common.  I have about 100 of them strewn all around my house.  But the gold, oh the gold.  Prized for its rarity and value, not the least of which it the deep discount on rotisserie chickens.  A couple of weeks ago I won two of these beauties and, not wanting to squander them, tucked them safely away in my coin purse.  This week I used one to buy said rotisserie chicken for $4.00!  Last night I figured out that it provided 8 meals, that's only $.50 per meal (I'm pretty good at math).

I know I promised a few dinners from the grill and I swear there were two on the list but apparently the weather did not get the memo that we have a new one and thus delivered some spectacular thunderstorms this week.  Soon...

The recipe for these peppers calls for poblanos and I have to say that I prefer them to bells but I couldn't find any this week and so used the bells instead.  The flesh of the bell pepper is a little thicker and I think this is where I have the objection.  None the less, I love the filling for this stuffed pepper either way!

1. Chicken and Cheddar Stuffed Peppers
modified from Fine Cooking
makes 4 servings

4 large poblanos (or bells)
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 t dried oregano, crumbled
1 t ground cumin
generous pinch ground cinnamon 
kosher salt
1 T olive oil
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used a combination of white and dark meat)
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used brown)
2 cups grates sharp or extra-sharp white Cheddar (about 7 oz.)
1 T lime juice

Position top oven rack about 4" from broiler and heat the broiler.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Slit the peppers from stem to tip and place on the baking sheet.  Broil, turning when the top becomes black, until blackened all over.  Let cook slightly and peel off the skins and cut out the seeded cores, leaving the stem on.  (Don't be afraid that the peppers are burning under the broiler, they have to turn really black for the skins to peel of and the flesh will be fine.)Return the peppers to the baking sheet.
Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and 1/2t salt in a food processor.  Heat the oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat.  Add the puree and cook, stirring frequently until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick and pulpy.  Remove from heat and stir in the chicken, rice, half of the cheese, and the lime juice.  
Spoon the filling into the peppers (they will be quite full) and wrap th
e sides up around it.  Broil until the cheese is melting and the top is beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.  Top with the remaining cheese and broil 2 minutes more, or until the cheese is completely melted.       


Mmmm... it's been a while since I made this favorite.  So easy, so delicious.  This time I added a handful of basil in with the spinach.  It was a good addition.

2. Tortellini with Bacon, Greens and Brown Butter

Recipe is here.


After I made the stuffed peppers I used the rest of the chicken for these sandwiches.  All I did was toss it in a large skillet with a little olive oil and some BBQ sauce (I thought briefly about making some from scratch but I decided against it this time) and let it get nice and warm.  I heated the bun briefly and topped the sandwiches with sliced red onion, banana peppers and more sauce.  Super fast dinner.  You can see on the side I made a little corn with bacon and red onion.  

3. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
makes 3-4 servings   


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