Monthly Archives: November 2010

Thanksgiving Week

This past week was weird. My bf was gone a lot and cooking for one is exciting for only so long. Then I was visiting family, which inhibits my cooking zeal. I tend to feel like I can’t make mistakes and I’m constantly being tested. Nonetheless, I did cook, with mixed results. I made my holiday cookies which were yummy, and pumpkin pie with my grandmother’s homemade crust. There was also a delicious pumpkin cheesecake and my grandmother’s apple crumb pie (below). Noticing a trend? Desserts are my safety zone.

However, this is where my success ended. I made my usual pancakes, and I don’t know whether it was the different skillet, an electric stove instead of gas, or the crisco my grandmother used instead of pam- but they were not good. The outside was crunchy and they were thin in dense. Usually, my pancakes are thick and fluffy, with firm but soft outsides. I was dreadfully disappointed.

Then (since I’m one of the younger cooks in the family) I was given the side veggie assignment for Thanksgiving dinner. I wanted to try something different, so I found a brussel sprout recipe with bacon and bread crumbs. Sounds good, right? Wrong.

Maybe I didn’t cook it right, or maybe I should have used fresh bread crumbs instead of the kind in the container, or maybe I should have added more white wine. Either way, it was not good. I didn’t even take a picture of the end product because I just want to forget about the experience- not that my family will let me.

As you can probably guess, I came back to DC feeling disheartened. When you are a new cook and from a family of established cooks, this is bound to happen. I lost my cooking spark. So, my task this week is to get it back. I’m returning to a bunch of my tried and true favorites in an attempt to get a little confidence back. This, of course, means I will have less posts for my wonderful readers. I will have a special cookie recipe coming later in the week and I’ll post a few pictures along the way to show you my repeats.

Anyway, for next week I will find some new dishes and will hopefully feel courageous enough to try them. Until next week, you will have to be patient with me……love to you all!


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Autumn Chicken Stew

This recipe is a great winter dish. It’s pretty easy, fast as soups go, and has some different, interesting ingredients. It really feels like fall in a bowl and is super comforting. Here is the recipe:

Before I talk about how I made the soup, I’m going to take a brief moment to discuss one of the ingredients: parsnips. I had heard of them before, mostly in history books and old literature (yes I’m a total dork), but I had never cooked with them. I must say, I was apprehensive. They smell really bitter and sour and are slimy and feel gross. They sort of look like a mix between a potato and a carrot. But they make a total transformation in soup. They aren’t sour at all and are a wonderful addition to soups. I’m totally a fan.

This was my prep step, I cut up the onion, carrots, parsnips, and rosemary.

I then cut up the chicken and cooked it in some olive oil, until it was cooked through.

While the chicken was cooking, I cut up, peeled, then chopped the apples.

When the chicken was done, I put it on a plate then put some olive oil in the pot and added the cut up some veggies, salt and pepper.

After the veggies cooked for about 5 minutes, I added the apples and the broth. Then I brought the mix to a boil, reduced the heat, and simmered the stew for 8 minutes.

I then added the chicken and the cider vinegar, then stirred. I left it on the stove for a few minutes to re-heat the chicken, then enjoyed!

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This recipe is another from “A Homemade Life”. To be honest, I didn’t originally think it sounded that tasty. What recipe uses canned tuna? But I loved the name. It sounds so cute and charming. Saying it out-loud makes me feel sophisticated and on the path to learning how to speak French. Anyway, I decided to give it a shot.

I am so very very glad I did. These little morsels are amazing. They sort of taste like quiche, except tons of flavor. They don’t taste at all like canned tuna and best of all are so incredibly easy.

First, I started by draining the tuna, then mashing it in a bowl into a bunch of tiny bits.

Then I added the rest of the ingredients: parsley, tomato paste, crème fraîche, Gruyère cheese, salt, eggs and onion.

This is what it looks like all mixed together. I know it looks gross. Please, stick with me. It’s so worth it.

