Thursday, October 29, 2009

Moroccan Chicken with Fennel and Carrots

I got some fennel from Star Hollow Farm this week, as well as some of the biggest, fugliest carrots ever. The other Martha had this Moroccan chicken recipe on her site, and I thought I would give it a go, despite the fact that Tim and Chuck like neither fennel nor black olives nor cooked carrots, really. It sealed the deal when I remembered I had a ton of dried apricots and chicken thighs at home from a particularly overzealous trip to Costco recently.
This was really good: sweet, but has a nice spice! I think I pretty much like anything with Moroccan or Moroccan-esque spices. We served this with couscous cooked in chicken broth, with broccoli on the side. Tasty! I think even the haters liked it.

PS: we cooked this tag-team style like last week's Top Chef Quickfire challenge. I started the mis en place, but got distracted by a previously scheduled beading project, so Tim finished the chicken, and Chuck the broccoli, without really knowing what they were getting themselves into. Good work, kittens.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cakes with Melty Caramel

Dudes: these individual molten lava cakes are awesome, and awesomely easy. Plus, it's always fun to give everyone at the table their own personal dessert.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Meat 'n Taters

Sweet teryaki grilled flank steak w/ plenty of "legal" white pepper spice, honeyed bourbon roaster reds, and some lovely green beans from the "gahdin" . . .overall pretty simple meat and potatoes, but man it was good.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower

After my last, painfully terrible attempt at mac & cheese, I felt that I needed to make amends. Thus, I turned back to Ina, who is generally reliable and delicious. Her baked mac & cheese is particularly awesome. I made it for Tim's 30th birthday and it was a hit.
This time, I shook things up a wee bit. I got some cauliflower in my CSA share, and decided to incorporate it into the mac and cheese, inspired by all those "fool-your-kids-and-force-them-to-unknowingly-eat-vegetables-under-the-guise-of-deliciously-decadent/low-brow-foods" books out there, as well as the last Ina recipe I cooked.
This was awesome: crispy, cheesy, creamy!
I followed Ina's recipe except for the topping (skipped the tomatoes, used panko instead of fresh breadcrumbs), but added a head of cauliflower, cut into mini-florets and boiled in the leftover pasta water for about 4-5 minutes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw

Chuckie was off work today, so I assigned her dinner duties... we had a slew of boneless chicken thighs from a Costco run, and I wanted to make use of them. I saw this recipe for slow-cooked "BBQ" pulled chicken using the crock pot and thought we could give it a try.
I considered using the spice rub from Martha's pulled pork on the chicken instead, but ultimately opted to use the online recipe. Chuckie did a great job, but I think that this recipe was a little too tomato-y for our taste... not spicy/peppery/smokey enough. Next time we try the Martha method.
We got kohlrabi this week from the CSA... I had no idea what to make with kohlrabi, which is a kooky-looking turnip relative, so I searched my regular sources and found the perfect compliment to the chicken: kohlrabi and carrot coleslaw. Super crunchy and tangy- a good alternative to cabbage!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Apple Brown Betty

I saw this recipe for Apple Brown Betty on The Slow Cook, which is a blog written by a fellow Columbia Heights resident who has a massive garden in front of his row house. I had a bunch of aging apples from the past several weeks of CSA, as well as some somewhat petrified challah that I made last week, so I figured it was a go... plus I really like the name "apple brown betty."

I used an amalgamation of a bunch of different recipes... but in a nutshell, I layered brown sugar/cinnamon/nutmeg with melted butter covered challah bread crumbs and sliced apples covered in lemon juice. Baked at 375 for 40 minutes covered in foil, then set under the broiler for 3 minutes to brown. Served with vanilla ice cream! Easy and tasty alternative to apple crisp.

Turkey and Swiss Chard Roulade: FAIL

All atwitter (no, not that Twitter) with Tim's impending return from Armenia, I had big plans to greet him with a fancy meal of turkey roulade stuffed with swiss chard, pancetta, gruyere and arborio rice, using a recipe highlighted in the Thanksgiving issue of Food Network Magazine, complete with handy-dandy step-by-step photos. Despite the hand-holding and spoon-feeding provided by the magazine, in my incompetent hands, this recipe went very, very wrong.

I found boneless, skin-on turkey breasts at Whole Foods on the way home from the airport, but not one 3-4 lb breast like the recipe required. Instead I found two 1 3/4 lbs breasts, and figured I would make 2 roulades instead of one, no problem. However, when I got them out of their packages at home, they were strangely shaped, and one of them was actually in 2 pieces.

"Never fear!," I said to myself (actually, it was more like, "what the f%*$?!!!"), "we'll just make 3 mini roulades (roulettes?)" And I proceeded to begin flattening the turkey breasts so they could be wrapped around the tasty filling...

