Sunday, November 19, 2017

Holiday Baking: Week 2 and 3

After that half-hearted beginning, things are moving into higher gear around here. Last weekend I made:
  • A double batch of chocolate chip cookies (yes, more of them)
  • A double batch of lemon poppyseed cookies
  • A single batch of peanut blossoms/Hershey Kiss cookies (they go by a lot of names) - only one, because that recipe makes a ridiculous number of them!
This weekend my planning was not the greatest; I ended up picking three recipes that need chilling time. So the dough was made on Saturday and baked on Sunday.
  •  Single batch of midnight crackles; these are very intense, fudgy little guys, and I always find that a couple of them is enough for a cookie tray
  • Double batch of Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies. 
  • Double batch of cookies for the peppermint filled ones everyone loves so much; these will be filled as needed later in the season.
My freezer is already looking kind of stuffed. Next weekend things really get cranking! 

Monday, November 6, 2017

It Begins!

My holiday baking season officially started yesterday -- slowly, with one batch of chocolate chip cookies, which I over-baked, and some sugar cookies. I saved out the best of the c.c. batch and stashed them in the freezer along with most of the sugar cookies; there are always a few that end up misshapen.

It's been a weird, and a very stressful, year., and I am looking forward to its end, although I worry that nothing much will improve.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gearbox Pinor Noir

My wine project this year went the way of most such projects, but I have to make a note of this one, because it is one of the few bottles of wine I threw out rather than drink it.

It tasted really weird, and not in a good way. Do not repeat.

Roasted Chili-Lime Cod

Another quick entry, this time because I am sick. Life continues, though. This was a great recipe, and cod happened to be on sale, so I didn't even feel guilty for indulging. Since I was turning the oven on anyway, I roasted asparagus alongside this, sliced up a baguette, and called it a day (see also: me being sick).

Everything turned out done at just about the same time. It didn't have time to marinate very long, but it was really good (and spicy), and definitely a keeper.

  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
  • ½ Teaspoon Oregano
  • ½ Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon Cumin
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 lb cod fillet
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • Zest and Juice of 2 Limes
  • Cooked Brown Rice, for serving, optional
  • Cooked Corn, for serving, optional
  1. In a small bowl combine all of the spices and mix well. Using 1 tablespoon of olive oil, brush the cod filets and then rub the filets with the spice mixture. You will use the entire rub – so make sure to coat them very well. Refrigerate the cod filets for at least 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450º. Place the cod filets on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes – the fish will flake easily and be opaque throughout when it’s cooked through.
  3. Melt the butter, combine with lime juice and olive oil, and drizzle over the fish before serving. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

One-Pot Orzo with Italian Sausage and Kale

So, I know that I need to get some pictures on this blog eventually, but for the love of Julia Child, why do so many food blogs these days include a half dozen pictures of the dish? Sure, I want to know what it's supposed to look like, and maybe it's a really nice presentation, but surely one or two photos will do.


Anyway, this is a straightforward recipe, easy to make, warm and yummy on a chilly autumn evening, and a great way to use ingredients that you might find in season at your farmer's market. It will find a place in our rotation (which is very full).

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch (5-6 leaves) of kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 3 cups chicken broth (no salt added preferred)
  • 1½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large saucepan, on medium-high heat, add the olive oil and sausages. Crumble the sausages using a wooden spoon, letting the meat brown slightly. Then add in the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir occasionally until the onions begin to soften, 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the kale and sauté until it begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and add the orzo; mix the ingredients together*. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce the heat down to a simmer. Cook with a lid on for 12-15 minutes until the broth is absorbed into the orzo and the orzo is tender.
  3. Add the cheese and stir to coat the orzo and vegetables. Taste for additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Blackberry Cream Cheese Crumb Cake

Only time for a quick post today, so I'm going to link to the very thorough write-up over at Sally's Baking Addiction. This cake is fantastic, and it came together so quickly and so easily I was astonished at how well it turned out. It is also very photogenic! I served it after a casual dinner, but my spouse will tell you it makes a great breakfast.

