Apple Cranberry Pie

Nothing says holidays like pie, or something.  The evolution of this pie:  I wanted to bake a pie and use my Great Grandma's recipe and was thinking about pumpkin at Thanksgiving, but David had it covered.  While traveling through South Bend my cousin Abby gave me her apple pie recipe as a substitute for the pumpkin.  Later, my sister suggested substituting cranberries for the raisins in the apple-cranberry pie.  A few weeks later, voila!

2 pie crusts (store bought... or Grandma Goerss's recipe)
8 gala apples, peeled, and thinly sliced
1 tbl lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbl all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Prepare 2 pie crusts and put one int he bottom of a deep pie pan.

2. Sprinkle apples with lemon Juice.  Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add apples and cranberries and toss to coat.

3. Place apple-cranberry mixture in pie shale and trim the pastry.  Cut slits in the second pastry (I used a snowflake cookie cutter!) and place on filling, sealing and crimping. 

4. Cover edge of pie with foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes until the top is golden.  Cool and serve.

Good.  Very good.  Repeat after me:  I like pie.  The crust was as good as I remember, and as easy.  The pie was great.  I liked the cranberry add.  Any time I can eat cranberries I'm happy :)  They are a superfood after all!  Only down side -- I used 8 small gala apples and that was too much.  There was seepage out over the edge of the pie onto the bottom of the oven since I didn't do an expert job with my crimping.  Otherwise happy pie.

Amazing Roast Chicken

Adapted from Jamie Oliver (Naked Chef), as seen on Ezra Pound Cake.

4-5 lb roasting chicken
salt and pepper
4-5 lbs potatoes
1 lemon
1 head garlic
olive oil
rosemary and thyme
2-4 slices of bacon

Start out by cleaning the chicken, rinsing, patting dry and liberally applying salt and pepper to the inside and outside of your chicken.  Preheat the oven to 375 and allow your chicken to sit while you work on the potatoes.

Bring a pot of water to boil while you peel and cube the potatoes (golf ball size?).  Meanwhile, remove the garlic from its papery wrapper.  Boil the potatoes with the garlic cloves and lemon for about 12 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and remove the lemon and garlic.  Take a spoon and stir the potatoes around in the hot pot.  This makes them 'chuffy' as Jamie calls them.  I say it smooshes up the outsides and makes them roast even better!

Poke a handful of holes into the warm lemon.  Take the lemon, thyme (or rosemary), and garlic and place in the chicken cavity. Rub the outside of the bird with oil and apply extra salt and pepper if necessary.  Roast that bird for 45 minutes.

At the 45 minute mark take the bird out your pan.  Add the potatoes and some rosemary and stir them up in the pan, using your chicken drippings to coat the potatoes for roasting.  Place the chicken back in the center of the pan, surrounded by the taters.  Finally, the coup d'etat, put some bacon across the chicken breast.  Roast for another 45 minutes.  Crumble the bacon into the potatoes and serve.

Amazingly good.  Ok, maybe just good, I'm not sure.  This was the first chicken I've ever roasted.  I think that they can turn out badly, really dried out and bland.  Rumor has it that usually happens to your first roast chicken.That didn't seem to be the case -- this chicken was extremely moist, it had a good flavor, and was exceedingly appetizing.  The potatoes were good, the chuffy  thing appears to work.  In fact, i would say the parboil pre-roasting and chuffing thing is awesome.  I would recommend going in and tossing the potatoes mid cooking to get them good and roasty on all sides though.  Definitely a keeper -- I think David even enjoyed it. 

I even did things up fancy.  We had dinner at David's on Christmas Eve and at his Aunt's on Christmas night. This wasn't anything fancy (I had meant to steam some asparagus but lost track of time) but we did eat it off of my Christmas setting :)


Barefoot Contessa’s Lentil Sausage Soup

Adapted from Barefoot in Paris (Ina Garten)

½ lb lentils
Olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Several springs fresh thyme leaves
Ground cumin
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 lb baby carrots, chopped
1 quart chicken stock
¼ cup tomato paste
1 lb turkey kielbasa, cut in half and sliced

1. I rinsed and sorted the lentils, cleaning out any shriveled lentils or rocks. I placed them in a bowl and covered the lentils with boiling water, allowing them to sit for about 15 minutes

2. Meanwhile I heated the oil up in the bottom of a stockpot and added the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and thyme. I sautéed them over medium heat until the onions were translucent. At that point I added the carrots and celery and stirred, allowing them to cook for about 10 minutes.

