Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ellen's Eclair Ring

My sister Ellen made this for us over the holidays using the recipe of a family friend.


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3-oz packages instant French vanilla pudding
  • 1 9-oz Cool Whip
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 2 squares semi-sweet chocolate (melted)
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T milk
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla

  1. Make dough-- heat butter and water to rolling boil. Stir in flour at once over low heat. Beat until ball is formed, and take off heat. Beat in eggs one at a time with mixer. Spoon onto a cool pizza pan to form circular shape with a hole in the middle. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Cool away from drafts.
  2. When cool, split horizontally and fill with filling. Place top layer on filling and spread with topping.

Notes: This is an impressive dessert for parties, and it isn't too hard to make. (Easy for me to say... I didn't make it this time!)

I'd love to figure out a way to make a vanilla custard filling that doesn't use pudding mix or Cool Whip. I'll be working on it, but if you figure it out, let me know!

Ellen and I were also discussing adding fresh raspberries to the filling, which would be a nice addition.

Tim's Rating: 9.75/10
Liz's Rating: 9.5/10

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ellen's Artichoke Puffs

My sister Ellen made these over the holidays using our aunt's recipe.

  • 1 lb. package of puff pastry sheets
  • 2 cans artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Chop artichoke hearts, add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 15-20 squares. Press puff pastry squares into mini muffin tins that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Fill 3/4 full with artichoke filling.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown

These can be prepared ahead of time and frozen! Freeze in the mini muffin tins, then pop puffs out into a large plastic bag. You can place the frozen puffs into mini muffin pans and bake from frozen, adding 5 minutes to baking time.

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10
Tim's Rating: 9/10

Friday, November 6, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin, Lentil, and Goat Cheese Salad

Bon Appétit

  • 3/4 cup French green lentils
  • 6 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded sugar pumpkin or butternut squash (from about one 2-pound whole pumpkin)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  1. Place lentils in small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes; drain.

  2. Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils. Rinse under cold water, then drain.

  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place pumpkin in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt. Arrange pumpkin in single layer on baking sheet; roast 20 minutes. Turn pumpkin over. Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.

  4. Combine lentils, pumpkin, and oil from baking sheet with arugula, half of goat cheese, mint, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among plates; sprinkle remaining goat cheese over.

Peeling pumpkin is not fun. I would use butternut squash next time. This was a nice weekend lunch.

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cod Provençal

Martha Stewart Living

  • 4 cod fillets (6 ounces each), skinned
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium-ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 t fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place cod filets in a nonreactive dish, and squeeze lemon on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and season with pepper.
  2. Heat 1 T oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions; cook until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Add garlic; cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Top with half the zucchini, tomatoes, and thyme. Drizzle with 1.5 t oil, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and season with pepper. Add cod and remaining zucchini, tomatoes, thyme, oil, and salt. Season with pepper.
  3. Bake, covered, for 10 minutes. Baste with the juices, and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes more.

Nutritional Information (per 1/4th recipe):
317 calories, 2g saturated fat, 8g unsaturated fat, 80mg cholesterol, 8g carbohydrate, 465mg sodium, 46g protein, 2g fiber

  • Caramelizing the onions properly is very important. You want a deep golden brown, not burned. The delicious flavor is the base of the entire dish.
  • I think I will put all of the zucchini under the fish next time I make this. The zucchini cooked in the amazing broth was tastier than the zucchini that cooked on top of the fish.
  • I think this will be a recipe in our regular rotation-- fast, healthy, delicious.
  • Taking photos when it gets dark so early is difficult-- this tasted better than it looks here!

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10
Liz's Rating: 9.5/10

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sausage and Lentils with Spinach

Bon Appétit

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound kielbasa sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 6-ounce packages sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 pound dried brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups (or more) low-salt chicken or vegetable broth
  • 10 oz fresh baby spinach leaves

  1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to plate.
  2. Add onion and mushrooms to pot; sprinkle with salt and sauté until mushrooms are soft, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; stir 1 minute. Add lentils and bay leaves; stir to coat. Add 6 cups broth; bring to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Return sausage to pot. Add spinach in 2 batches, stirring until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Notes: A complete, one-pot meal. Total time: 50 minutes

Nutritional Information--One serving (1/8th of the recipe) contains the following:
Calories (kcal) 466.8
%Calories from Fat 42.0
Fat (g) 21.8
Saturated Fat (g) 6.4
Cholesterol (mg) 41.2
Carbohydrates (g) 43.0
Dietary Fiber (g) 15.2
Total Sugars (g) 6.1
Net Carbs (g) 27.8
Protein (g) 26.9

My Notes:
  • Local Twin Citians must try the Hardwood Smoked Country-Style Sausage from Prairie Pride Farm (available at the Saint Paul Farmers Market). I am obsessed with it and look for any excuse to use it! I don't see it for sale on their website, but they always have it at the market.
  • Vegetarians/Vegans can try to substitute veggie sausage.
  • Chicken sausage could be substituted for those who do not eat pork. Trader Joe's makes a great smoked chicken apple sausage that would be delicious in this.

Tim's Rating: 8.5/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10 (9/10 with bites that included sausage!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Art Smith's Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

My friend Carli recently treated me to dinner at Art Smith's Chicago restaurant Table 52. We were able to secure seats at the 5-seat bar which overlooks the wood-fired oven. One of the many highlights of our meal were the goat cheese biscuits served to all guests in lieu of the traditional bread basket. We observed the line cook make a number of cast iron pans full of biscuits as we raved about how delicious they were. Upon returning home from Chicago, I immediately searched for a recipe, and thankfully, it wasn't hard to find. You must make these.

