Monthly Archives: February 2011

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata

The magazine Cooking Light is offering an amazing deal right now, where if you buy one subscription, you get a second for free. My lovely aunt was kind enough to give me the second subscription and I got my first magazine in the mail this week. Granted, you can see almost everything that is in the magazine online as well. But there is something to be said about seeing the pretty pictures and the recipes in person. Somehow, it gives me a better sense of how the dish will actually turn out. This dinner really did not disappoint. It was easy, delicious and unbelievably hearty. It was a real winner and definitely something I will make again.
Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata
Adapted from Cooking Light
Ingredients:
  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped shallots (about 1 large)
  • 1  (10-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried herbes de Provence
  • 1 3/4  cups  non-fat milk
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  large eggs
  • 1/3  cup  (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2-3/4  (1-pound) loaf whole wheat or multi-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, divided

How It’s Done:

First, I cut up the bread. When using bread in any savory recipe, it’s usually easier to let the bread be a little stale. This loaf had sat out for a day. It’s juts easier to cut. Also, using a serrated knife is a must.

 

 

 

 

Since my loaf was 22 ounces, rather than the 16 the recipe called for, I discarded the ends of the loaf (or the butt as my family calls it) and then sliced off the bottoms of the slices. Because I was using a multi-grain bread, the crust is a little tougher, so I decided that I wanted to discard the bottoms so there wasn’t too much crunchiness.

 

 

Then I sautéed the shallots for two minutes. Next, I added the garlic and the artichoke hearts and cooked for another 8 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, I whisked together the milk, eggs, pepper and salt.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the artichokes were done, I added in the herbes de Provence and stirred, then let the mix cool for about ten minutes.

 

 

 

 

Once the artichoke mix had cooled, I added it to the Parmesan and bread in a huge bowl and then poured in the liquid. I stirred everything together until all bread pieces were covered in liquid and let it sit for 20 minutes.

 

 

 

Then, I spooned about half of the bread mixture into a 8×8 baking dish that I had previously sprayed with cooking spray. I sprinkled half of the goat cheese over the bread, then spooned the rest of the bread mix into the dish. I had to mash it down a little bit as I went to make sure it fit and all of the whole were filled.

 

 

I then sprinkled the rest of the goat cheese over the top and baked for 50 minutes at 375.

 

 

 

 

After 50 minutes, this is what the strata looked like. It was absolutely delicious!

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Comfort Stew

I’m pretty much officially going to grad school in California. Did I mention I got in somewhere? Oh, well better late than never. The program is amazing and the professor is the best of the best. I’ll be near family and I’m super excited to go back to school.

But to say the process is bittersweet is an understatement. See this amazing school is 3000 miles away the best bf I could ask for who is still in law school on the East Coast and will be for two more years. Sure, we’ve worked out a plan for visits, holidays and summers together, but I’m devastated. Pretty much ever since we started dating we’ve been annoyingly, sickeningly inseparable. Every detail of my day to day life will have to change. If this blog will be altered as I will go from cooking for two to one on a nightly basis. When the time comes I will be thrilled for school to start, but for the time I’m still heartbroken.

 

In that mood, I have made a hearty beef barley bean stew. I don’t have much energy for jazzing up the descriptions, so you will have to take my word for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First bf was wonderful and cut up the meat. I cut up the onion threw the onion-caused tears. Then I browned both.

 

 

 

 

I then added the mix in the bag, as well as the broth, some salt and pepper. I then simmered the whole mix for two hours.

 

 

 

 

I then added sherry and the potatoes. I then simmered everything for another hour.

 

 

 

 

After all of those hours, we finally had dinner. It was so delicious we both burned our tongues because we couldn’t wait.

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Turkey burgers with special sauce

In my quest to find more recipes with no or limited carbs, I stumbled upon this recipe at cookinglight.com. Ground turkey is such a nice alternative to meat and is so healing and gentle on the wallet,  couldn’t help but give it a try. It was delicious, fast and super easy! BF was a huge fan and it’s definitely something I’m going to make again. The recipe is below and then the steps I took.

