Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Around the World!

Amanda and I have started a new adventure, we're going to start eating and cooking our way around the world! Each month we are going to pick a different country/culture/region and find a restaurant that specializes in that food. After eating at the restaurant we schedule a second date to attempt make a dish inspired by our restaurant visit. The only rule is if we have eaten that type of food before, we have to try a new dish. For example: when we go to a Thai restaurant I am not allowed to order Pad Thai because it's my favorite and I've had it a bazillion times.
For November we decided on Greek and went to Zorba's in Fairmount.  We got a sampler platter of various dips (delicious!), a sampler of charcoal grilled meats (mostly good, not a huge lamb fan), and a stuffed eggplant dish (yummy!). We decided to recreate the eggplant dish, called Imam Bayildi on our own. We did not do a very good job. Our dish was fine but it felt like it was lacking a certain layer of flavors. The feta cheese was a life saver and added a nice pop of flavor. Oh well, in the very least Mr. Lawyer and I have had many veggies this week! We've had two vegetarian dishes, eggs and veggies, and veggies with fish. Oh so healthy!
Imam Bayildi
2 medium to large eggplants
1 large onion (white or yellow)
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil (for sautéing)
5-6 tomatoes
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons white sugar
1 can of pureed tomatoes
1-2 T tomato paste (to thicken sauce if needed)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Feta for sprinkling
1. Chop onion and sauté in large pan until transluscent. Add garlic to pan for an additional minute or so. Remove onion and garlic from pan and add to bowl of chopped tomatoes.
2. Take both eggplants and slice down middle, scoop out a little of the flesh to make them easier to stuff.
3. In a bowl mix tomato puree, lemon juice and sugar.
4. Put eggplants skin down back into large sauté pan. Stuff with tomato, onions and garlic. Pour the tomato puree/lemon/sugar mixture on top.
5. Cover pan w/ lid and simmer on top of stove for 45 minutes.
6. After 45 minutes, remove lid and let simmer for an additional 15 minutes until eggplant is extremely tender. Add tomato paste if you’d like sauce to be thicker.
7. Before serving, sprinkle with feta!
Holy Moley! That's a lot of eggplant. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Love Soup

Another Rainy day means warm soup belly! This recipe was delicious and super filling. Plus I love, love, love squash. There was a lot going on in this soup: noodles, squash, fennel, zucchini and much more! I was not strict with measurements because I didn't want any leftovers. I used the whole carrot, zucchini, onion etc. So there was a higher volume of stuff in the soup, very thick and almost stew like. 
Winter Minestrone
(adapted from Cooking Light)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3-4 dashes of red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups cubed peeled acorn or butternut squash (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup diced zucchini (small zucchini)
1/2 cup chopped carrot (one carrot)
1/2 cup diced fennel (a small fennel bulb)
1 cup water
2 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
5 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini (very short tube-shaped pasta)
2 1/2 cups chopped Swiss chard
1 can rinsed and drained canned Great Northern Beans
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, basil, oregano, pepper flakes and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. 
2. Add squash, zucchini, carrot and fennel; sauté 5 minutes. 
3. Stir in 1 cup water, broth, and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. 
4. Stir in pasta; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
5. Add chard; cook 3 minutes. 
6. Add beans; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. 
7. Stir in pepper. Serve with cheese.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fake Huevos Rancheros

I found this amazing recipe for huevos rancheros but alas I did not have many of the ingredients and my grocery budget informed me that running to the store was a no-go. I did however have a bunch of peppers and cherry tomatoes left over from last night's fish dish. Enter our poor man's huevos rancheros! Which, except for the salsa, was really more a veggie scramble. Ah well, can't go wrong with breakfast for dinner right?
Veggie Scramble
(from our kitchen of leftovers)
6 eggs
Little bit of milk
Shredded Cheese
Salt and Pepper 
1. Saute up your veggies. In a bowl whisk together the eggs and milk.
2. Add egg mixture to pan and cook till done, adding cheese at the end.
3. Top with a little salsa and pretend that it's yummy huevos rancheros.

Nutella Cookies!