  • 2 cups King Arthur self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cold butter (2 oz)
  • 4 tbsp goat cheese (2 oz)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • butter to grease pan and top biscuits

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place one 10 inch cast iron pan into the oven while it is preheating. Place flour and salt into a medium sized bowl. Cut in the butter and goat cheese. Make a well in the middle of the ingredients and pour in the milk. Stir until the mix is moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of milk if needed.
  2. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place a tablespoon of butter into it. When the butter has melted, drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter into the pan, (use a muffin scoop to drop the batter if you have one). Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake from 14-16 minutes until browned on the top and bottom. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Enjoy warm!

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10 "They don't even taste goat-y." (He thinks he doesn't like goat cheese.)
Liz's Rating: 10/10

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Taco Cornbread Bake

Adventures in my Freezer

adapted due to ingredients I had available

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 cup pureed salsa
  • 1 batch corn bread batter (see below)
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, sliced thinly
  • 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
Cornbread Batter:
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brown meat; drain. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Pour into 8x12 baking dish.
  3. Prepare corn bread batter:
    Mix dry ingredients, add milk egg and oil, mix just enough to moisten dry ingredients.
  4. Spread over meat. Top with jalapeños if desired. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Top corn bread with cheese. Bake 5-7 minutes.

Notes: This is a great meal for a weeknight. It's easy, filling, and good.

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10
Tim's Rating: 9/10

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Baba Ghanoush

The Amazing Race's stop in Dubai

  • 1 large eggplant
  • garlic powder or fresh garlic
  • salt
  • pepper or hot sauce
  • fresh lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 scallion, chopped (optional)
  • Pita wedges, for serving

  1. First wash eggplant. Pierce in a few places with a fork or knife. Bake eggplant in 205 ºC (400 ºC) oven until skin has almost collapsed and the eggplant is very soft. Let cool.
  2. Scoop out and mash all of the flesh. Throw away the skin. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate and then serve.

Recipe Notes: It is a popular Levantine dish of eggplant mashed and combined with diverse seasonings. Usually the eggplant is baked or broiled over an open flame before peeling, so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky savor. Baba Ganoush is served as a dip with pita bread, and is sometimes added to other dishes. It is typically of an earthy light brown color.

My Notes: I have had Baba Ganoush in restaurants but never made it at home. While I thought it was ok, and I am glad I made it, I think I prefer hummus. :) I thought it is likely authentic enough as it comes from a Dubai website, but really almost all other recipes found online contained tahini and not mayonnaise!

Liz's Rating: 7.5/10
Tim's Rating: 8/10

Next on The Amazing Race: Dubai again. What are your favorite Middle-Eastern recipes?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Banh Chuoi Nuong (Vietnamese Banana Cake)

The Amazing Race's pit stop in Vietnam
this recipe

  • 1.25 lbs ripe bananas
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 7 slices of sandwich bread

  1. Slice the banana diagonally and sprinnkle with half the sugar. Cook the remaining sugar in coconut milk until dissolved, then add the vanilla. Remove crusts from the bread. Soak the bread in the sweetened coconut milk.
  2. Butter a 12-inch non stick pan. Arrange a layer of banana on the bottom of the pan. Cover with a layer of bread, then another layer of bananas, another bread layer, and then finish with a layer of bananas, another bread layer, and then finish with a layer of bananas. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top, then cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 F for 1 hour.
  3. Rest for 12 hours before cutting.

Notes: This bread pudding-like dessert was really easy and quick! I assembled this dish in a pie pan, and I only had one layer of bread and two layers of bananas. It tastes much better than it looks.

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10
Tim's Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash

Arugulove's adaptation of the Martha Stewart recipe
a pantry full of odds and ends

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound) , peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat
  • 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated (1 ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Olive-oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  3. Lightly coat a 9-inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.
  4. Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.

My Notes:
Arugulove suggested this recipe on her comment on my last macaroni and cheese attempt. I had almost all the ingredients... a pound of pasta (although not all the same shape), an acorn squash from the farmers' market (close enough to butternut?), panko (better than breadcrumbs?), and cottage cheese to sub for ricotta. This recipe was a great way to use up some odds and ends, and it was tasty, too!

It was a little bit of work to make, but that's fine. I have a TV in my kitchen so I can watch college football and cook at the same time. The modern woman multitasker. :)

I would say I somewhat prefer my last macaroni and cheese attempt because you don't have to cook the noodles first. It also had a cheesier flavor. However, I promise you that you CANNOT taste the squash in this recipe!

Liz's Rating: 8/10
Tim's Rating: 9/10

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chard Salad with Bacon, Beets, and Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

Beets and chard from our garden
as well as
a recipe shared by Beth Jones, Executive Chef of the University of Minnesota Campus Club

  • 8 small, or 4 large beets, boiled or roasted, peeled, and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 large bunch rainbow chard, well washed, leaves torn and stems finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 2 T good-quality maple syrup
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped and cooked until crispy

  1. Toss the chard leaves, stems, and diced beets in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, Dijon, maple syrup, vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Drizzle over the salad and sprinkle with the bacon. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes:
By mid July you are sure to find the bacon, beets, chard and garlic for this salad at a local famers market. When you buy chard and beets, look for a variety of colors. If you buy beets with the tops still attached, wash the leaves and stems and add them to the salad.

