Saturday, July 13, 2013

It's Been Awhile...

Yes, I know. It's been awhile. Trust me, I wanted to write, dreamed of writing, but with three kids, two recent moves, and my husband's new job, I've let it all come undone. Until today. You see, what I didn't say is that, even though I haven't been writing, I have been cooking...and baking. And I baked something so delicious today that I couldn't help but share it.

As you may have heard me say before, I have only a select few favorite cookbooks from which I pull recipes and one of my top two is Cooks Illustrated. You may have seen this boring-looking magazine full of tiny print debating the best way to cut a chicken or bake a muffin, with only black and white drawings as guidance. However, if you are diehard about creating delectable dishes, these cooks are for you. This is how I knew, when I found this recipe for Glazed Maple-Pecan Oatmeal Scones, that it would be good. But this goes beyond good...bloggably good I must say. I hope you enjoy it on a rainy Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.

Glazed Maple-Pecan Oatmeal Scones

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1-1/2 cups rolled oats or quick oats
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup whole milk
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup maple syrup
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7-1/2 ounces)
teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½” cubes
tablespoons maple syrup
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread oats and pecans evenly on one baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant and lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes; cool on wire rack. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. When oats are cooled, measure out and reserve 2 tablespoons.
2. Whisk milk, cream, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and egg in medium bowl until incorporated; remove and reserve 1 tablespoon to small bowl for glazing.
3. Pulse flour, baking powder, and salt in food processor until combined, about four 1-second pulses. Scatter cold butter evenly over dry ingredients and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, twelve to fourteen 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and stir in cooled oats. Using rubber spatula, fold in liquid ingredients until large clumps form. Continue mixing by hand until a mass forms.
4. Dust work surface with half of reserved oats and flour (if needed), turn dough out onto work surface, and dust top with remaining oats. Gently pat into 7-inch circle about 1 inch thick.  Cut dough into 8 wedges and set on parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Brush surfaces with reserved egg mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes; cool scones on baking sheet on wire rack 5 minutes, then remove scones to cooling rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
5. When scones are cooled, whisk maple syrup and confectioners's sugar until combined; drizzle glaze over scones.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

So Much Flavor!

A few months back I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa and happened upon this simple recipe for roasted plum tomatoes. Hmm, I thought. Is that really even much of a recipe? It didn't impress me, with so few ingredients and instructions, I didn't both with it that day. However, just recently, I was out of town with my husband at Panera, an establishment I wish would come to my area.  We were ordering breakfast and my husband was telling me about this egg white-roasted tomato-pesto breakfast sandwich I had to try. Usually I am a cinnamon-crunch-bagel kind of girl but I was willing to change it up this time. Well, I have to say, this is one of the better breakfasts I have had at Panera and I knew I could recreate it at home.

Part one involved roasting the tomatoes and I figured this would be a better job to do the night before so I made extras to go with dinner. Let me tell you, Barefoot Contessa's recipe can stand on its own two feet without the sandwich. The tomatoes flattened out beautifully and despite not having much going for them to begin with (considering what tomatoes look like in November), the flavor was incredible. Don't skip out on the balsamic vinegar or the sugar, as it adds a depth that would be otherwise lacking.

I'll have to tell you what happens in part two when I make the sandwiches (but don't tell my husband yet, it's a breakfast/date surprise), but either way, I now have a delicious side that's easy and impressive.

Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa


  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cores and seeds removed
  • 4 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 430 degrees F.
Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper over the tomatoes. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to caramelize. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tastes Like Summer

My husband knows best how hard of a time I have making something twice. Because I cook mostly for my own entertainment, it is boring to make the same thing over and over again. That is, unless it is really delicious, like this recipe for frozen key lime pie. 

To me, this is basically marries two fabulous and famous desserts: icebox pie and key lime pie. What makes this so much better than key lime pie is the combination of the tart taste of the limes with the cold, frozen chill much like ice cream or a cold popsicle. 