You just can't go cold turkey after all those delicious Thanksgiving desserts. Last night I was craving something sweet so I whipped up some nutella cookies. There are a ton of recipes on the internet so I picked out the parts I liked (Chocolate chips? Yes. Cocoa powder? Nope.). I did half the batch with hazelnuts on top as an experiment (plus I had these extra hazelnuts in my cupboard!). The verdict: we like the ones with nuts more. The nutella flavor is subtle but then I'm use to eating nutella by the spoonful! They were especially good reheated this morning with a cup of coffee. I highly recommend them as a change from traditional chocolate chip cookies.
Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup Nutella
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Crushed hazelnuts for topping
1. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
2. Cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in Nutella and vanilla extract. Mix in egg. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for approximately one hour.
3. Roll dough into one tablespoon balls, lightly press into crushed hazelnuts and place 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake at 350 for about 11 minutes until the edges look set. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then carefully remove to cooling racks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fast Fish!

This dish was fast and good. It was a light dish and loaded with veggies. Perfect for detoxing after a week long eating fest! I ended up using my Hendrickson's Sweet Vinegar and Olive Oil salad dressing because we didn't have any Italian (and the last thing I need is another bottle in my fridge!). It added a nice sweetness to it but it would have been interesting to have the zestiness from Italian. I think I'm finally getting the hang of cooking fish and knowing when it's done. This batch was perfectly moist and only semi-mangled.
Fast Fish Skillet

(adapted from Kraft Food & Family)
4 tilapia fillets (1 lb.)
1/4 cup Italian Vinaigrette Dressing made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 tablespoon pesto
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise, then crosswise into slices
1 cup grape tomatoes
3 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil
1. Brush fish with 2 tablespoons of dressing. Cook in skillet on medium heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with fork. Transfer to plate; cover to keep warm.
2. Add remaining dressing, pesto, vegetables and tomatoes to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently. Spoon over fish.
3. Top with basil.

There were a ton of veggies! I just dumped everything on one big platter.

A Word About Bourbon

Thanksgiving morning started like any other: me baking away in Grandma's kitchen and then triumphantly licking the spoon. Granted I did this in a very confrontational lock eyes with you kind of way which was promptly met with "How does that salmonella taste Jennifer?" "Great, the rum totally kills the salmonella." Ha. I went on to explain my bourbon cheesecake when all of the sudden Grandma exclaims that she has some the telephone. Obviously I think that she has completely lost it as she motions to the top of the china cabinet which is filled with the typical grandparent things like an antique phone, a rooster teapot and lasagna noodles.
But wait! It turns out that the antique phone I thought was actually just a phone my whole entire life is a giant flask of bourbon. Which after a quick calculation of the original age and how long my grandparents  were in possession of it resulted in us discovering we had 40 year old bourbon on our hands. At which point Grandma decides what the heck, let's open it up. And so the three of us did a shot of 40 year old bourbon before ten in the morning and man oh man was it smooth. Best Thanksgiving ever?!
Oh snap, the bell pops off to reveal a hidden flask!
Right, back to the cheesecake. I have never made a cheesecake before which may have resulted in some technical issues such as the texture, it was very fluffy not thick like a cheesecake. I'm also unsure about how I feel about pumpkin flavor that is not in a traditional pumpkin pie (which is sweet). Everyone liked it and thought it was good except for the non-cheesecake texture. Mr. Lawyer said if I had plopped it in a ramekin and called it a custard or mousse no one would have thought twice. The caramel-bourbon sauce? To. Die. For. I will definitely be keeping that part of the recipe for future desserts and ice cream. It made a lot so I still have half a mason jar in the fridge which I may or may not be eating by the spoonful.
Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake with Caramel-Bourbon Sauce
(from Bon Appetit Magazine)
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, cooled
3 tablespoons golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
4 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Large pinch of salt
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, cooled
1. Crust - Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Grind first 4 ingredients in processor until nut mixture sticks together. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. Wrap outside of pan in triple layer of heavy-duty foil.
2. Filling - Using mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon peel in large bowl until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then pumpkin, yogurt, flour, vanilla, spices, and salt. Pour into pan.
3. Set springform pan in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cheesecake. Place in oven. Bake until outer 3 inches puff slightly and center is softly set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool in water bath 30 minutes. Remove from water. Cut around sides of cake to loosen. Refrigerate in pan until cold, about 4 hours. Cover and chill overnight.
4. Sauce - Bring sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, and salt to boil in deep medium saucepan, whisking until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; boil 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, then pecans. Cool, stirring occasionally.
5. Remove foil. Cut around pan sides; remove sides. Cut cheesecake into wedges; spoon sauce over.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving, a Love Story

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. All of the food without the let down of being a big kid on Christmas morning. Although after two awesome and food filled Thanksgivings this year, I'm really just craving some ham.