My Notes:
This was the perfect recipe to bring to my Community Garden's pot luck. Both the beets and the chard were grown in my garden! I served bacon on the side as many of my friends either are vegetarian, vegan, or avoid pork. You could also add blue cheese, which would really complement the flavors.

Liz's Rating: 9/10
Tim's Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spicy Broccoli Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Potatoes from our friends Scott and Katie's garden and garlic and broccoli from the Farmers Market
as well as
Moosewood Restaurant's Low-Fat Favorites Cookbook

  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (I used a heaping 1/4 teaspoon and still didn't find it spicy at all)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli or broccoli rabe, minced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 pitted black olives, sliced (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and bake, cut side down, on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes, until soft. Remove from the oven.
  2. Sauté the garlic and pepper flakes in the oil for 1 minute. Add the broccoli and water, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. When the potato halves are cool, scoop out the centers, leaving 1/4 inch of pulp on the skin. Mash the scooped-out potato pulp and stir it into the stuffing. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Refill the potato skins and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with sliced olives and serve.

Nutritional Information (per 10-oz serving):
228 calories, 5.9g protein, 5.7g fat, 41.4g carbohydrates, 0.7g saturated fatty acids, 0.4g polyunsaturated fatty acids, 1.8g monounsaturated fatty acids, 0mg cholesterol, 333mg sodium, 5.9g total dietary fiber

Notes: Very easy to make. While these bake for a while, prep and cleanup are very easy. I added about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan into the mixture before stuffing the potatoes. What can I say, I love cheese!

Liz's Rating: 9/10
Tim's Rating: 9/10

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Negimaki (Japanese Beef and Scallion Rolls)

The first leg of The Amazing Race, in Tokyo
Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations (adapted from an Epicurious recipe)

  • 12 small scallions, trimmed to 6-inch lengths
  • 1 (1-lb) piece flank steak (roughly 6 to 7 inches square)
  • 1/4 cup sake (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup mirin* (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Prepare scallions:
    Blanch scallions in a pot ofboiling salted water 45 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Transfer scallions to paper towels to drain and pat dry.

  2. Prepare beef:
    Cut flank steak with the grain holding a large knife at a 30-degree angle to cutting board into 12 (1/8-inch-thick) slices (1 1/2 to 2 inches wide). Arrange slices 1 inch apart on a very lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, then cover with another very lightly oiled sheet of parchment or plastic wrap (oiled side down) and pound slices with flat side of meat pounder until about 1/16 inch thick.

  3. Assemble rolls:
    Arrange 3 beef slices side by side on a fresh sheet of plastic wrap, overlapping slices slightly to form a 6-inch square with short ends of slices nearest you. Sprinkle square lightly with a pinch of salt, then lay 3 scallions (with some white parts at both ends) across slices at end closest to you and tightly roll up meat around scallions to form a log, using plastic wrap as an aid. Tie log with kitchen string at ends and where meat slices overlap. Make 3 more negimaki rolls in same manner.

  4. Marinate rolls:
    Stir together sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved.
    Put rolls in a small baking dish and pour marinade over them, turning to coat. Marinate, loosely covered with plastic wrap, turning occasionally, 15 minutes.

  5. Cook rolls:
    Heat a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot, 1 to 2 minutes. While skillet is heating, lift rolls out of marinade, letting excess drip off, and pat dry. (Save marinade.) Add oil to skillet, swirling to coat bottom, then cook rolls, turning with tongs, until well browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer rolls to cutting board. Add marinade to skillet and boil until slightly syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
    Cut off and discard strings, then cut each roll crosswise into 6 slices. Pour sauce into a shallow serving dish and arrange negimaki in sauce.

My Notes:
I love negimaki. We always order it as an appetizer when out for sushi. I thought this was a nice version; the sauce was a little different than what we usually have.

Liz's Rating: 8/10
Tim's Rating: 8.5/10

Next week on The Amazing Race: Vietnam!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Amazing Race: Season 15!

Season 15 of The Amazing Race begins on Sunday, September 27th!

I will be cooking along with the race once again.

The first leg will depart Los Angeles for Tokyo.

You can see the official route map HERE.

Can't wait!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chicken Pomodoro

Amish Paste tomatoes from my garden, chicken from the Farmers Market
Cuisine at Home magazine

  • 4 chicken cutlets
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup scallions, minced

  1. Season cutlets with salt and pepper then dust with flour.
    Saute cutlets in oil. Transfer to a platter; pour off fat from pan
  2. Deglaze pan with vodka (away from heat) and cook until vodka is nearly gone. Add broth and lemon juice. Return cutlets to pan and cook each side 1 minute. Transfer cutlets to a warm plate.
  3. Finish the sauce with tomatoes and cream. Heat through, then pour over cutlets. Garnish with scallions.

Notes: This was fairly easy and a great way to use up some tomatoes from the garden. I doubled the vodka, broth, lemon, and cream and quadrupled the tomatoes; the sauce was delicious!! Don't skip the scallions as they add some good texture and flavor contrast.

