Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Crispy Tofu Salad with Sesame Miso Vinaigre

I hope everyone has survived the holiday season.  I, for one, ate my way right through it.  I'm serious.  I really did.  I have no ability to hold back when it comes to party food.  My Aunt Loretta's arancini are too good to stop at one and her spumoni cookies are one of my favorites.  My mil makes chocolate covered toffee that makes my mouth water when I think about it, and since she threatens to be buried with the recipe, I feel the need to eat as much as I can before that happens.  There is always a load of food on Christmas Eve.  In addition to the wide array of apps, the family does the classic Italian night of seven fishes.  On the menu, typically or not so typically, is clam chowder, stuffed clams and scallops, baked shrimp, and both fried and stuffed calamari.  Well this year the ante was waaaaay upped with the addition of lobster mac and cheese.  Needless to say, I overdid it.  The worst part is that the next day, we continue to eat heavily.  "Sure, I'll have some more cheese ball, and yes, please do pass the gravy."

So now I'm suffering from a bit of food guilt.  I ate too much and too rich and it requires immediate penance, but I am on Christmas break!  I'm just not a "salad" kind of girl when I'm on vacation.  I'm a "trip to the North End for Umberto's and tiramisu" kind of girl.  However, if a salad were to be crazy amazing, then...this brings me to my first ever salad post...

This salad has been made most amazing by the combination of some of my favorite things.  The tofu is prepared using a favorite recipe of mine from Oh She Glows' Angela Liddon (this has become my favorite way to prepare tofu - you can throw these crunchy little cubes in or on anything.)  The dressing and crunchy topping are finds from Bon Appetit.  The chili in the dressing is taste bud as well as mind blowing as far as I'm concerned.  So if you feel the need to cleanse as I did, then I hope you will try this - because it's a truly delicious plate full of healthy.

Crispy Tofu Salad with Sesame Miso Vinaigrette
serves 4-6

1 large box of mixed salad greens (or cut up your own greens of your choosing)
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
crispy garlic tofu (see recipe below)
1/3 to 1/2 cup of pepita-cashew crunch (see recipe below)
sesame-miso vinaigrette for serving (see recipe below)

Top the salad greens with the remaining ingredients and enjoy!

For the crispy garlic tofu:
recipe by Angela Liddon from the Oh She Glows Cookbook

1 14-oz package of extra firm tofu, pressed overnight and cut into about 30 pieces or so
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat with 1 Tbsp of canola oil (or other oil of choice).  Once the pan is hot, put the coated tofu in the pan in a single layer.  Allow to cook for about 3 minutes until golden, then flip the tofu pieces over and cook for another 3 minutes until golden and crisp.

For the pepita-cashew crunch:
from Bon Appetit

1 large egg white
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and coat a lined baking sheet lightly with cooking spray.  Whisk the egg white, agave, garam masala, salt, and cayenne together in a medium bowl.  Add the nuts and seeds and toss to coat.  With a slotted spoon, remove the mixture to the baking sheet, allowing the excess egg to drip back into the bowl.  Bake, tossing once, until the mixture is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container.  Store at room temperature for up to 5 days.  This is delicious served over salad, Greek yogurt, and I am sure a hundred other things.

For the sesame miso vinaigrette:
adapted from Bon Appetit

1 red Fresno chili, with seeds, finely chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp white miso
1 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Whisk all of the ingredients in a small bowl.  This can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a week.

Visit Page

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kung Pao Chicken

This is an original recipe.  It took me a long time of trying, but I finally got it right, and now I am hooked on this dish.  I figured out how to do it without chopping loads of ginger and garlic - which to me was the most annoying part of the prepping for a stir fry - and it doesn't taste like it's missing anything.  I also know that I could easily throw in any other vegetables I want to use and exchange the chicken for another protein.  This recipe is a streamlined, healthy, and delicious stir fry with all the signature ingredients of Kung Pao Chicken - carrots, celery, onion, water chestnuts, peanuts, a bit of heat,  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Kung Pao Chicken
serves 4

Marinade for chicken:
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. rice (wine) vinegar

1/4 cup hoisen
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup of water

2 Tbsp peanut oil, divided
1 lb chicken breast, diced small
4 dried sichuan peppers, broken up, with seeds
2/3 cup carrots, diced small
2/3 cup celery, diced small
1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 small can of water chestnuts, diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
1/4 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts

Marinade the chicken in the baking soda for 20 minutes.  Then rinse well and dry completely.  Add the rice vinegar and cornstarch to the chicken, combine well, and let sit for another 15 minutes.  While the chicken is marinating, whisk together all the ingredients for your sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Once your chicken is ready, heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink.  Remove from the wok and set aside.  Heat the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil.  Add the peppers and simmer until fragrant.  Add the carrot, celery, and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots are no longer hard, about 10 minutes.  Add the water chestnuts and combine.  Then incorporate the cooked chicken.  Add the sauce and mix everything together.  Lastly, add the scallions (if using) and the peanuts.  Serve with your favorite rice.

