August 15, 2010

friTA-DA!! :)

ok, so i haven't done this in a while... i've still been cooking great meals, i just haven't posted them... well now i'm back!  i'll start by posting my yummy fritatta from last night.

killer friTA-DA!
5 eggs
handful baby bella shrooms, sliced
handful grape tomatoes, cut in 1/2
big handful baby spinach
3 tbsp fresh grated pameggiano reggiano
s + p
1 tbsp veg oil
crusty roll- i used a "seedsational" roll from whole foods- YUM! :)

preheat oven to 350.
in a small bowl, whisk eggs and a generous splash of water.  season w/ s+p and 1 tbsp of cheese.  let sit.  meanwhile, pre-heat 10" oven-safe non-stick pan.  warm oil, and add shrooms.  sautee for a minute and once the start to get some color, THEN add s+p [if you salt them in the beginning, they'll steam, not sautee].  add tomatoes and sautee for another minute.  add 1/2 of the eggs and mix.  add spinach and then add the rest of the eggs.  finish by sprinkling rest of cheese over the top- make sure a little of the cheese if touching the side of the pan [you'll thank me later!] when the edges are set and the top is still runny, place the pan in the oven for 3-5 minutes.  it's cooked through when the top just barely jiggles [like a cheesecake]... now turn on the broiler to brown the cheese a little and don't turn your back on it- a minute or two.  take the pan out of the over and let stand for a minute or two before cutting into slices w/ a pizza cutter.  turn the oven off and place uncut roll in there to warm through for a few minutes.  cut and butter. 

another nice addition to this would've been a salad of arugula w/ a light lemon viniagrette and chilled glass of white wine.

Enjoy! ;)

April 4, 2010

updated lasagna

call me Garfield, but one of my all time fave dishes is lasagna.  my meat asagna has gotten rave reviews.  last time i made one though, i tried something new- i grilled off a ton of veg in my grill pan and made a veggie lasagna... it got rave reviews but i didn't like it at all... i'll never be a vegetarian! :p

so this time, i made a hybrid- part meat and part veg... DELICIOUS!

hybrid lasagna [makes 1 9x9 pan]
no-boil lasagna noodles
1/2 b ground sirloin [90% lean/10% fat]
2 mild italian sausage links [out of the casings]
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 orange pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
handful of white button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, diced
1 15-oz part skim ricotta
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded parmesan
2 eggs
1 jar marinara sauce
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
olive oil

preheat oven to 375.  heat a arge pan over med heat.  add a couple of tbsp of olive oil, the garlic, and the shallot.  cook a minute.  add ground sirloin and sausage- break up with wooden spoon.  add s+p.  cook a minute or two, then turn.  when fully cooked, add the peppers and mushrooms.  s+p [you have to season every layer].  cook a few minutes.  add sauce, but reserve about 1/2 cup- yes it's from a jar but after you're done adding stuff to it, it's yummy.  add basil and oregano [crush each slightly in between your palms to release the flavor].  simmer about 5 minutes.  [my sauce was a bit thick, so i added ~1/4 cup water to loosen it].
in the meantime, crack 2 eggs in a medium bowl and break the yolks with a mixing spoon.  add ricotta and mix.  add 2 cups mozzarella and 1/2 cup parm- mix. +p [no s- the parm has plenty of s].  let stand. 
line bottom of 9x9 pan with the left over sauce.  place 2 noodles in pan.  line with 1/3 cheese mixture.  add 1/3 sauce.  place 2 noodles perpendicular to the last ones.  line with 1/3 cheese mixture.  add 1/3 sauce.  place 2 noodles perpendicular to the last ones- these will face the same way as the first layer [changing the direction of your noodles will keep your lasagna from falling apart when you cut into it].  line with 1/3 cheese mixture.  add 1/3 sauce.  sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup parm.  [if you didn't add 1/4 cup water to your sauce and you notice that your lasagna looks a little dry, you may want to do the following... fill marinara jar with ~1/2 cup water and swirl so that you  pick up the last little bit of sauce.  drizzle around the edge of the lasagna.  you'll thank me later! ;)].  tent pan with aluminum foil- make sure it doesn't touch the cheese or you'll be sorry!  place in oven, but make sure you place an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet directly under it for easy clean up!  bake for about 55 minutes.  remove aluminum foil and bake another 10 or so.  if you like your cheese a little crunchy like i do, turn the broiler on low and make sure you watch it closely.  let sit for about 20 minutes before cutting or you'll end up wit a soupy mess- i cut mine in 9 pieces.  i swear, the hardest part of making this lasagna is getting the first piece out of the pan!
i made a side salad of spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and cucumber w/ low fat balsamic dressing.

enjoy! ;)

March 28, 2010

how do you know you're about to have an awesome dinner?!...

