September 30, 2010

Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

I posted a recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes not too long ago. I was supposed to wait to use them after the tomato season was over, but I couldn't help myself. I used the slow-roasted tomatoes in place of the sun-dried tomatoes specified in the recipe. And they were excellent! I love the concentrated, rich flavor of dried tomatoes.

A trick I learned from this chicken recipe is to slice chicken breasts in half to make two thinner breasts. Cutting the chicken this way increases surface area, which means faster cooking times and more flavor. Then to feed my husband and I, we only need one breast per meal, as I think a half breast is a good portion.

Of course, if you don't have a grill or don't want to grill, you can always saute the chicken in a skillet (cast-iron is a fabulous substitute for a grill) on the stovetop or put the chicken under the broiler.

Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
adapted from keen5 on Food

1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup cold butter, sliced
1 1/2 cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

Saute garlic and onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat until tender.

Stir stock and lemon juice into skillet, increase heat to medium high, and simmer to reduce by half.

Reduce heat to low and stir in cold butter, one slice at a time. Stir in tomatoes, basil, kosher salt, and white pepper; remove from heat; set aside.

Brush chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Grill chicken over hot coals 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

A couple of minutes before chicken is done, place equal amounts of cheese on each breast Spoon prepared sun-dried tomato sauce over chicken.

September 28, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

I really like these muffins because they aren't too sweet, so they stay in the muffin category and don't cross over to the cupcake category. I love my silicone muffin pans because no paper is required and they pop right out of the pan once slightly cooled.

Try homemade pumpkin puree - it's super easy, just takes a little planning ahead.

Pumpkin Muffins
from Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of ground allspice
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup moist, plump golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
about 1/2 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds for topping

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Working with a stand mixer, preferable fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add both the sugars and continue to beat until light and smooth . One by one, add the eggs, beating for a minute after the eggs are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla. Lower the mixer speed and mix in the pumpkin and buttermilk. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing only until the disappear. To avoid overmixing, you can stop the machine early and stir any remaining dry ingredients into the batter using a rubber spatula. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle a few sunflower seeds over the top of each muffin.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove each one from its mold and finish cooling on the rack.

September 27, 2010

CSA - Week 16

Week 16: Assorted hot peppers, tomatoes, pear tomatoes, potatoes, squash, zucchini, corn and eggs.

It was a slow cooking week this week as I was out of town for a bit and then my oven broke! It was out of commission for 5 whole days.

I bought some extra roma tomatoes so I could make a batch of pizza sauce. I stored the sauce in little plastic containers that I stuck in the freezer. Each container has one pizza's worth of sauce.

Pizza Sauce

2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, juices reserved OR 1 can (28 oz) Italian plum tomatoes and their juice.
4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 T olive oil
½ t red pepper flakes (optional)
¼ t dried basil
¼ t dried oregano
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Coarsely chop fresh tomatoes if using and set aside. Press or mince garlic into sauce pan. Stir in olive oil, red pepper flakes, basil and oregano, and cook over medium heat 1 – 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, 25 – 35 min or until sauce is thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Depending on the consistency, you can puree in food processor, if desired. The sauce can be used immediately or stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (Yield 2 cups – enough for 2 pizzas)

September 23, 2010

Clean-Out-the-Fridge Frittata

An almost-weekly dinner staple at my house is an egg dish, whether scrambled eggs, omelettes or a frittata. It's fast and easy, usually is meatless, and I can use up odds and ends from my fridge.

In this frittata, I used spinach, feta cheese, onions, bell peppers, and deli ham.

Clean-out-the-Fridge Frittata

chopped vegetables, such as onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, scallions, spinach or chard, grated potatoes, tomatoes
4-6 eggs, beaten and flavored with salt and pepper
cheese, crumbled or grated
optional: deli meat, shredded chicken, cooked bacon or sausage

Preheat broiler and position rack about 6 inches away from flame. Add a tablespoon or less of butter to an oven-proof skillet on medium heat. Add chopped vegetables and saute until tender (if using tomatoes, don't saute, just add to eggs later on). Remove vegetables to a plate. Add a tablespoon or less of butter again to the skillet. Swirl pan to coat with butter. Add beaten eggs with salt and pepper to skillet. Sprinkle eggs with sauteed vegetables, and then cheese. When the eggs have set up slightly on the bottom, transfer skillet to oven. Broil until top is golden brown and puffs slightly.

