Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sausage Bean Casserole

This dinner was surprisingly flavorful. I'm not sure why I expected that it wouldn't be; it just seemed like there wasn't a strong flavor profile when I was making it. I really like the idea of casseroles, but with most of them having a base of pasta or rice, they're just too starchy to have on a regular basis. Cooking Light to the rescue, yet again. This casserole has a base of beans! Ingenious! I followed Brooke's lead and threw some spinach in there for a little green.

This is another great weeknight meal that doesn't require a lot of time or energy and yet tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen. And it makes plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

Sausage and Bean Casserole
source: Cooking Light via Brooke


Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 (16-ounce) package light smoked turkey sausage (such as Hillshire Farm), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I used a 14 oz package because that's what was on sale.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional) (I used a 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper.)
3 (1-ounce) slices white bread (I used pre-made breadcrumbs.)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I omitted.)


Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and turkey sausage to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in 2 tablespoons brown sugar, tomato paste, dried thyme, freshly ground black pepper, cannellini beans, and bay leaf. Add ground red pepper, if desired. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. (I don't have a Dutch oven, so I cooked the mixture in a stockpot and then transfered it to a 9x13 Pyrex dish to bake.)
Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over bean mixture, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until browned. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.

Yields: 8 servings

Calories: 205 (14% from fat), Fat: 3.3g (sat 1.1g,mono 0.1g,poly 0.5g), Protein: 12.1g, Carbohydrate: 30g, Fiber: 4.4g, Cholesterol: 25mg, Iron: 2.7mg, Sodium: 823mg, Calcium: 77mg

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Sheesh, what's with all this chocolate pumpkin nonsense? Don't you make real food anymore? Actually, I swear I had a good reason to make this bread. The music director at the church Joe and I have been going to was leaving, and Sunday was his last day. Since I sing in the choir, the choir was responsible for the food for the reception after the service.

This recipe makes two loaves, so if I hadn't been taking it to church, I probably would have halved the recipe. Fortunately, I made both loaves because the bread went quickly, and Joe was disappointed at how little there was left. Maybe this is sad, but it was definitely a boost to my self-esteem to see people keep reaching for my bread.

(Oh, and I so want to make a "loaves and fishes" joke, but I'll spare you.)

You seriously want to make this bread. Words cannot describe how moist and flavorful it is, the way the chocolate melds with the pumpkin spice. Did I mention it's a Cooking Light recipe?

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread
source: Cooking Light via Brooke

2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding (I used fat-free plain yogurt + 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
4 large egg whites (I used 2 eggs)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 32 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Nutritional Information:
CALORIES 152(30% from fat); FAT 5g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.5g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 2g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 10mg; SODIUM 137mg; FIBER 1.1g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 26.5

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

I don't know what's gotten into me. I'm not really a baker but something about the impending coolness of fall and the slight chill in the air has gotten me in the mood for baking. Fortunately this coincided perfectly with several occasions that allowed me to off-load some of my baking.

These brownies are ridiculously good. I had been drooling over the recipe for a while and used my relatively calm second half of the week (following a Greek test and a Pastoral Care paper) to bake them, knowing that I could take them to a gathering at a friends' house on Friday night.

Let me just say, that I don't know how I managed to not eat half of the pan before Friday night. I did sneak a few and allowed Joe to have them. I am never that person that brings something to the party that everyone fawns over, but these brownies are that dish. Word cannot describe how good these are. They are the perfect combination of something familiar and something a little unusual.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

(source: Cara's Cravings)


Brownie Batter:

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Cheesecake Batter:

6 oz cream cheese, softened (I used fat-free.)
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each ground ginger and ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8" square metal baking pan.

For the Brownies:

Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture by hand.

For the Cheesecake:

In a separate bowl, beat together all ingredients.

To assemble:

Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan. Spread the pumpkin batter over it, distributing evenly. Drop the remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. To make the swirls, run a butter knife back and forth through the pan. (I totally failed at this part! Oh well, they still tasted amazing.)