3. I added the lentils, chicken stock, and tomato paste, stirring and bringing to a boil. I covered and simmered for an hour to cook the lentils thoroughly. At that point I added the kielbasa and allowed it to simmer for a few more minutes until heated through.

I have never made this particular soup, but I had it several years ago while visiting my cousin and her family in South Bend. Good memories of fun times with extended family and a realization that Barefoot Contessa‘s recipes were actually do-able for us mortal folk. Luckily, she warned me that it feeds quite the crowd, so this was my attempt at modifying and halving the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe to make a dinner for a cold rainy night and lunch for a snowy week at work. It was great - super hearty and filling and smelled amazing before eating this. I really do love soup at this time of year. Being in a land where winter is real is making my love for soup even deeper. I’m pretty sure it is not just a passing fancy since it seems to have spanned a few years now J

BTW…Barefoot Contessa recommends 1 tbl freshly chopped thyme leaves for double this amount of soup. I actually just put in a bunch of sprigs and remove the stems before serving. Also, she chops her veggies up pretty small to be closer in size to the lentils whereas I like to leave my veggies chunky, I enjoy the texture and juxtoposition of the large veggies and the little lentils.

Um yeah, I repeat. Great soup. Filling. Full of lentil fiber goodness. And flavor
BTW…I was trying to explain what lentils were to my mom, including what they taste like. Any suggestions as to how you would describe them besides merely fiber filled goodness?

Grove Dip

We caught the Steelers-Bengals Game a couple of weeks ago at our friends place. I wanted to bring something, and dip came up. I immediately thought of Grove Dip, from the Moo Groceries Cookbook for the Vicksburg Historical Society.

2 11-oz cans corn, drained and rinsed
1 4-oz can chopped green chiles
3 green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tbl sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Drain and rinse the corn. In a bowl mix mayonnaise, sour cream, and sugar. Add corn, chiles, green onions, red peppers, and cheese. Mix and Chill for several hours before serving with tortilla chips.

It was delicious! I had a sample of this once before, and it was about as good as I remembered.

Things to note about the recipe -- it makes a ton of dip, and I mean a ton!!! I would definitely recommend halving it if you aren’t feeding a crowd. Likewise, I’ve actually considered two substitutions -- I would consider omitting one can of corn for a can of black beans. I would also consider subbing some strained non-fat yogurt or some greek yogurt for the sour cream, mayonnaise, sugar combo. Corn, beans, and yogurt would mean you could eat as much as you wanted!

Amber’s White Bean, Bacon, and Rosemary Soup

I spent the better part of 7 years in the south. While I try to lead a healthy lifestyle, I’ll admit, I have a penchant for bacon. There is just something about it -- I’ve always liked it, but it is amazing for infusing flavor. Oh lard, how wonderful you are. This soup uses the touch of bacon to go the extra mile. My friend Amber introduced me to it back in my Vicksburg days. This is my version of her version of the White Bean and Bacon soup that was originally published in Food and Wine.

½ lb bacon
Olive oil, as needed
1 celery heart, coarsely chopped
¾ bag of baby carrots, coarsely chopped
1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 carton chicken stock
2 cans canellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt & Pepper to taste

In the bottom of your large stockpot or dutch oven cook the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon and drain. Remove the majority of the grease, leaving a couple of teaspoons at the bottom of the pot.

While the bacon is cooking chop the vegetables -- the idea is to have somewhere around equal parts carrots, celery, and onions. After the bacon is done add olive oil as needed and cook the vegetables for a few minutes until soft.

Add the chicken stock, beans, rosemary, and thyme to the pot. I think that Amber’s recipe called for about 2 tbl of each -- I think these are some of the stars in the recipe, so I add as much as I feel like. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer for 30 min (or longer). Salt and pepper to taste prior to serving. Garnish with chopped up bacon and enjoy!

OK, a little commentary. This recipe is absolutely nothing new to me. However, it is probably one of my favorite foods at this time of year. I love the beans, the bacon, the rosemary, and the thyme. I am a soup girl and this is one of my soups. The one thing I’ve toyed with is actually adding the rosemary and thyme to the olive oil and bacon renderings mixture prior to adding the veggies. I think this could really make this soup even more amazing, which I previously thought was impossible. If you try just one soup this winter, I might heartily recommend this one. I’m not sure if this was better than previously, if it always this good, or perhaps being in real wintery weather made it even more comforting and delicious.


Sweet Potato and Turkey Hash

Thanksgiving means leftovers. We actually didn’t have all that many leftovers, however I did come home with enough turkey for a meal or two. Rather than just eating a sandwich I took it one step further with a Sarah Original.