... when your pre-dinner drink looks like this:

i'll give you the ingredients, but you you have to work out the proportions that work for you [read: i was so excited to make this that i didn't even bother to think about measurements! ;)]...

tropical daiquiri
rum, duh!
orange juice
mango sorbet

cut the mango and strawberries ahead of time and freeze [i was trying to use as little as as possible].  in a blender, mix all of the ingredients, except the ice,in a proportion to your liking.  if necessary, add ice. [i used 3 or 4 cubes].

now for the main course...
i'm sure the salmon looks familiar... it's the tropical salmon i posted a couple of months ago.  the salad, however, is new.  truth be told, i fully intended to make the dish the same way i always do, but i was watching "Giada at home" today and all of a sudden the little lightbulb in my head went off ::DING:: :) i believe the episode was call "aloha L.A." or something like that- she was throwing a Hawaiian-themed party in her beautiful backyard.  one of the recipes were these cute little fish taco appetizers that had a mango, avocado, and arugula salad- those looked so good that i automatically started trying to figure out how could make them... without going to the grocery store... it was my lucky day- i just happened to buy an avocado, mango, and salmon yesterday! HOORAY!! :) but i didn't have any tortillas... BOOO! :(  so i decided to make the salmon the way i'd been planning on making it, and altering the sidedish to mimic hers... here's the breakdown:

mango,avocado, and spinach salad
1 mango, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 tomato, diced
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1.5 lemons
1- 1" piece of ginger, shaved? [what the heck is this called...use the microplaner after you're done with the lemon... it's easier to do this when the ginger is frozen! ;)]
2 tbsp olive oil

in a small bowl, mix the lemon zest and juice, the ginger, s+p.  add olive oil.  when well incorporated, add everything except the spinach [you don't want it to wilt, do you?! ;)]  mix carefully so as not to destroy the yummy avocado.  cover and chill until ready to eat.  when ready, add the spinach and lightly toss. 

enjoy! ;)

ps- i was totally planning on making dessert... but the giant drink had soooo much stuff in it- mostly good stuff, i swear- that it unfortunately counted as
my appetizer, my drink, AND my dessert... oh well...

i'll just have to make/post it tomorrow... ;)

March 21, 2010

busy sunday!

so, i've been kinda MIA lately.  so sorry... but it's ok, i think i made up for it today!  i made a breakfast pastry, Paul's Nan's biscotti, and a delicious soup...

I started out the day by making a yummy breakfast pastry filled with mixed berries...

Mixed Berry Breakfast Pastry
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries, sliced
1/2 cup blackberries, sliced
1/4 cupblueberries
2 tbsp strawberry jam [or whatever jam you have on hand]
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and rolled out to ~12" square
egg wash

preheat oven to 400.  in a bowl, mix all berries and the jam.  let stand about 10 minutes.  in the meantime, roll the thawed puff pastry on a well floured surface until it's  12" square.  move the pastry to a cookie sheet covered with a silicon mat [or parchment paper].  place the berries in the center of the pastry using a slotted spoon [so that you don't get too much liquid into the pastry.]  fold the pastry around itself.  brush with egg wash.  bake fpr about 20 minutes or until pastry begins to brown.  brush with a little honey to help the browning and sweeten the dough a bit. don't add the honey in the beginning... the dough will burn... let stand 15 before cutting.  i served it with a little of the juice that was extracted from the fruit and a big cup of coffee.
after a little tv watching and the purchase of more butter, it was on to Paul's Nan's biscotti... the third try was definitely the charm... let me preface this recipe with the fact that i hate to bake simply because I HATE TO MEASURE!!! i'm an eye-baller... and in the off chance that my "measurements" don't quite work out, that's when i start to a pinch of this and a little of that... anyway, here's what happened last night when i tried to make these... 2 rookie mistakes: 1. when i read the recipe, i read tbsp, not tsp... so i had to throw out the dry ingredients and start over.  mistake 2. i made it past the dry ingredients... but when i got to the part where i had to add the eggs to the creamed sugar and butter, i made the awful mistake of adding the first egg straight into the batter... and it was a bad egg! UGH, i know better!!!! so i called it a night and started over today.  [i saved the dry ingredients in the bowl]. 

so here's the deal with this recipe... it was Paul's beloved Nan's recipe, so you'll have to go to Paul's page to get it! while you're there, check out the rest of his stuff- he's one hell of a cook! ;) Giusto Gusto

ok, so my biscotti aren't the prettiest, but man were they good!  the whole thing with biscotti is that they're twice baked- once as a big log, then you cut them and bake them again... well, mine took a little longer to set the first time, so the cuts weren't the cleanest... oh wells, they're still DELICIOUS!  i served them with a little more of the fruit extract from this morning.  tomorrow night i'll try them with Nutella- OM NOM NOM! next time, i think i'll line the silicon mat with slivered almonds, so that they stick to the bottom of the biscotti!

after doing a few other things around the apt, it was on to dinner- a yummy asian soup recipe i found in my "Real Simple" magazine... now, you know me, i can't follow a recipe, so i'll give you all of the substitutions along the way...