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely and chill before cutting and serving. (Mine took a little longer to cook, probably because I used a glass pan instead of dark metal. I baked mine for about 50 minutes.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

World MDG Blogging Day

One of the unspoken tenets of food blogging is that one HAS food to blog about. Unlike 800 million people who go to bed hungry every day and 1.2 billion people who live on less than $1 a day, I have plenty of food. In fact, I often sigh, "Ugh, there's nothing to eat," knowing that I have a pantry and refrigerator full enough to feed several families. Every day, I have the luxury of eating at least three full meals, and I take pride in cooking a variety of balanced meals for my husband and myself. This is a luxury that most of the world can't afford.

To see what living on a dollar a day looks like, visit this blog, where a couple spends a month living on a dollar a day.

Right now, world leaders are gathered in New York to chart the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 8 goals agreed to in 2000 that represent the largest effort to combat and end extreme poverty. These goals were set reasonably, and yet we have already fallen behind schedule to meet them by the set date of 2015.

And these goals are just a start. The first goal is merely to cut the number of people living on less than $1 a day in HALF. We can do this.

The MDGs are as follows:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Create a global partnership for development with targets for aid, trade, and debt relief.

Surely at least one of these goals speaks to something that you hold dear. To learn more about the MDGs and what you can do, visit the United Nations Development Programme or Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. You can also click on the banner on the side of my blog to read what other bloggers have to say today about the MDGs.

Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

Everyone on my cooking board has really worked themselves into a frenzy over fall baking and pumpkin. Other than pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie, I hadn't really used pumpkin much in my own cooking and baking. Enter these delicious-sounding muffins from Elly at Elly Says Opa. In honor of the first day of fall, I made these the other day.

These muffins are impossibly moist. If I didn't know better, I would think they were made with several sticks of butter. And I love raisins and the way the add a little bit of sweetness. I might add up to 1/2 cup next time I make these. I can never have too many raisins!

Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins
source: Elly Says Opa

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil, if you're not calorie counting)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted.)


Preheat oven to 400 and grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Sift together flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices.
In a seprarate bowl, beat egg with brown sugar until well combined. Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, applesauce and pumpkin puree.
Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in nuts and raisins.
Pour mixture into muffin cups and bake approximately 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Nutrition Info, per muffin: Calories: 143 / Fat: 3g / Carbs: 27g / Dietary Fiber: 2.4g / Sugar: 2.2g / Protein: 3.8g

This post has been submitted to the Marvelous Muffins event held by Joelen over at Joelen's Culinary Adventures!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

PW's Penne a la Betsy

Joe is on night float this week, which means he works from 6 pm to 6 am. So I had to come up with a menu that included dishes that could be easily reheated and schlepped to the hospital. I knew that an obvious choice was a pasta dish, but I wanted something a little more exciting than spaghetti and marinara or pasta with a bolognese sauce. A few weeks ago, Kroger had some frozen shrimp that were buy one, get one free, so I had some shrimp in the freezer.

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while, though the amount of olive oil and butter was slightly off-putting. Then you throw in the cream, and it gets really bad for you! That's my one problem with a lot of Pioneer Woman's recipes. Oh well, it's all about portion control, right?

My house smelled like a restaurant while cooking this, and I realized this is exactly the type of dish I would normally order at a restaurant when I'm feeling a little indulgent.

Penne a la Betsy
Source: The Pioneer Woman

  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • 1 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 lb penne or other short pasta
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine (I used dry vermouth.)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley
  • Basil

1. Put water on to boil for the pasta.
2. Heat a large frying pan and melt 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil in pan. (I halved all of the olive oil and butter measurements.) Sautee shrimp until opaque and then remove to a plate to cool.
3. Melt another 2 tbsp butter and olive oil in the same pan and cook garlic until slightly browning. Add onion and cook until translucent.
4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook per package directions.
5. Add 1/2 cup of wine and allow to cook down for approximately a minute. Then add tomato sauce, stirring to combine, and cream.
6. Chop parsley and basil and add to sauce to taste. (I only had a little fresh basil, so I used dried parsley and basil to supplement, but fresh would be preferable.) Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Remove shrimp tails and chop shrimp into tiny, bite-size pieces. Return to sauce and stir to combine.
8. When pasta is cooked, drain, and then add to sauce, tossing to cover. (Or, if you're like me, add the sauce to the pasta pot because you don't have a big enough fry pan.) Serve!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tomato Basil Bread

Friday afternoons tend to be a good time for baking and cooking for me. Ever since I bought the bread machine for $15 off of Craigslist, we haven't bought bread at the grocery store, so when the bread runs out, it's time to make some more. I came across this recipe, and it sounded like a nice change from French bread, wheat bread, and jalapeno cheese bread. Besides, I could see it going so well with the dishes on this week's menu: chili, black bean soup, penne with shrimp and tomato cream sauce.