September 21, 2010


This is a very basic soup, but somehow it tastes so good. The recipe allows for a lot of variation, which comes in handy. I used prosciutto, potatoes, zucchini, and spinach for my optional ingredients. I used vegetable broth made from Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base. It's a pasty bouillon that is kept in the fridge (I use the chicken base as well). I know making homemade broth is so much better, but in a pinch I use this stuff. Also, the Parmesan cheese isn't just for garnish--it really makes a big difference, so don't skip it!

from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto or other ham (optional)
1 1/2 to 2 cups hard vegetables, like potatoes, winter squash, parsnips, or turnips, peeled if necessary and cut into smaller than 1/2-inch dice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock or water
1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato (canned is fine; include the juices)
1 1/2 to 2 cups soft vegetables, like green beans, cooked dried beans, zucchini or summer squash, or dark, leafy greens like kale or collards, cut into smaller than 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

1. Put 3 tablespoons of the oil into a large, deep pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the ham if you're using it and cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes.
2. Add the hard vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, then add the stock and the tomato; bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring every now and then, until the vegetables are fairly soft and the tomato is broken up, about 15 minutes.
3. Add the soft vegetables and the parsley and adjust the heat once again so the mixture simmers. Cook until all the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and serve, passing the cheese at the table.

September 18, 2010

CSA - Week 15

I received yellow cherry tomatoes, assorted peppers, radishes, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, acorn squash, and a pumpkin.  No eggs due to a mix-up.

I roasted the pumpkin to make pumpkin puree for baking, and it was actually pretty easy.  The hardest thing was cutting the pumpkin open (does anyone have a machete?).  I put the puree in the freezer to use later.  I also roasted the seeds with salt and butter -- they were gone in no time!

Pumpkin Puree
from my kitchen addiction

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

Begin by slicing the top of the pumpkin off, right below the stem. Then, cut the pumpkin in half, cutting from top to bottom. Use a spoon to scoop the seeds and pulp out from the inside of the pumpkin. Don’t throw the seeds away; you can roast them. Once you’ve removed the seeds and pulp, cut each half of the pumpkin in half again so that the pumpkin is cut into quarters.

Transfer the pieces of pumpkin to the baking sheet, cut side down. Bake until the pumpkin is fork tender (for about 45 – 60 minutes). Allow the pumpkin to cool for about 10 – 15 minutes, until it is cool enough to handle. Then, use a spoon to scoop the flesh of the pumpkin out of the skin.

Transfer the flesh of the pumpkin to a food processor and puree. Refrigerate for about a week or freeze for up to 6 months. Use in any recipe where you would use canned pumpkin puree.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
adapted from Cantaloupe Alone

the seeds of one squash (1/4 - 1 cup)
1 tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp chili powder, optional

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Scoop seeds out of halved squash or pumpkin with a spoon and place in a a colander. The seeds will be entangled with squash membrane. Use your fingers to pick the stringy, slippery membrane out. Rinse with water, and shake off excess. Spread the seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with butter, chili powder, and salt. Toast in oven for 45 - 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes. The seeds will have a light to medium brown color. They won't crisp up until they are removed from the oven. To test remove one seed from the oven, wait five minutes. If it crunches when you bite it, the seeds are ready, otherwise back in the oven for 15 minutes.

Here's a very easy recipe to use up fresh peppers. Who doesn't love a quesadilla?

Chile-Bean Quesadilla
from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

3-4 jalapeno, poblano, or serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup pinto beans (if using canned, rinse well)
1/2 cup corn or canola oil (optional, can use use nonstick pan or a cast iron pan and omit oil)
eight 8-inch flour tortillas
2 cups grated cheese
1/2 cup minced scallion
1/4 cup salsa

Saute the chiles and garlic in a tablespoon of oil. Set aside.

Put 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium heat. When hot, put a tortilla in the skillet. Top with a quarter of the cheese, scallion, chiles, beans, and salsa, then another tortilla.

Cook until the cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook until the cheese is melted and both sides are toasted, another 2 to 3 minutes. Drain if necessary, then cut into wedges and serve or keep warm until the remaining quesadillas are done.

September 17, 2010

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted potatoes are definitely a go-to side dish for me. Baked on a stone, they come out golden brown and perfectly crispy. Russet potatoes crisp up better than new potatoes, but both work well.

This recipe also works for various shapes - wedges, round slices, etc. Just keep on eye on them as baking time will vary depending on the size of the cut potatoes.

Roasted Potatoes

3-5 potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
rosemary, thyme, garlic, whatever suits your fancy

Preheat oven to 425. Chop potatoes into bite size pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and other seasonings. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Potatoes are done when golden brown and crispy.