Leftover turkey, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
2 slices prosciutto, chopped
Coarse ground sea salt,
Black pepper

Peel the sweet potato and chop it up. Cook the chopped sweet potato with oil in your favorite skilled until softened and slightly browned on the top. I added the salt, pepper, and rosemary during this stage. I chopped up the leftover turkey and the leftover prosciutto from Thanksgiving and heated them up in the hash.
Amazing. First, I love coarse seas salt. So much punch. Next. I love rosemary. Finally. I love turkey, sweet potatoes, and prosciutto. Win. Epic Win. I actually added in the prosciutto at the last minute as I was surveying the fridge. Next year I would add the prosciutto while working the potatoes to impart that gorgeous pork flavor into the prosciutto. I would also add some garlic, which I was somehow out of during this escapade. However, delicious. Amazing. Worth roasting turkey breast just for this!!!!

Roman Green Beans

For Thanksgiving I put myself in charge or providing a vegetable for David’s dad and I. Rather than the so-called traditional green bean casserole I went with a fancy fresh green bean dish from a “not so humble vegetables’ cookbook I picked up years ago.

Olive oil
1 lb green beans
4 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 thick slices prosciutto
3 tbl pine nuts, toasted
1 ½ tbl lemon juice
Several sprigs of thyme
First, I toasted the pine nuts on the stove. Meanwhile I broiled the slices of prosciutto until they got crispy. I cleared the prosciutto of grease and shredded it into bite sized pieces. Next the mushrooms were sautéed in a deep skillet on medium-high to high with the olive oil for about a minute. I added the green beans and cooked for about 5 minutes until they were just tender and cooked yet still crunchy. I added the prosciutto, pine nuts, lemon juice and thyme and toasted to coat and heat. Served and enjoyed J

Served and enjoyed pretty much summed this up. I enjoyed that it was the traditional green bean of thanksgiving, and it was even cooked in the traditional southern manner of adding pork product to your beans -- however this was fresh and tasty to say the least! I gave it two giant thumbs up!! I have several other fancy green bean recipes I want to try from various cookbooks, or I would certainly repeat it at the next fancy, or not so fancy, event.

Orange Cranberry Sauced Pork Chops

Have you been wondering if this blog would even show up in your RSS feed/google reader again? I sure was. Too much travel and busy time leads to not cooking enough. I’ve done some cooking during my down time, but nothing new, nothing special at all, and I’m still awaiting camera surgery. However, in time for Turkey Day Eve I got back to the business. You know I brought out ‘old trusty’ aka the crock pot.

Orange Cranberry Sauced Pork Chops

½ bag baby carrots
3-4 pork chops
½ can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 tbl orange marmalade
1 tbl quick cooking tapioca
¼ tsp cardamon

Place the baby carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place pork chops atop the carrots. Mix the remaining ingredients and place sauce on top of pork chops. Cook on low for 9-10 hours while at work.
Eh. This smelled amazing when I came home from work. I could hardly wait until going over to David’s to eat dinner. Alas, there was a lot of hype for nothing. The original recipe from a Crock Pot magazine called for orange cranberry sauce, which I couldn’t find -- so I added orange marmalade to my cranberry sauce as a substitute. I couldn’t really taste the orange. More importantly, the pork was somehow exceedingly dry, despite the fact that there was plenty of juices/water in the bottom of the crockpot. I thought it was impossible to cook dried out food in the crockpot. Unfortunately, I’m able to do that. I also didn’t really think the tapioca did anything -- I know its supposed to make the sauce creamy, but I wound up with glazed pork chops (the glaze was good despite the lack of orange taste) and a thin, watery cranberry-y sauce that the carrots were sitting in. I had high hopes… maybe will use the cranberry sauce and marmalade combo for glazed chops on the stove in the future.

I would like to note that I think pork pairs really well with fruit -- david had never had pork cooked with fruit. When I think of pork chops I think of cherries, apples, pears, and peaches -- I swear it’s a natural pairing.


Fall Salad

I celebrated October with a simple fall salad the other night.  It totally hit the spot.  nothing new, nothing major, but exactly what the season ordered. Have I told you about my love affair with goats cheese.  because i love goats cheese and fruit!

- baby spinach and leaf lettuce mix
- 1 apple, chopped
- 1 pear, chopped
- handful dried cranberries
- goats cheese
- strawberry balsamic dressing

I mixed the lettuce and fruits and topped with crumbled cheese before adding dressing, tossing and enjoying.  


Enchilladas... and a return to cooking

I would like to apologize for the dearth of posts lately, however you can really blame Uncle Sam.  I've spent most of the last two months out of town... which didn't lead to much cooking... only to lots of eating out.