I was unprepared for how incredibly delicious this would smell when it started baking. Oh my goodness. It's a smaller loaf than what I normally make, but it's perfect for toasting a few slices and then melting some mozzarella cheese over for a little snack. It tastes like pizza but without the massive disaster (see previous entry).

Tomato Basil Bread
(Source: Brooke at ...And A Cookie For Dessert)

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/4 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram (I omitted)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in the order suggested by manufacturer. Select basic bread setting. Choose crust color and loaf size according to bread machine directions (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Awards and Failures

First off, the good news. Both Lisa at Lime In the Coconut and VeniceForever at Loves to Eat gave me the E for Excellent Award.
Thanks so much ladies! I really appreciate it, and I draw so much inspiration from the food blogging community. Now it's my turn to honor a few blogs:

Liz at Liz's Cooking Blog - That's a familiar name in this blog since I get so many recipes from her.
Sweet Tea in Texas at Sweet Tea in Texas - Her cooking makes me miss the Lone Star State! I have a bunch of her recipes starred in my Google Reader.
Ashlee at A Year In the Kitchen - She is so creative, and most of her recipes are on the healthy side too.
Nashvillest - This is how I figure out what's going on around town.
Kiley - He's my brother, and though we may not agree about much, I've got to share the family blogging love.

Now it’s your turn to spread the love. Please find at least 10 more blogs of any kind which you deem to be excellent (but if you only know of a few, that’s OK too). Post about the blogs you picked, linking back to me and to them. Once you’ve posted, return here to let me know your post is up, and of course let your 10 award winners know too.

Now for the failures. I had the brilliant idea to make pizza on Friday. Everyone else makes it seem so easy and simple, and we had some Italian sausage in the freezer. I had looked at several dough recipes and decided on one, so I was ready. Then, my food processor gave me trouble, so I scooped the dough onto a floured surface in an attempt to knead it myself. But just like the last time I did something with dough, it proceeded to get everywhere and muck up everything around, and I just gave up and threw it in the trash.

(Not my kitchen, but a similar type of mess. Source)

Fortunately I had bought pre-made dough at the grocery store for fear that might happen. I had already made a mess of the kitchen, the sausage took longer than I thought it would to cook, and I was nearly in tears by the time we sat down.

Next time I'm in the mood for pizza, we're ordering in!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

South of the Border Chicken

Oh Cooking Light, whatever would I do with you? For when I have overindulged on macaroni and cheese and jalapeno cheddar cornbread, you allow me to eat something light without forcing something tasteless down my throat. This didn't knock my socks off, but a) it's quick b) involves ingredients I have in my pantry and c) is healthy. Therefore, this will probably stay in the meal rotation.

I ate this with the big leafy greens you see in the picture and a balsamic vinaigrette.

I played with the portions a little bit, because I don't really like having leftover chicken. Leftover whole chicken breasts are always a bit icky to me, so I only pan-seared two pieces of chicken, but I made all of the beans and rice. Joe went back for seconds on the beans and rice, so now I have a little portion of beans and rice left. I think that I might switch out kidney beans for pinto beans and throw a little cayenne powder in there. The green chiles in the tomatoes might be hot enough for some, but I would've preferred a bit more of a kick.

South of the Border Chicken
1 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice (I used instant brown rice and cooked it according to the package.)
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 (16 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
4 6 oz chicken breast halves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Cooking spray
1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and stir in rice and red pepper. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in beans and tomatoes; keep warm
2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, black pepper, and cumin. Heat a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Serve chicken with rice mixture.
Yield 4 servings
Calories: 347; Fat 2.8 g; Protein 44.4 g; Carb 35.7 g; Fiber 4.6 g; Chol 99 mg; Iron 3.2 mg; Sodium 740 mg; Calc 64 mg

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

When I got home from school and work yesterday, I had a bit of time before going out to dinner with Joe at Tin Angel for Nashville Originals Restaurant Week. I've been itching to make these pumpkin raisin muffins, but since it's been in the 80s, it just hasn't quite felt enough like fall to make them. So I did a little searching and found this recipe for oatmeal raisin muffins. I love anything oatmeal raisin, and I love muffins so I figured this would be something nice and quick to whip up.