A # of Awesomeness

Grandma Nancy made this dish for us and you should all thank me for this recipe. Not only is it delicious and easy to get ready in advance (say if you know your living room is going to be filled with hungover boys....) but I had to spend 20 minutes deciphering Grandma's handwriting and filling in weird culinary gaps. Which is reminiscent of Grandma's strawberry pie recipe that  was completely missing half of the steps! Luckily the Mother Unit had a full copy but sheesh! "Less than 1# (pound, get it?!) and "6-8 eggs" are not exact measurements which of course give me a panic attack in the kitchen. I also believe Grandma said she used a good bakery bread, not sandwich bread. She did not add any sausage. I could have eaten the whole thing! Don't worry if all the bits don't get soaked, they created nice little toasty crunchy spots that are amazing in a huge bite of eggy cheesy goodness. I will definitely be making this very shortly!
Aunt Marie's Strata Recipe
(From Aunt Marie via Grandma)
12 pieces bread, crusts cut off and cubed
Less than one pound of cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups milk
6-8 eggs (or egg beaters)
1 stick margarine, melted and cooled
Optional: Sausage
1. Layer bread cubes, cheese and sausage (if using) in a 9x13 pan.
2. Beat together eggs and milk, stir in melted margarine. Pour over bread and cheese and let sit in fridge for 2 or more hours.
3. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Of Leftovers and Cozy Sheets

Leftover Thanksgiving Sandwiches are the best! I'm a fan of the Wawa jingle "like mittens for your tummy." Truth. In other words, we finished off the leftovers from Thanksgiving #1 last night....just in time to get ready for Thanksgiving #2! In fact my Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel-Bourbon Sauce is baking away in the oven and the Rum Cake is on deck. Yeah, my Grandma requested my Rum Cake for Thanksgiving because that's how she rolls.
Don't forget to make your leftover sandwich this Thanksgiving! 
My non-food related musings on cheapness and cozy sheets after the jump!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Early Thanksgiving!

I did not make this recipe but I was lucky enough to consume it for both dessert and breakfast. It's marvelous and I'm keeping the recipe for future use. Last night we had early Thanksgiving with Mr. Lawyer's family and everything was amazingly delicious. From one Thanksgiving to another...I sense that I will not be cooking this week. A big shout out to Mrs. T for a ton of yummy food, thank you! We were also sent home with this:
Is this not the most glorious tupperware container of food you have ever seen?! There were also rolls and dessert which brings us to the recipe. These cupcakes were divine. Nice pumpkin flavor, maple frosting (right?!) and a heath bar crunch. All the elements were good on their own but when you got a bite of all three....oh my. It was even better for breakfast.
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting
(made by Mrs. T, adapted from Ina Garten) 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Maple Frosting Ingredients:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Boyajian Natural Maple Flavor
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Heath bars, for serving (2 1.4-ounce bars)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush or spray the top of 10 muffin tins with vegetable oil and line them with 10 paper liners.
2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.
3. Divide the batter among the prepared tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.
5. Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting and sprinkle with the chopped toffee bits.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wine and Cheese

Every year in grad school I had a wine and cheese party with my roommates. The house changed, the roommates changed and if I put one together for this year it would be the 5th annual wine and cheese party! Maybe for my birthday, nothing better than cheese on your birthday! One of the dishes that Nyk made was this delicious baked brie. It was so popular that the following year after she graduated we decided to make it in her memory. I have also just made it for no real reason other than to eat a round of brie for a week. Delicious. This photo is from the 4th Annual Wine and Cheese Party, we tried to make a little puff pastry wine glass to decorate it kind of worked. I'm sad I don't have a picture of the cheese oozing out.
Holiday Brie en Croute
(adapted from Pepperidge Farm)
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
All-purpose flour
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package of puff pastry
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/3 cup dried cranberry
1/4 cup toasted sliced almond
1 (13- to 16-ounce) Brie cheese round
Crackers for serving
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.
2. Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14-inch square. Spread the preserves on the pastry to within 2 inches of the edge. Sprinkle with the cranberries and almonds. 
3. Place the cheese in the center of the pastry. Fold the pastry up over the cheese to cover. Trim the excess pastry and press to seal. Brush the seam with the egg mixture. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Decorate with the pastry scraps, if desired. Brush with the egg mixture.
4. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 45 minutes. Serve with the crackers.
The spread!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bits of College

