Thursday, October 30, 2008

Short Hiatus

My oven broke on Sunday night, and it's created a mental block for me in terms of cooking. Hopefully I'll return sometime next week with some new food-related posts, but I've been in a bit of a funk lately where everything I think of that I want to make somehow involves an oven.

If anyone has any recommendations for non-oven meals that can get me out of this cooking funk, I would appreciate it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oct/Nov Recipe Exchange: Apple Scone Cake

I have to admit that I was not that excited when I got this recipe in my inbox. For one thing, I was really overwhelmed with schoolwork, and it just didn't appeal to me. I normally find scones too dry for my taste, and I haven't baked much with apples. As I looked closer though, I realized I had all of the ingredients in my pantry except for the apples, and that was easily solved. So I figured I would give it a go this Friday when I had the whole afternoon to myself.

As a warning, the dough is incredibly sticky, so be sure to flour your hands heavily when kneading. Also, this turned out to be amazingly delicious. The dough is soft and buttery, much more cake-like than scone-like, and the apples add so much to the taste. The dough was a little hard to spread, but believe me when I say this tastes a lot better than it looks.

Apple Scone Cake
source: Oct/Nov recipe exchange

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted chilled butter (cut into pieces)
1 egg
1/2 cup (minus 2 tbsp) milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
3 tbsp sugar
cinnamon to taste

Heat oven to 350-degrees and butter a 9-inch pie pan.
Mix dry ingredients and chop in butter until it looks like coarse meal. Mix together sliced apples, 3 tbsp sugar and cinnamon to taste. Mix together egg, milk, and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture - do not overmix. Then knead the dough 5 times. 1/2 the dough - press into the bottom of your pan and slightly up the sides. Then add in the apple mixture. Take the rest of the dough and drop biscuit it on top. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 45 minutes.

YUMMY! :) Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

This is definitely better straight out of the oven or heated up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dinner Party

I don't entertain often, okay, ever, but the past two Fridays, I've had people over. This last Friday was a couple where the guy is a fellow anesthesia intern with Joe, and we've been meaning to have them over for dinner. It ended up being a blast. We stayed up really late, even though we had a flight to San Diego in the morning! I was also glad to get to use some of the things we received for our wedding, like our white napkins and napkin rings.


Appetizers -
Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Poppers (see below)
Pita chips with roasted garlic and red pepper dip (a WC gift exchange gift)

Dinner -
Spicy Turkey Peanut Noodles

Dessert -
Zebra Cake (even though mine didn't turn out very zebra-y)

Red wine
Oliphant gin (a great gin to sip, even if you think you don't like gin)

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Peppers
source: Pioneer Woman

There's not much to this recipe. Basically, chop fresh jalapenos in half and scoop out the seeds and membrances. Fill with cream cheese, and wrap with bacon. Secure with a toothpick. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes on a rack over a pan.

These are crazy good, and a great appetizer because you can make as many or as few as your little heart desires. For four people, I made 18, and they disappeared pretty quickly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

I swear I have perfectly good reasons for neglecting my blog, namely midterms and a trip to San Diego, which I promise to blog about once I catch up.

I had been eyeing various Shepherd's Pie recipes for a little while when I found this vegetarian one. Fortunately, the weather cooperated with my stomach, and I made this on the day that a front blew through, bringing with it a sharp temperature drop and rain. My one aversion to vegetarian dishes is that they often don't seem to stick to your ribs quite as much as meals with meat do, but this is a major exception. This had a great earthy flavor from the eggplant, and the cumin and curry flavors were a hit with Joe. It also made delicious leftovers.

Also, I have now been convinced of the wonder of the eggplant. I usually avoided it due to too many bad experiences with greasy, floppy eggplant parmesan, but now I think I'll use it more often as a substitute for meat in meals like this. Next time, depending on what I have in the refrigerator, I may add mushrooms to this. They would go perfectly.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
source: Cheap Healthy Good

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 small red or green bell peppers, chopped
3 cups cubed eggplant, with peel (This turned out to be about 3/4 of an eggplant for me.)
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water (I used some chicken broth I had on hand, making this not vegetarian.)
1 1/4 pounds small red potatoes, halved
1/2 cup fat-free half and half (or skim milk)
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used some various assorted cheeses.)
1 pinch Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tb. oil; add onions, garlic, curry and cumin. Saute until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl.