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10
Tim's Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Low-Country Seafood Boil

A fall get-together with friends, including our co-host and friend Eric
Captain Jim Lemke and Patrick Nolan's recipe, promoted by Bobby Flay

  • 4 to 6 ounces crab boil spices
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 3 to 4 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 3 pounds mushrooms, cleaned
  • 3 to 4 scallions
  • 2 to 3 peeled whole onions
  • 9 ounces hot sauce
  • 10 pounds smoked hot sausage
  • 5 pounds tiny whole potatoes
  • 25 to 30 ears corn
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 7 to 10 pounds mussels
  • 15 to 25 pounds medium or large shrimp

  1. Start with a 20-quart pot filled over 1/3 with fresh cold water. In the pot add crab boil mix to the water. Squeeze juice from 2 of the lemon quarters into the water, and drop in the rinds. Add the garlic cloves, red and green pepper slices, mushrooms, scallions, whole onions, and hot sauce into the water. Bring to a boil, and then add sausage and potatoes. Bring to a second boil, and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, or until potatoes start to get soft. Add the corn, chopped garlic, and start a count of 5 minutes. Do not wait until water boils. At 5 minutes, add mussels. 3 minutes later, add shrimp. Boil for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Drain immediately.

  2. Serve with plenty of napkins.

Recipe Notes:
Serves 25-30. For different variations, any seafood could be added to the pot.

My Notes:
  • I don't think it could be much easier for a party planner than choosing a menu that involves only one pot!
  • We had 10 guests and scaled down the recipe to include 2.5lbs sausage, 3lbs potatoes, 10 ears corn, 3lbs mussels, 3lbs shrimp, and 2.5oz Old Bay. We probably had enough to serve 12-15 people.
  • We had a smaller pot for our vegetarian friends, with all ingredients except sausage and seafood. Our friend brought veggie sausage, which was a nice addition.
  • Luckily our friend Eric has a big (16 gallon) pot, and a spoon with a really long handle. Plan on borrowing some large pots if you aren't so lucky!
  • This was a fun event that will likely become an annual experience.

Seafood Boil
Cornbread and Collard Greens, brought by a guest
Peach and Pear Custard Pies, brought by a guest

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Heirloom Tomato Tart in a Parmesan Crust

Heirloom tomatoes from my garden
101 Cookbooks

  • 6 perfect, colorful, medium-sized heirloom tomatoes - washed and sliced 1/6-inch thick

  • 1 t. fine-grain sea salt

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, well chilled + cut into 1/4-inch cubes

  • 4-ounce chunk of good fresh Parmesan, microplane-grated (you should end up with about 2 cups loosely packed grated cheese. Save any leftover grated cheese for sprinkling on the crusts when they come out of the oven.)

  • 2 T. ice cold water

  • 2T. best quality extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup slivered basil

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

  2. Prep the tomatoes:
    To avoid a soggy crust later on, you need to rid the tomatoes of some of their liquid. Clear a space on your counter and put down a double layer of absorbent paper towels. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on the paper towels and sprinkle them with about 1 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt. Top the tomatoes with another layer of paper towels and press gently. Let the tomatoes sit here until you are ready to use them.

  3. Make the tart crust(s):
    Place both flours, butter, and Parmesan in a food processor and pulse quickly about 25 times. You are looking for a sandy textured blend, punctuated with pea-sized pieces of butter. With a few more pulses, blend in the 2T of ice water. The dough should stick together when your pinch it between two fingers. Pour the dough into the tart pan. Working quickly, press the dough uniformly into the pan by pressing across the bottom and working towards the sides and up to form a rim. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes.

  4. Bake the tart crust:
    Pull the tarts out of the refrigerator and poke each a few times with the tongs of a fork. Cover the tart with a square of aluminum foil and fill generously with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and slide the tart onto the middle rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, pull the shell out of the oven and very gently peel back and remove the tinfoil containing the pie weights. Place the uncovered tart back in the oven, weight free, and allow to cook for another 10 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little shredded Parmesan (this will act as another barrier to the tomato liquid). Let cool to room temperature before filling.

  5. Assembling the tart: Just before serving, arrange tomato slices in a concentric pattern inside the tart shell. Drizzle with your best quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with the slivered basil. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Notes:
This recipe will make one 9 or 10-inch tart OR five 4 1/2-inch tarts.

My Notes:
WOW! This was fantastic. The tart shell tastes so good-- like a nuttier Parmesan. Make this now, while heirlooms are still in season! It will not be close to as good with pale winter tomatoes.
I used Hungarian Heart and Yellow Pear tomatoes from my garden.
This is perfect for a light lunch. Serve with salad tossed with vinaigrette.

Liz's Rating: 10/10

Monday, September 7, 2009

Moosewood Restaurant's Lower-Fat Macaroni and Cheese

Moosewood Restaurant's Low-Fat Favorites Cookbook

  • 1 1/2 c 1% cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 c skim milk or buttermilk
  • 1 t dried mustard or 1 T prepared mustard
  • pinch of cayenne (or more)
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c grated onions
  • 1 c grated sharp cheddar (4 oz.)
  • 1/2 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni (or other tubular pasta)
  • 2 T finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c bread crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare square (9 or 10 inch) baking pan with a light spray of oil.

  2. In a blender, combine cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. (I used my immersion blender.) In a large bowl, combine pureed mixture with the onions, cheddar and uncooked macaroni. Stir well. Pour macaroni and cheese mixture into the baking pan. Combine the grated Pecoino or Parmesan and bread crumbs and sprinkle over top.

  3. Bake about 45 minutes, until topping is browned and the center is firm.

    Serves 4.

Recipe Notes:
Probably no macaroni and cheese could meet the nutritional needs of a heart patient, but this version is a vast improvement healthwise, especially for kids who eat it a lot.