visit page

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Raspberry Chia Jam

I am not a vegan - I eat absolutely everything (except radishes...I hate radishes.)  I am, however, at the risk of making my husbands eyes roll, a foodie.  So I am willing to try almost anything if it has visual appeal and uses amazing ingredients.  It is because of this (and a fellow food lover/vegan friend) that I have recently fallen very much in love with the Oh She Glows Cookbook.  (I am linking to her web site where she uses the following jam recipe to make jam filled oat bars...I will definitely be trying that one day.)  Just yesterday, I made three of the recipes - all delicious - but this jam is nothing less than stunning.  If the pictures haven't won you over, let me continue to try.  The jam was so easy to make that words can't do it justice, and it is waaaaaay more delicious than any jam you'll ever get at the store.  I hate the fact that jarred jams have so much sugar in them - and some of those sugars are as unnatural as it gets.  Well this jam is too easy, too healthy, and too delicious to eat any other type of jam ever again.

Raspberry Chia Jam
recipe from Oh She Glows

makes 1/2 cup
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (I used fresh)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, heat the raspberries and maple syrup over medium-high heat.  Once the mixture comes to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Then mash up the fruit with a fork or spoon, mix in the chia seeds, and cook for another 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until it is a good consistency.  It will firm up more as it cools.  Lastly, stir in the vanilla.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Classic Apple Crisp

It's the first weekend after the first week of school.  I survived.  The students survived.  We all survived.  Only 40 or so more weeks to go until summer.  Not that I'm counting or anything.  Luckily the start of school also means the start of some pretty amazing fall activities...most of which revolve around food...and also the cooler weather.  How I wish fall weather was all year long.

So for our first fall activity, of course we went off apple picking - its one of the best things about fall.  (It also usually leads to a pretty amazing and lengthy baking spree.)  The apple cider doughnuts at Parlee Farms are crazy good, and their apple crisp is even better.  However, I told Jim that instead of us buying the apple crisp there, I would just make some of my own with some of our apple loot.  I began to regret that halfway into apple peeling.  Some delicious Parlee Farm apple crisp would have been way easier.  So now I know.  Yet this did come out delicious (and pretty.)  It was worth the work.  The filling may have been a little bit too lemony for me...I would take down the lemon juice to 1 tablespoon.  The crumb topping was perfection.  If anything, I don't think I'm used to anything this sweet anymore, but I can still recognize a delicious - even if a bit indulgent - dessert.

Apple Crisp
recipe from Ina Garten

For the filling:
5 pounds McIntosh or Macoun apples (I used a mix of Gala and Macs)
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel, core, and slice the apples.  In a large bowl (I had to use two bowls), mix the apple slices with the rest of the filling ingredients.  Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish.  In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix all of the topping ingredients until crumbly and the butter pieces are pea-size.  Pour the crumb topping over the apples.  Place your baking dish on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 1 hour, until the apple filling is bubbly and the crumb topping is golden.  I highly recommend serving this with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Crispy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend Bonnie fed me these cookies a week ago and I knew immediately I would be making them.  She got them from the Oh She Glows cookbook (but I'm adding the link to Angela Liddon's web site with the same recipe - aside from using peanut butter instead of almond butter.)  These cookies are really delicious, but also really easy to put together, so it feels like I will whip them up often on a whim in the future.  Also, let it be noted (despite the fact that I don't really care all that much about omitting certain food groups, these cookies are vegan and - as long as you use gluten-free oats - they can also gluten-free.  As far as "crispy" cookies go, these were super much so that I cooked them for less time than the recipe called for.  However, Bonnie's cookies came out soft and fluffy when she made these (I cannot for the life of me understand how and, since she is currently on a family vacay, we have yet to compare every single part of our cooking procedure down to the finest of details.  I will update with answers if we discover how this happened.)  I am usually not a fan of such a crispy cookie, but these did come out incredibly tasty...addictively so.  In fact, these cookies were so tasty - along with being convenient and easy to make - that I just ordered the Oh She Glows cookbook.  It is very rare that I order cookbooks anymore...only if they speak to me from a health standpoint and have more than a handful of recipes that seem quick and easy to make.  The internet full of food blogs is truly my oyster, but hopefully this cookbook will prove to be a fun and useful reference.

Crispy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe from Oh She Glows
makes 2 dozen cookies

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbsp water (this is called a flax egg)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt  (recipe called for fine sea salt...I used kosher)
1 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour
1 cup slivered almonds, ground into a meal
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the almond butter and coconut oil using a hand mixer.  Add both sugars and beat for a minute.  Then add the flax egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  One by one, beat in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Then add the oats and almond meal and combine.  Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips.

Put 1-inch balls of the dough on the baking sheet about 2 or 3 inches apart.  Bake in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  (The recipe gave a longer cook time, but I let them go for the suggested minimum of 12 minutes and the bottoms  Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes.  Try not to eat them all at once.  (I have had 3 today.)

visit page

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Chorizo and Potato Tacos

Tonight's supper was a surprise keeper.  I am always amazed when I work completely off recipe and my instincts prove to amazingly be correct.  I have always been a self-doubter, but tonight I figured you can't go wrong with potatoes and could it turn out bad???  It wasn't just not bad - it was soooooo good.  My quickie guacamole didn't hurt the cause either, but I don't have a recipe for that one.  I just eyeball and taste until I get it right.  Let's case it will help you...2 avocados, a big pinch of salt, about a tablespoon of minced onion, not even a teaspoon of minced garlic, juice of about half a lime, some chopped cilantro, and done.  I have overdone it with both the garlic and the onion on separate occasions and it actually dissuaded me from attempting guac for a very long was awful.  That's what you get when you follow bad recipes.  So fearful of making noxious guacs, instead I would just slice avocados and leave all the other flavors to the main dish.  I finally got back on the horse.

