Tortellini for Terry

It’s Terry’s birthday today and I took the day off work for the sole purpose of fixing her a yummy birthday dinner. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut when I’m trying to pull one over on her, so I told her a few days ahead of time that I’d be home all day cooking for her. I didn’t tell her what I was making, so there was still some surprise to it when she got home.

Since we’re well into Spring, I wanted to take advantage of seasonal ingredients so to start, I made asparagus soup for an appetizer. I found this particular recipe to be just ok – I saw some recipes that had red potatoes and I think next time, I will add them. It would add a little more texture and depth, I think. The flavor was good enough, even without the potatoes. I served it chilled because the flavors popped more than when it was hot. No picture of this one because it honestly wasn’t that visually compelling.

Continue reading Tortellini for Terry

Strawberry basil sorbet

If you’re looking for an easy dessert, look no further. This sorbet is just about the easiest thing you can make and it takes virtually no time. You can put a number of different spins on it as well. For example, next time, I think I’ll add some champagne or vodka to the mix to give it a little kick.

Simple as it gets!

strawberry_sorbet

Recipe

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 lbs strawberries
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • fresh basil

Stir sugar and water together in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved.

Allow to cool in pan for a 1/2 hour (the syrup is extremely hot) before transferring to a 1 cup container and chilling it in the refrigerator.

While the syrup is cooling, hull strawberries and place them in a food processor or blender. Blend strawberries to a puree, then pour through a sieve into a medium size bowl. Add lemon juice, and stir well.

Refrigerate puree until syrup has chilled – about 1 hour.

Combine chilled syrup and strawberry puree, then transfer to an 8-inch metal baking pan (stainless steel is best).

Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3-4 hours. Remove sorbet from freezer and puree once more in a food processor or blender. Return strawberry puree mixture to metal pan, cover and freeze for a further 3-4 hours.

Garnish with basil.

Serves 6

Triple threat

It was busy in the carrot kitchen today! I made 3 dishes and spent as many and more hours cooking. I barely noticed the time passing by. I guess that’s because I think cooking is FUN.

I started out with raspberry lemon ricotta bread. The recipe was for muffins, but I was feeling like a badass so I decided to make bread instead. Aside from it totally falling apart when I took it out of the pan (must have taken it out too early), it turned out delicious and made an excellent pre-dinner dessert. I think I just made up a new course! Try it yourself – the recipe is right over here.

I just finished what will be our main dish – quinoa salad with black beans, tomatoes and corn. I’ve been making some pretty heavy and not-so-healthy dishes lately, so it was time to lighten things up a bit. This dish is super easy, tasty and totally healthy (aside from the cheese, I guess). Protein-packed and flavorful, it would easily serve as a great filling for a wrap. I bet some avocado would taste great on top, too.

quinoasalad2

For our appetizer, we started with these baked zucchini stacks, which turned out to be what I was most excited about all day. OMG so good. They make me crave summer. I’ll tell you how to make them here.

zucchini1

Oh yeah – don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

Recipe borrowed from Simply Recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted, OR 1 cup of fresh corn, parboiled, drained and cooled (approximately the amount of kernels from one ear of corn)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 5 ounces Queso fresco, Queso Panela, fresh Mozzarella or other mild farmer’s cheese, cut into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, including tender stems, packed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Put the rinsed quinoa, salt and water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer gently until the quinoa absorbs all the water, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Place into a large bowl and fluff up with a fork to help it cool more quickly.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the salad. Soak the red onions in the lime juice and set aside. Soaking the onions in lime juice (or lemon juice or water) helps take the edge off of them. Mix the prepped black beans, corn kernels, tomatoes, cheese, jalapenos, cilantro, and oil into a large bowl.

When the quinoa has cooled, mix it into the bean mixture. Add the red onion and the lime juice and add salt, more oil or lime juice to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Baked zucchini stacks

Hello, new favorite appetizer. This dish makes me crave summer. Also, anything with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze is pretty much guaranteed to please.

