Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It burns! It burns cause you're wicked!

That was one of our catchphrases in high school and man oh man did this dish burn! I do love a nice spicy dish and the balance of flavors in this one is perfect: ginger, garlic, sesame, soy, and spicy hot! The  Boy snarfed it down pretty quick and then went back for seconds because he obviously enjoys pain. I had two tums just as a precaution before even touching dinner. After I made it I realized that even though it was marked as a vegetarian dish it was not going to fill us up (although I'm sure it would do the trick if you threw in some stir fry veggies!) so I augmented the dish with some steamed dumplings from downstairs.
Spicy Sesame Noodles with Peanuts and Basil
(adapted from Bon Appetit) 
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) hot chili oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles or fresh angel hair pasta
12 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh Thai basil leaves
1. Heat peanut oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients; whisk to blend.
2. Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly and transfer to bowl with sauce. 
3. Add sliced green onions and toss to coat noodles. Let stand at room temperature until noodles have absorbed dressing, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour. 
4. Stir in peanuts and Thai basil; toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
IT BURNS! (In a good way)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mushroom Meltdown

This recipe was kind of a mess. The mushroom onion filling was delicious but I some problems with the tart dough. Mine got too sticky and melty when I added the mushroom sauce mixture (definitely cool it first!). It would rip and ooze everything out! And then it didn't get all nice and brown (even with the egg wash) and the edge part was too thick and didn't cook that well. I feel like I need to work on my pastry skills a bit. I had been looking forward to this recipe for months so I was a little let down by the results. Mr. Lawyer didn't seem to care much and cleaned his plate (except for the excess pastry edges). On the plus side, the place smells delicious! But it was a lot of steps and mess for a so-so dish. Meatless Monday = Semi-Flop. 
Mushroom Tart

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Broccoli Candy

This is what 20 bucks gets you at the Market.
And the only reason it was that high was due to the stupid 6.99 Cuties.
We have been eating a ton of fruits and veggies this week but that is for another post! This post is for that huge one dollar bag of broccoli in the upper right hand corner. Half of it went into our Spicy Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry and I needed to use up the rest of it. We're going to a friend's school fund raiser tonight so I figured we'd be munching on some less than healthy food, this inspired me to make a super healthy lunch snack: roasted broccoli! Throw in the fact that it was an Alton Brown recipe (who the Mr. Lawyer has a huge man crush on) and we may have been fighting over the last pieces. Who ever thought we'd be fighting over broccoli?!

It was like broccoli candy: a little bit sweet, a little bit salty. The panko added a nice little crunch. I even shaved a few calories off and didn't use the whole amount of cheese. After about 1/8 cup everything looked pretty coated so I stopped adding it. I served it up with some whole wheat pitas from Feders.
Oven Roasted Broccoli
(from Alton Brown, Food Network)
1 pound broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan or sharp Cheddar
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces. Cut the stalk into 1/8-inch thick, round slices. Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, kosher salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Spread the panko into a 13 by 9-inch metal cake pan and place into the oven for 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove the panko from the oven and add to the bowl with the broccoli mixture. Toss to combine. Return the mixture to the cake pan, place in the oven and roast just until the broccoli is tender, 8 to 10 more minutes.
4. Remove from the oven, toss in the cheese and serve immediately.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tasty Taco Thursday!

Tonight's dinner was inspired by my need to use up some random stuff in my kitchen. I purchased two lovely avocados that needed to be used. Did some quick inspiration searching and decided on fish tacos! I didn't have the required red cabbage but I did have some spicy black beans that I've been putting on my morning salads. The recipe really didn't do anything with the fish other than a standard flour coat and fry. Lame. So I dug up my Honey Lime Tilapia recipe but I didn't have a fresh lime. I marinated it anyway sans lime zest which is the major source of it's flavor but this lack of flavor inspired me to add a good heaping of Old Bay to the flour before throwing it in the pan. I was worried I used too much Old Bay but Mr. Lawyer told me that "there is no such thing." All of these substitutions worked out wonderfully! My only complaint is that I wish I made more!
Avocado and Fish Tacos
(from my kitchen!)
4 tilapia fillets, thawed and cut into pieces
2 tablespoons lime juice
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
Old Bay Seasoning, desired amount
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Avocado, diced
Black Beans
1. Mix marinade by combining 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 and Old Bay in shallow bowl. Remove fish chunks 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 fish 3-4 minutes per side or until opaque and browned.
4. Serve with avocado and beans all wrapped up in a quesadilla!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spicy Stir Fry