So have I told you how much I love cooking in my new kitchen?  Well not only to I love cooking in my new kitchen, but I also love taking pictures in my new kitchen!  At my old house, I would need to put the plates on the floor most of the time to be able to get (a) enough good lighting and (b) a background without children's toys.  My husband has actually taken pictures of me taking pictures for the blog (how meta...and super embarassing) because of how ridiculous me crouching over plates of food on the floor in front of our glass door looked...not cool, not cool.

So to summarize...I love tacos and taking pictures of tacos.

Chorizo and Potato Tacos

1 lb chorizo, casings removed and diced small
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 yellow onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
big pinch of salt
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cooked. skins removed, and diced small (it is easiest to do this on a plate in the microwave)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 package of your favorite tortillas

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chorizo and cook until the fat renders and it turns brown and a little crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the canola oil to the pan.  Then add the onion and saute until translucent.  Add the garlic and saute a minute more.  Add the chili powder, cumin, and salt and stir until combined and fragrant, 30 seconds or so.  Then add the potatoes to the pan and stir until they are heated through..  Return the chorizo to the pan along with the chopped cilantro and combine.  Serve with cheese and guacamole on a tortilla. visit page

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Healthy Eggplant Parmesan

So the move is over and we have been unpacking non-stop and one of my favorite people in the whole world came over and helped me unpack my entire kitchen - so thanks to her I am finally ready to cook a meal.  I am coming from a house with a tiny kitchen that lacked counter space and well, really just space in general.  It was less of a kitchen and more of two galleys that had a dining room next to it.  As much as I love cooking, that's how much I hated my kitchen.  I always had bowls and pans all over the dining room table.  (But it was a ginormous step up from our apartment in Medford - so who knew it would still be tight?)

That being said...I was even nervous about the space in our new home before we moved in...what if it still presented problems?  However, I love love love love love love love love love my new kitchen!  Words do not do it justice.  The best way I can put it...It gave me joy.  So now please let me share with you our first out of countless meals in our new, happy home.

Healthy Eggplant Parmesan
adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
tomato sauce (find the recipe here - and this is enough sauce to have plenty left over to serve with a pound of pasta)
1 cup of shredded cheese of choice (I used a mozzarella, asiago, provolone blend from Trader Joe's)
1 Tbsp romano cheese
ricotta cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread with the 2 Tbsp of olive oil and then lay out your eggplant slices in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until golden in color.  Then, flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes.  When done, remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with a thin layer of your tomato sauce.  Then place some eggplant slices in the dish.  Cover the slices with another thin layer of tomato sauce and then top with some of your shredded cheese and about a teaspoon of the romano.  Begin another layer of eggplant and continue this patter until you run out of ingredients.  I added a few dollops of ricotta to the top before placing in the oven uncovered for about 20 minutes until the cheese melted.

Serve hot with a side of pasta and extra cheese.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rosemary Lemon Bars

So some of you may know and some of you may not...I am a part of a wonderful food group.  A friend from work and I met three other lovely ladies at a class we took discovering the food cultures of different Boston neighborhoods.  During that class we decided to continue to regroup for dinner parties in which we would all cook a dish that centered around the same main ingredient.  (Like Iron Chef, but the ingredient is not a secret, there is no real time constraint, and we don't need to cook on-site unless we need or want to.)  For the first dinner, we chose to use bacon for the reason of versatility to all courses as well as pure indulgent deliciousness.  I made this bacon potato pizza (which is awesome.)  By the end of that dinner party, we had already picked our next date and ingredient...citrus!

So yesterday was our Iron Chef citrus night.  It was amazing...these ladies can certainly cook.  Everything was truly delicious.  This was what our menu looked like...

Apps: Lemon Steamed Artichokes with Basil Lemon Cream Dipping Sauce
          Lemon and Grilled Onion Feta Dip
          Tilapia Ceviche

Main Course: Lemon Parmesan Crusted Chicken over a Pine Nut Arugula Salad with a Lemon Vinegarette

Dessert:  Key Lime Pie
              Rosemary Lemon Bars (these were mine!)

I stumbled upon this recipe a long time ago and placed it in my memory bank.  As soon as we decided citrus, I knew I was making this.  I have never attempted any lemon bar before, so I didn't have the slightest idea as to what to expect, but just the idea of rosemary in the crust of these made me need to find out.  They were awesome.  If you have a thing for lemon desserts and a sweet tooth, then you'll need to make these.  The rosemary is not overwhelming at all - it is extremely subtle and I think added the perfect special touch.  Try them out if you are looking for something different and love a good lemon bar.  Since I don't really eat lemon bars, I can't tell you how they compare as far as the sweetness level goes, but I compared it to other recipes and it seemed to use about the same ratios of sugar to egg and flour.