I don’t have a lot to say about this dish, other than holy cow, it’s so simple and easy and tastes SO good. If you’re having people over for dinner and want to impress them with a great appetizer, try this one out. It’s so simple and has big flavor.

Just be careful how thick you slice your zucchini and tomatoes – and how high you stack them. They’re prone to falling over if you move too quickly. (How do I know? Because two of them fell over while I was trying to get a damn picture. Cursing ensued.)

zucchini1

So if you want tall stacks, slice things thin. If you want small stacks, slice things thick and just use one slice of each ingredient. It will still be a perfect bite to get your appetite going!

zucchini3

So many layers of delicious.

zucchini2

Recipe courtesy of Eat.Drink.Love.

Ingredients:

For the balsamic glaze:

  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar

For the baked zucchini:

  • 1 zucchini, sliced into about 12 1-inch slices
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

For the stacks:

  • Baked zucchini slices
  • fresh mozarella, sliced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • balsamic glaze
  • fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. To prepare the baked zucchini, beat the egg in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, mix together the flour, panko bread crumbs, and the salt.
  3. Dip each slice of the zucchini into the egg and then into the bread crumb mixture. After all of the slices have been coated, arrange them on the baking sheet and spray the tops with non-stick spray. Bake for about 10 minutes, flip them over and then bake for another 5 minutes or until the slices are golden.
  4. To make the glaze, add the balsamic vinegar and stir in the brown sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Bring to a simmer and heat until the vinegar is reduced by half. Turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the stove.
  5. To make the stacks, layer with a slice of zucchini, followed by a tomato slice and then the mozzarella. Repeat. Drizzle some of the glaze on top. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve promptly.

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

It’s new recipe day! I found this one earlier in the week and was drawn to it because it involved some flavors I don’t typically work with. I pretty much love anything made with shrimp, so this was a no-brainer. As is always the case, I needed to make a vegetarian version for Terry, so I grabbed some tofu for her share.

Full disclosure: the store I went to didn’t have the right sized shrimp and I didn’t feel like making an extra trip, (lazy today) so I got the largest they had. (Fun fact, did you know that shrimp are not sold by size, as in small, medium, large, but rather how many equal a pound? The recipe called for 21/25 shrimp, but all the store had was 26/30. It seems like a small thing, but these kind of details really do make a difference.)

I have to admit, the amount of butter in this dish is a bit startling. And to be honest, I wanted to quit when I got to the 8th tablespoon of butter, but I always follow a new recipe as instructed the first time I make it. Into the pan went the 9th and 10th tablespoon of butter.

Look at all this butter.

allthatbutter

I have to let you know that as easy as some things are to do, even when you’re really good at something, you can still screw it up. My pan was too hot and my first 2 tablespoons of butter burned and I also burnt the garlic. I had to trash it and start over. So if anyone has any tips on how to cook garlic without burning it, I’m all ears. It trips me up every now and then, but I expect I will master it eventually.

This dish is pretty easy to make, and despite my hesitation with the butter quantity, it was really good. Even the tofu version. The sauce was delicious and was perfect to soak up with bread. If I ever make this again, and I’m not sure I will, I would cut back on the butter and amp up the seasoning. I like spicy food and this could use a little more heat, too.

Happy Saturday night, folks. Here is the original recipe, courtesy of Kitchen Riffs.

Now go cook!

nolashrimp1

 

nolatofu1

Cherry tomato jam

I’ve sort of been binge cooking this weekend. Seems that lately I want to cook anything I can get my hands on, whether I have to make a special trip to the store for one ingredient or if I have everything I need at home.