This week I made some simple chicken enchilladas as part of my return to cooking

- 2 cups chopped/shredded chicken (i used rotisserie chicken)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
- 1/4 cup Sour Cream
- 2 tbl Diced Green Chiles, rinsed and drained
- 4 (9 to 10-inch) Flour tortillas, warmed

Combine the shredded chicken, 3/4 cup of cheese, ranch, sour cream, and chiles.  Mix well and split into quarters.  Take one quarter of mixture and place in each tortilla.  Roll up and place seam side down in baking pan.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken mixture.  Place remaining cheese on top of tortillas.  Bake for 20 min at 350F or until cheese is bubbly and melted.

Verdict:  I've made these before and enjoyed.  David approved pending removal of chiles.


Simple Pasta

Before heading out for vacation I had some produce to use so I threw together a simple tomato and pasta lunch.  It was light and simple and hit the spot.  Its not fine dining to report on, but it was just what I wanted!

olive oil
grape tomatoes
angel hair
coarse ground sea salt

I sliced up 2-3 cloves of garlic and sauteed them in some olive oil.  Meanwhile I boiled up some angel hair. After the garlic infused the oil, I chopped up the tomatoes and let them cook up for a few minutes.  I combined the tomatoes and angel hair with a generous sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.

Like i said, absolutely nothing special, but it was just what I wanted!


Raspberry Glazed Chicken

Ok, 2 posts in 2 days -- I must be crazy!

Last night I decided to try a Raspberry Chicken.  I've seen a number of recipes for these types of things over the years, but never actually made one.  I thought it would be a safe bed since someone other than me likes raspberries.  I found this recipe for Raspberry Glazed Rosemary Chicken Breasts over at Debbi Does Dinner Healthy and decided to give it a whirl. I used her receipe with what I had on hand and modified slightly.  I also didn't measure anything, per norm for me :)

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
spice mix - 2:1 mix of rosemary and oregano
chicken broth
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
~1 tsp-1/2 tbl honey mustard

Preheat oven to 350.  Rub both sides of the chicken with the spice mix.  Place in shallow baking pan and add a little broth to prevent drying the chicken out while cooking.  Bake for about 20 minutes.

Mis the raspberry preserves and honey mustard.  Spread over the chicken and bake for another 10 minutes until cooked. 

It turned out pretty well.  Rosemary was the dominant flavor, perhaps because i tend to use it abundantly, and the raspberry provided a little sweetness to follow up.  David was intrigued by the use of a jelly product on meat.  I enjoyed it and look forward to cosuming the final piece for dinner one night this week.

Some thoughts... I didn't really think it was glazed, the way I tend to think of glazed, which was a little disappointing.  It was more of rosemary chicken with a raspberry sauce.  I think to get that flavor/texture I would have put the preserves mixture on earlier.  I also didn't really taste the honey mustard much.  I would either use more or totally omit it.  Finally, it was a little dried out.  I would either cook this covered with foil to prevent drying the chicken out until the glaze/sauce was added or i would use chicken tenders rather than full chicken breasts.  Despite the reccomended changes, it was tasty, and it was nice to get back to trying new recipes.


Mexican Minestrone

I'm Back!  maybe not better, but I'm back at least.

Its been a bit of a hiatus.  After moving I discovered several excuses for not cooking.  Namely, i Hate my kitchen in my apartment.  The oven constantly sets of the smoke alarm when there is nothing smoking, and the burners aren't really fine tuned in terms of high-medium-low.  Over the past couple of months, I've ruined a few easy dishes, quit cooking, and returned to cooking.  Excuse number two:  It is hot in the kitchen.  I miss central air, and my kitchen is decidedly not well ventilated.  Final excuse:  my boyfriend is anti produce.  Something about vegetables bringing death at an earlier age or something?  If you recall my Lenten attempt at vegetarianism, this is a bit of an issue.  But, I've rallied the troops and we're back on track.  I'm starting off with something easy, out of my favorite kitchen gadget, the crockpot.  Its not full of fresh veggies from a farmers market, but its a step into the right direction.

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cans stewed Mexican tomatoes
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 cup salsa
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup salsa
1 cup frozen green beans
2 medium potatoes, coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients and cook on high in slow cooker for 7-9 hours and Enjoy!

I cooked this overnight to eat for lunch this week.  I woke up at 3 AM and couldn't fall back to sleep because the smell was so enticing!  Despite being full of canned goodness, it didn't fail to delight.  It was about as yummy as it smelled and it was fully of yummy, fiber filled bean, tomato, and soupy goodness.  a recipe for happiness!  Plus,for the WW crowd it is about 4 points for a serving (recipe makes 6-8 servings). 