However, these proved to be unflattenable turkey breasts. After approximately 10 minutes of beating them silly, they were still 38-triple Ds, unwrappable, unrollable, un-rouladable.

So, after a few more choice 4-letter words about how much I hate turkey breasts, I made the executive decision (with Chuck's sage advice) to slap the roulette filling on top of the now misshapen turkey breasts, shove them in the oven and call it a day. This is how we ended up with open-faced turkey and swiss chard roulades.

FAIL blog, here I come. Pwnd.

It was supposed to look like this (Food Network's photo):

Ultimately mine looked like this:

Served with purple smashed potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More necklaces...

A rehearsal dinner necklace for Lara:
A repurposed carved pendant of Heather's:

Long Pearl Necklaces/Bracelets

I made these 2 loooooong pearl necklaces for a couple friends... the copper one with repurposed pearls, the blue one to perk up a boring dress for a wedding.
They can be wrapped twice, thrice, frice (I know that's not a word, but it would be funny if it was) around one's neck:
They can also be wrapped into pretty cool bracelets:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuit/Scones

I saw these biscuity scones on Smitten Kitchen and immediately started drooling. I also thought they would go well with the sweet potato and black bean soup I was making.
Mmm: these were great. The outside was crispy and scone-y, while the inside was flaky and layered like a biscuit. Awesome. Best biscuits I've ever made, although I would not call myself a biscuit expert.
The only thing I did differently is to use 1/4 C greek yogurt and 1/4 1% milk in place of the heavy cream since we didn't have any, and I didn't want to brave the rain to go to Giant to get some. The substitution seemed to work out nicely!

Also, these made some awesome ham, egg and cheese sandwiches the next morning:

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup

This soup is very loosely based on this recipe that I saw on Although not that pretty looking, it was really hearty, perfect for a rainy Saturday!

Here's what I did:
  • Rather than use squash, since we've had it a couple times this week already, I used some sweet potatoes I had lying around.
  • Peeled 'em, chopped 'em up, roasted them at 400 for about 25 minutes- until they were soft.
  • Mixed them with one can of drained diced tomatoes and one can of rinsed black beans.
  • Mashed it all together with a potato masher.
  • In the meantime, I sauteed a chopped onion, a chopped shallot, a couple cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of cumin and some salt and pepper.
  • Once that was soft, I added the potato/bean/tomato mixture in, along with about 2 cups of beef broth.
  • Let it simmer for approximately 25 minutes.
  • Pureed it with my immersion blender.
  • Served it with a ton of lime juice, some greek yogurt (out of sour cream) and cilantro.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Squash and Ricotta Tortellini with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

I made these squash and ricotta tortellini with some delicata squash I had from the CSA. Pretty tasty, although I find working with the wonton skins to be kinda a pain in the butt... they stick, they rip. I'm not sure I have enough patience for them! The sauce is nice, though: browned butter, crispy sage, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kabocha Squash Soup with Limey Corn Relish

I got a kabocha squash from my CSA this week and was looking for a unique way to cook it... I found this recipe on Calabaza, Corn and Coconut Soup. Good pick!

This is a fun take on squash soup. It's creamy from the coconut milk and sweet from the squash, which is complimented by the limey, bright corn relish you drop in the soup after it's cooked. Yum. Give this a try- I highly recommend it!
I made a couple changes to the recipe: used one Kabocha squash and one delicata squash, two cups of frozen corn, half chicken stock and half water, one can of coconut milk, and a few dashes of Frank's Red Hot to the soup at the end.
I bet it would be even better if I had followed the recipe and used the corn on the cob- the cobs get cooked in the broth with the squash and probably impart some more corn flavor to the soup.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

I have had this pumpkin bread pudding on my to-make list for weeks now, but none of the grocery stores in the 'hood have been able to keep canned pumpkin in stock since the beginning of September. Luckily, the lovely Lindsay donated a couple cans from her pantry stock.
To makes this bread pudding, I cut up some homemade challah, substituted toasted pecans for the golden raisins called for in the recipe, and made my own pumpkin pie spice, since I didn't have any.

Really easy and really tasty: kinda like a cross between soft french toast and pecan sticky buns, with a touch of pumpkin pie. The pumpkin flavor was pretty subdued, surprisingly...

Spaghetti in Meatballs

Tony made spaghetti-in-meatballs with a basil tomato dipping sauce tonight after watching what must have been a particularly riveting episode of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals. They were quite tasty, care of the pesto that's mixed into the meatballs and the dipping sauce. The meatballs are also kinda fun- they could be a good meal to make for kids since they're so funny looking. They kinda remind me of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beet and Potato Fritter/Latke

I had a bunch of leftover roasted beets from this salad, and also needed to use up some of the plethora of purple potatoes I've gotten from the CSA recently, so I thought this beet and potato latke/pancake/fritter thing would be a good idea.
It's hard to see from the photo, but I made one large frying pan size fritter, and cut it into fourths.