My Notes:
Tim and I have been attempting to eat a little more healthfully-- more fruits and vegetables, less meat, lots of fiber and protein. However, once in awhile you just need some macaroni and cheese. This recipe is really quite delicious considering how much less fat it has than a traditional macaroni and cheese recipe, like Paula Deen's.

Nutritional Information:
Per 10-oz serving: 471 calories, 30.7g protein, 13.2g fat, 55.7g carbohydrates, 7.7g saturated fatty acids, 0.8g polyunsaturated fatty acids, 3.7g monounsaturated fatty acids, 38mg cholesterol, 1008mg sodium, 1.9g total dietary fiber.

Liz's Rating: 9/10
Tim's Rating: 9/10

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Peruvian Quinoa Stew

Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup zucchini, cubed
  • 2 cups undrained tomatoes, canned or fresh
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano (1 teaspoon if dried)
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional garnishes: sour cream, chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, and/or cheese

1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve.
2. Place in pot with water and cook, covered, on medium low for 15 minutes until soft. Set aside.
3. While the quinoa cooks, sauté the onions and garlic in a deep pot in oil for 5 minutes on medium heat.
4. Add celery and carrots and cooked another 5 minutes, stirring often.
5. Add the bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and water or stock.
6. Stir in cumin, chili powder, ground coriander, cayenne and oregano and simmer for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.
7. Stir cooked quinoa into the stew and add salt to taste.
8. Serve topped with your choice of fresh coriander, grated cheddar and sour cream.

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10 ("Would rate it a 10 if it were spicier.")
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Recipe Notes: Serves 4, or makes 7 8-oz servings.

Nutritional Information (per 8-0z serving):
140 calories, 2.8g protein, 4.7g fat, 22.9g carbohydrate, 52mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol.

Notes: This was one of those meals where I felt like I was getting healthier with every bite.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beer-Marinated Flank Steak

Bon Appétit

  • 2 1 1/3-pound flank steaks
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups thinly sliced green onions (about 6)
  • 1 12-ounce bottle dark beer
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • Aji Sauce
  • Colombian Guacamole

  1. Using sharp knife, lightly score flank steaks about 1/8 inch deep on both sides in a crisscross pattern at 1/2-inch intervals. Place steaks in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle steaks on both sides with oregano and cumin and generous amount of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle olive oil over both sides of steaks, rubbing oil and spices into meat. Add green onions, beer, and Worcestershire sauce, turning steaks several times to coat both sides. Cover and chill at least 3 hours, turning occasionally. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
  2. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack lightly with oil. Grill steaks to desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes total per side for medium-rare, turning steaks 1/4 turn after 1 1/2 minutes to form crisscross grill marks, if desired. Transfer steaks to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice steaks across grain. Transfer to platter and serve with Aji Sauce and Colombian Guacamole.

I thought this was a nice marinade... easy to throw together the night before.

Tim's Rating: 8.5/10
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Columbian Guacamole

(Columbian Guacamole on right)
Bon Appétit

  • 1 large ripe avocado (12 to 13 ounces), peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped green onion or sweet onion (such as Maui or Vidalia)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped serrano chiles with seeds
  • 1/4 cup (or more) water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice
  • Coarse kosher salt

  1. Combine avocado, cilantro, green onion, and serrano chiles in processor. Puree until smooth. Add 1/4 cup water and 2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice and process to blend. Add more water by tablespoonfuls as needed and blend until thick but pourable sauce forms.
  2. Transfer to small bowl; season to taste with coarse salt and pepper and more lime juice, if desired. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Notes: I omitted the water and thought the sauce was the right consistency. I will be making this again soon-- as a sauce for fajitas! Don't skimp on the salt.

Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 9.5/10

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Aji Sauce

Bon Appétit

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped seeded jalapeño chiles (about 4 large)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green onions (about 2 large)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped sweet onion (such as Maui or Vidalia)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) red wine vinegar or fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Combine jalapeño chiles, green onions, sweet onion, and cilantro in processor; puree until paste forms, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula several times. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and blend until mixture is pourable but some texture still remains.
  2. Transfer to small bowl. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and more vinegar to taste, if desired.
  3. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

This sauce tasted really spicy alone, but it was a delicious accompaniment to grilled meat. Will definitely make again.

Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rhubarb Streusel Muffins

Tim's love of rhubarb and

The recipe is for bread, but it made a perfect dozen of muffins. I baked them about 30 minutes.

Tim's Rating: 10/10
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vanilla Frozen Custard

My Wisconsin upbringing, which involved a lot of frozen custard
as well as
My father-in-law's visit and love of ice cream
this recipe from the American Egg Board

Notes: We mixed in some crushed Butterfinger before the second freeze. Delicious! If you haven't tried frozen custard, you must make this.

Tim's Rating: 10/10
Liz's Rating: 10/10

Friday, May 22, 2009

Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Pasta

Smitten Kitchen and Bon Appétit

Whenever Tim needs to work late, I see an opportunity to make a recipe I know he won't enjoy... like a pasta with a creamy goat cheese sauce. This was fantastic, and very quick!

Liz's Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TWD: Whole Wheat Mango Muffins

For this week on Tuesdays with Dorie, I modified the Fresh Mango Bread recipe into a whole wheat muffin recipe. They turned out great!

You can find the recipe on Baking with the Boys.

I halved the recipe, which made 8 muffins. I omitted the raisins and used half whole-wheat and half all-purpose flour. I baked them for about 25 minutes. I loved the spices combined with the sweet mango and will definitely make these again!