The problem with a vat of soup (and leftover caper noodles) is that you eat left overs alllllll week which makes for boring blog posts. While we're in the realm of soup: I basically lived off soup and grilled cheese or bagels for my entire college career. Oh, and Captain Crunch. It was a glorious day when the dining hall restocked with the captain. While Mr. Lawyer was away this past weekend I revisited my college eating habits...mostly because I was too lazy to go grocery shopping. The best thing ever was when the Mother Unit ordered me a box of 50 individually wrapped mini blocks of Cabot Cheddar during my sophomore year. Our mini fridge was overflowing with cheese. It was glorious. It also meant that we became super popular with everyone. I would sneak my mini cheeses in to the dining hall for my soups and bagels. No way I was going to top my food with their cheap unidentifiable shredded cheese!
Slice up some cabot cheese, put it on your bagel and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds and you've got the best cheesy bread to accompany your soup!
No, I did not buy a giant box of Captain Crunch at BJs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Warm Soup Belly!

Happy half-anniversary! Have a giant vat of chicken enchilada soup. So romantic, although since someone isn't a fan of celebrating half-anniversaries or birthdays I suppose the feeling of "warm soup belly" will have to suffice. But who doesn't love an excuse for drinks and celebrations?! Boys. Psh.
I have very fond memories of the Mother Unit making this soup. And then I have the not so fond memory of being tasked with taking a huge crock pot full of this soup from her house to my dad's for some reason. I feel like maybe it was a graduation or boy scout thing or something. So the Dork and I pile into my first car (a lovely silver dodge stratus) and go on our way. There was this tricky little part where you left the tiny side road and had to cross two lanes of highway to get in the proper lane all while making a curvy turn and accelerating so you didn't get smushed by the speeding tractor trailers. Yeah. Guess what happened? The Dork and I watched in horror as the crock pot slide over and spilled all it's contents in the front seat of my car. And by watched I mean he was too busy playing his game boy to actually grab it when I told him to and I have no idea why the soup was in the front seat and not him. I'm guessing this was done so he wouldn't mess with my radio. Ah smart life decisions. As delicious as this soup is do you know how hard it is to clean up a puddle of cheesy goo with chicken bits? And how nasty it smelled on hot days for months after that fateful day (good thing we didn't have a lot of those in NY. Zing!). There was still a slightly crusty soup stain when we sold it. Ah memories.
Moving on to the recipe! Delicious and nutritious! Well except for that 16 oz of Velveeta. Speaking of which, it is incredibly hard to find Velveeta in the city. I ended up having to pay an outrageous amount for 12 oz of Velveeta singles from the little market downstairs which left me 4 oz short. Ah well, probably a bit healthier that way. Also, enchilada sauce is wicked expensive even by Whole Foods standards.
Chicken Enchilada Soup
(From the Mother Unit)
2 tablespoon oil
4 chicken breasts
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1 cup flour
1 cup enchilada sauce
16 oz Velveeta
1 generous teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Shredded cheese and chips for serving
1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan. Brown chicken until cooked. Remove and set aside.
2. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large pot, add onions and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
3. Add chicken broth. Combine flour with 2 cups of water and whisk until blended. Add flour mix to pot with onions and broth. Add remaining water, enchilada sauce, cheese and spices to pot and bring mix to a boil.
4. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces and add it to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until thick.
5. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and crumbled tortilla chips.