They did make the house smell amazing, almost like cookies. I was a little concerned because the dough was very thick, again, almost like a cookie batter. And when I took the muffins out, they looked like little oatmeal raisin muffin-shaped rocks. These are definitely not fluffy buttery muffins, but I had one this morning and it wasn't too bad. It would've been better microwaved for a few seconds and spread with some butter or margarine, but it will be a wonderful healthy snack for Joe and I when we're on the go. It definitely tastes healthy, if you know what I mean, but there is a lot of sweetness from the raisins.

I might find a different recipe for this type of thing or replace 1/2 of the whole-wheat flour with AP flour for a less "wheaty" taste. I did swap out applesauce for the oil, so my version is even lighter than the recipe shown.

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
source: RecipeZaar


1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil (or applesauce)
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins


Heat oven to 400-degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. In mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except raisins); mix well. In a large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients; mix well. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, just until moistened. Stir in raisins. Spoon batter evenly into 12 cups of a muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Info (with oil):
Serving size, 1 muffin
Calories: 170
Total Fat: 5.9 g
Total Carb: 27 g
Total Protein: 4.3 g

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dinner Divas: Mac and Cheddar Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

I'm so glad that Jenn chose this macaroni and cheese for Dinner Divas because I've been wanting to make mac and cheese from scratch for a little while now, so this was a great impetus. This was also my first Rachel Ray recipe. Let me say, people often recommend RR recipes for beginning cooks, but I've found that they can be somewhat expensive and not very calorie-conscious, which is okay every once in a while. Not everyone can afford pancetta or prosciutto in every meal. I have to admit that I did get in the RR mode and asked Joe to pass me the "S&P".

Anyway, back to the macaroni and cheese, which was very good. I managed to let the sauce boil over onto my range top, so that wasn't too much fun to clean up, but otherwise this is a nice easy 30-minute meal. My sauce came out a little soupy, which could've been because I used a little less pasta than the recipe calls for and 1% milk instead of whole, but that was also a common complaint on the Food Network reviews. Joe commented that it wasn't spicy enough, even though I doubled the cayenne pepper in anticipation of that criticism. I think he just needs to realize that there are other flavor profiles besides spicy. This isn't the most flavorful meal I've ever had, but it tastes like real macaroni & cheese.

Mac and Cheddar Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
(source: Food Network)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan (You can definitely use less.)
1 pound chicken breast tenders, chopped (I chopped normal chicken breasts.)
Salt and pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 pound macaroni elbows or cavatappi corkscrew shaped pasta twists (I used 14.5 oz of whole wheat elbows.)
2 1/2 cups raw broccoli florets, available packaged in produce department (I just chopped up some heads of broccoli.)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (As I mentioned before, I doubled this.)
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups whole milk (I used 1%. Does anyone still drink whole?)
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups yellow sharp Cheddar
1 tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

Place a pot of water on to boil for macaroni.

Heat a medium pan over medium to medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and chicken and season with salt and pepper. Saute a couple of minutes then add onion and cook another 5 to 7 minutes until onions are tender and chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat and reserve.

To boiling pasta water, add pasta and salt to season the cooking water. Cook 5 minutes, then add broccoli and cook 3 minutes more or until pasta is cooked to al dente and florets are just tender. (Brilliant! The broccoli turned out perfect!)

While pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add butter and melt, then add flour, cayenne and paprika and whisk together over heat until roux bubbles then cook a minute more. Whisk in milk and stock and raise heat a little to bring sauce to a quick boil. Simmer sauce to thicken about 5 minutes.

Drain macaroni or pasta and broccoli florets. Add back to pot and add chicken to the pasta and broccoli.

Add cheese to milk sauce and stir to melt it in, about a minute or so. Stir in mustard and season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken and broccoli and cooked pasta and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings, transfer to a large serving platter and serve.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rubbed Flank Steak with Horseradish Cream Sauce

I hadn't really made any plans for dinner on Sunday night since Joe is so often on-call, and I work until 7. But I had been talking up this recipe ever since I saw it on Lisa's blog, and I realized that I could make it for Sunday night. Joe and I don't normally eat beef that isn't ground, partially because it's expensive enough that I get worried about completely messing it up. But flank steak is a very economical cut, and I had faith that I could do this.