Stay tuned for more food updates.  I'm traveling a lot for work so it might be a little far and few between for the next few weeks, but I'm back to sauteing away!


Asparagus and Pancetta Hash

I'm back!  I've been cooking in the new place for a couple of weeks now.  I've been without internet so blogging has been less possible, and have tended towards the more simple lately as I've been focused on unpacking and eating tamer food after a month of eating out.

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago and thought about it pretty much from that point on.  I determined it was a must have sort of thing... so I made my way into the kitchen and gave it a try. 

1/2 lb pancetta, diced
1 tbl olive oil
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 bunch asparagus, chopped

Heat up diced pancetta over medium heat.  Fry until well cooked and remove from pan.  Using pancetta renderings and 1 tbl olive oil, place potatoes in pan.  Salt and Pepper as desired (I like it heavy) and allow the potatoes to begin to brown.  flip periodically, allowing potatoes to cook and brown nicely.  Add in garlic towards the end of cooking the potatoes.  Once potatoes are about as brown as desired, add the asparagus and cover.  Allow the asparagus to saute in the renderings until cooked.  Return the pancetta tot eh pan, stir to reheat, and serve.

Amazing!  It was fairly light, easy peasy, and yumm-ay!  I enjoyed the one dish aspect, which happens so rarely in my kitchen.  I also enjoyed the overall taste as well as the texture.  It was great reheated the next day for lunch too.  I will note, that I would recommend avoiding oversalting due to the giant amount of salt associated with the pancetta.  By the time I finished my leftover lunch I felt like I had consumed much of the great salt lake.  Still, a definite keeper and something to throw some changes to and repeat!  Also, I would add a yellow onion with the garlic, as suggested by the recipe; however, I had used all my onions earlier in the week.


On Hiatus

If you haven't noticed... on hiatus due to the move.  more kitchen fun coming once I have a kitchen again!! :)



I joined my crazy animal loving freinds from Paws for a great going away lunch at one of our favorite locations, Rusty's Riverfront Bar and Grill. This was my first visit since their recent remodel. The good news: The food is still great (I enjoyed the signature green beans and blacked grouper). The great news: The outdoor seating looks great, and the new room has a great bar and is a little more quiet and doubled the availbe seating! Wishing I could enjoy some more great meals with great people here :(


Yummy Cheeseburgh-er

While scouting out housing options in Pittsburgh, I had an amazing cheeseburger at the Union Grill on Craig St. It was made with a custom ground beef and the artisinal cheese of the week was Kerry Gold Dubliner. Loved the yummy ground sirloin mix and the creamy cheese. Nothing fancy, but definitely a great eat!


Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchilladas

In preparation for my upcoming move, I've been doing a lot of housework and not so much cooking; however, I decided to give it a try since its Lost night and not a work night. I found this recipe back during the meatless phase.. but didn't have time to try it before I returned to being a carnivore. I've been looking forward to making this since that time. It brings together three things i love: cheese, black beans, and sweet potatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 sweet potatoes, cooked
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 tbl chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tbl soy sauce
4 tortillas
1 cup cheddar cheese
In a bowl mash the sweet potatoes. The original recipe called for adding cilantro and chipotles here. Since I didn't have any cilantro left and i had a crazy fear come over me about the chipotles, I just used mashed sweet potatoes.
Next, heat up oil and cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Yay!. Next add water, beans, cumin, chili powder, and soy sauce. Cook down until most of the water is gone. Once again, the original recipe called for cilantro here, and I was lacking in that department. Spread 1/4 of the bean mixture and 1/4 of the potato on a tortilla. Wrap it up burrito style and place in a baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and mixtures. Cover with cheese and bake for about 15 minutes at 350F.

Wow! These hit the spot! I mentioned the missing cilantro above because they definitely could use a little something more (I totally could have upped the chili powder to 2 tbl too.. but I'm a yankee chicken). Either way, they were good and exactly what I wanted to much on for a late LOST dinner. I definitely plan to enjoy these again! If I had leftover yogurt I would have slathered some of it on.... Plus, they are fairly filling and nutritious (as usual). I use the low carb/high fiber tortillas and this worked out to 6.5 pts per enchilada :)


026/027 -- Chili Lime Steak Salad

I decided to return to carnivorous cooking in a rather simplistic way. During my vegetarian phase I found a yummy sounding recipe over at Our Best Bites that called for a little bit of beef. I'm cheating and considering this two recipes -- the Chili Lime Rubbed Steak and the Creamy Lime Cilantro Dressing. I made a few modifications to the OBB recipe. My version (which is 97% their version) is below. I used a flat iron steak for this recipe. Let me wax on about how I enjoy the flat iron steak. It is fairly affordable so far as beef goes, and it is not too fatty and gross, AND it cooks up pretty quickly/easily on the grill or under the broiler. For the longest time I hadn't tried the flat iron as I'm a patron of the NY strip, however, Lulu convinced me to give the flat iron a try. I'm sold. I'm still a NY strip girl when going out to restaurants, but I'm sold the flat iron for my own cooking purposes.

