recipe

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[lenten lunch]

Ladies + gents, the season of Lent is upon us, which you probably know means no meat on Fridays for the next 40 days. Typically I’ll forget about this until halfway through something extra meaty of course [like a cheeseburger], rationalize it by saying God wouldn’t want me to waste it, then proceed to polish it off and vow to remember for next Friday. This year I’m cracking down, baby. No meat on Fridays, period, and I’m making sure my butt is in a pew each and every Sunday. Although these are both things a good Catholic should already be doing, this former altar girl is trying to get back on track.

No meat, no problem. Here is a quick and healthy recipe for a tuna melt.

TGIF Tuna Melt

  • 1 can chunk light tuna, drained
  • 1 tsp low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp deli mustard
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese
  • dash of kosher salt + black pepper
  • 2 ‘veggie slices’, cheddar flavor [see explanation w/photo below]
  • 2 slices good quality whole-grain bread

Mix first six ingredients together in a bowl, place mixture on top of bread and finish off with the veggie slices. Pop under a broiler in your toaster oven for 1-2 minutes, voila.

[in case you were wondering what the violently orange stuff is in the picture up top, i have to admit it's a cheese imposter. i saw these in the organic produce section at jewel and wanted to give them a try. they're pretty good and taste surprisingly like cheddar cheese - plus are much, much better for you. the orange color comes a natural food coloring, carotenal, which is derived from skins of oranges and tangerines. they're mostly soy and pack three grams of protein per slice. try these out!]

[i love LaBrea's whole grain bread. it's got a thick, crunchy crust and the inside is soft and chewy even days later. the bakery is based in california but they ship everywhere - i got this loaf at jewel]

 

 

 

 

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It was the Monday coming off of a Bears playoff loss [frown] but a Steelers playoff win [semi smile]. Allow me to explain. Let it be known that under no circumstances am I a Steelers fan [I'm a proud Browns fan and always will be], but seeing as how my parents and extended family hail from Steel City, I’m happy for them. There, I said it.

Tonight, dinner needed to be easy. This high-fiber, protein packed salad was so quick & simple I’m not sure I can call it a recipe. I must advise you to take heed if you’re averse to the strong flavor of raw garlic. I happen to love it but many people don’t. Raw garlic has been proven to boost your immune system, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, among other health benefits. Though regarded as an herbal whiz kid, it will clear you sinuses as well as anyone within a five-mile radius. Your breath will be a lethal weapon, consider yourself warned.

Garlic + Bean Winter Salad

  • 1/2 cup cannellini beans
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame beans
  • 1/2 cup chick peas
  • sprinkling of parmesan cheese

For vinaigrette:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 palmful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of kosher salt
  1. Combine the edamame beans, cannellini beans, chick peas, and parmesan.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette. Pour over bean mixture until all ingredients are evenly coated. Enjoy!

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While perusing my new favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s, I came across this sweet canister of Irish oatmeal. Satisfied with the retro aluminum can [my mind was already busy figuring out other uses for it once empty] I added it to my bounty and went on my merry way.

Last night I set about making a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with my new purchase. I’d never seen Irish oats before, much less cooked with them, so I assumed they were the same as Quaker’s. Ah-hem, I was wrong:

This is how they appear cooked. I think they look more like rice than oatmeal but I was determined to see how they tasted in the cookie so I forged ahead. I found a way to use them in place of the “rolled oats” the recipe called for – in my case the recipe asked for 3/4 cup rolled oats so I placed 3/4 cup cold water and 3/4 cup Irish oatmeal in a pot and brought to a boil. Once cooled, I continued with the recipe as usual.

Irish Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature [if you use salted butter just don't add the extra salt]
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt [again, omit this if you are using salted butter]
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats [to use Irish oatmeal, use the method I described above. you just need to pre-cook it a bit because it's starchier than rolled oats]
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F [175 C]. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth [you don't need a mixer. i hand-mixed with a spatula]. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stir into the creamed mixtute. Finally, stir in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto the cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. [My oven completely ignores things like temperature settings and is a blazing inferno no matter what the set degree, therefore my cookies were done in 7 minutes. Keep an eye on them, they'll burn quickly.] Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks. Makes around 18 cookies.

*adapted from this recipe


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[coffee break]

{ slam dunk }

Sometimes all it takes is a little cup of jo and a homemade pizzelle [made by your talented mama] to kickstart your morning routine. I like my coffee sweetened with some good old-fashioned sugar and milk. Over Christmas the girls in my family made a couple batches of my mom’s lightly-sweet and satisfying vanilla pizzelles. Behold, a recipe that’s been in our family for generations and guarantees a deliciously delicate cookie every time.

Pizzelles

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups of flour (approx)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 4 tsps baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp anise or 2 tblsp vanilla

Beat eggs adding sugar gradually. Beat until smooth. Add cooled melted butter and vanilla or anise [some people don't care for the black licorice flavor of anise]. Sift flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture. Dough will be sticky enough to be dropped by spoon in pizzelle maker. Cook in pizzelle maker and then store in airtight container.