It turned out very well despite a couple of things a) we forgot to let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it b) it was more medium-well than medium-rare and c) I substituted normal chili powder for ancho chili powder, which was somewhat of a mistake. It was very spicy, and the chili powder sort of outshone the rest of the flavors. I was looking forward to tasting some of that bourbon marinade too!

Rubbed Flank Steak with Horseradish Cream
source: Lime in the Coconut


1 (1 to 1.5 lb.) flank steak
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

Horseradish Cream

1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 tbsp dried parsley


1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch of salt

Marinate your steak overnight or for as long as 24 hours.
Prepare your horseradish cream and chill.
Prepare your rub.
Remove your steak from the marinade and discard the marinade.
Rub your spice mixture on the moist steak 30 minutes before grilling.

We cooked this over medium-high heat until done. I wish I had taken a picture of Joe's beautiful grill marks, but like I said, we cut into it pretty quickly.

I served this with a salad topped with feta, pear slices, and almonds with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Birds in a Nest + Eggs in a Basket = Birds in a Hole

Joe had this weekend off from work, so I was trying to think of something special to make for Saturday morning breakfast without having to go to the grocery store. I asked him if he would want Birds in a Hole, and I was ruthlessly mocked. Whatever you call it, this is a nice easy breakfast that requires minimal ingredients. It was recently featured on Pioneer Woman Cooks, but the first time I was exposed to it was when Joe's mom made it for us on my first trip to Wisconsin. My family didn't eat real butter growing up.

First, take a slice of bread and cut a hole in it with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass. I used homemade wheat bread for this, so it was a little tricky to get the slices the appropriate width, and the rim of my glass was a little large.

Next, melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium-low. I busted out the cast iron skillet for the first time, and I have to say that there is something amazingly satisfying about watching butter melt in a cast iron skillet.

Place the hole-y (haha, even funnier because I go to Divinity School) piece of bread in the skillet and let it get a little toasty. Then crack an egg in the hole, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let it cook for about a minute. Very carefully flip the bread and egg to cook the other side. Sop up the remaining butter with the cut-out circle and serve on the side to help sop up the runny yolk.

Joe went back for a second one that he made himself. He promptly declared that mine were prettier and his were more like Birds in a Warzone. I think this dish now has a new name.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro

Quinoa is one of those foods that used to seem sort of strange and exotic to me until I started hearing about it fairly often. I realized, while doing my Hundreds, that I'd still never tried it. I was also trying to think of another meal when I was planning this past week when this recipe popped up in Liz's Cooking Blog. It was fate!

This is spicy. When I had my first bite, I thought I had surely mixed something up and put too much chili powder in, but I didn't. So a word to those without iron tongues, you might want to reduce the chili powder. Although the recipe states that the cheese is optional, if you use all of the chili powder, you will really want the creaminess of the cheese to ameliorate the burning.

Quinoa was a hit in our house. I think that Joe was initially skeptical that it might be hippy-dippy food, and it didn't help that I had to go to several grocery stores to find it, but he really liked it as well.

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro
(source: Bon Appetit)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped white onions (I used red onions.)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed, drained
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • Crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese (optional)

Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and red pepper; sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Add water; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until quinoa is almost tender, about 14 minutes. Add beans and 1/4 cup cilantro; cook uncovered until heated through and liquid is fully absorbed, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with 1/4 cup cilantro and cheese, if desired.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Barefoot Contessa's Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

I have been wanting to make this recipe since August and just now got around to it, but it was worth waiting for. Every time I saw it on another food blog, I was reminded that I should make it, but I just didn't know how to fit it in. So I didn't. I made it just because.

I love cornbread but am often disappointed by dry, gritty, crumbly squares that need to be slathered in butter and honey to be edible. This is entirely different. This cornbread is more like cake (hmm, is that what all that butter is in there for?). The perfect addition to a potluck or just a simple home-cooked meal, I plan on nibbling on this morning, noon, and night.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal (I use Martha White because the Grand Ole Opry told me to)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions (I omitted.)
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers


Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I'm also submitting this to Joelen's Chef Spotlight: Food Network Celebs Event!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tilapia with Cilantro Cream Sauce

I'm always looking for something new to do with tilapia since fish is such a healthy food, so naturally putting cream on it is a good idea. Tilapia is great for Joe and I because it cooks so quickly as well.