Only one Valentine's flower left so I moved it to a new vase, recycling at it's finest!
Tonight Wicket and I got busy and whipped up some stir fry. I'm guessing it was good because there aren't any leftovers. I used the Szechuan sauce I had in the freezer from my sauce making party. I was worried it was going to be too spicy because when I tasted it it was all POW! But once it was mixed with the meat and veggies the spice dissipated. It would slowly build instead of being all in your face. 
Spicy Beef and Broccoli
1 1/ 2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/ 2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/ 2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/ 2 cup chicken broth
1 1/ 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/ 2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce (didn't have, so I added a spot of honey)
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/ 8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/ 4 teaspoon pepper
1/ 8 teaspoon 5 spice powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tablespoon water
Beef, cut in strips
1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the ginger and garlic and saute 1 minute until softened but not browned.
2. In a bowl combine the remaining except for the cornstarch mixture. Add them to the saucepan and bring to a simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and let boil 1-2 minutes.
4. Meanwhile heat your wok and add beef, 4-5 minutes until cooked.
5. Remove beef, set aside. Stir fry broccoli. 
6. Return beef to wok with broccoli and add sauce. Stir till coated. Serve!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bean Balls!

No Meat Monday has come early! I've been thinking since watching "Fork Over Knives" and have realized a couple of things. I rarely ate meat in college or grad school. College consisted mainly of oatmeal, cereal, soup and grilled cheese. When I lived with Grandma for a semester in grad school dinner normally had meat but she's super healthy and it was always a balanced meal (and always a yummy salad!). When I lived by myself I didn't eat a lot of meat because I was poor/I was just cooking for me/totally going to die from food poisoning. Now that I live with the boy, I cook a lot of meat and there is just generally more food. Time to start working on that.
Fresh out of the oven Bean Balls!
I've been craving spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna lately so I figured this would be a good place to start. There are several recipes for vegetarian meatballs or bean balls I found on the internet, all of them are very similar. So I took bits and pieces and combined it with my meatball recipe. It came out pretty good! The texture is very soft but flavor wise it was good (especially once it was in the sauce). I tried one right out of the oven an it reminded me of falafel or red pepper hummus. I might be able to sneak these by as a super soft turkey meatball since we had some very delicious soft meatballs at Christmas. I'll tell Mr. Lawyer eventually, I just want to see if he'll notice!
Bean Balls!
(adapted from the internet)
2 cans of beans, rinsed and roughly mashed (I used cannellini but saw recipes for black, pinto, garbanzo, etc)
1 roasted red pepper, minced (or raw or carrots! so many different recipes)
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 to 1 cup panko bread crumbs (I had to use 1 cup because my mixture was so wet)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Italian herbs (or fresh)
Sauce and Pasta
1. Mix together all ingredients. Do not over mix or puree the beans, you want there to be some texture!
2. Form into "meatballs" and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
3. Add to sauce and bring to simmer. Serve with pasta.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Big Kid Ice Cream

We all know that I have a soft spot of gin (and ice cream!) so when I saw this recipe I knew it must be done immediately. I made it while watching the documentary "Forks Over Knives" (highly recommended!). We're all going to die and I need to go vegan asap. At least I wasn't adding any extra refined sugar to cream... We do okay when it comes to food but we can do better! Tomorrow I think I shall venture to Reading Terminal Market for a veggie adventure. I've also been reading some scary things about food dye and preservatives (see the Feingold Diet). Yikes! Right, back to the ice cream. This sauce was nice because it wasn't overly sweet like many ice cream toppings. Loved it.
Blueberry-Gin Sundaes
(adapted from Real Simple Magazine)
1 cup blueberries
1/3 cup gin
Vanilla Ice Cream
1. In a small saucepan, combine blueberries and gin. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the berries burst and the mixture begins to thicken, 5 to 8 minutes; let cool.
2. Divide vanilla ice cream among bowls and top with the blueberry sauce.

Dinner Rolls!