On a totally different note, I would have loved to take a different kind of photo of these.  They would have looked amazing with a dark background, but unfortunately, I already had packed away my slate board.  I didn't even have my cake pan to use for these because I had packed it up not thinking about making lemon bars at the time.  I had to buy a disposable tin to use instead.  I can't wait to be moved already!  I'm cooking my last meal in this house sad and happy at the same time.  My love of food and cooking blossomed in this house.

Rosemary Lemon Bars
recipe from Gimme Some Oven

for the crust:
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 24 small pieces
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon the flour into measuring cups and sweep off the excess)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt

for the filling:
6 eggs
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour (same as above)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9  x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, or grease with cooking  spray.  To make the crust, pulse all ingredients aside from the butter together in a food processor until combined.  Then add the butter and process until a crumbly dough has formed.  Remove the dough and press into the bottom of prepared baking pan in a flat layer.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes, until lightly golden.  Remove and set aside.  While the crust bakes, make the filling...Whisk together all of filling ingredients until there are no longer any lumps.  Then, once the crust is done, pour it over pre-baked crust.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until filling is set in center (mine took 30 minutes.)  Remove bars and let cool to room temperature.  Then refrigerate for another 2 hours before slicing.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  Add a spring of rosemary if you'd like to make it pretty, but don't eat it.  (I'd get yelled at for the inedible garnish if I were on a cooking show.)

more info

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blueberry Plum Galette

Well, do you know what happens when you pack away all of your pie and tart pans but feel the need to make a pie or tart?  You make a galette!  And let me tell you must must must must must make this galette!  It was soooooo good.  Like I want to eat it forever good.  And as far as pie-like desserts go, this is a pretty good way to go.  This particular crust as only one stick of butter (that's actually not that bad for a pie crust I swear...most use shortening too), and the filling has only 1/4 cup of sugar.  So it's almost like you're eating a delicious, warm fruit salad...which you absolutely can not forget to top with some vanilla ice cream  ;)

Blueberry Plum Galette
recipe from Port and Fin

for the crust:
1-1/3 cup + 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
5 Tbsp ice water

for the filling:
3 cups blueberries
1 cup plum slices
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of water

First, prepare the crust.  In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and sugar.  Then add the butter and pulse until crumbly looking.  Then add the water and process until the dough forms.  Remove from the processor and form into a flat disk on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap, and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and then, in a large bowl, combine all of your filling ingredients and set aside.  Once your dough has chilled, remove it from the plastic wrap and roll it out into a 12-inch circle (or as circle-like as possible...I am too terrible at this for words, but it matters not.)  Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a thin layer of flour (this was supposed to prevent the fruit juices from leaking out of the bottom of the crust, but mine still did.)  Then pour the filling onto the dough, leaving about a 2-inch border which you can then fold over the filling starting in one spot and working your way around until it it a beautiful dough bowl of fruity goodness.

Brush the crust with the egg wash and place the galette in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes (mine took exactly 40) until it is golden brown and ready to be devoured with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream - although you should probably wait for it to cool and set first.  Try your best.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, and Sundried Tomatoes

So it's been such a crazy month that I didn't do I single post in the month of June!  That's the first time a month has passed without a post since I started blogging recipes almost two years ago and I did have an actual conversation with myself about this.  I just didn't have time to prepare something to take photos, and I started this blog as a way to have some fun with cooking and photography.  If I start stressing out about cooking solely for the purpose of taking pictures and blogging, then it will no longer be fun for me.  I did make these roasted banana popsicles one night that I intended on posting if they went over well, but they were only so-so.  I'm going to work on that recipe until it's better.  Aside from that, I spent most of my time in June wrapping up my school year by writing college recommendations and grading finals, and then began my summer vacations apartment hunting with my mother for a week followed by an awesome family vacay to North Conway.

I now make up for my recent absence of posts with a new recipe that I put together myself.  It is super quick, super easy, packed with healthy veggies, excellent for leftovers, and really delicious.  It is also, as most of my favorites tend to be, extremely versatile.  Use any kind of pasta you like (whole grain to kick up the health factor, but I just love orecchiette for this - classic), and use any protein you'd like, swap out the sausage for white beans, or omit it completely (to go vegetarian/vegan.)  You can use a different vegetable if you would rather as well, but if you haven't tried broccoli rabe, you should try it.  It can be bitter, but if you blanch it first as I did, it helps the bitterness immensely.  I hope you love this one as much as we do in the Faulkner house.  Speaking of houses...

We are preparing to move in the end of July, so there has been a lot of packing and a lot less cooking.  I have already packed away all my baking supplies, so don't expect any cookies or cakes from me.  I am about to say goodbye to my food processor and mixer, but I keep putting it off.  In the meantime, I haven't been using them much anyway since I've been running around so much.  In addition to our move, my mother is moving as well.  AND I have a graduate course all of next week from 8 in the morning to 5 at night.  Needless to say, I am busy.  Don't expect too much from me during the month of July either.

