Sunday, October 19, 2008

I still love you...

...I'm just a bad blogger! It's been a busy month, and the upcoming week promises to be even crazier. Some things to note: we're moving (just to a new rental house a few miles away) this week, mostly in the evenings after work. (We'll be out of town for the next 4 weekends, so this week is really the only time we can do it!) As a result, dinners are going to be quick, easy, and most of all, inexpensive. I'm cleaning out our freezer and fridge as best I can before we move, plus I've been trying to use as many coupons as I can. This week my goal is a $50 grocery bill. Can I do it? Tune in, and I'll share my savings.

Sunday - Chili and cornbread
*I'll need to buy all the fresh ingredients for this
Monday - Pork chops and roasted acorn squash, salad
*I have an acorn squash on hand, so pork and lettuce go on the list
Tuesday - Beef enchiladas, zucchini ribbons
*I have corn tortillas on hand, and meat and sauce in the freezer from the last time I made this. A tip I love is making double batches of things when cooking for two...freeze half, and you have an easy dinner for "free" the next time you want it.
Wednesday - Broccoli-chicken quiche, salad
*I have frozen chicken thighs and eggs on hand. Broccoli goes on the list.
Thursday - Tomato-basil soup with Italian turkey sausage meatballs
*I'll just need an onion, chicken broth, and tomato sauce for this. Italian sausage on hand in the freezer.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Sweet 100

So even though I'm not really a sweets person, I thought this was too fun to pass up. Remember the Omnivore's Hundred? Well, this one speaks to my sweet tooth...and from the looks of some of these that I've never tried, I'm going to be spending some time baking!

  1. Red Velvet Cake
  2. Princess Torte
  3. Whoopie Pie
  4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
  5. Beignet
  6. Baklava
  7. Black and white cookie
  8. Seven Layer Bar
  9. Fried Fruit pie
  10. Kringle
  11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
  12. Scone with clotted cream
  13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
  14. Halvah
  15. Macarons
  16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers
  17. Bubble tea
  18. Dixie Cup (*Can someone fill me in on what this is, exactly?)
  19. Rice Krispie treats
  20. Alfajores
  21. Blondies
  22. Croquembouche
  23. Girl Scout cookies
  24. Mooncake
  25. Candied Apple
  26. Baked Alaska
  27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
  28. Nanaimo bar
  29. Baba au rhum
  30. King Cake (find the baby!)
  31. Sachertorte
  32. Pavlova
  33. Tres Leches Cake
  34. Trifle
  35. Shoofly Pie
  36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
  37. Panna Cotta
  38. New York Cheesecake
  39. Napoleon / mille-feuille
  40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cookies
  41. Anzac biscuits
  42. Pizzelle
  43. Kolache
  44. Buckeyes
  45. Malasadas
  46. Moon Pie
  47. Dutch baby
  48. Boston Cream Pie
  49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
  50. Pralines
  51. Gooey butter cake
  52. Rusks
  53. Daifuku
  54. Green tea cake or cookies
  55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
  56. Crème brûlée
  57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
  58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
  59. Jelly Roll
  60. Pop Tarts
  61. Charlotte Russe
  62. An "upside down" dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
  63. Hummingbird Cake
  64. Jell-O from a mold
  65. Black forest cake
  66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
  67. Kulfi
  68. Linzer torte
  69. Churro
  70. Stollen
  71. Angel Food Cake
  72. Mincemeat pie
  73. Concha
  74. Opera Cake
  75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
  76. Pain au chocolat
  77. A piece of Gingerbread House
  78. Cassata
  79. Cannoli
  80. Rainbow cookies
  81. Religieuse (French cream puffs)
  82. Petits fours
  83. Chocolate Souffle
  84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
  85. Rugelach
  86. Hamenstashen (A Purim dessert)
  87. Homemade marshmallows
  88. Rigo Janci (Hungarian chocolate mousse/cake)
  89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
  90. Divinity
  91. Coke or Cola cake
  92. Gateau Basque
  93. S'mores
  94. Figgy Pudding
  95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
  96. Joe Froggers
  97. Sables
  98. Millionaire's Shortbread
  99. Animal crackers
  100. Basbousa

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Easy Peasy Week

Sunday - Cookout with friends
Monday - Eat out (work dinner)
Tuesday - Italian sausage, peppers & onions, salad
Wednesday - Whole trout on the grill, Mom's Green Beans,
Thursday - Cocktail party after work...grab something out

An Old Favorite, Revisited

When I was in high school, I decided for about a year that I was a vegetarian. In fact, for a while, I was vegan. Then I realized that my 100-pounds-soaking-wet self didn't do so well without any animal protein at all. So I put the milk and eggs back in rotation. Then one day, I missed chicken, and I indulged in a PF Chang's chicken lettuce wrap. After that, I realized that food was just more delicious when you eat meat.

