Friday, April 30, 2010

Semi-classic Cobb Salad

I was perusing some of my favorite blogs, and this salad at Smitten Kitchen made me want to race out and make it.  Meaty and cheesy salads are, of course, the best kind.   I was forced to deviate a bit from the SK recipe due to personal taste and v. fuzzy bleu cheese (note: this fuzziness made the bleu cheese have a Magic Eye quality - I couldn't look directly at it and focus).  

First, I made the dressing (of which I took no photos) - about 1/3 c canola oil, about 1/4 c apple cider vinegar, the juice of one lemon, one minced garlic clove, 3/4 tsp dry mustard, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire, 1 1/2 tsp honey, and salt/pepper.  Vigorously mix - the dry mustard doesn't serve the emulsifying role that a prepared mustard would.  

Then we make our nice bed of lettuce - I used only romaine because I do not like watercress and because that is what I had:

I then added the sliced hard boiled egg, tomato, and some seedless cucumber

And now, the heavy hitters - grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, avocado, and BACON!

I wanted to make a beautiful salad display but didn't think through serving it - it ends up a big mess on the plate, but it was lovely and I want to eat it all the time.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Chicken potstickers

As part of a new healthier eating lifestyle for 2010, I've been wracking my recipe books and websites for healthy, lower cal, lower fat recipes that still have high flavor and still leave you feeling full.  I did some research and discovered that we could each have a plateful of chicken potstickers with some snap peas for less than 425 calories.

First, the potsticker filling:  ground chicken, green onion, low sodium soy sauce (which is still terribly salty as it turns out), sesame oil, garlic, honey, worcestershire, and an egg yolk (would had ginger if not for the vociferous objection of the husband).  Mix.  Chill.

Meanwhile, I made a dipping sauce - soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, honey, a squirt of ketchup, and white wine vinegar.  This ultimately turned out to be way too salty, even for a salt lover such as myself.  Will consider modifications.

Next, I laid out all the happy won ton wrappers, ready to be filled

There we go...a nice little blobette of filling

I promise, I made a very bad one the first time, and I did take a pic, but it got lost somehow.  This one, while not perfect, is much better and actually sealed:
And here we have a plate of 16 - 8 for each of us

Time to cook them - about 2 tsp of veg oil into a very hot pan - 2 minutes of sauteeing to brown the bottoms (or nuclearize them if you have my stove)

Then add a half cup of chicken stock and pop a lid on for 3-5 min to cook the filling

The liquid will be all gone by this point

Plate it up with your sauce and slam it.  You can see some of the crusty bottomed ones there too.  Which I like, but may be too crusty for some.

As I said, the dipping sauce was out of control salty.  The filling was a bit bland.  So what I may do is just toss a bit of the sauce into the remaining filling and lose the sauce.  It was a very filling and tasty dinner and will DEF be riffing on this idea in the weeks and months of weight loss to come!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ethnic dinner of the week

Since before Thanksgiving, I've had little taste for the traditional comfort foods - meatloaf, roast beef, turkey, potatoes. Last night's meal was another attempt to stave off the boringness of late - an "Indian" spiced chicken thigh over garlic rice with toasted almonds and green beans with more toasted almonds. I love toasted almonds.

I marinated the chicken thighs in yogurt seasoned with garam masala, a bit of pre-made curry powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and tumeric. Then the chicken thighs got broiled (I'd have preferred to grill them, but the 60 mph wind gusts prevented outdoor grilling). For the rice, I melted 1 tbsp of butter and a squirt of oil in a stock pot, then cooked a bit of garlic, then added the rice to toast it, then chicken stock/water. At the end, I added the handful of almonds. It was pretty good - the chicken was very moist after almost 2 days in the marinade (oops). The rice could have used a bit more salt but tasted good mixed with the chicken.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Post Thanksgiving items

In addition to portioning out extra Thanksgiving sweet potatoes for baby food, the baby will also be trying a green thing very soon - shockingly green peas:

Meanwhile, back in adult food world, we were watching an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and learned of a diner that makes fried Thanksgiving balls - blobs of mashed potato, stuffing, and turkey hunks that are floured and pan fried.

We served them in a small pool of turkey gravy with some lovely jellied cranberry sauce. Because what Thanksgiving plate is complete without perfectly circular circles of J.C.S.?


It was the food event of the year, 2009. Very traditional Thanksgiving meal - I ask family to bring appetizers and dessert, and I generally provide the rest. This year, it was turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing (both in and out of the bird), the ubiquitous green bean casserole, and dinner rolls. And gravy of course. There always has to be gravy.

The table setting....

Preparing the "bed" for the turkey

Stuffing - Pepperidge Farm bread cubes with onion and celery sauteed in butter. And chicken stock.

The sweet potatoes, with one set aside for the baby's dinner (well, one-quarter of one sweet potato - he may be a hungry baby, but he isn't that hungry). This was eventually topped with a butter/brown sugar/cinnamon/pecan mixture

The turkey, midway through - it got flipped at this point. This poor turkey was put through the wringer - brining, stuffing, roasting upside down....

And the buffet - thanks to my niece for adding a human touch

We can't forget dessert (and a little taste of the appetizers - a cheesy garlic roll) - spectacular pumpkin pie!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Party Party Party!