Liz's Rating: 9/10
Tim's Rating: 8.5/10

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lemon Frittata with Leeks and Goat Cheese

Food alla Puttanesca, recipe originally from The Kitchn

  • 7 eggs
  • 1 Meyer lemon, zested
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, cut lengthwise and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper

  1. Pre-heat the broiler. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until slightly bubbly and well-mixed, then stir in the lemon zest. Crumble in the goat cheese.

  2. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. It can be cast iron or another metal; just make sure it can go in the oven. Trim the leeks of any dry or browned edges on the green tops, then slice the remaining stalk into half moons. Toss everything into the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, for about ten minutes or until the leeks are softened. Stir in the parsley and cook just until wilted. Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool for just a minute or two, then pour the cooked leeks into the bowl with the eggs and stir.

  3. Put the skillet back on the heat and film lightly with just a bit more olive oil. Pour the egg and leek mixture in and cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the frittata has mostly set. Use a spatula to lift up the edges and make sure it's cooking evenly, letting the uncooked eggs run down into the bottom of the pan.

  4. When the frittata has set, put under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and slightly puffy. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Flip out onto a platter and serve immediately.

Notes: I thought this was missing something-- if I make it again, I would add some garlic and maybe some red pepper flakes. I liked the flavors together, but it didn't wow me.

Liz's Rating: 8/10
Tim's Rating: n/a

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pork Chops with Mustard Cream Sauce

Food & Wine

  • 4 (10-ounce) pork rib chops, 1-inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup veal stock or canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Add the pork chops and cook over moderate heat until golden, turning once, 8 minutes. Transfer the meat to a baking sheet and roast until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour off the fat from the skillet. Add the remaining oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook over moderately high heat until softened, 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1/2 minute. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and cook over moderately high heat until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the mustard and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pork to plates and spoon the sauce on top.

Notes: I served the pork chops over sautéed leeks... delicious.

Tim's Rating: 8.5/10
Liz's Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TWD: Chocolate-Orange-Almond Bread Pudding

This week on Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Bread Pudding!

I had never made bread pudding before and was excited to try it. I am trying to use up items in my pantry since we are moving soon, and I had some orange chocolate that I thought would work well in this recipe. It did! We loved it.

You can find the recipe at A Baking Blog and find links to all of the TWD bakers at the home site.

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10 "Tastes like chocolate French toast!"
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Next week on TWD: Chocolate Cream Tart

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bittman's Ma-Po Tofu

The Amazing Race's pit stop in China
and Mark Bittman

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or other oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, green part only
  • 1/2 cup stock or water
  • 1 pound soft or silken tofu, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Minced cilantro for garnish, optional

  1. Put oil in a deep 10-inch skillet or wok, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to medium-high. A minute later, add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes, and cook just until they begin to sizzle, less than a minute. Add pork, and stir to break it up; cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses most of its pink color.
  2. Add scallions and stir; add stock. Cook for a minute or so, scraping bottom of pan with a wooden spoon if necessary to loosen any stuck bits of meat, then add tofu. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the soy sauce; taste, and add salt and red pepper flakes as necessary. Garnish with cilantro if you like, and serve.

Notes: We are moving in a few weeks, and I am trying to use up items in my freezer and pantry. This recipe fit the bill, as I had ground pork and a lot of rice on hand. Apparently this recipe isn't very authentic (due to the lack of black bean paste and Sichuan peppercorns), but it was quick and tasty. Tim loves the combination of ginger, garlic, and scallions, as do I. Next time I might try a more authentic recipe. Meat lovers may want to use 1 pound of ground pork and 1/2 pound tofu. We used 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes and didn't find it very spicy.

Tim's Rating: 8.5/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10

Next week on The Amazing Race: China (again). Any suggestions?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad

Cooking Light

Notes: A great recipe for lunches, summer barbecues, tailgating...

Tim's Rating: 9/10
Liz's Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sausage Risotto with Mustard Greens

Bon Appétit

  • 1 bunch dandelion greens, Swiss chard, or mustard greens (12 ounces), tough bottom stems removed, leaves cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces mild Italian sausage (about 1 1/2 links), casings removed
  • 2 cups arborio rice (13 to 14 ounces)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

  1. Cook greens in boiling salted water just until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain; cool.

  2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sausage; sauté until brown, breaking up with spoon, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until wine is almost absorbed. Add 1 cup broth. Stir until broth is almost absorbed. Add remaining 4 cups broth by 1/2 cupfuls, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more. Mix in greens after 10 minutes. Cook until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, 25 minutes total. Mix in cheese and remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Serve risotto, passing additional cheese.

Notes: Tim stirred. He says stirring is his best kitchen task, and as we all know, risotto needs some good stirring!

Vegetarian Option: Replace sausage with additional greens or mushrooms and use vegetable broth.

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10
Liz's Rating: 9.5/10

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pad Thai

The Amazing Race's second pit stop in Thailand
adapted from a recipe found on

  • 1 (8 ounce) package dried flat rice noodles
  • 6 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons Asian chile pepper sauce (Sriracha, depending on spice tolerance)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 8 ounces medium shrimp - peeled and deveined
  • 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups bean sprouts
  • 6 green onions, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 cups bean sprouts

  1. Fill a large bowl with hot tap water and place the noodles in it to soak for 20 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, oyster sauce, chile sauce, chicken stock and peanut butter. Set aside.
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat and add vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, stir in garlic and cook for about 10 seconds. Add shrimp and chicken; cook, stirring constantly until shrimp is opaque and chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Move everything in the wok out to the sides and pour the eggs in the center. Cook and stir the eggs until firm. Add the noodles to the wok and pour in the sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until the noodles are tender. Add a bit more water if needed to finish cooking the noodles. Stir in 3 cups of bean sprouts and green onions. Remove from the heat and garnish with chopped peanuts. Taste for seasoning, adjusting the spice or lime juice if needed.
  5. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and remaining bean sprouts and lime wedges on the side.