I started the soup early so it simmered for about 1.5 hours until Mr. Lawyer got home for dinner and it was delicious! Side note: I like blue tortilla chips and Mr. Lawyer like regular. Whole Foods makes a wonderful bag of tortilla chips that has both! The best of both worlds.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fried Capers

I'm oddly in love with this dish. When I found the recipe I was intrigued, while making it was I was worried, while eating it I was rather smitten. The pasta first tastes garlicky and has a slight lemony after taste. Every few bites you would get a nice little pop from the red pepper. The fried lemon zest strips were not as scary as I thought but could be overpowering if you had too many in one forkful. And the capers, oh the capers. I had never done anything with capers and while I have had them in a few dishes, they have never stood out. I tried one right out of the jar and was unimpressed, hence some of my worry. I was also nervous about it being too lemony which it is not. The caper was just sort of plant-y but once it was fried! A nice little crisp burst of saltiness with the perfect balance of earthiness.
Downside: The tuna got a bit dry. Maybe I warmed it for a minute too long or didn't have enough oil. I did not use 1/4 cup olive oil because I was using a smaller pot (the general!) and when I started to heat up the full amount it spazzed out like a rabid raccoon on crack so I reduced the amount.
Fettuccine with Tuna, Lemon & Fried Capers
(adapted from Fine Cooking)
Kosher salt
1 lemon, scrubbed for zest and 2 tablespoons juice
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling (I used significantly less)
1/4 cup small (nonpareil) capers, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 12-oz. can or 2 6-oz. cans solid white tuna in water, drained well
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I doubled it)
3/4 lb. dried fettuccine (used vermicelli because we had it)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (omitted)
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
2.  Shave off the lemon zest, then slice into very thin strips. Juice the lemon to get 2 Tbs. juice.
3. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add the capers and cook until they start to brown and get crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and cook until it starts to crisp and curl up, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the capers and lemon zest to a plate lined with a paper towel.
3. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the garlic to the remaining oil in the pan and cook, stirring, until it browns lightly but doesn’t burn, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tuna and red pepper flakes and cook until the tuna just heats through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine in the boiling salted water, stirring often, until it’s just tender. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
5. Return the sauté pan to medium heat. Add the drained pasta, 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice, and the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Cook, tossing and stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes to blend the flavors. If the pasta isn’t tender, add the remaining cooking water and continue to cook and stir until done. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice.
6. Serve immediately, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with the capers, lemon strips, parsley, and a few grinds of black pepper.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cookies and Coffee

Now the place really does smell like Christmas. I was bored this morning and the place is already spick and span because I had girlfriends over Friday and Saturday so I decided to bake some cookies. I totally didn't chill the dough for an hour because I'm impatient. They still came out wonderfully, they just didn't spread out and get thin like the picture. Most of mine are nice and puffy except one batch that I smashed with a fork and dipped in vanilla sugar. Not quite as spicy as gingersnaps, soft like puffy sugar cookies, and not as sticky as gingerbread. These are delicious with spiked coffee. Ha. 
Molasses Cookies
(adapted from
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and egg until well blended. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger; stir into the molasses mixture. Cover the dough and chill for at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets (I used parchment paper). Roll the dough into walnut sized balls. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Smells like Christmas!

Tonight was a leftover night so this post isn't about food but it can smell like food! And it's crafty. If there's one thing that I like as much as messing around in the kitchen it's messing around with crafts!
Obviously I have a problem...just a slight addiction.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Crunchy Onions

I love this recipe because it's easy and requires little prep. It has a nice onion taste from the fried onions so you don't need to worry about flavor but it's easy to season the chicken with salt/pepper/garlic etc before hand if you want to add a little zing. I first had this recipe with some family friends who have small children so it's kid approved! I served it up with my Farmer's Market Sautéed Squash (minus the unhealthy cheese bit) and our homemade honey mustard.
Crunchy Onion Chicken Tenders
(From French's, given to me by the Nelsons)
1 small can of French's fried onion
2 tablespoons flour
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 egg, beaten
1. Place fried onions and flour in a bag in order to crush them. Place in a shallow bowl.
2. Dip chicken in egg, then cover in crushed fried onions and place on a baking sheet.
3. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Don't Skip Breakfast!

Some days cereal just doesn't cut it and we can't have anyone getting hungry at work around 9:30. But someone doesn't give himself enough time in the morning for a real breakfast anymore. I saw this recipe online and it was super cute. I was excited to give it a go, a nice Sunday afternoon project. Who doesn't want a fake mcmuffin just waiting for you in the freezer?!
Pros: Easy to make, quick to heat up, healthier and cheaper than buying pre-frozen ones, easy to customize ingredients.
Cons: Sometimes the cheese oozes out while reheating, english muffin gets a bit chewy upon reheating.

