Friday, July 31, 2009

Beef and Nectarine Stir Fry

I got some nectarines in my CSA last week, and wanted to use them in a savory way, rather than in a dessert. This stir fry recipe came from Jaden at Steamy Kitchen; she blogs about a lot of simple Asian recipes. I made a couple modifications: used 3 green onions instead of the red onion, 2 nectarines instead of just one (it didn't seem like enough).
I liked the combination of the sweet/tart nectarines and the beef (and how easy the recipe is). However, Tim and I agreed that we would add some heat to this if we were to make it again. Maybe red pepper flakes in with the beef?

Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles

I went a little crazy at the store with the Greek yogurt, so I had 2 huge full containers to use up. Popsicles sounded appealing in the hot DC weather, so I looked up this recipe for raspberry yogurt popsicles on the other Martha's website...
The instructions are a little wonky, but it's basically mix some plain yogurt with sugar, blend half of it with raspberries, pour it into popsicles molds (or paper cups with popsicle sticks if you don't have molds), alternating the plain yogurt with the raspberry yogurt. The other Martha says to send the raspberries through a sieve to get the seeds out, but I say that's unnecessary.

I liked the creaminess the yogurt gave the popsicles. I bet the recipe would be good with mango (frozen or fresh) or maybe oranges (mandarin?), to make it like a creamsicle.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Breeding like Bunnies

These creepy things are breeding like bunnies... literally.
It must be the thongs.

Raincoat bunny is next.

Apple Rhubarb Crisp

I asked Chuck to throw this crisp together on her day off in order to use the last of this season's rhubarb and 3 or 4 random apples we had floating around in the veggie drawer from CSA shares past.
It stuck to the pan a bit and got a wee bit burnt on the edges despite being taken out 10 minutes early, which confused us a bit at first. Then I glanced at the recipe while writing up this post, and realized that it was supposed to bake at 350 degrees, not 450, which is what Chuck set the oven to... oops!

No harm, though. It tasted great with some whipped cream.

Jennifer provided the artistically placed mint sprig. Tim was worried the mint would leave an unappealing "taint" on his crisp, which made us giggle.

Bring this salad to your next potluck BBQ!!

This salad is ridiculously easy, infinitely interchangeable as far as ingredients, and totally tasty.

The original recipe, a Rachael Ray creation, has black beans, corn, red pepper, and red onion as the base. I've made this countless different ways: subbing scallions for the red onion, yellow peppers for the red peppers, using frozen corn instead of fresh (and vice versa). I am always sure to add some chopped cilantro- it makes a big difference in taste. The other ingredients in the dressing, the lime, cumin, S&P, and the hot sauce, should all be added to your taste.
Today's iteration included (in addition to the black beans) corn sliced off the cob, lightly blanched green beans instead of pepper, halved cherry tomatoes, and scallions (all from the CSA).

Try it... everybody seems to like it.

Chuck: Chieftain of Chicken

Chuck is the chieftain of chicken.*

Her chicken cooking skills are unparalleled. Behold the beautiful grill marks. Marvel at the magnificently juicy insides.
Chuck got this recipe for sauteed chicken breasts (we used thighs) with latin citrus sauce from a "Best of Cooking Light" magazine that Martha suggestively and wistfully stuffed in her stocking one Christmas in the hopes that Chuck would catch the cooking bug. It worked, apparently.

*She is also apparently the chieftain of spelling, as she was the only one in the house that knew how to spell "chieftain."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stuffed Zucchinni

Kim O'Donnell, formerly of the Washington Post (declining profits in the print media industry have led to lay-offs and buyouts of newspaper employees), started a new blog, "Licking Your Chops," last week.

One of her first posts was a combination of Meatless Mondays (a challenge to reduce your meat intake, for both health and environmental reasons) and Eating Down the Fridge (a challenge involving coming up with creative recipes that use up the crap that's slowly going bad in your fridge/pantry... cough cough MARTHA cough cough...the ultimate "mixed grill").

The result: stuffed zucchini!
This idea is kinda fun and totally malleable, depending on what you have sitting around in your fridge and pantry.

I pretty much followed Kim's recipe, since I had all those ingredients on hand. It was tasty. There was a lot of stuffing left over that didn't quite fit in the little zucchini boats, but I'll take it for lunch tomorrow.

Crostini with Ricotta and Garlic Scape Pesto

I got some more garlic scapes in my CSA share this week... Randy the farmer says it's the last of them for this season. After seeing the idea on foodgawker, I decided to make some garlic scape pesto, and mix it with some of the ricotta I also got through Randy. Plopped it on some toasty baguette slices... tasty and easy.