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My family typically does a big [and I mean big] Italian feast for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’re talking eggplant parmesan, lasagna, stuffed artichokes, hot peppers, and meatballs all loaded with my mom’s homemade sauce. Of course we never leave out the traditional American staples of turkey [one deep fried and one oven roasted], cranberry sauce [jarred and homemade, because some people prefer one or the other], stuffing, mashed potatoes, crusty bread, green bean casserole, and on and on and on. What can I say, we’re Italian and eating good food is in our DNA.

With that being said, my family is doing Christmas very different this year. From the venue to the menu, we’re shaking things up. Instead of dinner, we’re opting to do brunch. Everyone seems to be curiously excited about how this will pan out. The ever present pot of simmering sauce will be noticeably absent from the stove, but I trust there will be new tantalizing treats on the table that will have us wondering how we ever did without.

This year I’m making these deeelicious cinnamon buns using a recipe that claims they taste identical to Cinnabons [and they actually do]. Just look at these things [I'm sure that photo above got your tongue wagging]. This was my first stab at making bread [which was the base of the bun], but it was easy enough and besides, I dare you to mess up a recipe that is essentially butter, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. They were velvety and sweet and the frosting oozed with decadent gooeyness. I also loved how the kitchen smelled like cinnamon ‘n sugar for the rest of the night.

[fresh from the oven]

Homemade Cinnamon Buns

for dough:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 packet of dry yeast

for filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

for frosting:

  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm milk. Let it stand for 10 minutes, until yeast is foamy. Heat oven to 200F, then turn it off. Mix in the sugar, butter, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in warm oven for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter.
  3. Roll dough into a 16 x 21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with butter and sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 400F.
  4. Bake rolls on a lower rack in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt [note: I actually doubled the frosting recipe and suggest you do the same]. After taking it out of the oven invert the pan so that the drippings re-coat the buns. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving. Yields 12 rolls.

[into the oven you go]

[sure beats a scented candle]

[ready for their close-up]

*i can’t take all the credit. adapted from this recipe.

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I want to come back in my next life as Giada DeLaurentiis. If you’re not familiar with Giada, you should be. She is the gorgeous, sugary sweet, incredibly talented Le Cordon Bleu trained face of Food Network. Oh and did I mention she was born in Rome? *sigh*. I DVR all of her shows and watch them religiously, my favorite being Giada at Home. It’s so touching to see how tight-knit she is with her husband Todd. They’re both in their forties [you would n.e.v.e.r. know it. She serves as further inspiration to maintain my skincare regimen as seen here] and have been a couple for 12 years. It’s also no secret how much she adores her daughter Jade, a.k.a. “Jadey”.

Giada’s meals are tasty, yet she always keeps an eye on things like sodium and fat content, which makes life easier. It also explains how she is a professional chef and yet is the size of a toothpick. Aside from her cooking talents, Giada has a flair for design, which she may have picked up from her hubby who happens to be a fashion designer for Anthropologie. Coolest. Couple. Ever.

Earlier this year, my two worlds collided [in a good way] when I found out that Giada was teaming up with the other love of my life, Target, to debut an exclusive collection of kitchenware designed by Giada. You can see the collection here.

Anyways, I was watching an episode of Giada at Home where she was cooking up these adorable little Cornish game hens and I thought I had to give them a try. After picking some up at the grocery store I came home and realized I didn’t have nearly enough ingredients for Giada’s roasted citrus-herb recipe, so I settled for my own variation. The birds came out juicy and succulent with crispy, sweet skin. Turns out my hens might just give Miss Giada’s a run for their money.

Rosemary-Clementine Cornish Game Hens

  • 2 Cornish game hens
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 clementines
  • zest of 2 clementines
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 medium white onion

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rub hens with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place a clementine, an onion slice, a garlic clove, and a sprig of rosemary into the cavity each bird. Stuff garlic cloves under the skins. Place rest of onion around the birds. Arrange in a large, heavy, roasting pan. Drizzle more olive oil on top of hens. Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together wine, clementine zest, chicken broth, and a drizzle of olive oil; pour over hens. Continue roasting about 25 minutes more, or until hens are golden brown and juices run clear.

By the way, as you can see by the photos I attempted to ‘truss’ my birds with kitchen twine. I think I fudged up the wings. This video explains how to do it.

I served my birds with a baked potato and poured the sauce from the dish over the baked potato – muy delicioso.

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[red pepper flakes and curry powder are the stars of this show]

There’s nothing better than a quiet night in after a long, exhausting, cold winter day. Yesterday was one of those days where I was too tired to fix dinner so I resorted to a no-muss no-fuss meal, and last night my din du jour happened to be popcorn. Yes, I ate popcorn for dinner … sorry Mom, I know that’s disappointing. However, I doctored up my popcorn [per usual] with some unexpected ingredients that kicked this typically ho-hum snack into a full-flavored force to be reckoned with.