1 lb orecchiette
1 lb chicken sausage, removed from casings
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch broccoli rabe
7 oz jar of sliced sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained
1/2 cup grated romano cheese

Bring 2 large pots of water to a boil.  In one, cook the broccoli rabe for 30 seconds.  Pull from the water and place in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.  Once cooled, remove to a colander to drain.  Then chop the cooled and drained broccoli rabe into small pieces.  Place half the olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the chicken sausage and allow to cook undisturbed for four minutes or so, then flip, and begin breaking up the meat as it continues to cook.  Cook until the sausage it no longer pink and remove to a bowl.  Drain most of the grease from the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low.  While waiting for the pan to cool, cook the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid before you drain it.  When the pan is ready, add the remaining olive oil and the garlic to your pan and stir until fragrant, about a minute or so.  Then add the chopped broccoli rabe and the sundried tomatoes, and saute until all of the flavors have combined, about another minute.  Return the sausage to the pan and stir.  Then add the cooked pasta and about 1/2 a cup of the pasta water.  (save the rest for any leftover that you save so that the dish isn't completely dry after the pasta absorbs what's there.)  Lastly, add the romano cheese and give one last stir.  Serve with extra cheese and crushed red pepper.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spicy, Sweet and Sour Cucumber Noodle Salad

There's going to be a lot of meat smoking at my house this summer, which makes me extremely happy...fat and happy.  So naturally I am going to need a side dish to complement your more heavy meals like pulled pork sandwiches.  I can't think of a better balancing act than these crisp, cold, refreshing cucumber noodles.  The vinegar goes extremely well with barbecue and all the ingredients make this extremely healthy and light.  Again, a fantastic side to the plate of meat I will consume, which is just the opposite.  Now there seemed to be A LOT of liquid, so I am thinking of cutting the liquids in half next time.  I am writing the recipe below with that adjustment made.  If you make it and there is not enough liquid, just add some additional water and vinegar.

(Soon to come to the blog...the vinegar cole-slaw I made for the sandwiches was perfect.  It made the sandwich go from delicious to dream-worthy.)

Spicy, Sweet, and Sour Cucumber Noodle Salad
adapted slightly from Just a Taste

4 medium cucumbers, peeled and run through a spiralizer
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 cup red onion, chopped small
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine the vinegar, water and sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  In a large bowl, combine the cucumber strands, vinegar/sugar mixture, red onion, and red pepper.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, top with the sesame seeds.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spinach Pesto Pasta Salad

For anyone reading who doesn't know...I am a high school math teacher.  I love my job for many reasons - aside from math being awesome and kids being funny, I always have a roomful of people with whom to share my thoughts.  So naturally, this food blog comes up quite often.  Do you remember being in school and having a teacher go off on a tangent and thinking, "This is awesome!  Please, please, please keep going long enough so that we don't have homework tonight!"?  Well, now I am on the other side of that, and my students know fully well that the best way to get me off topic is to bring up food.  My students have been the most ridiculously supportive of this blog, and although I am sure that part of that is because it can sometimes lead me to rant about where to find the best cannolis in the North End or how and why you should spatchcock a chicken, I also know it is because many of my students also share in my love of food and cooking.  I am always uber-excited to the point of near speechlessness when I hear that my students - past and present - are cooking my food.

So today was the seniors' last day of school.  I am not gonna lie...I am incredibly happy to be seeing the end of the school year near and summer come along.  Yet it was bittersweet - saying goodbye to some of my students today.  I have had the honor of teaching some of the most amazing kids in the state...the country...maybe even the world.  I hope they are reading this right now and know how proud they have made me with the kindness they demonstrate toward others, their enthusiasm for life, and their perseverance even when math can be a struggle.  I hope one student in particular is reading this now and will get to know how much her thank you meant to me.  She presented me with something truly special and her lovely words brought me to tears.  I apparently brightened her days as much as she brightened mine and it's really nice to know that I actually made a difference and wasn't just another annoying, naggy, math teacher force feeding unsolicited numbers and advice.  One of the negatives of teaching is that you rarely get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  So sometimes an unexpected thank you can bring you to tears with happiness.

Speaking of students...another one of mine asked me if I would bake him a pie to go with his math project guessed it,,,pi!  I told him that if I had any time whatsoever to do so this weekend, I would.  Otherwise, he knows where Stop and Shop is.  (I am going to do my best.)  However, it is Memorial Day weekend and that means a barbecue with friends.  So the priority now lies in this pasta salad...which is awesome.  It is officially my favorite pasta salad ever.  Have a told you how much a hate mayo?  Well the dressing of this pasta salad is a pesto made from spinach!  (It feels kind of weird calling this a pesto when it has no basil, but I'll get over it.)  This pasta salad is so good that I couldn't stop tasting it.  I had to have Jim take it away from me before there was nothing left to bring.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and I want to wish my seniors another sincere congratulations.