I was all worried that the egg was going to be just in the middle but once it warms it spreads out and your bread to egg ratio is fine. The cheddar tasted better than the asiago one (I made two of each). I didn't mind the chewy english muffing but Mr. Lawyer did (although he ate all of my test sandwiches this week!) So some ideas we were kicking around for the next batch: omelet style! Scramble the eggs and put the shredded cheese in the egg so it doesn't all try to melt out of your sandwich during the reheating process. This also gives us the options of getting healthy fake egg liquid or just egg whites. Just freezing the cheesy egg and meat together and toasting your muffin right before you eat it to avoid the chewy problem. Trying mini bagels to see if they're less chewy. All possibilities! One thing is for sure: it was super convenient and no one was hungry at 9:30!
Make Ahead Egg Sandwich 
(from this mama says blog)
English Muffins/Bagels
Salt, Pepper, any spices you'd like
Cooking Spray
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Crack one egg in each spot. Season with salt, pepper, etc. Back for 15-20 minutes or until yolk is set.
2. Toast your English Muffin or bagel.
3. Cook your breakfast meat. I baked the bacon in the oven on a wire rack so all the grease dripped down plus it keeps the strips nice and flat.
4. Assemble your sandwiches! But leave the top piece of bread off. Keep them all on a baking tray and put in the freezer for one hour. This helps the moisture evaporate so you don't get a soggy sandwich. After an hour wrap in plastic wrap/tin foil and leave in the freezer.
5. To reheat: unwrap and place on a paper towel in the microwave (Helps keep the bread from getting soggy) for about one minute and 30 seconds. Or in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes (which defeats the purpose of a quick and easy breakfast should just fry up a fresh egg at that point).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mushroom Pasta!

Also known as "If you take me out for Happy Hour you should just buy me dinner or all your getting for dinner is sauteed mushrooms in pasta". Also, things like this happen.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lefties and Veggies!

Tonight was Leftover Part II! Served up with a side of brussels sprouts. The leftover fajita makings went straight into a quesadilla (I used my throw it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minute recipe). I am madly in love with the brussels sprouts recipe. Well it does involve maple syrup so what's not to love? It's a wonderful combination of sweet and spicy. Mr. Lawyer inhaled a bunch of them and if you can get a boy to eat a ton of veggies it's a keeper right?
Brussels Sprouts with Maple and Cayenne
(from Martha Stewart's Food Everyday)
2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss brussels sprouts with olive oil; season with salt. Roast until brussels sprouts are browned in spots and tender when pierced with a knife, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. 
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine syrup and cayenne pepper. Drizzle brussels sprouts with maple syrup mixture, stir to coat, and roast 1 minute.
Getting the Quesadilla prepped!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lovely Leftovers

Today we ventured down to Reading Terminal for lunch and veggie shopping. We ended up splitting the Turkey/Stuffing/Cranberry on sourdough sandwich from Original Turkey. Delicious! And good eating preparation for Thanksgiving. Iovine Brothers has gorgeous looking fruits and veggies on the cheap so we grabbed a few things for tonight's dinner. I got some amazing corn and black bean salsa from Whole Foods to top it off (store brand so it was cheap!).
Steak Fajitas
(from our kitchen!)
Leftover Steak, sliced up
2 peppers (any color), sliced long
1 red onion, sliced long
1 long hot pepper or jalapeno, minced
Cabot Cheddar, shredded
Corn and black bean salsa
Olive Oil
1. Heat up 1-2 tablespoons oil on medium heat in a large frying pan.
2. Saute the onion and peppers to desired crisp/softness. We like them a bit on the crunchy side.
3. Add the steak to warm it up.
4. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30-60 seconds.
5. Assemble your fajita!

Asiago Butter

One time Mr. Lawyer got this delicious blue cheese crumble on his steak. Wegman's has a variety of delicious finishing butters that my roommate and I use to try. I decided to combine the two to make a delicious topping for our steak. It was amazing. I am currently eating the leftovers with some warmed up buttermilk biscuits (also leftovers) as a delicious afternoon snack.
Asiago Finishing Butter
(from the kitchen of Jenni)
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons grated asiago (or more depending on how cheesy you want it)
Fresh cracked pepper (about two twists of the grinder)
A pinch of salt
A dash of oregano (mostly for appearances, you couldn't really taste it)
1. Mix it all together and serve!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Picture is Worth...