Beet Dip!

My good friend and former co-worker, Eileen, has made it her life's mission to convert beet-haters into beet-lovers, one at a time. Her chief means of accomplishing this end is a delicious, herby, garlicy, bright magenta beet dip...

Mission accomplished!
There are at least 3 beet converts living at 1346 today...*
Eileen says she originally got this recipe from Nigella Lawson, the buxom British television chef. I wasn't able to find the recipe online, so I'm giving you the adapted version that Eileen passed on to me. So easy, so good, so pretty:

1 lb. raw beets
1/2 C crushed walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C chopped parsley
1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp coriander
3 T red wine vinegar

1) preheat over to 425
2) wash beets, wrap in aluminum foil, leaving some space around the beets, but wrapping the edges closed tightly.
3) roast beets for 1-2 hours, until you can smoothly poke a fork through
4) while beets are roasting, use food processor to chop cloves of garlic.
5) add walnuts and salt and pepper, chop.
6) add parsley, cilantro, coriander.
7) peel and cube beets and add to food processor.
8) blend together, add vinegar.
9) chill for a while.
10) serve with crackers, pita, whatever
*Note to beginner beet eaters: be wary the magenta beet stains on hands and clothes. Be doubly wary the magenta poop.

Deep Fried Asparagus

Martha and I went to a restaurant the other day and ordered these...we had some in the house so I made some a few days later. I followed this Bobby Flay Recipe and they came out OK...but I made a mistake putting them in the oven to keep them warm...they got mushy. We served them with some asiago dip. I would definitely try them again.

...and deep frying asparagus doesn't make that strange asparagus pee smell go away.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sweet & Spicy Coleslaw

Slaw -
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 small head napa cabbage (2 pounds) thinly sliced (I used basic red & green cabbage)
2 carrots, shredded (2 cups)
1 granny smith apple cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Dressing -
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and stem removed, minced
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Soak the raisins in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain them and toss together with cabbage, carrots and apples.

Mix the dressing.

Throw them together and you're good.

Actually came out pretty darn good...brought it to a friend's house...but she was too tipsy to give an opinion of it.

Grandmother's Blue Work Quilt

An example of nouveau craftmanship courtesy of Meg and Chuck during vacation in Watch Hill, RI. It was a new craft for both and they did an awesome job. The best part was the long distance quilting lesson, sans photos. The finished product is great!

Spicy Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Zucchini

Dudes, this salad is good stuff. It's spicy (not hot spicy, but full of delicious spices spicy), healthy, and super easy. Try it. Fo rizzle. MLT says "It's fucking good."
Changes I made to the recipe:
1. I didn't have the requisite cumin seeds, so I just used 1/2 tsp ground cumin at the beginning instead.
2. I may have added more parsley than required, too, just because.
3. Finally, I was lazy, so I didn't fire up the grill for the zucchini... I just put it under the broiler.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blueberry Pie Bars

I had 2 pints of blueberries in the fridge and Chuck and Tony brought back a third one... so blueberry pie bars it was!
The photo of blackberry pie bars on Joy the Baker looked really good, so I figured I would try replacing the blackberries with some of our many blueberries.

I halved the recipe, because none of us really needs a 13"x9" pan worth of baked good. I used a 9"x9" pan. Because that 4 extra inches of baked good was really putting this over the top.

Eat these slightly warm. Mmmm.

Zucchini, Ham, Basil and Ricotta Fritters

Aka: giant savory pancake.
Pretty damn good; makes a meal if you pair it with a salad.
I needed to use up some zucchini and was curious about this recipe... I was nervous about it not having any sauce to accompany it, but it turns out it didn't need anything. Just some salt and pepper at the end.
I sliced the zucchini into very thin discs using the mandoline- I wasn't sure what they meant by long thin strips, but it sounded like a pain in the butt. Also, I used 2 or 3 thicker sliced pieces of deli ham and ricotta left over from my skillet lasagna.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tomato and Sausage Risotto

This is a really rich and hearty meal, care of the other Martha, again. Lots of stirring required, but the stirring isn't stressful- actually it's kinda soothing.
I used spicy Italian sausage, Swiss chard (including the stems, which I threw in earlier to soften up), and crushed tomatoes. I also substituted chicken broth in place of half of the water.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mini Blueberry Tarts

These are great for a BBQ... blueberry pie, no fork or knife required. Planning on topping them with a little bit of whipped cream. Made them using the awesome blueberries from the CSA and the mini-tart press that Martha put in my stocking one year. The tart press doesn't get used often, but when it does, it rocks. Thanks, Mom!