Spinach Pesto Pasta Salad
inspired by the kitchn

1 lb rotini pasta
6 oz baby spinach, divided
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 lemon, halved
4 Tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup pitted and halved kalamata olives
1/2 cup sliced sundried tomatoes
1 small shallot, diced small

While your pasta is cooking, place half of the spinach leaves in a food processor and top with the cheese, almonds, garlic, salt, and the juice of half of the lemon.  Pulse until the spinach is finely chopped.  Then add the rest of the spinach to the food processor and, while running, add the olive oil.  Process until smooth.  By now, your pasta should be finished cooking.  Drain and return to its pot.  Add the pesto while the pasta is still warm so the flavors can be absorbed.  Add the rest of the lemon juice, olives, tomatoes, and shallot.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  You can serve this salad warm or cold.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Singapore Noodles

Who doesn't need another noodle recipe???  As usual, you can really add any vegetables you want to this one, which is what I love most about noodle dishes in general, but singapore noodles are distinctly flavored with curry powder.  So if you love spice and curry, then you should absolutely love this dish.  It packs heat.  You could also add meat, shrimp or even tofu, but I made these tonight with just the veggies and it was great.  I can't wait to make them again.

Singapore Noodles
adapted slightly from Budget Bytes

8 oz vermicelli rice noodles (use brown if you can find it...they taste equally good)
1 Tbsp hot curry powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp canola oil
4 heads of baby bok choy, thinly sliced
2 or 3 carrots, julliened
2 handfuls of beansprouts
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
some chopped cilantro to garnish

Submerge the rice noodles in a bowl of room temperature water for 15 minutes until they soften.  Drain the noodles, transfer them to a bowl, and cut up the noodles a bit with a pair of kitchen shears so that they will be easier to stir fry.  Then sprinkle with the curry powder, mixing until evenly distributed.  Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick pan or wok.  Once hot, add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute.  Then add the remaining veggies, reserving a bit of the scallions for garnishing at the end.  Stir fry for about 4 or 5 minutes until the bok choy and carrots have just softened.    Add the noodles to the pan and stir until heated through, about a minute or so.  Remove from the heat and add the soy sauce and sesame oil.  top with additional scallions and cilantro.

Dreamhost Coupon

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Bites

I have so many things to say about these chocolate hazelnut bites, but I'm going to lead with the fact that they taste a lot like nutella and those Ferrero Rocher chocolates...but without ANY of the sugar or oil or artificial ingredients.  Nutella tastes like heaven in a jar, but when I look at the ingredients, I feel...sadness.  Here is the ingredient list on a jar of nutella:  Sugar, Palm Oil, Hazelnuts, Cocoa, Skim Milk, Reduced Minerals Whey (from Milk), Soy Lecithin (an Emulsifier), Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor).  The first ingredient is sugar and the second is palm oil.  Then comes the hazelnuts and cocoa.  I personally find the last ingredient to be the kicker.  They couldn't spring for some real vanilla??? They went with "vanillin" - the fake stuff.  Again...sadness.

So what spurred me to make this creation???  Jim and I have been trying to lay off most of the added sugar in our diets.  I know I always say everything in moderation including moderation - and I still believe that - but that's exactly why we need to pull back from sugar.  Sugar is in almost every processed food that we consume.  It's in our yogurts and our cereals, our granola bars, and it's most definitely in the piece of chocolate I like to eat every night with my cup of tea.  Even when I cook, I often add a little bit of sugar.  Even when I try to avoid processed sugar, I still find that I add honey or maple syrup...still sugar.  I have yet to make a sugar free recipe!  I am still 100% for eating a sweet treat - I just want to try and stop doing that every single day all day long - that is feeling a little bit less than the moderation I try to live by.

So I have been trying to come up with a replacement for the chocolate component of my nighttime tea and chocolate ritual.  There is only so much fruit I can take.  I eat it all day long.  By the time 8 o'clock rolls around, I just don't want any more fruit.  what I really want is CHOCOLATE.  So I have found my fix.  I served these to some friends last night and they all loved them, but I think the key is that you must freeze them.  I tried them after I first made them and I wasn't all that happy.  It just tasted like what it is and nothing more...dates, cocoa, hazlenuts and vanilla.  But after tasting them out of the freezer...holy awesome.

 Chocolate Hazelnut Bites
recipe from Running to the Kitchen
makes 16 balls

2/3 +1/4 cup raw hazelnuts
1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates
1/3 cup rolled oats
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spread the hazelnuts over a parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast for 8 minutes.  After allowing them to cool for a few minutes, place them in a clean dish towel and attempt to remove most of their skins by rubbing the towel against a hard surface.  Then transfer to a food processor and process into fine crumbs.  Set aside 1/4 cup of the crumbs for rolling later.  Add the remaining ingredients and process for about two minutes.  The recipe I used said it would form a ball on the blade when it was ready after about two minutes, but that never happened for me.  I may not have used enough dates, but regardless, I was able to form balls out of the mixture anyway and it still tasted fantastic.  Form balls out of the mixture by the tablespoon and roll in the hazelnut crumbs that were set aside.  Place the finished balls on a single layer on a plate or baking sheet and freeze for at least 2 hours.  You can then place them in a freezer bag and enjoy one whenever the mood arises.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pasta with Chicken, Escarole, and Beans

So it's Thursday night and I have leftover pasta in the fridge.  Alone, I am projecting that will not get me through my three hour class tonight...pity party for me.  I need more to keep me going.  So I have a head of escarole waiting to be used in the fridge and when I think escarole, I think white beans.  I don't know why that's such a classic combo, but of course my husband hates white beans.  I'm pretty sure it is one of his objectives to make me replace at least one ingredient that customarily is found a dish.  Pine nuts in pesto...gone!  Like walnuts in your brownies?  Tough!  You want asparagus in your stir fry?  Fuggedaboudit.  I wonder where Adrienne gets it from??  Anyway, so it's kidney beans instead of white beans.  Feel free to use white beans if you make this and you prefer to do so...I personally like the texture of the white bean better for pasta (Jim of course disagrees.)  Although the color from the kidney beans made the dish much prettier to look it's all good.