I recently had a dish at Sienna Tavern of tomato jam with burrata cheese. It was surprisingly savory and awesome. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I mean tomato jam sounds kind of weird, right? But it was amazing. It was so good it inspired me to make my own. I looked for a recipe and chose this one here.

cherry_tomato_jam1

This is a pretty simple dish to make, it only requires an occasional stirring so the sugar in the pan does not burn. I followed the recipe, which says to let it cook for 70 minutes. So I stood there, stirring, tasting, stirring some more. So far it tasted good and I was happy with the way it was going.

Continue reading Cherry tomato jam

Mushroom truffle pizza with homemade dough

I have the day off today, and can’t think of anything better to do than invest time in learning a new technique. Today, I’m making pizza and I’m going to make the dough from scratch for the first time. I’ve even purchased a back up pizza crust in case this turns out to be an utter failure.

Anything that involves exact ingredient amounts is a little intimidating because there’s pretty much no room for error. I’m used to tossing things together by using half-assed and approximate measurements, so this is going to be interesting.

I did some research and determined that this how-to video was the best way to get started.

I’d like to say I got it right on the first try, but I’d be lying. It took me 5 times to get the yeast to rise. It seems my days of working without a food thermometer are over. The water really needs to be just the right temperature for the yeast to react and it’s really hard to guess what 100 degree water feels like. Finally – I got it to rise!

yeast

While waiting for the dough to rise, it was time to start prepping the ingredients for the sauce. The sauce takes about 20 minutes to make, and probably could be made up to an hour in advance of use.

Continue reading Mushroom truffle pizza with homemade dough

Baked onion rings

These were so easy to make and made a great side dish to our sweet potato burgers!

Baked Onion Rings (Recipe from Martha Stewart)

  • 1 1/2 cups cornflakes (I used panko crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used light cream since that was what I had)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia, quartered crosswise and broken into rings (discard small center rings)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, pulse cornflakes and breadcrumbs until fine crumbs form, then transfer to a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, flour, and cayenne and season with salt and pepper.

Dip onion rings in egg mixture (letting excess drip off) and dredge in cornflake mixture; place on a large plate. Pour oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and heat 2 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and tilt to coat evenly with oil. Arrange onion rings on sheet. Bake, turning once, until onion rings are golden brown, about 16 minutes. Season with salt.

onionring1

onionring2

Sweet potato burgers with roasted garlic spread

I think we’re all just about ready to close the door on winter and welcome Spring with open arms. There are signs all around us that Spring’s arrival is imminent. We moved the clocks ahead today, the temperatures have risen to above freezing, birds are chirping and if the wind is blowing right, you can catch a whiff of the earth’s aroma sneaking out from beneath all those layers of snow.

With the changing of the seasons also comes a motivation for Spring cleaning and nothing is exempt – especially the fridge. We have quite a few odds and ends ingredients that have been taking up residence for too long, so after doing an assessment, I determined that sweet potato burgers and baked onion rings would be the best thing to make today.

Continue reading Sweet potato burgers with roasted garlic spread

Mini frittatas with spinach, mushroom and goat cheese

Here’s a simple dish for any weekend breakfast or brunch. I had a ton of ingredients that needed to be used up so I threw together these mini frittatas. The best part is the onions, the flavor really comes out with the caramelization. Happy eating!

frittata1

frittata2

Recipe

  • 5 egg whites
  • 3 eggs, whole
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup spinach, cooked
  • 1/2 cup portobellos, cooked
  • 1/4 cup red onion, glazed (instructions below)
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1.5 tsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt + black pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 °F
  • Sauté spinach and portobellos with olive oil in pan
  • Chop red onion and place in pan with balsamic vinegar and grapeseed or olive oil. Cook until onions are caramelized with vinegar
  • Whisk egg whites, eggs, and milk together
  • Add in rosemary and goat cheese and stir lightly
  • Combine vegetables in separate bowl
  • Place vegetable mixture in muffin tin, and fill 1/4 of the way up
  • Pour egg mixture over vegetables until tins are 3/4 full
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until eggs are set

Yields 12 mini frittatas.