Turkey Burgers with Special Sauce

Adapted from Cooking Light

Burgers:

  • 1/4  cup  chopped green onions
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh orange juice
  • 1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1  pound  ground turkey breast
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup  Special Sauce
  • 4  (1 1/2-ounce) whole wheat hamburger buns
  • sliced tomato
  • 4  curly leaf lettuce leaves

Sauce:

  • 3/4  cup  reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  finely chopped green onions
  • 2  tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1  tablespoon  honey
  • 1  teaspoon  fresh orange juice
  • 1  teaspoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • a few sprinkles of ground ginger

First, I started by chopping the garlic, green onions and ginger. I then mixed my chopped items with the turkey, orange juice and soy sauce.

Using my hands, I then formed the meat into four fat patties. I don’t like when burgers are wide and flat, because they tend to dry out. Yay for fat burgers!

As you may remember, I don’t have a bbq, so I spray my big, beautiful skillet with cooking spray and then turned the heat on super high. I put the patties onto the hot skillet, and then after a few seconds, turned down the heat to low. I let each side cook for a few minutes uncovered, then cooked both sides for a few more minutes covered.

While the burgers were cooking, I mixed together the sauce ingredients. Although the sauce is delicious, there was way too much of it for just the burgers. If you are planning on doubling the meat or you have something else you can serve the sauce with, then the recipe was fine. If not, I’d probably halve the recipe in the future.

I then served the burgers on a tiny, thin wheat roll with fresh tomato, lettuce and a dollop of sauce. It was amazing!



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Finally a new post- Valentine’s Day Soup

So you know what they say about best laid plans? Well actually, I’m notorious for screwing up common phrases so insert your own cliche here_____. For example, the two common phrases “that’s just how the cookie crumbles” and “how the cards fall”. My version “that’s just how the cookie falls”. Or, I like to add emphasis. So I would say “a very very blue moon”. Drives bf nuts. Yeah I know, embarrassing. I like to think of it as endearing. So anyway, my meat for the yummy burgers I was going to make on Friday was grey. Not moldy, just grey. And it totally creeped me out. So we opted for Thai takeout. Then after a long day Saturday watching the bf compete, pizza was my meal of choice. Basically, I failed as a cook this week.

Last night, I finally kicked my bum into shape. Several weeks ago, my mom sent me some pre-packaged soup mixes from a fancy grocery store in California. I gave this one a shot last night. It was amazingly delicious. I know it looks paltry and feeble and not at all hearty. Well the veggies, rice and pasta really stepped up and made the soup very robust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, I chopped the onion and bf cut up the chicken. I then cooked it in a bit of olive oil until the chicken was cooked through.

 

 

 

 

Then I added the rice/veggie mix, the chicken broth and the water. I brought everything to a boil, then simmered with the lid on for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Next, I added the pasta and cooked for another 8-10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

While the pasta was softening, I mixed together the soup base and a few tablespoons of water.

 

 

 

 

After the pasta cooked, I added the soup base and let everything simmer together for a few more minutes.

 

 

 

 

I then served two big bowls of piping hot soup (and added ice cubes because bf and I are terrible about burning our tongues) and enjoyed. I wish I had some bread to serve on the side, but I guess it was healthier this way!

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This week

I was doing really really well on my New Year’s resolution to be a more consistent blog host. I clearly have failed this week. Let’s just say it’s been a perfect storm of work calamities and gigantic installations, personal developments and crises and not enough sleep.

With any luck, I am planning to make delicious garlic-thyme infused burgers tonight and it will set me on an excellent path for consistent posting. I look forward to writing again tonight and to sharing with you my latest creations.

Until then, thank you for your patience and your continued visitations, I love you for it!

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Whole Wheat English Muffins

As I promised, I am funneling my baking energies into whole wheat breads. I found this recipe on foodpress.com: http://channelingcontessa.com/2011/01/28/homemade-english-muffins/ In the past I would have looked at the recipe and then moved on because it calls for yeast. I have always thought yeast would be a huge pain and to be perfectly honest, I was afraid of it. Has anyone read the children’s story “Strega Nona”? Basically, it’s about this witch woman who has a magic pasta pot. Her helper, Anthony tries to use the pot but can’t figure out how to stop the pasta and the entire town is taken over by noodles. I guess I had visions of similar yeast disasters.

Turns out, it’s not so bad after all. Whenever I think of English muffins, I think of my grandparents. I feel like it’s an obligatory food for a grandparent’s house. Well, you know the food I’m talking about? These are better. First, they are whole wheat so they are significantly better for you. Additionally, they have so much more substance. By no means are they heavy, but they aren’t filled with air pockets like the traditional white ones. Anyway, here’s how it went:

I started by heating up the milk and then once it started bubbling, I turned off the heat and mixed in the sugar.