I can thank the other Martha for the recipe. However, I can advise, for those of you that may try this recipe, that the 2 cups of blueberries required is far too much. At 17 minutes left of cooking, I checked on the tarts and they looked fine... with 7 minutes left, the blueberries had exploded pretty much everywhere- some of the blueberries had been violently propelled out of the tin. I would say use closer to 1.5 cups, to be safe. Do not overfill those little guys!
In any case, they tasted great with the whipped cream. I recommend these!

Friday, July 17, 2009

BACON (and swiss chard) PIZZA!

This recipe is good stuff... worth almost smoking yourself out of the house with burning cornmeal.
Made with the olive oil pizza dough recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, swiss chard from the CSA, and... wait for it... BACON!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Garlic Scape Hummus

I made some hummus (to Tony's delight), but instead of regular garlic, I used minced garlic scapes (which I got from my CSA). Garlic scapes are the curly shoots that come out of the garlic- the farmer cuts it off in order to stimulate growth in the bulb, I've learned... check out this video to see the scape harvest in action. The garlic scapes have a fairly intense garlic flavor (although less so that regular garlic), and nicer green color than regular garlic. You can also make a pesto out of them.
As far as the hummus recipe goes, I used to use Ina Garten's recipe. Now I just kinda eyeball it and throw the basic ingredients in to taste. I also add some olive oil, which she doesn't seem to use.

Blueberry Pierogis... Meh

As I promised, I tried to make some blueberry pierogis using this recipe for the dough. I can't remember where I had them as a kid, but I remember them tasting really good. The ones I made this past weekend... not as good. They were fine, but a little bland, and the dough was excessively chewy.

I stuffed them, boiled them, and then pan-fried them in some butter. Served with sour cream.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ham and Cheddar Stuffed Challah: FAIL

I got the idea for this from the source: the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day blog. They did a stuffed challah with strawberries and cream cheese. I took it the savory route, and spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard, then laid down some thinly sliced cheddar and ham and ground some black pepper in there, too.

Something apparently went very wrong, though, because although the outside looked beautiful... the inside was not fully cooked. And by "not fully cooked," I mean totally raw in parts. No amount of heating was cooking those raw parts, either.

Next time I think I will try this method of rolling it out, which doesn't have any dough in the middle of the filling- just on the top and bottom. I had made the spinach and feta stuffed bread several months ago for a book club, and that method was not a failure.

Well, at least the outside layers tasted good!

Skillet Lasagna

Made this skillet lasagna after seeing it in Food Network Magazine... we had all the ingredients except ricotta, but Tim humored me and went to Giant to get it. Lots of veggies in there: carrots, zucchini, spinach. I added 3 chorizo sausages, taken out of their casings and cooked in a frying pan.
Also, the recipes called for fresh tomatoes, but I used a 28 oz. can of crush tomatoes, no prob. And shredded mozzarella because our fresh mozzarella had gone moldy on me. Boo.
The recipe was pretty easy and tasted really good... the only problem was that it was a little soupy when it came out (perhaps I could have let it sit a few more minutes before slicing), and the bottom lasagna noodle got a little burnt to the bottom of the skillet. Maybe I should have used a non-stick skillet?

Anyway: tasty nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ricotta and Goat Cheese Spread

Put it on bagel chips or Triscuits.

It's good.

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Oregano

To go with the Green Bean and Feta Salad, I made this (the other) Martha recipe for grilled chicken with lemon and oregano. It called for 4 chicken halves, but I used the bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs that Tim brought home yesterday.

This was really good- the skin was crispy, the meat was moist and flavorful, and you had a roasted lemon to squeeze on top. Not too difficult either- chop a little, squeeze a little, marinate a little, grill a lot. This would definitely be a good recipe for a big crowd.

Green Beans with Feta Vinaigrette

Originally, I planned to make this Green Bean Salad with Feta and Lemon that was in last week's Washington Post Food & Dining section, but after unsuccessfully searching for the requisite dill at two separate grocery stores, I decided to look for another green bean and feta recipe.

Google gave me this Green Bean and Feta Salad as the first hit, which is basically green beans, feta, and Vidalia onion with a vinaigrette. Pretty good, although the recipe made a TON of sauce. I didn't put it all on the beans. I also only let it marinate for like 30 minutes, not 4 hours. And I didn't cook the onion because I couldn't figure out what the recipe instructions were trying to get me to do with the onion... pour hot water over it? Meh.

Look closely at the photo and you can see my arm, nostrils and glasses. Photography = not my specialty.

Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

I got a pint of amazing (huge, firm, sweet) blueberries in my CSA share this week... I also bought another box to supplement it, so we are swimming in blueberries here at 1346.