I started out making the rub for the steak
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lime, juiced
1 tbl olive oil
Steak, (I used a flatiron cut)

Mix all ingredients together. Pour mixture over steak and press into sit. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes. I cooked my steak on my George Foreman :) Cut into thin slices against the grain.

While the steak was marinating I made the salad dressing
1 cup plain fat free greek yogurt (I like fage or oiknos best)
1 packet ranch dressing mix
about 1/2 cup milk
about 1/2 cup cilantro
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime

Combine ingredients in food processor and process until smooth! Keep cool and enjoy!

Finally, I used the dressing, slices of the steak, romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, avocado, and black beans to make an awesomely yummy meal. The steak was really good -- and totally easy. This rub was definitely worth repeating. The salad itself was really yum-tastic. The original dressing recipe called for a green salsa and hot sauce -- which i totally forgot while at the store. The recipe was pretty good as it was, although it wasn't quite so green. definitely a good score -- fairly lightweight, filling, easy, and yummy.


025 -- Peanut Thai Noodle Salad

My friend Lulu had a few of us over for dinner a few weeks ago. She had recently introduced me to this awesome food blog, Our Best Bites, which always has yummy looking recipes. To intensify my love for OBB, Lulu made their Thai Peanut Noodle Salad. I have seriously had dreams, ok well really daydreams, about that salad. It was way too yummy for its own good. Obviously (a) I have major issues, and (b) I had to give it a try of my own.

Plus, this gave me an opportunity to use my *new* blender. My parents gave me a blender/food processor combo about 3.5 years ago (I think) for Christmas. They share a base, but have different tops. Since then I have used the food processor tons of times, my general favorite thing to make being hummus. However, I had never actually pulled the blender portion out. Now I feel a lot better about it. I swear I usually don't wait that long to use gifts... the week the infamous pasta roller shows up I plan to make something special :)

In other conversational news... this was the first time I actually used raw ginger in a recipe. I usually sub ground ginger, skip it, or just skip the recipe in the first place. I think am closing in towards having cooked with most of the veggies at our little Kroger save the greens.

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 lime
2 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbl rice vinegar
2 tbl soy sauce
3 tbl honey
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbl minced ginger
1/4-1/2 cup copped cilantro
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1-3 tsp siracha chili sauce
2-4 tbl water (as needed to make dressing-y)

6 cups chopped Nappa Cabbage/Savoy Cabbage, or some other greens
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, sliced or chopped
Handful of baby carrots, julienned
1 box whole wheat linguine

Combine all dressing ingredients in blender and mix. Set to side and chill

Cook linguine until al dente. Rinse in col water. While linguine is cooking chop vegetables.

Toss dressing, pasta, and veggies and serve!

Awesome! It doesn't taste like I remember Lulu's tasting, but i could still have dreams about this. I'm sold on OBB! About the only problem i see is that it feeds a bunch! I knew it would be more than a meal or two when I looked at it, but I was dumb enough to think I didn't need to halve (or quarter) it. Really, since the dressing is the super star of this meal, you could make a pretty good meal out of just the veggies and the dressing without the noodles, but what fun would that be? So, anyone want to come over for dinner tomorrow or Tuesday? You can see the super awesome yellow kitchen in person!!


024 -- Spanakopizza

The weekends are pizza time at my house. It harks back to childhood and growing up in Chicago. I had some feta cheese left over from last week's lentils, so I decided I wanted to do something with them. I had been reading some recipes on the web and decided to make a Greek spanakopita inspired pizza. MMMM pizza and spanakopita -- a combination that can't go wrong, right? I feel so Rachel Ray in naming my dish :)

Olive oil spray
1 Can refrigerator pizza dough
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Green pepper, chopped
1/4-1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Feta cheese
1 Lemon

First, spray the surface of a baking sheet with olive oil. Roll out the pizza dough to the desired thickness and spray the surface with olive oil again. Bake at 400 (or temperature on can) for about 7 minutes.