Chicken, Escarole, and Bean Pasta
serves 4

8 oz. pasta of your choosing, cooked al dente
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces (good chicken sausage would be amazing, but I had chicken breasts on hand.)
1 head of escarole, sliced into thin ribbons
1 15 oz. can of dark red kidney beans...or white beans...or chickpeas
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1-1/2 cups of chicken broth
1/3 cup romano cheese plus more for serving
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and saute a minute more.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pot.  Stir occasionally until completely cooked though, about 5 minutes.  Add the escarole, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently until wilted, about 5 minutes more.  Add the red pepper flakes, beans, and chicken broth.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook so the beans get hot and your broth reduces a bit.  Then turn the heat to low, add the pasta and incorporate it thoroughly.  Add the romano cheese and mix well.  Remove it from the heat and serve hot with extra cheese.  Enjoy!

DreamHost coupons

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tofu Peanut Noodle Stir Fry

I have been wanting to make a version of peanut noodles for the longest time.  I've seen so many recipes and every time I see one, I am reminded of how much I want to try making peanut noodles.  They must be delicious.  You can serve them cold, warm, or hot.  You can also use any protein or vegetables you want.  And most importantly, the ingredient list below may look long, but it isn't really.  This is quick and easy to throw together.  I'm mostly proud of myself for coming up with what I think (and my husband agrees - and he can be a tough customer) is a really delicious peanut sauce.  You can omit the chili pepper if you don't like the heat or add more soy sauce or tamari if you want it saltier.  Taste, and alter to your preferences, but the recipe I churned out is at least a great starting point.  Writing this post makes me want more right now...

For the marinated tofu:
14 oz extra firm tofu, pressed, diced into 1-inch cubes, frozen and thawed
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1/4 cup mirin
1 Tbsp reduced sodium tamari
2 Tbsp peanut oil for frying or (bake the tofu...equally yummy)

For the peanut sauce:
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 Thai chili pepper, stem removed, roughly chopped (optional)
1/4 cup natural smooth peanut butter (no added oils or sugars)
zest of 1 lime and the juice of 1/2
about 2 Tbsp water to thin out the sauce (or more if necessary)

For the stir fry:
1 12-oz package of soba noodles
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 or 3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup peanuts, crushed

Place your tofu cubes in a freezer bag or shallow dish.  Combine all the ingredients for your marinade and pour it over the tofu at least an hour before ready to cook the tofu or overnight (I went with about 6 hours.)

When ready to get dinner on the table, first get a pot of water boiling.  Boil your soba noodles for about 4 minutes, drain, and rinse with cold water so they stop cooking.  You want your noodles cooked, but firm.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine all the ingredients for your peanut sauce.  Puree until completely smooth, adding more water a tablespoon at a time if necessary.

Now heat the peanut oil in a wok and a cast iron pan (if you're pan frying your tofu) over medium-high heat.  Spread the tofu in a single layer in the cast iron pan and let brown for 5 minutes without touching, then flip and allow to brown for another 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, saute the garlic and ginger in the wok for 30 to 60 seconds until fragrant.  Add the diced peppers and saute for another 30 to 60 seconds.  Add the soy sauce and scallions and combine.  Remove from the heat and add the cooked soba noodles to the wok along with the peanut sauce and mix everything together.  Lastly, top with the chopped cilantro, crushed peanuts, and cooked tofu.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

So I know I should be providing some healthier recipes, but lately all the healthy ones I have cooked have been disappointing either flavorfully or visually (some foods really do not photograph very well.)   And believe it or not, I had intended to make a healthier, no sugar added, hazlenut date truffle for the holiday, but I couldn't find hazelnuts at any of the nearby stores and I didn't feel like hauling my bum all the way to Trader Joe's at that moment.  So I was really forced into making these....forced I tell ya.  Well it's Easter and why not splurge?

These are the perfect decadent long as you like your decadent treats super-chocolately, soft, fudgy and rich.  These should only be consumed for special occasions or when you're in some sort of trouble and need a favor or forgiveness.  If you are looking for healthy brownies, then you have ended up on the wrong page...keep on looking.  Perhaps I will find a wonderfully healthy and delicious black bean brownie recipe in the near future and will be able to redirect you to that soon-to-be post then.  (Insert healthy brownie recipe here.)