Asian dumpling soup with mushrooms and edamame
2 32- oz containers of ow sodium chicken broth
1 2-in piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 16-oz pkg froxen pot stickers [i used chicken & veggie ones]
2 med carrots, sliced [i used 2 big handfuls of baby carrots, cut in 1/2]
4 oz shiitake or white mushrooms, sliced
2 cups frozen shelled edamame
1 bunch watercress, thick stems removed [i substituted spinach bc i had it]
zest and juice of 1 lemon [not in the the original recipe]
2 cloves of garlic, smashed [not in the the original recipe]
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
pinch kosher salt
sliced scallions for garnish

 in a large pot, combine the broth and ginger [and the lemon zest and garlic] and bring to a boil.  add the pot stickers and the carrots and simmer until tender- about 8 minutes. 
add the mushrooms and the edamame and simmer until heated through- about 2 minutes.
stir in the watercress [i used spinach], the soy sauce, and a healthy pinch of kosher salt.  [add the lemon juice].  sprinkle with scallions before serving.

the garlic added a little punch and the lemon brightened it up a bit.  all in all it was delicious - surprisingly filling!

February 9, 2010

indonesian marinade 2 ways!

so i watched Ina Garten make this marinade last weekend, so i gave it a shot... gotta say, this is even better than the Indonesian Ginger Chicken recipe she modified!

Indonesian Grilled Swordfish [serves 6, but i made 2 portions]
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup canola or peanut oil, plus extra for brushing on the grill
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup minced or finely chopped ginger root
2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 (8-ounce, 1-inch thick) swordfish steaks
Kosher salt

Directions [modified]
Combine everything, minus fish of course, in a shallow dish. wisk until well incopopated.  reserve 1/4 of marinadein small tupperware container. Place the swordfish in the shallow dishon top of the sauce and spoon some of the sauce on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.  [a little confusing side note- during the show, she said not to do this because it would start to cook the fish- ceviche style... i decided to follow the recipe on the website and marinated my fish overnight. and boy am i glad i did! the fish has time to soak all of the flavors in!]  remove from fridge about 15 minutes before cooking to take the chill off.  heat grill pan over med-high heat.  drain excess marinade from fridge and place in pan.  cook for about 5 minutes on each side.

I served my swordfish with a lovely salad of spinach, mushrooms, tomato, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, and homemade sourdough croutons- brush a few slices of sourdough with olive oil and sprinkle with s+p.  spread on a baking sheet and place in a 400 preheated oven.  bake until golden brown.  toss salad with reserve marinade [all of the ingredients in this marinade are the same as a salad dressing!]

this was a great, tasty yet light meal.

now for the second recipe:
asian fish tacos
so, i bought some fresh tuna this weekend because i had a pretty sweet idea... why not make some asian-style fish tacos?! little did i know i'd be fighting a gnarly sinus infection, but one must still eat delicious food, right?! ;)

i used the same ginger marinade as above, reserved 1/4 in small tupperware, and place 2 tuna steaks in the dish.  i let the tuna marinate overnight. 

now for the rest of the taco filling, i made a fresh salad:
1/4  red bell pepper, julienne
1/4 yellow bell pepper, julienne
1/4 orange bell pepper, julienne
1 large roma tomato, seeded and julienne
1 navel orange, cut in segments
zest of orange + leftover juice
1 avocado, sliced thin
fresh chives

combine all ingredients minus avocado and fresh chives in a tubberware container with reserved marinade.  shake closed container a few times to ensure that everything is well mixed.  add avocado and reclose container.  invert a couple of times to ensure that avocado is covered, but don't shake- this will ensure that avocado slices stay whole.  do not add chives until ready to eat- they'll get soggy.

place a couple of tortillas in a pouch of aluminum foil and place in a 350 preheated oven.  this will steam them perfectly.  heat large saute pan over med-high heat with 1 tbsp olive oil.  drain excess marinade from tuna, then place in pan.  you def want to use a splatter screen.  this is quick, so don't walk away.  cook on each side for about 2 minutes if you want the middle to still be a little pink- and trust me, you do!  remove from heat and let sit a few minutes before slicing. assemble tuna and salad on tortilla, fold, and enjoy. 