Several weeks ago, the ladies came over for a mini-ladies weekend slash meet the baby celebration. We feasted on Saturday night

The classic Knorr Veg Soup spinach dip with bread:

Julie's famous dip - cream cheese, cottage cheese, scallions, worcestershire, a touch of mayo (let me know if I'm forgetting something)...

And a roasted red pepper cheesecake, served with toasted pita wedges. This was a surprise hit - Miss M apparently has a taco cheesecake recipe that I also want to try.

Much fun was had by all

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cruncheh Chicken

As I near the end of my maternity leave, I find myself with a random assortment of garden produce (if not my own garden, then my parents'). Time to get my hands dirty and get rid of this stuff.

First off, we have a small butternut squash and a random green squash from my parents' house. I cubed these and coated them with brown sugar (not enough, as it turned out) and melted butter, then roasted them at 400 degrees for about an hour.

For the meat, I coated some boneless, skinless chicken with cornflake crumbs mixed with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. They were ok - I think the smoked paprika was a little overwhelming, but the husband roundly enjoyed them. They were also baked at 400 deg for about 30 minutes.

Served those items up with more zucchini casserole to get rid of a large zucchini from the garden (along with a carrot lingering in the fridge). V. tasty dinner (will add more brown sugar to the squash for round 2 with this meal!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009


My father sent me a restaurant knock-off recipe (see Side Dishes) that sounded intriguing - corn (check), cream cheese (check), cheddar (check), flour/butter (check).....definitely sounded pretty awesome...

Here's the roux mixed with the cheeses and garlic powder, salt, pepper...

Add in the corn and ham...

Bake off...

Then slam. I sent a bunch home with my grandfather, but will definitely be making again!


My grandfather came for lunch, so I had to have an enticing dessert. Coconut cream pie anyone? yes, I think I will.

I made the pastry - yes folks, I made it. But only because I forgot to buy one and couldn't face loading the kid up in his car seat and schlepping back it is prebaked...rustic looking? I use the Barefoot Contessa pastry recipe, with a LOT more water than she uses

Toasted up the coconut while the pie shell baked...

Made the custard filling...1/2 c sugar and 1/4 c cornstarch mixed with 4 egg yolks, 2 c half and half, and vanilla....

Here is the filling in the crust....

Top with whipped cream and voila - coconut cream pie!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bumper crops

As a lot of people know, home gardens in August and September are busy places - at least in central Ohio. We have HUGE amounts of tomatoes and startlingly high yields of bell peppers this year. It was time to pay the piper and do something with the produce (although, to be fair, I've already put up around 100 lbs of tomatoes).

Ground beef on the stove....

Here are some pepper specimens - these puppies are bigger than what you'd buy in the store

Sauteed up with some onions for tacos

Tomatoes and peppers are being made into chili - although this turned into "kitchen sink" chili - I threw in a handful of lentils I had in the cupboard and grated in about half of a garden zucchini as well.

We have probably another 15-20 bell peppers on the way - stuffed peppers are definitely in the future...any other ideas?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Cuppy Cakes!

In order to thank my husband's colleague for all the baby clothes she gave us, I decided to bake something for her and her family. I couldn't just make chocolate chip cookies or something innocuous like that. I tried making a blondie bar recipe, but doubling the recipe seemed to screw it up (way too much butter for the bars to set up in a presentable fashion). So back to the drawing board. Mrs. L convinced me to take a spin through our new favorite inspiration site, Tastespotting to see what there was to see. So many ideas were generated, but given that this family I was baking for includes an elementary school aged kid, the S'mores Cupcakes were the winners.

I deviated a fair bit from the linked recipe mainly due to time constraints and my patience level.

First off, you make a standard graham cracker/butter crust and press it into the bottoms of muffin cups (I had to add in some vanilla wafers because my graham supply was low). After baking off the graham crusts for a few minutes, I added in some chocolate chips and put it back in the oven for about 2 minutes.

Then, using a box chocolate cake mix, I filled the cupcake cups and topped with more graham/wafer crumbs and baked according to package directions.

Here's a foggy shot of the baked cupcakes

Meanwhile, Mr. R helped me make the frosting. Whisk 8 eggs whites, 2 c sugar, and some cream of tartar over a double boiler until the sugar is dissolved. The constant whisking action is in effect in this picture.

Then whip in the stand mixer for 5-7 minutes until fluffy. I added some vanilla and apparently slightly over vanilla'd the mixture.

Then haphazardly frost said cupcakes. Clearly, I do not have the frosting skills of the ladies in Buffalo with Fairy Cakes but it wasn't awful for a Monday night effort. People seem to be enjoying these cupcakes - not being a s'mores person myself, I'm not the ultimate decider on the cupcakeworthiness. Hopefully some recipients of said cupcakes will give me good feedback!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Garden pesto

The basil is finally starting to come in a bit more quickly, so the first round of pesto had to happen.

First, I picked and washed a large pile of basil leaves.

I did not have pine nuts, nor was I going to the store just for pine nuts, so we have walnuts and garlic ready to be blitzed.

And I apparently skipped a few steps - added the basil, added the olive oil, added the Parm cheese...and here we go.

Tossed about 1/2 of this with an insane amount of pasta on Saturday night. Will save the rest in the freezer or for most pesto applications in the near future.