One of these days I will have the equipment to make pretty blog posts, too, but for now I will content myself with keeping a record of great new things I've tried recently.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Farfalle with Chicken, Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, and Goat Cheese

Summer's end is approaching -- the days are shorter, even if they continue to be too warm, and every market Saturday I remind myself that this might be the last of _______ for the year. So far, the tomatoes are still with us, and given that it has been ridiculously warm, this Sunday was a great occasion for making this dish. Like many of my favorite recipes, I have this one on a page pulled out of Bon Appetit magazine a million years ago.

As do many people (going from the comments on the linked version), I don't often  make this exactly as written. I never have marjoram and don't particularly care for it; I use other greens if that's what I have, I don't fuss about the kind of vinegar I use or adding sugar (because good heavens, why). I look at this recipe as the opposite of fussy; it's a way to enjoy some wonderful fresh ingredients as something other than a salad but without messing around too much.  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 ounces farfalle
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 6 heirloom tomatoes, cored, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (from 1/2 rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions; sprinkle with salt and cook until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in vinegar and sugar; cook until onions are browned, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Transfer caramelized onions to bowl; reserve skillet.
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.
  3. Add wine to reserved skillet. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, 3 minutes. Add pasta, onions, broth, and next 4 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  4. Divide spinach among plates. Spoon pasta over spinach. Top with crumbled goat cheese. 
I hope you will make this (without fussing) and enjoy it, too. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sweet Potato Chickpea and Spinach Coconut Curry

All things have their cycles, and I wonder if mine is swinging back around to food. I spent some time this past weekend just reading a cookbook, something I haven't done in ages. I'll hunt through them for a recipe I want, or entertain wistful memories of a more ambitious period in my food-life and then move on to something else, but I haven't been reading them.

It was Patricia Wells' Vegetable Harvest, by the way, a lovely volume and a pleasure to browse through. I found some soup recipes I had quite forgotten about, and look forward to trying them when the weather cools off.

Last night was another Pinterest find, however, Sweet Potato Chickpea and Spinach Coconut Curry, which apparently was sourced in turn from a different blog, which has altogether too many recipes on it for me to find the page for this one. The whole cumin seeds in this added a very different flavor, and we agreed that it was an excellent recipe.

  • 2 Tbsp neutral cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch
  • 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk (or if you're me and think "light" products are ridiculous, use full-fat)
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. The oil is hot enough when a cumin seed sizzles when tossed into the pan. Add the cumin seeds and toast for about a minute, until fragrant and lightly darkened in color (be careful not to burn them). 
  2. Stir in the onion, season with a pinch of salt, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and sauté for a couple of minutes, until the garlic softens.
  4. Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, tomatoes with their juices, and coconut milk. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  5. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted. 
  6. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Serve over rice.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Risotto with Sugar Snap Peas and Spring Leeks

Or onions, since I rarely remember to buy leeks when I get the urge to make this. It got suddenly chilly and damp here in New England yesterday, and I didn't mind the idea of standing over the stove for a bit. This is another fantastically ancient Cooking Light clipping, and no, I don't know when I will figure out how to post pictures in these entries. I do kind of miss having them, but I am also constantly annoyed by how many pics food blogs seem to have these days. So maybe I will be the pictureless food blog for a bit.

  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make this vegetarian)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch thick) sliced leek
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  2. Cook peas in boiling water for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. (I often use frozen ones, in which case I steam them for a few minutes in the microwave before adding them.)
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. 
  4. Add leek and carrot; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. 
  5. Add rice; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. 
  6. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring frequently. 
  7. Stir in 1/2 cup broth, vermouth, salt, and oregano. 
  8. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes). 
  9. Add peas; cook 4 minutes. 
  10. Stir in cheese and remaining ingredients.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Falafel Pitas with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Another oldie/goodie from Cooking Light, and one that doesn't require much stove time. There's a fair amount of prep work to do with making the sauce, but the falafel themselves are creamy and delightful. I like to serve this with Couscous Salad with Chickpeas and Tomatoes; you can never have too many chickpeas.