Notes: When I lived in Madison, I ate a ton of Pad Thai. I would order it from the Sukho Thai cart on Library Mall for lunch... at least once a week. Tim and I ate at the restaurant many, many times when we were first dating. (Googling it shows they closed in 2007--so sad.) I didn't think it would be this easy to make! Pad Thai traditionalists will note the lack of tamarind paste, but I think the flavor is pretty close to most Pad Thai I have had. These leftovers will make a great lunch.

Vegetarian/Vegan Option: replace the fish sauce with soy sauce, the oyster sauce with vegetarian "oyster" sauce, and the chicken and shrimp with tofu or additional veggies.

Tim's Rating: 10/10 (loved it)
Liz's Rating: 9.5/10

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TWD: Coconut Butter Thins

Kelly of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch chose this week's recipe and will be posting it on her blog.

These aren't pretty, but they are delicious.

I loved these cookies! They have a shortbread texture with just a hint of coconut and lime. When I make these again (and I will), I will double the lime zest.

These remind me of the World Peace Cookies, which has been my favorite TWD recipe so far. I might try the method used this week with the World Peace Cookies next time; it was much easier than slicing the rolls of frozen dough.

Do any long-time members think I have missed a recipe I'd love that is similar to the World Peace Cookies and these? (I have only been with the group since January.)

Tim's Rating: 9.5/10 ("I don't taste coconut or lime. Oh I taste a little lime. These taste like butter. These are really good.")
Liz's Rating: 9.5/10

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mango and Sticky Rice (Khao Neeo Mamuang)

The Amazing Race's pit stop in Thailand

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 3 mangos, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  1. Combine the rice and water in a saucepan; bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. While the rice cooks, mix together 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; remove from heat and set aside. Stir the cooked rice into the coconut milk mixture; cover. Allow to cool for 1 hour.
  3. Make a sauce by mixing together 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the tapioca starch in a saucepan; bring to a boil.
  4. Place the sticky rice on a serving dish. Arrange the mangos on top of the rice. Pour the sauce over the mangos and rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Notes: This is a dish I have enjoyed at many restaurants but never made at home. Now that I know I can make it, I think I need to have a a Thai dinner party! I used arborio rice, but next time I will try sushi or sticky rice. I substituted cornstarch for the tapioca starch, and it worked fine.

Liz's Rating: 9.5/10
Tim's Rating: 10/10

Next week on The Amazing Race: Thailand (again!)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tim Raves: Hennepin Beer from the Ommegang Brewery

Tim is obsessed with this beer. He was very very excited to see it at a new local restaurant, and last weekend I found it at our local liquor store just in time for March Madness.

He told me that "this is so good, you should put it on the blog!"

We're off to Vegas for the weekend! I hope everyone is enjoying March Madness and the spring weather.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TWD: Blueberry Crumb Cake

Sihan of Befuddlement chose this week's recipe!

I thought it was tasty and not too much of a production. It is definitely a step up from the Betty Crocker Blueberry Streusel Muffins I have so enjoyed over the years. :)

Tim's Rating: 8/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10

Next week on TWD: Coconut Butter Thins

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Puffed Rice Crunch

The Amazing Race's pit stop in India
Food & Wine

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups unsweetened puffed rice

  1. Set a 12-by-18-inch sheet of parchment on a large baking sheet and oil the paper. Have a kitchen towel ready.
  2. In a medium saucepan, cook the brown sugar with the lemon juice over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until richly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Working quickly, stir in the puffed rice until coated, then immediately scrape the mixture onto 1 end of the baking sheet.
  3. Fold the paper over the rice, cover with the kitchen towel and roll into a tight 3-inch log. Unwrap and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Using a serrated knife, gently slice the log crosswise 1/2 inch thick and serve.

Recipe Notes: In India, the chicki wallah (sweets vendor) knows to set up shop near a school: Children find this crunch irresistible.

Click here for a photo of a chicki wallah!

Notes: I had a slight (actually big) problem trying to roll it into a log. I used a silpat instead of parchment paper, which could have been my problem. Taking photos of these wasn't easy either. I'll post a bad photo below this. I am glad I tried this-- many of the recipes I found were more Indian-American recipes, and I wanted to find something that people in India actually eat.
Tim's Rating: 7.5/10
Liz's Rating: 7/10

Next week on The Amazing Race: Thailand!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pesto alla Anna

A Lidia Bastianich recipe, adapted and printed in GQ

  • handful of almonds, lightly toasted
  • bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • pinch of crushed red-pepper flakes
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (for the non-vegans)

  1. Boil water for the pasta, and cook when ready.
  2. Place the almonds, a handful of the basil, the garlic, and red-pepper flakes in a food processor. Process while drizzling in about a half cup of olive oil, until pureed but still chunky.
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes. Process until incorporated. The sauce should look like bolognese--thick and hearty, a yellowish orange. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Just before pasta is done, scoop out about a cup of cooking water. Drain pasta.
  5. Place sauce in a large serving bowl. Add some of the water (start with just a little) and stir until the sauce is smooth.
  6. Add pasta to the bowl and toss until coated. Let cool a bit, then toss with lots of Parmigiano-Reggiano (if desired).
  7. Taste. Season. Serve. Devour.