Pull the pizza out of the oven and start topping. I put the minced garlic down first, followed by peppers and onions. The spinach took the place as the top veggie. Spread the feta over the spinach. Top with dill, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Finally, sprinkle with lemon juice.

Bake for about 8 minutes longer and enjoy!


Winner! This was excellent, definitely one to enjoy again. I adore dill and feta, making this a yummy combo! Plus it was pretty darn healthy. I thought that the lemon brought out the dill and oregano and made it pretty darn tasty!! Warning, since there isn't a lot of cheese (its really more of a flatbread...) the toppings like to slide here there and everywhere.



I enjoyed a GREAT lunch with GREAT people at Anchuca today. Somehow I had never been there before. It's a gorgeous b&b located in an antebellum home in downtown Vicksburg. I enjoyed the special, a grilled salmon salad. It was to die for! The salmon was moist and flavorful, the fruit was fresh, the goat cheese and candied walnuts were yummy, and the dressing wasn't overly done. I can only imagine how great Sunday Brunch is!


023 -- Sweet and Savory Mediterranean Lentils and Rice

I was looking for something 'nutritious and delicious' for lunch this week. This recipe from the AHA Cookbook promised me a sweet and savory combination that would delight so I was intrigued. Plus, it involved a 'new' ingredient for the cooking repertoire -- lentils. I've had them before, just never actually cooked with them.

2 tbl oil
1 onion, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 cups vegetable broth
1 small can crushed tomatoes (undrained)
2.5 cups water
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/3 cup dried currants
feta cheese

In a nonstick pan cook oil, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and onion over medium heat. This will seem like aromatherapy.

Add lentils and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 20 minutes.

Add tomatoes and juice, water, rice, and currants. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes until rice is tender. Serve with feta sprinkled on top. Makes 4 servings

Since this was lunch it went from pan to Tupperware. Don't you love my beautiful picture that was taken at my desk the other day! Thank you camera phone. I was a little worried about this one. When I finished cooking it I took a little tidbit as a taste test and it seemed like the cayenne was a bit much for me. Since this was not the first time I had this reaction recently, I decided I might need to a) buy new cayenne -- perhaps mine has increased in heat with age, or b) start using reduced amounts of cayenne in recipes again -- I used to do this when I had full on yankee tongue after growing up in the salt house. Turns out, it was ok. Perhaps the heat was just actual heat from the stove :) Or maybe the cayenne mellowed in the fridge. Either way, this was a total winner and repeat worthy. The lentils and rice were really filling -- I could barely finish it. The currants and tomatoes gave it nice texture and I loved the sweet/savory combo of cinnamon and currants/onions and cayenne. I really can't say enough about this one!

I can also say that now, not only do I feel totally comfortable cooking/eating lentils, but I no longer fear currants. I actually lost the fear over Christmas when Dad made lemon-currant coffee cake from grandma's recipe (Dad, if you are reading this I need her recipe). Until then I had major currant fear. I thought they were some sort of gross icky dried fruit that i associated with fruit cake and nothing else. Then padre let us in on a secret, they are just little raisins. Mystery solved. New food for the cupboard :)


022 -- Asparagus and Artichoke Quiche

After beer and crawfish this weekend I wanted something light tonight. A veggie quiche seemed like just the ticket. This asparagus and artichoke quiche is based on a recipe from the American Heart Association uses brown rice for the crust. I liked this idea! It was something different!

2 1/4 cups vegetable broth and/or water
1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
1 cup brown rice
Egg substitute equivilent to three eggs
12 spears, asparagus trimmed to about 1/4 in. pieces
1 cup chopped artichoke hearts
2 medium plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup half and half
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/4 tsp pepper
1. Cook rice according to directions, using water and broth. After cooking rice, place in a bowl in fridge for about 10 minutes to cool off. Mix cooled rice with your seasoning of chioce and egg subsitute equivilient to one egg.

2. Spray bottom and sides of deep dish pie pan with vegetable oil spray. Pat rice mixture onto bottom and sides of the pan to make crust. Bake at 400F for about 7 minutes until rice is golden brown.

3. Layer asparagus, artichokes, and on crust.

4. Mix substitute equivilent to two eggs, half and half, pepper, and 3/4 cup cheese together. Pour over the veggies. Place tomoatoes on top of quiche. Push down to partially cover with egg mixture. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over quiche. Bake at 325F for about 45 minutes until egg mixture in center is set and does not jiggle.