  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 (1-ounce) slice whole wheat bread, torn into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, split
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup Cucumber-Yogurt Dressing
  1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a food processor; pulse 6 times or until well blended (mixture will be wet).
  2. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spoon about 1/3 cup chickpea mixture per patty into pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
  3. Line each pita half with 1/4 cup arugula, add 1 patty to each pita half, and spoon 2 tablespoons Cucumber-Yogurt Dressing into each pita half.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thai Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce; Thai Cucumber Salad

A Thai-inspired two-fer last night as 90+ degree heat continues in Boston. I've been spending tons of time on Pinterest lately (boredom will do that), and actually managed to find two things in my pins that went together.

I really liked both of these and will definitely repeat. I cut my chicken into larger chunks than these and forgot to soak the skewers, so I just baked them on the sheet for a few minutes longer.

Note that this does need to marinate! I was very proud of myself for being together enough in the morning to get it all ready before work.

Thai Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce (source)

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2-1" strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 30-35 wooden skewers
Marinade/Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (like Sambal Oelek)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  1. Whisk together the Marinade/Sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Remove 1/4 cup to a separate bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pour into a freezer bag or similar container. Add chicken and toss to evenly coat. Marinate in the refrigerator 6 hours up to overnight. Refrigerate remaining marinade/sauce separately to be used in the peanut sauce.
  2. When ready to cook, soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Thread chicken onto skewers.
  3. OVEN: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly divide chicken between baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F).

    GRILL: Grease an indoor or outdoor grill and heat to medium heat. Once hot, grill chicken approximately 4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F).
  4. Add the  reserved sauce to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat, then stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter until completely combined. Add water 1 TBSP at a time to thin if necessary.
  5. Serve chicken warm with peanut sauce. 
Thai Cucumber Salad (Source

  • 1 lb cucumber, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 c red onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Add salt to the cucumber, mix well and set aside for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. In the meantime, make the dressing, by combining all the ingredients in a small sauce pan. Turn on the heat and reduce the dressing a bit so it’s slightly thickened. Let cool.
  3. Drain the cucumbers. Toss with dressing. Top with peanut and cilantro, serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Open-Faced Jerk Vegetable Sandwiches

This is an oldie -- I still have the physical clipping from Cooking Light -- but I haven't made it in a while. It's an excellent light recipe to make in the summer. A quick saute for the vegetables and a quick run under the broiler is all the heat you need. It's also flexible; you can use literally any vegetables in this, although you should make sure that they'll all cook in roughly the same amount of time; save the carrots and butternut squash for another day.

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (1/8-inch-thick) diagonally cut zucchini
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 1 teaspoon light mayonnaise (Note: I don't use this, and I don't know why anyone would, but if it sounds good to you, hey, go for it.)
  • 4 (2-ounce) slices diagonally cut French bread
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced Muenster cheese, cut into 1/8-inch-wide strips
  • 1 cup gourmet salad greens (I normally just use spinach.)
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add zucchini, onion, bell pepper, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil; seal and shake well to coat. Let stand 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight. (If you're pressed for time, it's still quite good even if you make it right away.)
  2. Heat remaining 1/2 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add vegetable mixture, and sauté for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown. Remove from heat and keep warm.
  3. Preheat broiler.
  4. Combine chutney and mayonnaise. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet. Broil 1 minute or until lightly toasted on each side; remove from heat. Spread each slice with about 1 tablespoon chutney mixture; top evenly with cheese. Broil 1 minute or until cheese melts. Place 1 cheese toast on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1/4 cup greens and 1/2 cup vegetable mixture.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Spellbound Petite Sirah 2014

I picked this one on the theory that I would drink it while reading this week's book, A Discovery of Witches. Then the virus happened, and work was insane, and no reading has been done this week -- not even out of January, already behind on my Goodreads goal.