I saw this Dorie Greenspan recipe for blueberry sour cream ice cream several times on Tastespotting and Foodgawker (2 food porn websites I look at daily), and couldn't resist trying it, figuring that so many people couldn't be wrong (although I guess that's a dangerous assumption). It's very simple as far as ice cream recipes go: requires no separating eggs, no tempering egg yolks, and it's an awesome color... plus it tastes great: sweet and tangy. Kinda like blueberry cheesecake in ice cream form. Even Chuck, an avowed blueberry disliker, ate her bowl up.

Next blueberry and sour cream experiment: blueberry pierogis. Coming soon.

Boozy Peaches and Cream

Got some perfectly ripe peaches in my CSA share this week, and was looking for a simple way to eat some of them as dessert... two recipes from this month's influx of food magazines caught my eye: Boozy Peaches and Cream from Food Network Magazine and Roasted Peaches with Amaretti Crumble from Bon Appetit.

At first I thought I was comparing apples to apples: one boozy recipe versus another. Then, when I realized that what I had understood to be booze in the Bon Appetit recipe was actually amaretti (little Italian cookies), not amaretto (sweet almond-flavoured liqueur, also of Italian origin), my choice was clearly made... go with the booze. Also, I had neither amaretti nor amaretto on hand, and the Bon Appetit recipe required turning on the oven, so the deal was really sealed.

The Boozy Peaches and Cream recipe was very simple and tasty- it's basically sliced peaches with brown sugar layered with bourbon whipped cream. I would make it again, for sure. I did forget to add the toasted pecans on top, but didn't notice they were missing. I bet you could top the recipe with some of Mike's famous candied nuts, and that would put it over the top. Almost as much as writing "Mike's famous candied nuts" put this post over the top. And... scene.

Summer Squash Carpaccio

I saw this recipe for summer squash carpaccio in my Food Network Magazine this week and thought I'd give it a try as an appetizer. It is a cute idea and I had all of the ingredients in the fridge. It was also really fresh and super easy (i.e. no cooking involved, just slicing and layering). Mine isn't as pretty as the magazine photo (check out the link to see their photo), but they never are.

The recipe definitely requires a mandoline (not to be confused with the mandolin) in order to get the squash sliced super thin. Even with the mandoline, the slicing was somewhat inconsistent, but that's probably user error. Also, because they wanted the squash sliced lengthwise, I couldn't get the little handguard to grip the squash, so I was forced to risk severe laceration and/or finger loss by going at it bare handed. Glad to report that the kitchen is major injury-free (well, human injury free... there's still that little problem with my laptop and half a can of coconut milk).

The recipe's pretty healthy, although, as I admitted to Chuck, I layered a little bit of the cheese between every layer, rather than just on top... I like cheese. As far as the herbs, I mixed rosemary from the roof with some summer savory that I got in my CSA. Randy and Chris from Star Hollow Farm describes summer savory as a cross between thyme and mint. It has a really nice smell to it.

UPDATE: The Slow Cook (a gardening and food blogger), who lives a few blocks from us in Columbia Heights has his own version of squash carpaccio that involves goat cheese... check it out!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hydrangea Cross Stitch

Finally finished and framed my hydrangea cross stitch!! It took me about a year to do the cross stitch (with some other projects in between) Couldn't figure out who to give it to, so it's hanging in my room and lookin' pretty nice! :)

North Carolina quilt

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cheesy Polenta

Sorry about the delay in posting... I have lots of meals, recipes and photos to blog about, but no computer on which to put the photos currently stored on my camera (due to the fact that I spilled 1/2 of a can of coconut milk directly on the keyboard of my laptop). More to come on that later.

So, yes, a photoless entry on... polenta.

My friend Sean (Dr. Sean, if you will), came over for dinner last night. I wanted to put something together to eat that wouldn't take very long, so I decided to make a variation on this easy white bean, greens and tomato recipe (which I made a few weeks ago using swiss chard, but made with a bag of baby spinach tonight because that's what was in the fridge), and to serve it over cheesy polenta for some heft.

I only had regular cornmeal, and wasn't sure that it would work for making polenta, so I turned to Google and, both of which assured me that it was possible. The first time I Googled my question, I actually typed "making cornmeal out of regular cornmeal" instead of "making polenta out of regular cornmeal," which, as you might guess, did not turn up the results I wanted.

Anywho... I (and by I, I mean Sean, my trusty doctorate-earning sous chef) ended up following the polenta part of this recipe, doubling it for a larger group. Pretty good! We think that you can cook it longer if you want a thicker, more solid polenta.