When the Boy is away you may eat rolls and alcoholic ice cream for dinner (more on that later!). These rolls are not quite what I expected but I can't stop eating them. I thought they would turn out nice and fluffy but they are a heavier roll. Still very yummy but I think I prefer the Sweet Dinner Rolls.
Parker House Rolls
(from Food Network Magazine)
1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
7 1/2 to 8 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus softened butter for brushing
2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1. Measure out 1/2 cup warm water and check the temperature: It should be between 110 degrees F and 120 degrees. Sprinkle the yeast into a large bowl, add the warm water and whisk in the sugar. Let sit 1 minute (it should bubble and froth slightly), then gently stir in 1 cup flour. Set aside near the stove while you prepare the dough.
2. Mix the melted butter and milk in a mixer with the hook attachment on low speed. Add the eggs and mix until blended. Scrape in the yeast mixture and mix until incorporated. Add 6 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon salt; mix until the dough forms a ball, 2 to 3 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup more flour if the dough is too wet and sticky.
3. Brush a large bowl with softened butter. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place, 2 hours to 2 hours, 30 minutes. The dough should double in volume.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust a clean flat surface with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Flour your hands; gently press the dough into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (don't use a rolling pin).
5. With the short side in front of you, cut the dough in half lengthwise with a floured knife. Then slice crosswise into 12 strips.
6. One at a time, fold each strip of dough unevenly in half so the top part slightly overlaps the bottom half, then tuck the overhang underneath. Place the rolls seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet in 3 tightly packed rows. (If making in advance, wrap the baking sheet tightly in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 weeks.)
7.Bake until the rolls are bursting at the seams and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. (If frozen, bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees F, then 10 minutes at 375 degrees F.) Remove from the oven and brush with softened butter. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Caper Fish!

I needed a recipe for capers since I had half a bottle just chilling in the fridge (leftover from the Tuna Fried Caper Pasta). I had marked this recipe in a magazine ages ago while I still lived in Syracuse. Too many recipes, not enough time!

I'm torn on this recipe. I liked the fish with lemon-wine-butter sauce but I was unimpressed with the pasta and spinach. I thought that part lacked flavor and was just eh. I'm also not sure how much the capers actually added to this dish. In the Tuna Fried Caper Pasta they were essential, in this one they were just there. So I will be keeping the fish/sauce part of this recipe but ditching the pasta and spinach.

I reduced the amount of butter: one tablespoon for the fish, one tablespoon for the sauce. You could probably forgo the fish butter and just lightly fry it in olive oil. It's also important to really season the fish with the Old Bay. I was a little stingy but when you got a bite that had a fair amount on it bam! I also have the reduced sodium Old Bay which does lack some of the flavor punch that the original has.
Piccata-Style Fish Fillets with Thin Pasta and Wilted Spinach
(adapted from Rachael Ray's Magazine)
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound thin egg pasta or angel hair pasta
4 thin tilapia or snapper fillets
Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 lemons
1/4 cup drained capers
A handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
3/4 pound fresh spinach, cleaned and trimmed
A little freshly grated nutmeg
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
2. Pat the fish dry and season with salt, pepper and a little Old Bay. On a plate, mix the flour and cornstarch. Coat the fish in the flour mixture.
3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter (I only did one) and let it foam up, then add the fish fillets and cook, turning once, until golden-brown and firm, 4-6 minutes. Transfer the fillets to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. 
4. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to melt. Stir in the garlic for 1 minute, then stir in the wine for another minute. Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel and the juice of 1 lemon. Thinly slice the remaining lemon and stir the slices into the sauce, along with the capers and parsley. Spoon the sliced lemons and half of the butter sauce over the fish.
5. Add the reserved pasta water and the pasta to the skillet. Add the remaining butter sauce and season with salt and pepper; toss. Transfer the pasta to a platter. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the spinach, season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg and cook to wilt. Serve the fish with a little pasta and spinach alongside.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Lovin!

Mr. Lawyer came home and said "What kind of cocktail should we make? I found a recipe for a Frangelico Martini." (We've been trying to experiment with our bar a little more lately). Suddenly, I was struck by inspiration! "What if we use the whipped cream vodka?!" The response? "Done." The inspiration: the last time we went down to NYC to see some college friends we were given a Chocolate Covered Pretzel shot. You lick some salt and take the shot, equal parts Frangelico and whipped cream vodka. It was divine. It actually tasted like a chocolate covered pretzel.
Chocolate Covered Pretzel Martini
(inspired by the chocolate covered pretzel shot)
Whipped Cream Vodka
1. Combine equal parts Frangelico and vodka with ice in a shaker. Shake and pour into a salt rimmed glass.
We don't really like going out for Valentine's because everything is so packed and you feel rushed. Our tradition the past couple of years is to cook a nice meal together (this is actually a challenge for me as I like to have everything ready as soon as Mr. Lawyer walks through the door). I made my roasted asparagus with a twist. I added some herbs de provence instead of straight salt/pepper/garlic. Mr. Lawyer  did his baked salmon. He lightly covered the fillets with butter, seasoned with pepper and smoked sea salt and baked it at 400 for 15 minutes. It was all washed down with a bottle of our New Hampshire wine we picked up on our September vacation (Stone Gate Vineyard: their website is here!).
I'm loving these orange roses and gerber daisies!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Boy Meets Stew