I don't think I have shared with you how much I love cilantro. I was first able to put the taste and the name "cilantro" together after having this delicious Creamy Cilantro Dressing at Amazon Grill, a restaurant in Houston that I lived behind for 3 years. That Creamy Cilantro Dressing was good to me, as were their margaritas on my 22nd birthday. Ever since then, cilantro has been one of my favorite flavors, and luckily, it's in a lot of the types of food I enjoy!

I wasn't crazy about this recipe considering my fondness for all of its ingredients. The final result wasn't bad by any means; it just didn't blow me away. I served this with steamed broccoli tossed with melted butter and lemon pepper.

  • 1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; sauté the garlic and onion for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add cream and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes to reduce slightly. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 1 minute longer. Set aside or refrigerate until nearly serving time.

Heat oven to 375°.

Line a baking pan with foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray. Brush fillets lightly with butter; arrange in the baking pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake the fish for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tilapia is cooked through. Warm the sauce up and drizzle a little over each serving of fish.

Serves 4.

source: About.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sunday Morning Blueberry Muffins

When we got the circular for our grocery store, I noticed that strawberries and blueberries had gone on-sale for probably the last time this summer, so I planned to stock up. Well, the strawberries had seen better days, and I grabbed a few pints of blueberries to use on Saturday morning.

I had starred this recipe for its ease and nutritional value. Since Joe usually eats breakfast at around 4 am this month, he's hungry by 8 or 9 am and needs a snack. A healthy yet appealing muffin is the perfect snack for him to take, and these muffins are under 200 calories a piece with less than 5 grams of fat. As you can see from the recipe, most of the moisture comes from the yogurt rather than oil.

These muffins are delicious, moist, and chock full of blueberries, great for an end-of-summer treat before I move on to pumpkin muffins. I doubled the recipe to make 12.

Sunday Morning Blueberry Muffins
source: the domestic goddess Katie over at Good Things Catered

1 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. plain lowfat yogurt
1/4 c. milk
1 c. fresh blueberries
cinnamon sugar for dusting (I omitted.)

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 6 muffin cups.
-In medium bowl, combine flour sugar, baking powder, soda, salt and whisk to combine thoroughly.
-In large bowl, combine egg, oil. vanilla, yogurt milk and whisk to combine thoroughly.
-Fold dry ingredients into wet and stir until just combined (will be lumpy and thick.)
-Fold in blueberries and using ice cream scoop to spoon, divide batter evenly among 6 muffin cups.
-Generously sprinkle tops of muffins with cinnamon sugar.
-Place in oven and bake until toothpick inserted in center of muffin is removed clean, about 12-15 minutes.
-Remove from oven and let cool in tins for 2 minutes.
-Let cool completely on wire rack or eat immediately.

Makes 6 muffins

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mini Farfalle Chipotle Chicken Pasta with Fire-Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce

The title of this dish belies its relative simplicity. This was a great Friday evening dinner, especially on a cloudy, rainy day like we had. I love anything with corn and beans in it, and this was a perfect use for the leftover chicken breast from the Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken the night before. The chipotle peppers added some nice heat to the smokiness of the fire-roasted tomatoes. Next time I might skip or substitute something lighter for the cream to save a few calories as I didn't feel like the creamy sauce made too much of a difference. Joe loved this dish and turned to me and said, "I love that you make spicy things."

At some point this week, I will also compose my Ode to Cilantro. I love the stuff.

Mini Farfalle Chipotle Chicken Pasta with Fire-Roasted Tomato Cream Sauce (source: Picky Palate)

1 lb Barilla Mini Farfalle pasta (I couldn't find mini, so I just used regular.)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ Cup white finely diced onion
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, from can (3 if you like spicy)
1 fresh corn on the cob, kernels removed (I used frozen corn.)
1 Cup drained black beans (I used a whole can of drained black beans.)
2 Cups diced cooked chicken (I only used one shredded breast. You could really omit the chicken to make this vegetarian.)
1/4 Cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 14 oz cans Fire Roasted diced Tomatoes
½ Cup heavy cream
Pinch salt, pepper, garlic salt

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

2. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil into large 5 qt skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, chipotle, corn, and beans. Cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in cooked chicken and cilantro leaves until heated through, reduce heat to low and set aside.