Then I scooped some mix into 8 cupcake molds, which I had greased before filling.

After baking for 22 minutes at 325, this is what they look like.

I let them cool for five minutes in the tin, then cut them out and let the rest cool on a plate, while I gobbled up three. I couldn’t stop!

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Fregola Salad with Broccoli and Cipollini Onions

I have a confession: I have recently started watching cooking shows. I feel like that is a little embarrassing, but it’s such a great way to get recipes! I got this one from Giada. I like her show because the food isn’t dripping in butter and fat. This salad looked amazing. I didn’t make it exactly as the recipe suggested. I didn’t have chives, so I used parsley. I must say- the salad looked better on tv than it tasted. I don’t mean to give a bad impression- it was good, but not great. Very healthy and maybe with chives and some more salt and pepper I’d feel differently. I’ll have some leftovers tomorrow and I’ll get back to you. Here is the recipe:

I started by peeling and cutting up the Cipollini onions.

I heated up the olive oil and cooked the onions for about 5 minutes, until they were golden brown.

I then added the minced garlic and cooked for another 30-45 seconds.

Next, I added the broccoli and sauteed for about a minute.

Then I added the water in the skillet, put the top on, and cooked for four minutes.

While the broccoli was cooking, I rinsed the cannellini beans, then added them to the skillet. I cooked the mix for about a minute to heat up the beans.

While I was cooking the vegetables, I also boiled the orzo. My grocery store didn’t carry fregola, so orzo was a nice alternative. I then mixed together the orzo and the vegetables.

Then I added the Parmesan and mixed again.

To make the dressing, I whisked together all of the ingredients, substituting the parsley for the chives, like I mentioned before.

Finally, I poured the dressing over the pasta and veggies and mixed one last time.

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Honey-Orange Chicken with Sesame Sauce

This was a new recipe I found on I love to make chicken because it’s cheap, a good protein, and pretty easy to make- but I get bored of my same, old recipes. Boy, am I glad that I tried this one. It is sooooo tasty and really easy to make. My bf even said “this rivals chicken divan for your best chicken dish”. Let me tell you- that is high praise! Here is the recipe:

First, I started by making the marinade. I chopped the garlic, grated the ginger and zested the orange. Then I mixed everything together.

I put the chicken in the bowl and stirred to make sure all sides were covered. I marinated the chicken, covered, in the fridge for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, I heated some vegetable oil to cook the chicken.

Once the oil was hot, I added the chicken to the skillet.

I cooked the chicken for a few minutes on each side. With the benefit of hindsight, I would have cooked the chicken a little more on each side because later steps took longer than they should have.

After a few minutes on each side, I added the leftover marinade and brought the sauce to a boil. Every few minutes, I flipped over the chicken. This step was only supposed to take a few minutes, however it took closer to 15 minutes.

After the chicken was cooked, my bf helped by slicing up the chicken.

While bf was slicing the chicken, I added the sesame oil and whisked the sauce together.

I then poured the sauce over the chicken.

I also made brussel sprouts while I was making the chicken. The meal was super tasty and healthy too!

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French yogurt cake with lemon

This recipe is out of the amazing book I talked about last weekend. I would type the recipe, but since it is the property of the author, I don’t feel quite right sharing it en masse. The cake is super easy and the frosting is even easier. If you want to make the cake, email me at and I’ll send it to you or buy the book. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

I love this cake. It is nice and light, not too rich. However, a word of warning. This dessert is not for the person who is ambivalent about lemon. Unlike my lemonade layer cake, which I don’t think I’ve posted (a good reminder to myself, I need to make it again!), this lemon cake tastes strongly like lemon. I think I may have made it a little worse because I ran out of fresh lemon juice and needed to use the kind out of the bottle, which tends to be more bitter. Next time I might add a little cream cheese or butter to cut the flavor a little, as my bf wasn’t a huge fan of the frosting. But anyway, if you like lemon- you’ll like this cake.