2) Heat remaining oil in skillet; add peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and 1/2 cup water. Saute until soft, about 20 minutes. (It's a good idea to let a lot of the extra moisture evaporate - Kris.) Stir in onions. Place in a shallow 8-by-8- inch baking dish.

3) In a saucepan, boil potatoes until done. Drain and smash. Stir in half and half, peas, salt and pepper. Spread over vegetables and top with Parmesan.

4) Bake 15 minutes. Brown in broiler. Serve.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Margherita Pizza

Oh boy, looking at these pictures is making my stomach grumble. Now that I have discovered the wonders of homemade pizza, there may be quite a few of these types of updates. After transplanting my basil plant to a bigger container, it finally grew, so now I have lots of basil too! When I was contemplating what to do with it, I decided on a margherita pizza: a little more exciting than plain cheese but still simple.

There's no real recipe here. I rolled out some of Mitch's Pizza Dough, mixed an 8 oz can of tomato sauce with some Italian seasoning, covered the dough with the sauce (we used leftovers to dip the crust in), sprinkled on some mozzarella cheese and some sliced Roma tomatoes and chiffonaded basil. I threw it in a 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

I honestly don't know if there is a more beautiful sight in the world than real, non-greasy delivery pizza.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry

Sundays seem to have become stir-fry nights by default. I work from 3-7 pm on Sunday evenings, so I need something quick when I finally get home. This is actually adapted from a Broccoli Beef recipe, but I had an extra chicken breast and two chicken thighs floating around my freezer so I used them instead. This is what Rachel Ray would call MYOTO or Make Your Own Take-Out. It's not quite as good as the chicken and broccoli that I get from our local Chinese place, but it probably is quite a bit healthier.

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry
source: Sisters' Cafe

¼ c. low sodium soy sauce
1 T. chunky peanut butter (I used natural creamy peanut butter.)
½ c. water
1 T. cornstarch
2 tsp vinegar
¼ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
2 T. oil
½ lb (or more) diced or cubed beef, chicken, or pork (I probably used 3/4-1 lb of meat.)
2 c. broccoli cut into small pieces
steamed rice

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, peanut butter, water, cornstarch, vinegar, pepper, ginger, garlic powder, and onion powder. Mix well and set aside. In large skillet or wok, heat the oil. Add beef and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Add the broccoli, and cook for another 3-4 minutes (or until meat and broccoli are almost done), stirring constantly. Add the sauce and mix thoroughly, then continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Serve over steamed rice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shaker Split Pea Soup

Since nearly everyone is watching their finances and budget, a good way to save a little money each week is to eat soup for a meal. I love soup. It can be very healthy and low-calorie, but the warmth fills me up. Joe usually needs a little something else, so he ate a pulled pork sandwich alongside this.

Two Sundays ago, as Joe and I were leaving church, a guy asked us if we wanted some fresh rosemary. Of course, I jumped at the chance, and when he opened his trunk, there was a huge rosemary bush. He was some kind of landscaper, and one of his client's rosemary bushes had gotten out of control. So even though this recipe didn't call for it, I added some rosemary. I also served it with some toasted rosemary bread I had made.

Shaker Split Pea Soup
Source: Cooking Light


  • 3 slices center-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups green split peas
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried savory (I just added another 1/4 tsp thyme.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Thyme sprigs (optional)


1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes. Add onion to pan; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add 5 cups water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add peas, dried thyme, savory, and pepper to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 20 minutes. Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. (I blended about half of it in the blender.) Stir in salt. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 8 1/2 cup servings

Calories: 149 (8% from fat)
Fat: 1.3g (sat 0.4g,mono 0.5g,poly 0.3g)
Protein: 10.2g
Carbohydrate: 25.3g
Fiber: 10g
Cholesterol: 2mg
Iron: 1.8mg
Sodium: 294mg
Calcium: 32mg

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pizza Dough Success

After my last pizza-making attempt, I needed a little time to recover. I really like pizza and making it at home is cheaper and healthier, but I was so underwhelmed by store-bought pizza crusts so I opted to try again. I decided that my next move would be to try to make pizza dough using the dough setting on my bread machine. Obviously, KMAYS + kneading = trouble. After looking around, I decided on this recipe, and it turned out really well!

After doing Crockpot Pulled Pork on Monday, we had this BBQ pulled pork pizza the Tuesday night of the Town Hall debate, so even though I got stuck behind the candidates' motorcades on my way home from work, we were still able to have freshly-baked pizza as the debate started.