Someone cooked me dinner tonight....

Breakfast of Champions!

Regional differences: In Upstate NY I would have said that "my kids were squirrelly this week" but here in Philly my students tell me that the proper slang is "my kids are hyped". I have one class that teaches me one slang word a day. This serves a duel purpose: I understand what they are talking about and it gets me major street cred which is useful when it comes to classroom management. I have also learned a handshake. The end of this week was insane, my students were all hyped. As a result Mr. Lawyer made me his famous chocolate chip peanut butter cookies....for breakfast.
Breakfast of Champions!
These cookies were highly sought after in the realm of Syracuse. In fact, there was a backhanded girl fight over them before we started dating. I won. Obviously. Mr. Lawyer would also try to bribe me with them. His method of flirting went like this "Star Wars in on tv. Want to come over? I made cookies." Clearly this worked. 

I interviewed Mr. Lawyer about the origins of these Upstate famous, fight inducing, girl swooning cookies. This is what I learned: it was the first year of law school and he had just started really cooking on his own. He was really craving cookies so he bought the Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie mix. He just happened to have peanut butter and chocolate chips chilling in his cabinet. So he mixed them in and these amazing peanut butter cookies were born. 
However he left me with this mess:
Not my cookie plate, coffee mug, mixing bowl or measuring spoons. Ah well, at least he knows to soak everything.

Not So Healthy

On the rare occasion we make bacon I always pour the drippings into this special little container that lives in the back of the freezer. Mr. Lawyer always gives me a strange look and is all "wtf, why are you saving bacon grease?" Um hello, for the vegetables. Duh. And now he gets it.
You could always make this recipe without the bacon fat because in all honesty, you don't really need it. Or instead of the butter/sugar route you could do maple syrup which is what my dad always did in order to get us to eat our veggies. Regardless, there is nothing like some sweet carrots to make your day.
Candied Carrots
(inspired by my childhood and the internet)
2 lbs fresh baby carrots
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bacon grease
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1. Add carrots, bacon grease and enough water to cover the top of carrots.
2. Cover with a lid and place on medium heat and bring to a boil.
3. Turn heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the carrots are tender when pricked with a fork.
4. When carrots become tender pour half of the water off.
5. Add melted butter and sugar to carrots.
6. Place lid on pot and cook until completely tender.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fishy Friday!

I always feel a little giddy when the first thing I hear after the first bite of dinner is "You done good" said in some weird hickish accent. Sometimes it varies and it's "You done it again". That is what this recipe received. Even more amazing is that I actually like it with no major issues (and I am my worst critic!). This fish had a nice light flavor and it was super easy. When I opened the bag the marinade smelled heavenly (I set it up before work this morning). The lime flavor was perfect and reminded me of the many gin and tonics of the summer. The only substitution I made was using agave nectar instead of honey because I accidentally used up my last little bit of honey making that homemade honey mustard sauce. I'm excited to try it again with honey. Normally I don't like the brown or dark bits but that was my favorite part because it resulted in a nice little limey-burst. Served up with some not so healthy carrots and home-made tartar sauce.
Honey Lime Tilapia
(from a lovely life blog)
4 tilapia fillets, thawed
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1. Mix marinade by combining lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Add fish and marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
2. Combine flour with salt and pepper on a plate. Remove each fish fillet from the marinade and dredge lightly with the flour on both sides.
3. Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook fillets 3-4 minutes per side or until opaque and browned.
Homemade tartar sauce: light mayo, relish, and a splash of lemon juice.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Heavenly Biscuits

In order to feel better about my poor flavorless pork chops I decided to try out a new buttermilk biscuit recipe (previous biscuit recipes include buttermilk with cream cheese and my yummy dill biscuits). They didn't get as puffy as the ones with cream cheese but they were nice and silky. I loved the way they split in the center. It was a great use for that extra buttermilk!
Buttermilk Biscuits
(from a lovely life blog)
3/4c butter, cut into small pieces
3c flour
2 Tbsp sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/4c buttermilk
1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and combine with a pastry blender or two forks until very crumbly. The pieces should be no larger than peas.
2. Combine egg and buttermilk and pour into dry mixture. Stir with a fork until just combined. Flour the countertop and turn dough onto the counter. Pat out to about 3/4″ thickness. Fold back over itself to get the cute middle split. Slice into 12 squares or cut with a round biscuit cutter into 12 biscuits.
3. Place biscuits on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with parchment.
4. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until tops are golden.
So yummy and warm.
 With melty butter!
 With some asiago cheese.