Anyhow, my wonderful parents, while secretly knowing this was just a phase, made my eating preferences a priority in the house. We had this cookbook and leaned heavily on the dishes listed in it, especially the Eggplant Parmesan. Unlike many Italian-American dishes, it was super light and fairly healthy save for the layers of melty, gooey mozzarella cheese. I still enjoy making this dish when I have time to let it bubble away in the oven...on weeknights, though, that's not always possible. So I did a little eggplant parm remix, and turned it into a pasta sauce. It was perfect with whole-wheat pasta, which I find a little too hearty for lighter sauces. Unfortch, not the most photogenic of dishes, but you get the idea...

Eggplant-Tomato Sauce with Whole-Wheat Pasta

serves 2 with leftovers

Olive oil nonstick cooking spray
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
Handful fresh basil, torn
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 box whole-wheat rotini, penne, or other short-cut pasta
Garnish: 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 450. Generously coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place eggplant on the baking sheet in one layer, and spray again with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Meanwhile, cook pasta per package direction. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often, until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried oregano, and salt and pepper. Gently simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove eggplant from oven, and add to tomato sauce; stir to combine. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Add pasta to sauce, and add pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the consistency of the sauce is to your liking. Stir in fresh basil and Parmesan. Serve, topped with mozzarella cheese, if desired.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I made two soups recently that were pretty great. Especially now that it's beginning to cool off, soup just seems like the coziest meal to come home to. Both of these soups are fairly light—filling and hearty, but not heavy or rich.

The first one was inspired by this amazing aioli/dip at The Ravenous Pig, an awesome restaurant in my hometown, Winter Park, Florida. They have this fried okra that's pretty much heavenly, and the creamy tomato-dill condiment they serve alongside i
t is addictive. I always think tomato-basil...rarely tomato-dill. But dill is my all-time favorite herb, and though it's usually associated with summery foods, it's a great way to freshen anything year-round. This soup is lovely in its simplicity. It was so good I ate two bowls.

Tomato-Dill Chicken Soup
serves 2 with leftovers for lunch

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups chicken broth
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh, diced
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
Garnish: chopped fresh dill

In a stockpot or large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add water or more oil as needed if the pan looks dry. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute.

Lower heat to medium; add tomato sauce, sugar, broth, and dill, and stir to combine. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Garnish with fresh dill, if desired.

Soup number two was inspired by a conversation I had weeks ago when my friend Jessica at work told me her mom made white chicken chili. This sounded intriguing to me—white chili? There's this strange thing here in Birmingham called white barbeque sauce...have you heard of this? I've never had it, because it just sounds wrong. But white chili...well that sounded delicious. Of course it wouldn't be real chili, I knew, but it just seemed like something Jason and I would like.

So I looked for a white chicken chili recipe to see what this was all about, and the best-looking one I found was from Cooking Light. I used to cook from CL all the time, and haven't in a good long while. But now I'll be looking to its recipes a lot more. This was great and low-fat, low-cal...and just yummy! I made a lot of changes, but the general recipe is pretty solidly based upon Cooking Light's version, so I will link the original recipe and then give you my edited verion below.

White Chicken Chili
serves 2 with leftovers for lunch

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a stockpot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add some liquid from the can of green chiles to moisten pan. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and tender, about 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander, and chipotle powder, and stir to combine. Add more liquid from the chopped green chiles to moisten pan as needed. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes more.

Lower heat to medium; add the chiles and any remaining liquid, beans, and broth, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add chicken, and stir. Cook for 8 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Turn off heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Add cheese, and stir well to melt and incorporate thoroughly into soup. Add cilantro, and serve.

Close...but no CPK

Have you ever had the miso salad at California Pizza Kitchen? I have to admit, I have had some pretty terrible experiences at the chain restaurant, but the past few times I've gone, I've ordered the miso salad and been more than happy with my selection. The veggies are crunchy and the dressing is really yummy.

So I decided I should try my hand at this salad...I mean, why pay $7 for something I could make for less? Well...I tried to find one of those "restaurant secrets" web sites...the ones where they share recipes from restaurants, or at least close-enough knockoffs. But this dressing recipe was nowhere! Those sneaky CPK people, trying to keep me coming back.

Well, anyway, I made a miso dressing. It's not the same as the one at CPK, but it is delicious. And something tells me it's healthier because it doesn't have the creaminess of the aforementioned dressing. And I also didn't include the deadly-good but dangerous fried wonton strips. This is fairly low-carb, too, especially if you eliminate the edamame (which apparently contains quite a bit of carbs). Oh, and a side note: my camera battery died right when I went to take a photo. Sorry for the picture-less post!

Chopped Asian Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

serves 2 with leftovers for lunch
Depending on how much you like miso, start with 2 tablespoons of miso paste, taste, and add more if desired.

1 medium-large head napa cabbage, sliced thinly
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into matchsticks
1/2 small bag frozen edamame, shelled
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin matchsticks
2 to 3 tablespoons white miso
2 to 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil, or to taste
1 to 2 chicken breasts, grilled

Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, combine the miso, vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Whisk well, and then slowly whisk in the vegetable oil, adding more if you think it tastes too tangy. Taste, and adjust seasoning; add soy sauce, vinegar, or oil if needed. Toss veggies with dressing, and top with grilled chicken.