This was pretty good- it toned down the super sweetness of the beets and gave them a nice crispy outside. I added some herbs to the fritter: parsley and cilantro, based on the flavors from Eileen's famous beet dip. I served it with a lime cilantro sour cream to brighten it up, and sprinkled it all with toasted walnuts.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For Lindsay

Lindsay, my friend and coworker, had some tiger eye beads laying around that she wanted repurposed into a necklace... she liked this necklace that I had made a few years ago, so I modeled it on that and added in some silver beads and chain to contrast the deep browns and golds of the stones.

Chuckerd's Pie

Chuck had a hankering for some shepherd's pie recently, and we found ourselves rife with potatoes, ground beef and other veggies, so she went at it, with delicious results.

She used this basic recipe, but sassed it up with mushrooms, broccoli (from the CSA) and frozen corn instead of the typical peas and carrots. Pretty tasty! However, we decided that perhaps next time we would not pre-cook the broccoli (it got a wee bit grey) and that we might sprinkle the top of the potatoes with some sharp cheddar.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quiltin' Corner

Not the best pic, but a completed and gifted baby quilt for one of Jamie's college roomie's third boy. . . it was the hit of the shower and as it was passed around all JL could think was "you better not get food on my quilt!"

Monday, October 5, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Lime-Chile Dressing

This great salad, from The Minimalist, Mark Bittman, is basically a fall version of this corn and black bean salad I made all summer. I'd definitely recommend this salad- the flavors are awesome together, it's got a ton of color, it's super easy. The only change I made was to ease up a little on the olive oil, and add a little bit of cumin.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Turkey day in Octember

Two year old UPS turkey. . . applejuice steam-roasted w/apple cinnamon pan sauce, "homemade" stuffing and buttered summer squash from the "gahdin". Turkey day in Octember. Have to say it tasted better than it looks.

Beet, Walnut, Goat Cheese, Arugula Salad

As a starter for our tortellini-stuffed squash, I made this other fall favorite: a roasted beet salad with toasted walnuts, crumbled goat cheese and arugula. Lots of different textures and complimentary flavors!
Served with a shallot/red wine vinegar dressing (to which I added a little bit of dijon mustard, to help keep it emulsified).

Roasted Delicata Squash Stuffed With Cheese Tortellini

I had some whole wheat cheese tortellini from Costco that needed to be used up, and a bunch of cute little delicata squash fresh from the CSA... Tyler Florence had this recipe for squash stuffed with tortellini in a creamy/Alfredo-esque sauce, so I gave it a try. This is a great fall vegetarian recipe- the creaminess of the Alfredo sauce goes really well with the earthy squash. The little squash bowls are pretty cool, too.

Pear-Caramel Ice Cream

I got a bunch of fresh pears from the CSA last week and was trying to think of a fun way to cook them. I had been complaining to Chuck and Tony earlier this week about the lack of ice cream in our freezer, so I took this opportunity to bust out this pear-caramel ice cream from the fabulous David Lebovitz's book, The Perfect Scoop.
I was nervous about the caramel part of it (I had visions of the caramelizing sugar escaping from the pan and burning/hardening all over the counter, my hands, everything), but it was very easy, as long as you keep your eyes on it.

This ice cream is really unique- it has the buttery sweetness of the caramel, but a fruity flowery flavor from the pears.

Necklace for Amy

This is a longer necklace I made for Amy's birthday last week... gold filigree beads, gold chain, and black stones. Pretty multi-purpose!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mini Burgers!

For dinner tonight Tony made these kick-ass mini burgers, complete with special sauce.
Mmmm... the recipe is highly recommended, and Tony did a great job. He even artfully arranged them for their photo shoot.
We made the executive decision that mini burgers trump regular sized burgers. Easier to hold, easier to eat, cuter.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ina's Cauliflower Gratin

Ina, Ina, Ina. Your name may rhyme with a certain body part that shall not be named on this blog, but it doesn't make your recipes any less tasty.
Your cauliflower gratin was a delicious treat. Creamy, cheesy, crispy on top.

Maybe next time I would reduce the amount of milk you recommend in the recipe, to limit the soupiness. Perhaps 1 1/2 cups rather than 2. Also, I used panko bread crumbs, not fresh ones. Because they're crunchy. Don't hate me, Ina.

Meatloaf, Beatloaf

Meatloaf, beatloaf... I like meatloaf. Except when it's slightly tooooooo moist. Yes, I said it. Moist.

This meatloaf had some shredded zucchini mixed in to give it moisture... but I think it may have gone overboard in the moisture department.