Recipe Notes: A bright, bracing alternative to traditional pesto genovese. And as easy a recipe as you'll find, provided you own a food processor.

My Notes: Super easy and flavorful. A nice bright bunch of flavors as spring arrives but the winter produce still fills the grocery store.

Liz's Rating: 8.5/10
Tim's Rating: 9/10

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bourbon Beef Noodle Bowl

Cuisine at Home

  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 boneless beef sirloin steak, sliced into thin bite-sized strips
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced onion
  • 14 oz low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cubed sweet potato (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 cup dry egg noodles
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions

  1. Combine bourbon, maple syrup, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add beef, mixing to coat. Cover and marinate beef 15 minutes or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Drain beef through a sieve over a bowl, reserving marinade.
  2. Heat 1 T oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes, remove from pan; set aside.
  3. Add remaining 1 T oil and sauté onion for 5 minutes. Stir in reserved marinade, broth, and water. Add sweet potato and bring to a boil. Add noodles; cook until sweet potatoes are tender and noodles are done, about 8 minutes.
  4. Stir in beef and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Garnish each serving with scallions.

Nutritional Information for 1/2 recipe: 622 calories; 23 g total fat (5 g saturated); 77 mg cholesterol; 7 g carb; 1070 mg sodium; 6 g fiber; 29 g protein.

Recipe Notes: Bourbon Beef Noodle Bowl is hard to categorize. It's not Asian, it's not European, and it's not traditional American. It slips into its own box: plain good eatin'. This soup provides a whole meal in one bowl...The beef soup is curiously addictive, with flavors that intrigue your taste buds with every bite. With the first spoonful, the flavors of maple syrup and sweet potatoes seem to predominate, but their sweetness is quickly offset by the savory beef, garlic, and spinach.

My Notes: This recipe FAILED. We couldn't even finish it. The bourbon flavor was so strong, it was incredible (incredibly bad). Cuisine at Home needs a better test kitchen.

I am still posting it for a few reasons:
  1. One thing I don't like about blogging is that it may seem as if I never have a problem with recipes (yeah right). Recipes fail. It happens to everyone, and that is ok.
  2. I think this recipe would be good with just a few modifications: (1) marinate the beef for only 15 minutes (2) discard the marinade instead of adding it with the broth (3) double the amount of beef broth (since the marinade isn't added).

I liked all of the flavors together.. it's unfortunate that the bourbon overpowered all of the other ingredients.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Goat Cheese and Roasted Corn Quesadillas

Cooking Light

I love quesadillas. I make them a lot, especially when I don't feel like cooking or have leftover ingredients sitting in my fridge.

I found this recipe and had all of the ingredients on hand. It was a nice, quick lunch that I could enjoy while my non-goat-cheese-loving husband was working on a weekend afternoon.

I substituted canola oil for the cooking spray and used frozen corn kernels since we don't have fresh available this time of year. I would not suggest using flour tortillas (too gummy); corn tortillas are best for any non-burrito recipe!

Liz's Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TWD: Lemon French Yogurt Cake

Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction chose this week's recipe and will be posting it on her blog.

I skipped the optional marmalade glaze because I didn't want it to be too sticky. It was a simple, delicious bread, sort of like a lemon pound cake. It would be a nice thing to take to a friend's home or to serve to overnight guests.

This was easy to make. I used a dark metal pan, and my loaf didn't seem to rise as much as others. It was also done earlier than the recipe described.

I am a little late posting this because... I am lazy. I baked this on Sunday but didn't get the photo uploaded in time. Whoops!

Tim's Rating: 8.5/10
Liz's Rating: 8/10

Next week on TWD: Blueberry Crumb Cake (!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Siberian Spicy Garlic Cheese (Pikantny Syr)

The Amazing Race's second Russian pit stop
this recipe from

  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) medium-sharp white cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) Emmentaler cheese, (Gruyere)finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup pure sour cream (containing no additives)
  • 1/4 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 8 to 10 large garlic cloves, put through a garlic press
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper or hot paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Toss the shredded cheeses by hand in a large bowl.
  2. Mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, pressed garlic, hot pepper (optional), and salt in a small bowl, then add to the cheese, stirring to mix well.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours (and preferably overnight) to let the flavors meld.
  4. Let the cheese mixture come to room temperature before serving. Use as a stuffing for small firm ripe tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, as a topping for baked potatoes, or as a spread for dark bread.

Recipe Notes:
Called pikantny syr (spicy cheese) in Russian, this is a popular appetizer in Siberia and the Russian Far East. In restaurants it is usually served as a stuffing for ripe red tomatoes, or as a spread for chewy-textured Russian bread. The combination of cheeses used in this recipe approximates the taste of the cheese used in Asian Russia. Plenty of garlic provides the kick; you can also add some cayenne pepper to make the cheese even hotter. Russians make this dish by putting all the ingredients through a meat grinder--but you can shred the cheese by hand or even use a food processor.

My Notes: I only used 4 cloves of garlic, and it is still very garlicky! I liked this spread on toast points. (We were out of crackers.) It would also be delicious melted on top of chicken breast... which I may try with the leftovers!

Tim's Rating: 8/10 ("Too garlicky for me.")
Liz's Rating: 8/10