This was great! I loved it!!! I really liked the layering of the vegetables. The cruchy rice instead of pie crust was a unique twist, and i liked it. I'm going to try one with cous cous sooner or later too.
If you are in my family, you know that I detest eggs.. but i'm learning if you throw enough crap in with them i'll happily eat them! Just don't ask me to consume a fried egg.


021 -- Zucchini, Corn, and Black Bean Quesadillas

I had big plans for dinner tonight. Then I went and forgot my shopping list at home. So, I improvised. Rebecca at EzraPoundCake has a Meatless Monday thing going on. In an effort to be more cost effective, sustainable, and healthy she eats meatless one day a week, so I knew she would have some more good meatless recipes for me to choose from. She didn't disappoint. These Quesadillas are based on one of her zucchini and corn quesadillas.

I added black beans and used the super fiber reinforced tortillas that I get from the Fresh Market. This was definitely yummy! I'm not always a huge fan of cilantro, but this hit the spot. I'm not actually sure the beans were needed, especially since i used the aforementioned tortillas. This was definitely high on the yum meter anyways. I look forward to eating leftovers tomorrow.

It really is amazing how the meatless thing works out. I love the fact that its got me new vegetables, eating beans, and feeling good. Post Lent, I would like to try to do the Meatless Monday thing. I think it will be AWESOME when Farmer's Market Goodies start to come in!

olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
olive oil spray
4 tortillas
2 cups grated cheddar-jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large skillet heat 3 tbl oil over medium heat. Cook onion and salt, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic, cooking for about 1 minute.

2. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and slice thinly. Add zucchini and corn to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until zucchini is soft and corn has thawed. (I added beans at this step, but I would hold off to step 3 next time)

3. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and beans.

4. Spray one side of two tortillas with oil. Place tortillas oil-side down on a baking sheet and top with 1/2 filling apiece. Cover each tortilla with half the cheese. Top with remaining two tortillas. Spray with oil and press down with spatula to seal.

5. Bake for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and quesadillas are golden brown. Remove from oven and slice. Makes 4 meal-size servings or a bunch of appetizer-y goodies.


020 -- Southwest Veggie Eggrolls

While scouring the food blogs I ran across this recipe at Ezra Pound Cake. It spoke to me and I've been thinking about it ever since I read this recipe. After a great day of springtime fun it was definitely what the doctor ordered -- and at 2 WW points per eggroll it isn't too shabby on the health side. Taste-wise this was absolutely A-Ma-Zing! Plus it was good and filling. I would serve with greek yogurt or some guacamole if I had one of them on hand.

2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
10 oz package chopped spinach, thawed and dried
1 1/2 cup colby jack or mexican cheese
4 oz can of diced green chiles, drained
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
dash cayenne pepper
20 eggroll wrappers

Combine everything except the eggrolls and mix well.

Place about 1/4 cup of mixture on top of an eggroll wrapper.

Wrap eggrolll up. Roll one corner towards center. Continue rolling and fold sides over center. Wet final corner and roll up to seal. This recipe should make about 20 eggrolls in this manner.

Spray baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Place eggrolls seam-side down on baking sheet. Spray top of eggrolls with vegetable oil spray. Bake for about 15 minutes at 425 F, until crispy and brown. Turn eggrolls once during cooking.

Serve and ENJOY!

019 -- Simple Baked Cod

This recipe is pretty simplistic recipe i found on Big Oven. I have really come to enjoy fish, however I'm still learning to cook it. For years my fish experience was summed up in the words fish sticks. As I've gotten older I've gone outside my box and begun to eat more seafood. i can now say that I love to eat fish while out, but funny thing, yummy fish is usually covered in hollandaise or some other crazy unhealthy sauce when you eat out. So I'm starting to try to cook fish more. This was my first attempt at a breaded fish from scratch.

1 lb cod fillets
vegetable/olive oil spray
2 tbl flour
2 tbl cornmeal
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1-2 tbl grated parmesan cheese

rise cod and pat dry. spray with oil spray on both sides. Meanwhile combine flour, cornmeal, onion powder and pepper in a bowl. Dip fish fillets in flour mixture and cover both sides. Place in glass baking dish. Spray tops of fish with oil and cover with parmesan cheese. Bake at 450 for about 12-14 minutes until fish is cooked.
This was ok.. nothing fabulous, but not horrid. I imagine if i used butter instead of oil, as suggested, it would have been a ton better. I will continue on in my efforts to find an adequate healthy breaded fish. In retrospect would try putting more species into the mixture and would use panko breadcrumbs instead of the flour/cornmeal mixture. However, I think I'm just generally a bigger fan of tuna and salmon than white fish.