Obviously February is not my month for kitchen inspiration. Throw in this lingering cold and before you know it my poor kitchen is languishing away. Luckily for me a very cute lawyer has stepped up to the plate the past few days to make me homemade cookies, order me dumplings from downstairs, make waffles and turkey bacon, and make a whole crock pot of beef stew which has sustained us for three days. Oh yeah, and get me pretty orange flowers (and not for Valentines!).
Simple set up: beef, potatoes, green pepper, onion, and a beef stew spice packet. The crock pot is essential because the beef was all nice and fall apart tender which doesn't always happen if you make it quickly in a pot.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm so classy

Blerg. I am diseased. In order to stay hydrated and soothe my poor throat I resulted to a childhood favorite that turned into an adult favorite (I now know why my parents made these drinks). I may or may not have spent the afternoon on the couch drinking the entire blender of Orange Julius. There may have been some vodka involved. And some homemade chocolate chip cookies that a certain boy made (although they were not as good as his peanut butter ones, shhhh!).
Orange Julius
(from the Mother Unit)
6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
10-12 ice cubes (or to slushy preference)
1. Throw it all in the blender and enjoy!
I need to learn how to take pictures of beverages. I never like the way they turn out.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Veggie Lo Mein

I am out of rice but just happened to find some real lo mein noodles on my last shopping trip. There was also a convenient sale on baby bok choy and mushrooms, one of my favorite stir fry combinations. I figured this was a sign to try to make my first lo mein dish! It was mostly successful. The sauce wasn't as rich or flavorful as I wanted it but I think that's because I didn't follow a recipe and was just kind of throwing things together without measuring (the horror!). I wanted it to be spicy and remind me of the lo mein we always had at the Mongolian Bar in college but alas, that did not happen. While I was mixing it tasted wonderful but once I added it to the dish the taste dissipated. But in true lo mein fashion it was better the next day. I can attest to this as I am sitting here eating the leftovers for breakfast as I type!

Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy Lo Mein
(created in my kitchen!)
No real recipe because I winged it! But the sauce included: soy, a few dashes of sesame oil, dry sherry (subbed for rice wine vinegar), fresh garlic, onion, ginger and pepper. Right before you add it to the dish you add some cornstarch to thicken it up and make it glossy.
And because I mentioned college and can't resist this little gem from the internet....
Truth. Every time she comes on Ashley and I tell our significant others "Hey. She went to Binghamton." Mr. Lawyer hates it. Every. Single. Time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Refrigerator Primavera!

I had some random leftover Superbowl veggies that needed to be dealt with. I loosely followed this recipe for no cream pasta primavera and it came out wonderfully. I had carrots, zucchini and cherry tomatoes. I used herbs de provence instead of italian seasoning and would recommend it. It jazzed it up a bit and it was a nice break from the traditional flavorings. It was delicious. End of story.
I'm too distracted by the Syracuse game to alter the recipe and must go yell at the television. As a friend said "YOUR MOM IS A HOYA!". 
No Cream Pasta Primavera
(adapted from
1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and
cut into 1 inch pieces
5 spears asparagus, trimmed and cut into
1 inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente; drain.
3. In a bowl, toss squash, zucchini, carrot, red bell pepper, tomatoes, green beans, and asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning. Arrange vegetables on the baking sheet, and roast 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender.
4. Heat remaining olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook until tender. Mix in cooked pasta, lemon zest, basil, parsley, and balsamic vinegar. Gently toss and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with roasted vegetables and sprinkle with Romano cheese to serve.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Beans, Beans, Beans!

When I took a look at my cupboards today I realized that they had been colonized by beans. There were baked beans, spicy black beans, refried beans, red beans, kidney beans, and a dried white bean kit. Yikes! Mr. Lawyer had mention wanting to make the white bean chili kit but with this past weekends festivities it got away from us. We picked up this kit (for free!) on our vacation to NH and it contained dried beans and a spice mix. All I had to do was add chicken, water, chicken broth and a little salt. That is after I boiled and soaked the dried beans for eternity. I have never done anything with dried beans and now I know why all my food magazines recommend starting the soak before you go to bed and just leaving them over night! It was perfectly fine for a free meal starter but it could have used a little more spice. I did decide that there wasn't enough beans and threw in the can of kidney beans.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cupcake Contest!

The first friday of every month my kids have a Home Ec type class that involves food. Today I got to help out and put together a cupcake decorating class. Because decorating cupcakes is an important life skill. I baked 50 cupcakes and each kid received two: one they could eat right away and one to enter in the cupcake contest (and then eat after lunch). It went really well and it was exciting to see some of the creativity come out!
Gathering up the supplies: a variety of colored frosting, sprinkles, oreo cookies, chocolate chips, almond slices, shredded coconut and M&Ms. All useful decorating things.
The Cupcake Contest!
Some up close shots. I made the bee.
I love it!