Sad Piggy

I found this Pineapple Grilled Pork Chop recipe which is extremely similar to my very favorite Pineapple Chicken Recipe and had excellent reviews. We also had two sad lonely pork chops in our freezer so I decided to give it a go even though my cute little grill is up in NY. One reviewer had baked them in the oven and it came out fine and others had not marinated the chops overnight and they were still flavorful. But not my little pork chops. The oven baking was fine although I'm sure it was missing some yummy grill flavor. However, it was severely lacking in the pineapple-soy flavor. I couldn't even tell it had marinated for 4 hours. We both resorted to some Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce. My chicken recipe is always flavorful even when not marinated the whole time. So does chicken soak up marinade better than pork? Was the basting on the grill super critical? All I know is next time, I'll have to make Mr. Lawyer's favorite Modenese Pork Chops to make up for these flavorless pork chops. 
Pineapple Grilled Pork Chops
(adapted from allrecipes)
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple rings, juice drained and reserved
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 pork chops
1 pinch ground black pepper
1. Mix together the drained pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic powder together in a large plastic zipper bag, and smush the bag a few times with your hands to mix the marinade and dissolve the sugar. Place the pork chops into the marinade, squeeze out any air in the bag, seal it, and refrigerate overnight. Reserve the pineapple rings.
2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate.
3. Remove the chops from the marinade, shaking off excess, and grill until browned, the meat is no longer pink inside, and the meat shows good grill marks, 5 to 8 minutes per side. Brush several times with marinade and let the marinade cook onto the surface of the meat. Discard excess marinade. While the meat is grilling, place 4 pineapple rings onto the grill, and allow to cook until hot and the slices show grill marks; serve the chops topped with the grilled pineapple rings

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bite Sized Fall Tradition

Since tonight was leftover crispy cheesy chicken nugget night I decided that there should be some kind of yummy dessert. Enter: Caramel Apples. I inherited this kit from Nyk and dragged it all the way to Philly so there was going to be caramel apples this fall come hell or high water. Now there are two major flaws with caramel apples: to start with everyone knows that the caramel to apple ratio is off. Way off. You never have enough caramel. Also, caramel apples are messy. Enter my genius idea of bite sized caramel apple pieces. On a toothpick. Things are always cuter on a toothpick. Good caramel to apple ratio, no mess, toothpick. Amazing.
Here's the state traveling kit! It was super easy, all you needed was milk and sugar.
Why is making caramel always so scary?!
I'm totally going to have a little kid ate too much sugar tummy ache tonight. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Guinea Pig Keeper!

Cheese + Chicken. Need I say more? We have a Guinea Pig Kitchen Keeper! These Cheesy Crunchy Chicken Nuggets were marvelous! Just the right amount of cheese rounded out with a zesty homemade honey mustard. The buttermilk was the only "special" ingredient I had to go out to buy but I suppose it would still work with a normal egg or egg/milk wash. This recipe perfectly showcases why I love panko breadcrumbs: a nice crunchy texture. 
Since it is Tuesday and Tuesdays are the worst day of the week according to the Mister I went with a childhood favorite/comfort food theme: grown up chicken nuggets and white cheddar shells. The perfect little kid meal with a grown up twist!
Crunchy Cheesy Chicken Nuggets
(adapted from how sweet it is)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1.5 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup freshly grated asiago cheese (I used a tad bit more)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1. Chop up your chicken into bite sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Put in bowl and cover with buttermilk. Let soak a minimum of two hours.
2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, put a wire rack on it and spray it with Pam.
3. Mix bread crumbs, flour, cheese, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Take each nugget from buttermilk and dredge in breading mixture, place on wire rack.
4. Bake for 10 minutes, pull out pan and flip each nugget. Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes until cooked.
5. For honey mustard: mix honey and mustard together! Serve with your nuggets.