September 15, 2010

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

I'm freaking out over the fact that fresh, ripe tomatoes will be leaving my life soon for most of the next year. My mom gave me the idea to slow-roast them and then stick them in the freezer. So I did, and it's taking a lot of willpower not to eat them all now.

I can't wait to figure out how to use these, because the dish already has a high chance of success if it includes these tasty morsels.



Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
from Gourmet Magazine

4 pounds tomatoes, cherry or grape tomatoes halved lengthwise, larger tomatoes cut in quarters or eighths
6 garlic cloves, minced
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1.Preheat oven to 200°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

2. Put tomatoes, cut side up, in 2 large 4-sided sheet pans. Combine garlic and oil and spoon over tomatoes. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper.

3. Roast in oven 6 to 8 hours (tomatoes will be greatly reduced in size but still moist). Cool.

Note: Roasted tomatoes keep in an airtight container, chilled, 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using. Or freeze in a ziploc bag up to several months.

September 14, 2010

Dimply Plum Cake

If you've been following this blog, you might have noticed my obsession with Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours. One recipe stood out as a little weird and I remember thinking that I would never make it in a million years. But then in my food blog surfing, Dorie's Dimply Plum Cake showed up again and again. And surprisingly people were raving about it.

So when plums showed up at the farmer's market, my fate was sealed. I had to try this cake out for myself. The verdict? I loved it! The plums turned out juicier and sweeter than when raw and accompanied the slightly sweet cake perfectly. The flesh of the plums also magically turned from yellow to purple during baking.

The original recipe says to bake the cake for 35-40 minutes. At 35 minutes, mine was already overbaked a little, so I've adjusted the baking time to 30-35 minutes. As the plums are halved, I would recommend using smaller plums instead of large ones.

Dimply Plum Cake
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 1/2 cups (170 g) plain or all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
scant 1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
5 Tbsp (70 g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100 g) light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
zest of one orange
4 large plums or 6 to 8 small ones, cut in half and pitted

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a round or square 8-inch cake pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and cardamom.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and add the oil, vanilla and orange zest. Again on medium speed, beat the batter until it looks smooth and creamy. Reduce the speed to low and add in the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth it down with a spatula. Arrange the plums on the cake, cut side up, and press down slightly so they nestle into the batter. Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean and the top is golden and puffy around the edges.

Cool on a wire rack. Once cool, the cake can be wrapped and stored for up to two days.

September 13, 2010

Hot Fudge Sauce and Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

There's a group of bloggers who do "Tuesdays with Dorie" and all bake and blog the same recipe from her cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Recently they made Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream. I happened over to Dorie's blog and saw she posted a hot fudge sauce to accompany the chocolate ganache ice cream to "put it over the top." I thought that sounded amazing. I was not disappointed.

Both the sauce and ice cream are super chocolately, so if you don't adore dark chocolate, these are not for you, or at least don't make them at the same time.

Hot Fudge Sauce
from Dorie Greenspan
Makes 1 3/4 cups

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Bring the cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa and salt to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in the chocolate and butter. Return to a simmer for 1 minute more, then stir in the vanilla. Pour into a heatproof jar and use now or cool, cover tightly, chill and reheat very, very gently before serving.

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

Put the chocolate in a 2-quart liquid measuring cup or a large heatproof bowl. Bring ¾ cup of the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit a minute, then using a rubber spatula and starting in the center of the mixture, slowly stir the cream into the chocolate in ever-widening concentric circles. When the ganache is smooth, set it aside.

Bring the milk and the remaining ¾ cup cream to a boil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until well blended and just slightly thickened. Still whisking, drizzle in about one third of the hot liquid—this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring without stopping, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon; if you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard should not run into the track. The custard should reach at least 170 degrees F, but no more than 180 degrees F, on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and slowly and gently stir the custard into the ganache.

Refrigerate the custard until chilled before churning it into ice cream.

Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into the container and freeze it for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop. Makes about 1 quart.

Serving: If the ice cream is very firm—as ice cream made with premium-quality chocolate often is—allow it to sit on the counter for a few minutes before scooping or warm it in a microwave oven using 5-second spurts of heat.

Storing: Packed tightly in a covered container, the ice cream will keep in the freezer for about 2 weeks.

September 10, 2010


I guess have made and eaten a lot of okay chili in my life, because chili and scrumptious food don't usually get mentioned in the same sentence. But that all changed when my mom sent me her friend's recipe for chili about two years ago. Chili can be scrumptious, did you know that?

This chili is bursting with flavor and is so hearty and filling. My husband asked for chili a few weeks ago when it was still super hot and humid outside. I told him to wait, but I ended up making it on a pleasant summer day (not humid at least). Oh well, it was a preview of fall cooking to come.