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies
adapted from Half Baked Harvest

For the brownies:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces milk chocolate chips
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces milk chocolate chips

Truffle Topping:
3 ounces dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 ounces milk chocolate chips

To make the brownies. Line an 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking dish with parchment paper or foil, letting the edges over hang from the pan so you can easily lift the brownies out of the pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Add the butter and the first 2 ounces of milk chocolate chips to a medium size mixing bowl that is microwave safe. Microwave the butter and chocolate on 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. To the melted chocolate mixture add the sugar and instant coffee, whisking until completely combined. Add the vanilla and egg and whisk until smooth. Stir in the cocoa powder, flour and salt until smooth and just combined careful to not overmix the batter. It will be thick. Stir in the remaining 4 ounces milk chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until the brownies are set on top.

While the brownies bake, make the truffle topping. Add the 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate and the cream to microwave safe bowl. Microwave the chocolate and cream on 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth.

Remove the brownies from the oven and let the brownies cool 5 minutes and then lift them out of the pan. Pour the chocolate truffle topping right over the brownies and smooth it out until it reaches the edge. Melt the remain 4 ounces of milk chocolate and then drizzle it over the brownies. Allow the brownies to set at least one hour in the fridge or two hours at room temperature before cutting.

Get a glass of milk ready for these...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ricotta Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Peas

If you love light, fluffy, cheesy, little pillows of deliciousness, then you must, must, must try making these gnocchi.  They were lovely.  I look forward to many future Sunday dinners with these on our table.  They were super easy to make and there's no rolling of the dough whatsoever.  Instead, you just pack it all into a large freezer bag, snip off the corner, and squeeze them one by one into a pot of boiling water.  Other than the occasional break to rest your squeezing hand, it's extremely quick and easy.  You could easily make these with a simple tomato sauce, but I was craving something that would take a backseat to the gnocchi, but still be rich and flavorful.  Just some butter and shallots with mushrooms and peas was a perfect compliment to the lightness of these.

I'd like to send a special shout out "thank you" to my wonderful husband, Jim, who got me my first subscription to Bon Appetit...I have always read it on-line, but I am in love with flipping through its actual pages and dog-earring recipes that I can't wait to try.  I decided that this was to be the first executed.  I did try to lighten the recipe up a little by using part-skim ricotta as opposed to whole and three tablespoons of butter instead of four...every little bit helps, people.  These gnocchi did not disappoint...far from it.  Happy spring, everyone!

Ricotta Gnocci with Mushrooms and Peas
slightly adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 6

For the gnocchi:
32 oz. part skim ricotta cheese (recipe called for the full-fat goods, but I went with part skim to lighten it up and it didn't hurt the recipe at all.)
2 large eggs
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 oz. cremini button mushrooms, sliced
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
3 or 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (I went with 3 to lessen the fat.)
salt and pepper to taste

Line a baking dish with three layers of paper towels and spoon the ricotta over them.  Allow to sit for 20 minutes so that the towels absorb some of the moisture.  If the dough is too wet, it won't hold together.  In a food processor, combine the ricotta, eggs, parmesan, salt, and pepper.  Process until smooth.  Add the flour and pulse until just combined. The dough should be smooth and fairly wet.  Transfer this mixture to a freezer bag (or pastry bag) and cut a 1/2 inch hole off the corner.  (You can make this up to 1 day ahead.)

Bring a large pot of water to a simmer.  Pipe the dough into the pot, cutting off 1 inch pieces with a knife as you go and letting them drop into the water.  Try to do this in 3 batches.  Cook each batch until they double in size, about 3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushroom and cook, stirring occassionally, for 5 minutes.  Then add shallots and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.  Then add butter, reserved cooking liquid, peas, and gnocchi, and toss gently.  Serve immediately and enjoy thoroughly.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thai Larb

If you've ever been to a Thai restaurant, then you must have seen this dish on its menu.  Don't have an adverse reaction to the's actually pronounced "laap," which has a nicer ring to it.  It happens to be one of Jim's favorites.  I have never been excited about it because I get anxious when it comes to ground meat...don't judge me...we all have our own brand of crazy.  So when I was perusing Bon Appetit's web site this weekend (as I tend to do) and saw this recipe for larb in which you start with chicken breast and grind it in a food processor, I was sold.  I was on larb duty, while Jim again set to work making papaya salad (this time he did it Thai style the way I prefer it) and sticky rice.  Another Asian style Sunday in the Faulkner house.  Everything was amazing.  Even Adrienne loved loved loved the larb - and sticky rice has always been one of her very favorite things in the whole wide world (her words, not mine.)  So the meal was an absolute success.  The larb was so easy to prepare, I wouldn't hesitate to make this on any weekday night.  You could serve it with rice or noodles, or serve it with lettuce cups and you have a ridiculously healthy meal.

Thai Larb
adapted ever so slightly from Bon Appetit

1-1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup roughly chopped shallots
2 Tbsp thinly sliced lemongrass
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 small red Thai chili pepper, thinly sliced
2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
3 Tbsp peanut oil, divided
chopped cilantro for serving

For the dressing:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp siracha

In a food processor, combine the first 8 ingredients.  While drizziling 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, pulse the mixture until the chicken is very finely chopped.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken mixture and allow to cook while breaking it up with a spoon until the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes.  Serve over rice or with lettuce leaves and the sauce.  Enjoy!