Oh well. At least the wine is good? This is a dark wine, and the first word that came to mind on tasting it was "jammy." It's not sweet, but definitely fruit-forward and pretty strong stuff. I like it, but it really needs something to go with it. 

The Prettiest Lemon Cake I Ever Threw Away

Last weekend seems like a lifetime ago. I've been doing a lot of nesting, whether due to the winter gloom or general anxiety over the political landscape, and I decided to take some of that energy and turn it into a cake. This beautiful lemon poppyseed cake, using a favorite recipe from one of my favorite books, Baking by Flavor.

That was the weekend the norovirus visited our family. Even the cat got sick, although that was probably not related. Days passed; even as our appetites recovered, the cake never got touched. I considered taking it to the office, but the idea of making all of my co-workers sick gave me pause.

So today I threw it away. Perhaps I will make a different one this weekend.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Chateau de Sours Bordeaux 2010

Undeterred by the poor showing made by last week's new wine, I again ventured to the local packie and selected something more or less at random -- my only rule being that it had to cost less than $20, since I don't want this experiment to bankrupt us.

I liked this one quite a bit. Kind of assertive, but I don't mind that, and there's a lot going on flavorwise -- I am not a wine taster, and I am not going to attempt to use their jargon. This would go well with lots of "big flavor" winter menus.

New Recipes - 2017 Week 2

As national politics threatens to become ever more chaotic, I have responded by a) paying closer attention to the news than I used to and b) nesting furiously, well aware that this is no real defense, and not much of a psychological one, even.

It's what I've got, so I'm going with it. Traditionally at the start of the year, too, I fling energy into "projects." I set wildly unlikely goals on Goodreads, renew my determination to lose that ten pounds, write down everything I do as a form of encouragement -- and I decide, again, that I should try more new recipes. I managed three last week, and today a sick 6yo is keeping us housebound and quiet, so I thought I would take a moment to write them up.
  • Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala - I did an unusual thing and made this on a night when no one but me would eat it. It's easy to make and provides generous portions (I still have some in the freezer). Will definitely make it again.
  • Fresh Orange Scones - I'm not sure if I did something wrong when I made these. My dough did not look anything like that pictured, but was quite crumbly. This made them much like another scone recipe I make all the time. They tasted fine, and the glaze was really good, but I might have to mess with a bit and see if I can figure out why the difference. I still like Panera better.
  • Tuscan Chicken Skillet - Another dinner-time hit, easy enough for a weeknight and almost ridiculously flavorful. 
 Even if I don't make any other new recipes in 2017, I'm happy to have made these experiments. Things fall apart, but at least we're eating well.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Firesteed Pinot Noir 2013

One of the (many) things I want to do this year is try some new wines, rather than automatically buying the same thing all the time. I started off with this one for the best possible reason: I liked the label design.

Unfortunately, the contents were thin and harsh-tasting. It was drinkable, and better with food than by itself, but not a pleasure. Will not repeat this one. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Years Eve 2016

We had a very quiet conclusion to 2016, just the five of us and my in-laws, who came down from Maine for a combined Christmas-birthday-New Years Eve. In between opening presents and eating, quiet reigned. Toys were played with, books were read, and naps were taken.

I kept the menu simple, at least in theory -- having forgotten what a pain white sauce can be to make, I muffed it the first time and had to start over.
  • Prosciutto and Gruyere Pinwheels. These are mandatory for holidays at this point. So easy and so good. 
  • Seafood Macaroni and Cheese. I indulged my weakness for crab here, which was fantastic albeit pricey. 
  • Salad of Winter Greens, Walnuts, Roasted Beets, and Goat Cheese. Whew. Really tasty and easy to throw together while the macaroni bakes.
  • For wine I put myself in the hands of the liquor store employee who intercepted me at the door - I know my limits. She directed me with supreme confidence to Falanghina, which I have never heard of before. What little I know about wine does not extend to Italian varieties. We had a bottle from Terredora Dipaolo, and one from San Salvatore, and they went very well with the meal.
Most of us made it to midnight and watched the ball drop via internet stream.