I usually don't measure things out exactly in this recipe - especially the spices. I also don't always have Accent seasoning, which is just a blend of spices. I refuse to buy it, and at one point I had a recipe for it, but can't find it now. So feel free to leave it out - my chili still tastes amazing without it.

from L. Hickman

1 c. diced onions
1 c. diced green peppers
1 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. ground beef (1/2 lb. works just fine too)
1 lb. can of tomatoes, whole
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
3 c. tomato juice
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. Tobasco
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. molasses
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Accent seasoning
¼ tsp. sweet basil
¼ tsp. rosemary
¼ tsp. marjoram
¼ tsp. thyme
1 tsp. cumin
2 cans kidney beans, drained
Few dashes cayenne pepper

Brown ground beef and garlic; add onions and peppers and cook. Add tomato juice, whole tomatoes and tomato paste. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer for 3-4 hours.

CSA - Week 14

Summer is fading away fast! What will I do without my CSA and other farmer's market purchases?

This week's CSA roundup: tomatoes, grape tomatoes, hot peppers, banana peppers, green pepper, yellow beans, yellow potatoes, green tomatillos, swiss chard, kale, and eggs.

I used some of the produce in two scrumptious main dishes:

Pasta Amatriciana - grape tomatoes
Chili - green pepper and tomatoes

I ate the rest of the stuff in ways I've mentioned previously. I don't want to sound like a broken record, so I'll spare you the details. But let me give one tip: kale crisps up nicely in a pan as well as the oven.

Apple Pancakes

While waffles are my favorite breakfast food, pancakes are part of the same food family, so they have a fond place in my heart too. I often experiment with flavors for pancakes. I like to try and make them healthier (though I will admit to making chocolate pancakes with chocolate syrup once), so this recipe caught my eye.

These were hearty and making me pine for colder weather so I can change up my cooking. I served them with a dollop of creme fraiche (no sugar or syrup on top - see I am healthy).

Apple Pancakes
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 medium apples, peeled and coarsely grated
Vegetable oil, for frying
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1. Mix the eggs with the milk in a large bowl. Stir in the maple syrup.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together.

3. Combine the wet and the dry ingredients and stir in the apples.

4. Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet over low to medium heat. Drop large spoonful of batter into the pan and flatten it out a little (otherwise, you might have trouble getting them to cook in the center) and cook until golden brown underneath. Flip the pancakes and cook them for an additional two or three minutes.

5. Either dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately, or keep on a tray in a warmed oven until you are ready to serve them.

September 8, 2010

Pasta Amatriciana

Pancetta is an Italian bacon, but it seems to be less salty than bacon. I made this dish with pancetta and thought the flavor was subtle. So if using bacon, consider using less than called for and definitely taste it before adding extra salt.

I used yellow and red cherry/pear tomatoes and a hot pepper from my CSA in this dish. This is a good variation on the Angel Hair Tomato Basil Toss I posted before. Both are fairly simple dishes but so good, especially eaten piping hot.

Pasta Amatriciana
from Italian Food Forever

1 small sweet onion, peeled & chopped
4 ounces diced pancetta (or bacon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely sliced
1 fresh red hot chili pepper, finely minced
1 pound cherry tomatoes, chopped
3/4 pound short dried pasta such as penne
salt & pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

To serve:
grated pecorino cheese

Place a large pot of salted water on to boil. While waiting on the water, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and add the onions, pancetta and chili pepper and cook over medium low heat until the onions are soft and the pancetta is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, half the parsley, and some black pepper and cook for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes soften. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Keep warm over low heat. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until it is al dente. Retain a small cup of pasta water and add a tablespoon or two to the sauce if it seems to thick. Drain the pasta and toss it together with the sauce. Serve immediately offering grated pecorino cheese at the table.

September 6, 2010

CSA - Week 13

Another CSA roundup: yellow beans, yellow pear tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cayenne peppers, banana peppers, green pepper, okra, red potatoes, tomatoes, and eggs.

I have no idea what to do with okra. Fried okra seemed like a good way to hide the okra. So I tried it and I'll admit, I loved it! No sliminess at all and I loved the pop of the seeds. This was so good I might actually seek out more okra to make more.

Fried Okra
from hungrycravings

¾ cup fine cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil, for frying
¾ pound fresh okra, cut into ¾-inch pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk

Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, granulated garlic, cayenne, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper in a large, shallow dish. Add enough oil to a large, heavy frying pan to come to a depth of ¾ inch. Heat over medium-high heat until a pinch of the cornmeal mixture sizzles immediately when added. Meanwhile, add the okra to the buttermilk, and stir to coat. Transfer the okra to the cornmeal mixture and toss to coat, separating any pieces that stick together. Shaking off any excess cornmeal mixture, add about half of the okra to the oil and fry, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Using a skimmer, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season to taste with salt. Fry the remaining okra in the same manner. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately.