3. Place both cans of tomatoes into food processor and pulse until nearly smooth. Pour into chicken mixture. Stir in cooked pasta; stir to combine. Stir in heavy cream, salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste. Cook until heated through and serve. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.

8 servings

Friday, September 5, 2008

Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

This is a recipe that I've seen around for a while and was actually one of my first slow-cooker recipes ever. It's so good and, depending on what you do with the chicken, healthy. The addition of the cream of mushroom soup makes the chicken taste cheesy without the calories of cheese. Plus, it makes the house smell amazing when you come in after a long day.


- 1 can reduced-sodium condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
- 1 envelope reduced-sodium taco seasoning
- 1 cup favorite salsa

Place the chicken breasts in the slow-cooker and sprinkle with taco seasoning. This time I actually mixed the salsa and cream of mushroom soup together before pouring over the chicken breasts, but I've done it separately also. This doesn't look pretty, but it's good.

Cover the slow-cooker and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

I usually serve the breasts whole on top of brown rice and a side of Mexican-style vegetables, but since we had brown rice the day before, I wanted to do something different. I need to go to the grocery store, so I had limited resources, but I came up with this:

Still not very pretty-looking, but I shredded the chicken in the crockpot, reserving one of the breasts for tonight's dinner. I laid down a bed of tortilla chips on each plate, and layered the steamed corn, the shredded chicken, cheese, and jalapenos on top. This worked out well, and Joe was impressed by my creativity. Next time, with planning, I might add tomatoes and lettuce and black beans, and maybe replace the cheese with a dollop of low-fat sour cream.

The Hundreds

I'm a little behind the ball on this but thought it would be interesting to do both of them together.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (Well, I've had alligator, so I'm counting it.)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (Joe won't let me eat raw oysters anymore because of the bacteria.)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (I have never had a Big Mac. I think this makes me a bad American.)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (I prefer my martinis "clean" however.)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (All of the above.)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

46/100 - That doesn't seem too bad to me.

Barbara from Tigers & Strawberries, another blog I read, came up with the Vegetarian Hundred, which, although I am not a vegetarian, I think everyone should at least try these items as well.

The Vegetarian Hundred

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked
2. Tabouleh
3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam)
4. Fresh figs
5. Fresh pomegranate
6. Indian dal of any sort
7. Imam bayildi
8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu
9. Freshly made hummus (I do plan to make my own in the near future, but I haven't been in a hummus mood lately.)
10. Tahini
11. Kimchi
12. Miso
13. Falafel
14. Potato and pea filled samosas
15. Homemade yogurt
16. Muhammara
17. Brie en croute
18. Spanikopita
19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes
20. Insalata caprese
21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards)
22. Freshly made salsa
23. Freshly made guacamole
24. Creme brulee
25. Fava beans
26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles
27. Fattoush
28. New potatoes
29. Coleslaw
30. Ratatouille
31. Baba ganoush
32. Winter squash
33. Roasted beets
34. Baked sweet potatoes
35. Plantains
36. Chocolate truffles
37. Garlic mashed potatoes
38. Fresh water chestnuts
39. Steel cut oats
40. Quinoa (But I'm making something with it this coming week.)
41. Grilled portabello mushrooms
42. Chipotle en adobo
43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas
45. Frittata
46. Basil pesto
47. Roasted garlic
48. Raita of any type
49. Mango lassi
50. Jasmine rice (white or brown)
51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry
52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie (I just had a pumpkin muffin this morning. Also, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin bread...yum!)
53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette
54. Quince in any form
55. Escarole, endive or arugula
56. Sprouts other than mung bean
57. Naturally brewed soy sauce
58. Dried shiitake mushrooms
59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…)
60. Fresh peach ice cream (My dad makes my grandmother's recipe every summer.)
61. Chevre
62. Medjool dates
63. Kheer
64. Flourless chocolate cake
65. Grilled corn on the cob (My favorite way to prepare corn.)
66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili
67. Tempeh
68. Seitan or wheat gluten
69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese
70. Sweet potato fries
71. Homemade au gratin potatoes
72. Cream of asparagus soup
73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip
74. Mushroom risotto
75. Fermented black beans
76. Garlic scapes
77. Fresh new baby peas
78. Kalamata olives
79. Preserved lemons
80. Fried green tomatoes
81. Chinese scallion pancakes
82. Cheese souffle
83. Fried apples
84. Homemade frijoles refritos
85. Pasta fagiole
86. Macadamia nuts in any form
87. Paw paw in any form
88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind
89. Paneer cheese
90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!)
91. Fresh pasta in any form
92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps
93. Green papaya salad
94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes
95. Pickled ginger
96. Methi greens
97. Aloo paratha
98. Kedgeree (the original Indian version without the smoked fish, not the British version with fish)
99. Okra
100. Roasted brussels sprouts