what could be better than a warm tortilla with yummy tuna and crunchy veggies?!
enjoy! ;)

necessity is the mother of all invention...

man, whoever said that is a very smart woman! :p

so, i stayed home sick today- gnarly sinus infection...  but anyway, so when i went to Target to pick up my Rx, i thought about buying some chicken noodle soup but decided against it because i still had another serving of chili left over [btw, that stuff just keeps getting better and better!].  so i came home, as the snow was starting to stick- we're expecting 6-10 inches by tomorrow midday- loaded up on my meds, and hopped back in bed with a yummy cup of tea to watch "about a boy"... when it was over, i was starving but wasn't feeling like the chili was going to be a smart idea, and thought to myself, "why didn't i buy that g-d chicken noodle soup?!" - my body needed something brothy... so i decided to experiment.  here are the results:

clean out the fridge veggie soup:
2 cups low sodium chicken broth [was left over & frozen]
1 shallot, dice
1/4 red bell pepper, rough chop
1/4 yellow bell pepper, rough chop
1/4 orange bell pepper, rough chop
handful baby portobello mushrooms, slice
handful baby carrots, rough chop
1 clove garlic, smashed
~ 1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
s+p to taste
dash of red wine vinegar
fresh chives

heat olive oil in med saucepan over med-high heat.  add shallot, peppers, and carrots- saute until slightly caramelized.  add mushrooms andgarlic.  when you can smell the garlic, add the thyme and s+p.  add chicken stock and when it all starts to bubble, drop the temp to med-low and cover for about 15 minutes.  taste and re-season if needed and add dash of red wine vinegar.  lemon juice or zest would work well also- it was just begging for a little quick of acid.  i served with fresh chives and a slightly buttered piece of warm cornbread because i happened to have those things in the house at the time.

so, maybe this wasn't mom's chicken noodle soup, but man did it hit the spot!  i might try this soup again this weekend with a little additional vegitation and some chicken... we'll see.
enjoy! ;)

February 7, 2010

Rachel Ray's chili... YUM-O! ;)

Uptown Down-Home Chili

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds ground sirloin [i used 1.5 lbs of beef chuck roast, most fat trimmed off, and cubed into 1" pieces]
2 tablespoons grill seasoning (recommended: McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning) a palm full
1/2 pound baby Portobello mushrooms, chopped1/4 pound shitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 medium yellow skinned onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped [substituted with 1/2 of each red, yellow, and orange bell peppers chopped into 1" pieces]
4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped, with their juices or 1 generous palm full ground chipotle chili powder, about 2 tablespoons [1 seeded mine.  please note this means 2 peppers from 1 can, NOT 2 CANS OF PEPPERS! ;)]
1 tablespoon ground cumin, half a palm full
1 bottle imported beer (recommended: Stella Artois (...imported just 'cause we're Uptown and that's all they drink here.) [i used a tap room no. 21 brewing co.'s amber ale]
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained [i used red]
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup beef stock (8-ounce box) [i used low sodium, fat free]
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
8-ounce piece smoked Gouda, shredded [i used sharp cheddar]1 small white onion, finely chopped  


Trim fat from meat and cube.  Heat a deep, large skillet or a pot over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and the meat. Season it with grill seasoning and sear it up for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate and return pot to stove. Reduce heat to medium- high and add another tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Add the mushrooms and begin to brown them before adding the other veggies. After 2 or 3 minutes the mushrooms will begin to shirk and soften. Push the mushrooms off to one side of the pot and add all the remaining veggies to the opposite side of the pot surface. Once the onions, celery, peppers and garlic have been working for a few minutes as well, mix the veggies with the mushrooms. Add the meat back, season with Worcestershire sauce, chipotle in adobo or chipotle powder and cumin. Add in beer to deglaze the pot, scraping up all the pan drippings. Reduce the beer by half, about 2 minutes. Add the black red beans, tomatoes, stock and thyme to chili and simmer 10 minutes for flavors to combine. Taste to adjust seasonings. [I let it all simmer an extra 20 minutes, while my Jiffy cornbread was in the oven ;)] Top bowls of the chili with shredded smoked Gouda sharp cheddar and finely chopped raw onions. a dollop of fat free sour cream, 1/2 avocado sliced, a sprinkle of fresh chives.  Serve with a piece of cornbread and an ice cold beer!

I've gotta admit, I usually don't like Rachel Ray's recipes, but this one is GREAT!  the only thing i'll change next time i make this is that i'll only use 1 chipotle in adobo... 2 was a bit too spicy for my geography tongue to handle! ;)

enjoy! ;)