This watermelon is from the previous week's CSA and has been perfect eaten on its own, but I wanted to try a watermelon feta salad before it was gone. I'm glad I did. This salad is surprising, but delightful. Did I tell you how much I love fresh herbs? The mint makes the salad.

Watermelon Feta Salad
from Two Peas

6 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
Balsamic vinegar - optional

In a large bowl combine watermelon, red onion, feta, and mint. Stir until ingredients are well combined. Serve chilled with balsamic vinegar.

10/30/2010 Update: I tried another watermelon, feta salad that I liked better than this one. This one has watermelon and feta on top of a bed of arugula with a delightful honey dressing.

Watermelon, Arugula, Feta Salad
from Week of Menus

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey

6 cups of arugula
3 cups of cold, fresh, and ripe watermelon, cubed
1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese (almost 2 oz)

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper together. Set aside.

On four individual plates, place a layer of arugula, artfully put some watermelon on top of the arugula and then sprinkle feta cheese, divided equally among four plates. Carefully drizzle a small amount of dressing over each plate.

September 3, 2010

Key Lime Bars

I found a great deal at the grocery store and had to give in: a bag of key limes for $1! Then I had to figure out what to make. Key Lime Pie is the standard, of course. Instead I found and made this bar recipe, which is really not that different (if at all, except shape of pan) from a pie recipe.

I made a key lime cheesecake a few months ago, but it was a little too tart for my husband. He gave these bars a thumbs up, and I do too. The lime flavor is definitely present but is tempered by all the sweetness from the sweetened condensed milk and the crust. These are quite refreshing!

Key Lime Bars
adapted from Cook's Illustrated via Tracey

5 ounces graham crackers
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark)
pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
pinch table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (regular lime juice works too in a pinch)

Preheat oven to 325 F. Fit a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil into the bottom and up the sides of an 8-inch square baking dish, letting the ends hang over so you can use them to lift the bars out after they've baked. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they are broken down into fine crumbs (you should have about 1 1/4 cups of crumbs). Add the brown sugar and salt and process to combine, about ten 1-second pulses. Drizzle the butter over the crumb mixture and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened with butter, about ten 1-second pulses. Dump the mixture into the prepared baking pan and use your fingers to press the crumbs evenly to form the crust in the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.

In a medium bowl, use a rubber spatula to stir the cream cheese, lime zest and salt until softened and thoroughly combined. Add the sweetened condensed milk and whisk until fully incorporated - no lumps of cream cheese should remain. Whisk in the egg yolk. Finally, add the lime juice and whisk gently until it is incorporated. Your filling mixture will thicken slightly.

Pour the filling on top of the crust, spread it into the corners and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake until the filling is set and the edges begin to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Use the foil "handles" to lift the bars out of the pan then cut them into squares before serving. Store the bars in the refrigerator.

September 2, 2010

Banana - Blueberry Muffins

I had one black banana to use up. So I found this recipe and halved it and made mini muffins instead of full-size (I'm obsessed with my mini muffin pan). And they turned out delightful! The banana flavor wasn't too overpowering and they weren't too sweet.

Banana - Blueberry Muffins
adapted from Everyday Food

1 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
cinnamon-sugar mixture for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners or spray a 24-cup mini muffin pan with baking spray. In a bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork (you should have 3/4 cup); stir in milk and vanilla.

With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in frozen blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups and sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes (less for mini muffin pan), rotating pan halfway through. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; transfer muffins to a rack to cool 10 minutes more.

September 1, 2010

Greek Salad

About five or so years ago I had my first Greek Salad in a restaurant. I fell instantly in love. It's fairly simple, and I've been recreating the combo ever since.  Greek Salad is all about the zestiness factor - kalamata and green olives and pickled banana peppers are my favorite parts of this salad.

UPDATE 8/8/2011: I turned this dish into a main dish by adding pan-grilled chicken.  I also added marinated artichoke hearts and adapted this dressing.  It turned out super delicious.

Greek Salad

lettuce or baby spinach
red onion
feta cheese, crumbled
kalamata olives
green olives
marinated artichoke hearts
pickled banana peppers
red wine vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper

For dressing: whisk together red wine vinegar and olive oil (approx. equal parts of each, maybe slightly less vinegar) and salt and pepper.

Assemble salad and toss with dressing.