In the words of Rachel Zoe, I die for curry. I even have a sweet little spice pot from Anthropologie that’s sole purpose is to house curry. I’ve been using curry as the secret spice in my popcorn for awhile now and this is one secret I don’t mind sharing.

[wearing Forever 21 nail polish in silver as seen here. how festive am i?]

Throw some curry powder and red pepper flakes [about one teaspoon each, as you see fit] onto your next batch of microwave popcorn [oh the shame] and I’m telling you, you’ll never look back. It’s spicy, it’s flavorful, it’s easy – what’s not to love?

[do you like my miniature tree in the background? more to come on that jazz]


[curry popcorn + national lampoon's christmas vacation, done and done.]

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[doughnut muffins]

These cute bite-sized treats are just doughnuts stealthily disguised as muffins. By nature, muffins are healthy, therefore by definition these are healthy doughnuts, a rarity I know. These are baked, unlike their deep-friend amigos, and I do use whole-wheat flour + skim milk so they’re relatively innocent.

Doughnut Muffins

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour [if you only have white all-purpose, use that]
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk [I used skim, use whatever you have on hand]

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line mini muffin tray with paper liners or grease tray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream oil and 1 cup sugar; beat in egg. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Stir flour into egg mixture alternately with milk. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. While muffins bake, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Remove muffins from pan and let cool for 5 minutes. While muffins are still warm, roll muffins in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  4. [I was having trouble getting the cinnamon sugar mixture to stick to the muffins so I added this step] Make a simple syrup with equal parts cinnamon, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and dip muffin tops in simple syrup. Re-dip in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Share and make instant friends.

*adapted from recipe at allrecipes.com

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Halloween, one of my favorite days of the year, is only four days away. This year I’m dressing up as Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, white pleather jacket and all [in case you need a visual, check this out]. In honor of Mr. Rooney ["ROOONEY!"], I decided to whip up some coconut macaroons, a.k.a. macarooneys. These crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside coconutty wonders were the perfect light bite to satisfy my sweet tooth. Although they look pretty fancy, don’t be deterred, they were a snap to make.

Edward Macarooneys

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • one 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, cold water, corn syrup, and salt to a boil over medium-high het, stirring to dissovle the sugar.

In a medium bowl, combine the syrup with the bag of shredded coconut and let cool. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg whites and vanilla until foamy and thick; stir into the coconut mixture. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto each of 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden [about 15 minutes], switching the pans halfway through. Let cool completely on racks.

[Recipe courtesy of Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine]

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If you’re looking for the easiest roasted chicken recipe around, look no further. I consider myself pretty adventurous in the kitchen. I’ll whip up cakes from scratch and slice ‘n dice with the best of ‘em, but for some reason the idea of roasting a chicken has always scared me [I'm aware of how pathetic this sounds].

if this cute little number doesn't get you into the kitchen, nothing will

I  was doing some casual grocery shopping at Jewel [a Chicago-area chain, also known as da Jewels] when I spotted some medium-sized drumsticks out of the corner of my eye. Normally I wouldn’t have looked twice but these beauties were FOUR DOLLARS for the package, 10 drumsticks per package, in other words less than a dollar per meal! Victory dance [speaking of bargains, the apron above is a steal for $32 from Anthropologie].

So each ‘stick was about the size of a fist and two would be enough for me, four for the bf, who f.y.i. has the metabolism of a 16-year-old . He could probably eat all 10 drumsticks deep-fried in blubber and still not gain an ounce. Some guys have all the luck. Anyways, that was my deal of the day and I had to scoop them up.

I was oddly excited about my new bounty. I’d never cooked drumsticks before and there’s just something about them that seems so rustic and filling, yet undeniably simple.

Behold, the most delicious [and easy] drumstick recipe.

[photo via we heart it]

Mediterranean Chicken Drumsticks

  • 4 medium-sized drumsticks
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil [this is for the rub only - doesn't include oil for searing chicken or drizzling on top of chicken. Normally I don't pay attention to oil measurements in recipes but I followed this exactly because you want the right balance of flavor for the rub]
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt [ditto]
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper [if you don't have a 1/8 tsp measurement, just fill half of 1/4 tsp with black pepper]
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper [if you don't have white pepper just use black pepper, so it'd be 1/4 tsp black pepper total]
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning mix [if you have none on hand, use oregano]

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over chicken. Drizzle some olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Wait until oil is nice and hot and sear chicken on all sides in pan. In a shallow baking dish [I used a pie tin], grate peel from lemon, squeeze out juice from 1/2 lemon, and add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir until mixed.

The recipe I was borrowing from said to take the skin off the chicken but I left it on for added flavor. Coat chicken in mixture and arrange, bone-side up, in pan. Cover dish and bake for 30 minutes. Turn and baste chicken and drizzle a bit more olive oil and squeeze more lemon juice on top. Lower oven to 400 degrees, bake uncovered for 10 more minutes, then broil for 5 minutes.

[adapted from recipe found at allrecipes]

I served it with mashed potatoes and spicy corn [added cayenne pepper, salt + pepper to corn]. This one was a winner!

To full bellies and wallets,


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