Mitch's Basic Pizza Dough


3 1/2 cups flour (Bread flour works best.)
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Throw the ingredients in the bread machine and set to "dough" setting. When it finishes, it's ready to be rolled out. The dough can also be refrigerated or frozen, just allow time for it to return to room temperature before rolling out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pumpkin Waffles

I promise I wouldn't make so many things with pumpkin if everything I made with pumpkin didn't turn out amazingly. One after another, each dish never fails to impress me. Now I see why the ladies on my cooking board are addicted!

Last Saturday morning was a sleeping-in, studying, and cleaning the house day, so I decided to get Joe and I moving with a special treat of pumpkin waffles. I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen and decided to give it a go. These may be the best waffles I have ever had. They were the perfect combination of crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Served with real maple syrup, they were the perfect fall treat.

Pumpkin Waffles
source: Smitten Kitchen


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil for brushing waffle iron or cooking spray

Accompaniment: warm pure maple syrup


Preheat oven to 250-degrees and preheat waffle iron.

Sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and spices.

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl with buttermilk, pumpkin, and butter until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients just until smooth.

In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Folk them gently into the waffle batter, until just combined.

Brush waffle iron lightly with oil and spoon batter (about 2 cups for four 4-inch Belgian waffles) into waffle iron, spreading quickly. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm and crisp. Make more waffles in same manner.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

After seeing this pumpkin bundt cake on Cate's blog, I knew it was something I had to make. Fortunately, our supper club for our church met this past Friday, and I was asked to bring dessert! I don't think I've ever been so excited to bring something. After debating other options, I chose this one, and it was perfect! It helped that the night was cool, and the couple's house where we met was decorated for Halloween, so the cake went along with the theme.

It also tasted fantastic. It was very moist, and the glaze added a lot aesthetically. Our rector was there and said if I wanted to get him a Christmas present, he would put in an order for another one of these cakes right now. So, I think it was a hit!

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
source: Cate's Kitchen


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice (I didn't have any so I used 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp cloves) I followed Cate's lead with this substitution.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-oz can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

For glaze:
2 T butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1-3 T cream or milk


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour bundt pan. Combine together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan. Shake a few times to be sure to remove any bumps then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

To make glaze, heat butter until melted. Stir in sifted powdered sugar. Mix in cream or milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Drizzle over cake while it is on a wire rack so excess falls through.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Thai Chicken Cashew Stirfry

Please bear with me. I seem to have gotten a little behind on blog updates while I was studying for an Early Church History exam that I took today. This was actually last Thursday's dinner, and it was truly delicious. I had prepped the ingredients in the morning, so it came together quickly when I got home. Good for a night where we wanted to watch the VP debate!

I'm not normally a dark meat person, but the chicken thighs were so moist and juicy. The fresh ginger takes this to the next level. I also love the texture of the warmed cashews. The only change I would've made had I had some on hand would've been to replace the dried red pepper flakes with chili-garlic sauce.

Thai Chicken and Cashew Stirfry
source: Gourmet via Liz's Cooking Blog

1 bunch scallions
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup salted roasted whole cashews

Chop scallions, separating white and green parts. Pat chicken dry, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces and toss with salt and pepper. Heat a wok or 12-inch heavy skillet (not nonstick) over moderately high heat until a drop of water evaporates immediately. Add oil, swirling to coat, then stir-fry chicken until golden in places and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add bell pepper, garlic, ginger, red-pepper flakes, and scallion whites to wok and stir-fry until peppers are just tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and sugar, then stir into vegetables in wok. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cashews, scallion greens, and chicken along with any juices accumulated on plate.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Stew

This meal is very similar to Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken, but I think I like this better. Look at all those healthy legumes and vegetables! I would've preferred this to be a little more liquidy, which might be my fault because I drained and rinsed the beans. Next time I might add some chicken broth or beer. Topped with a little cheese and low-fat sour cream, this is a great meal.

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Stew
source: Spark Recipes

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 16-oz can corn (drained)
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chiles (I used one can with green chiles and one with chipotle chiles.)
1 1.25-oz packet taco seasoning
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mix everything together in a slow cooker except chicken. Lay chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. 30 minutes before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. This is good eaten with cheese, sour cream, or tortilla chips.