I started by greasing the pan, then cutting out parchment, placing  it in the pan, and greasing the top of the parchment.



Then I whisked together the flour, salt, and baking powder. I then added the lemon zest and whisked everything together again.



In a separate bowl, I mixed together the eggs, the yogurt and the sugar.




Next, I added the flour mix to the large bowl and stirred until it was just combined



Then I added the vegetable oil. Molly, the author, warned her readers that this step looks like an absolutely disgusting, oily mess. She wasn’t kidding. But per her instructions, I kept stirring, and after a minute or so, the batter turned into a beautiful, pale yellow that looks so smooth. I then poured the batter into the pan and baked for 25-30 min.


Meanwhile, I squeezed the lemon juice for the syrup. Unfortunately, I only had one lemon and I really needed two.



I then added the lemon juice to a bowl with powdered sugar and whisked it together into a syrup.



When the cake was done, I removed the pan from the oven and let the cake cool. After cooling for 15 minutes, I took the cake out of the pan.


I put the cake back on the cooling rack and put the rack over a rimmed baking sheet. I then poured the syrup slowly over the top of the cake, making sure the entire top was covered.



While the cake finished cooling completely, I whisked together the powdered sugar and the lemon juice for the frosting.



When the cake was cool, I moved it to my cake stand. I then spooned the frosting over the cake. The frosting is runny, so it is going to run down the sides. That’s ok. It’s really supposed to be a glaze.


The frosting eventually hardens and the cake really looks beautiful!

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Pork Chops with Maple and Balsamic Glaze, Baked Apples, and Goat Cheese and Rosemary Polenta

These recipes were two that came in the New York Times Magazine as an excellent pairing. My mommy had made it a couple of times before and I was feeling adventurous tonight and decided to give it a try. I looked for a link online, but I was having trouble finding them, so I’ll type them out of love for you all.

Pork Chops

  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 4 (1 ¼ inch thick) pork chops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 green apples, cored
  • ¼ cup finely chopped candied ginger


  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups polenta
  • 6 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper


First, I whisked together the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and cinnamon.


Then I put the pecans and 2 tablespoons of the maple-balsamic sauce into a small pan and cooked for about two minutes, until they were glazed. It absolutely smelled amazing.



While the pecans were cooking, I put salt and pepper on both sides of the chops.




Then I drizzled some olive oil on both sides of the chops.




When the pecans were done, I took them out of the pan and let them cool on a plate. When they were cool, I chopped them roughly.


Then my bf  helped me cook the pork chops because broilers scare me. He glazed the top side of the chops with the maple sauce. He then flipped the chops every two minutes, for about 7-8 minutes total on each side. After each flip we brushed the chops with the glaze. Make sure you flip every few minutes to avoid burning the glaze.


While the chops were cooking, I prepared the apples and the polenta. First, I cored the apples and cut then into thick rounds.



Then I sprinkled pepper and salt, then drizzled the olive oil over the apples.




Next, I started the polenta. I put the goat cheese and rosemary in the pan.



Then I added the polenta. Usually, I would add the raw polenta and the chicken stock and stir for about ten minutes until it was creamy. However, east coast groceries seem to be void of polenta. When I asked for help, the workers in the grocery store have asked if it is cheese, fruit, you name it. Anyway, pre-cooked polenta was all I could find.


Then I turned the stove on medium heat and melted the cheese, while stirring the contents for about two minutes.


Then I added the salt, pepper and butter. I let the butter melt then stirred everything together until it looked like the picture on the left. I took the pan off the heat, then reheated the polenta right before we ate.


About this time, the pork chops were done. The recipe called for them to cool for a few minutes, so while they were cooling we tackled the apples.



We brushed the apples with the same maple glaze and broiled them for a few minutes until they were tender when I poked them with a fork.


Finally, I served the pork chops laid over the apples with the pecans on top. The polenta was on the side, but everything tasted amazing when eaten together. Even though it’s a bit fancy, I love this dinner and highly recommend it to everyone.

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