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lindsay's Okra Gumbo

One of the best meals that I have ever had was a homemade jambalaya made by Joe's best friend's mother. As if the jambalaya itself wasn't good enough to make you want to cry, we ate it after ridiculously bad traffic detained us for several hours on our drive from Houston to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We were determined to make it to their house, even though we were starving and it was 10 pm, because we knew that delicious jambalaya was waiting for us.

This gumbo couldn't touch that delicious jambalaya, but it does hit the spot for a quick weeknight dinner. I love okra and anything that I can add some additional vegetables to, so this is perfect for our household. It made enough for Joe and I for dinner plus two lunch portions for me.

Lindsay's Okra Gumbo (source: Sing for Your Supper)

1-16 oz. package frozen cut okra, unthawed
1 onion, chopped
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2-3 slices bacon
salt & pepper and cajun seasoning (lots) to taste
(I added a few sausages and some spinach, celery, and green onions that needed to be used.)

In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon, reserve grease. Remove the bacon from the pan and add the onion, cooking until translucent. Add the frozen okra and tomatoes (and any other vegetables); season with plenty of salt and pepper and lots of Cajun seasoning (I also added some Tabasco sauce), then add the bacon back in and cook over medium to low heat for 15 -20 minutes until heated through.

I served this over brown rice.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cajun Tilapia

This is the perfect weeknight meal, and since neither Joe nor I were off for Labor Day yesterday, it was a weeknight for us! The other advantage of this is that it scales perfectly for two people. Most of the time I welcome leftovers, but other times, I don't want to have to worry about whether something will keep. Plus, this recipe is so easy that even Joe could make it.

I served this with a side of steamed broccoli seasoned with a little garlic salt. A light enough meal that we didn't feel guilty eating peach pie later!

Cajun Tilapia (source: Joelen)

4 to 6 tilapia fillets, fresh or frozen (We used 2 fillets.)
cooking spray or 1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper

Heat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a large shallow baking dish.
Combine the seasonings in a gallon sized freezer bag. (I omitted this step.)
Place one tilapia in the freezer bag and shake until fully coated. (I rubbed the seasoning on the fillets rather than shaking them in the bag.)
If using frozen tilapia fillets, dip the tilapia in water to moisten before placing in the seasoning bag.
Arrange the seasoned fish fillets on the prepared baking pan.
Brush the fillets with melted butter or spray with cooking spray.
Bake the fish fillets for 15 to 20 minutes in preheated oven, or until fish is cooked through.
Fish will flake easily with a fork when done.
Carefully remove the fillets to plates with a spatula.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Farewell to Summer: Peach Pie Redux

It's that time of year again. I've been in school for a week. The days are getting noticeably shorter. All of the BBQs and county fairs are winding down. It's the end of summer. Despite the heat, summer is my favorite season so I always mourn for a little bit as Labor Day approaches. This weekend I decided that instead of mourning, I would bake my farewell to summer: my last peach pie of the season.

Is there a more beautiful sight in this world than a bowl full of ripe peaches? I think not.

Although this was the same recipe I used here, it didn't turn out quite as well texturally. There must have been more moisture in the peaches than last time because when we cut into the pie, it went everywhere.

Oh well. It's still delicious, especially with some Purity 98% fat-free ice cream on top.

Good-bye peaches. Good-bye summer. See you next year!