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, I put the warm water and the yeast in a bowl and let it sit for about ten minutes.

 

 

 

 

After the milk and yeast mixtures sat for ten minutes, I beat together the whole wheat flour, the melted shortening, the milk mixture and the yeast. I then added a cup of all purpose flour. The recipe called for two cups, but the dough would have been way too dry.

 

 

 

I then kneaded the dough and placed it in a greased bowl. After covering the dough, I let it sit for about 2.5 hours.

 

 

 

 

This is what the dough looked like after rising. Isn’t that amazing how much it grows!

 

 

 

 

I emptied the dough out on parchment paper that had a little flour sprinkled around. I then punched it down and rolled it out to about a half inch thickness. I had to sprinkle a little more flour on top to make sure it didn’t stick. I also had to roll the dough out a few times throughout the cut out process because it gets fatter over time. I used a glass to cut out the circles.

 

 

After cutting out all of the circles, I covered them and let it sit for another half hour.

 

 

 

 

See how cute and chubby they are? I don’t know if food can be cute, but if it can, these puppies are. They are so light and fluffy and chubby! (Yes, I know that’s a little weird).

 

 

 

 

I then greased my griddle and cooked about five at a time. The recipe suggested to cook them on medium heat for about 10 minutes per side. I actually used lower heat and only did a few minutes per side. I’m sure everyone’s stove works differently, but if I had done 10 minutes per side my muffins would have been super burnt.

 

 

This is what they look like when they are done. The recipe suggest an output of 10-12, I actually produced 19.

 

 

 

 

I enjoyed mine warm with jam, but I think after they cool I’ll toast them and add a little margarine. They are delicious!

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Curried Potatoes and Chickpeas

While I’m on the continuous hunt for new recipes, I’ve also attempted to stretch the boundaries of my comfort zone. Here are my restrictions: I’m a total wuss when it comes to spicy food. I intensely dislike shellfish and cooked mushrooms. Mexican food is delicious, but tends to make me sick. I can’t eat any kind of red chili after eating it once when I had the flu and losing it two hours later. I love raw mushrooms, almost any kind of vegetable, meat, fruit, grain and fish (without a shell). I generally avoid rabbit after having a pet bunny that we called “bun-bun” but was officially named Rascal. I also steer clear of veal because baby cows are so darn cute (not super logical I know, but what can I say, I’m a softy when it comes to animals). Other than that, I’m pretty easy going. I’ll try (almost) anything once, but try to stick to a budget for my day-to-day food. So generally I don’t buy fish because it’s pricier and pasta is my go-to.

But in the name of variety, I decided to give this recipe a shot: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/curried-potatoes-and-chickpeas-recipe/index.html

It was tasty. Not overwhelming-must have seconds-can’t wait for leftover for lunch tomorrow tasty, but good. I left out the cayenne pepper and the jalapeños (see the wuss explanation above). Bf added the cayenne to his bowl once I was done. I learned that bf also prefers a curry sauce to a rub. But we both liked it.

When buying the potatoes, I didn’t realize they needed to be peeled. I would have ignored the suggestion to buy baby potatoes and instead gotten the big ones that are easy to peel. These were a pain in my tush, but I did it. Slowly and painstakingly. But it was good I did, the peels would have ruined it. Anyway, I put the potatoes in a pot and brought the water to a boil. Then I boiled then for about 4 minutes or until barely tender.

 

 

Once they were done, I melted the butter in the skillet and cooked the potatoes for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

 

 

 

While the potatoes were cooking, I whipped up the topping. I added lime juice, cilantro and part of the potato water to a 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt. I don’t usually like yogurt sauces, but this was delicious!

 

 

 

 

After the 8 minutes, I added the curry powder and cooked for another 30 seconds. I forgot to take a picture of the next step in my rush to eat: I then added the chickpeas and a little more than a 1/2 cup of the reserved potato water. Using a fork, I then mashed the potatoes, stirred everything together and cooked for another minute or two, until everything was hot.

 

 

 

I spooned some into two bowls, added a little cilantro on top…

 

 

 

 

 

Added a dollop of the yogurt sauce….

 

 

 

 

 

And enjoyed with broccoli on the side! It was not my biggest hit, but certainly a successful dinner.

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