What's even better is you can make this a couple of days ahead of time to serve for company. Or, if you are like my husband, you can request it, have it made that morning, and be eating it after dinner that night! 

Frozen Key Lime Pie
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons or more, as needed to pack in crust
For the filling:
  • 6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lime zest (don't leave this out, it brings out the tart, lime flavor)
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 to 5 limes and must be fresh)
For the decoration:
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Thin lime wedges
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.
For the decoration, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or overnight.
* Raw Egg Warning (adapted from the Food Network)
Please use caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Different and Delicious

This recipe was adapted from The Happy Herbivore, a blog and cookbook devoted to making delicious vegan food. I am pretty sure this is one of their most popular recipes. Even if the word "vegan" makes you nervous, you should still seriously try this recipe. I. Have to say, it has become a staple dinner in our house, especially when I don't have a meat thawed and ready to cook or just want to throw something together. It goes well with rice and black beans and can be served with your favorite taco toppings. I hope you'll give it a try. I bet you'll love it!

From the Happy Herbivore

Chickpea Tacos 
Adapted from The Happy Herbivore

1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 Tsp. lemon or lime juice
Taco seasonings (see recipe below)
1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Taco shells (I prefer blue corn)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with olive oil spray. Whisk soy sauce, juice, and spices together in a medium bowl. Add chickpeas and stir to combine. Transfer to cookie sheet in one layer. Spray with cooking spray and bake 20 to 30 minutes until chickpeas are cooked to desired crunchiness. Lay lettuce leaf on bottom of taco shell. Add chickpeas and other toppings as desired.

Taco seasonings: 1 T chili powder 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp salt 1 tsp ground pepper 1/2 tsp paprika 1/4 tsp garlic powder 1/4 tsp onion powder 1/8 tsp cayenne powder 1/4 tsp dried marjoram or oregano

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vegetarian Company Meal

This is one of the best dinners I have enjoyed in a long time. If you are trying to limit dairy, you could substitute almond milk for regular milk and margarine for the butter. Don't leave out any ingredients and be sure to use portobello mushrooms, because they have incredible flavor. I made this dish early in the morning and added a little baking time since I was putting it in the oven cold. The only downside to this dish is the number of pots and pans that are used, but trust me, it is worth it! We ate this for two nights with a spinach salad. Enjoy!

Portobello Mushroom Lasagna
Adapted from Ina Garten

  • Kosher salt
  • Good olive oil
  • 3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles (9 noodles, could also try whole wheat)
  • 4 cups whole milk (can substitute almond)
  • 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms
  • 1 cup freshly ground Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Set aside off the heat.
Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.
To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup gratedParmesan. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oven Baked Turkey Meatballs

My children, like many, love "pasgetti" with meatballs. It is a meal they look forward to and ask for in our household. However, the only recipe I have used for meatballs, though delicious, can be quite time consuming. First, the meatballs have to be sauteed in oil on each side, drained on paper towels, and then return to a homemade sauce. Don't get me wrong, this dish is incredibly tasty, but I was looking for something a little more simplified that would still be as big of a hit. Thankfully, Barefoot Contessa premiered a new recipe for meatballs only a few weeks ago on the Food Network, and this time, she baked the meatballs and then added them to already made spaghetti sauce. Of course, you could still make your own sauce if you have time, but either way, this is a great, simplified version of a true classic, without taking away the great flavor of traditional meatballs. I served it with a green salad and we had leftovers for the following night. 

Spicy Turkey Meatballs & Spaghetti
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

  • 3 cups (1-inch diced) bread cubes from a round rustic bread, crusts removed
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (85-percent to 92-percent lean...don't get it leaner or you won't have enough fat)
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup freshly grated aged Asiago cheese (I used Parmesan) 
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for brushing the meatballs (I used a little less; otherwise, it seemed too oily)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 (24-ounce) jars good marinara sauce, or make your own
  • 2 pounds dried spaghetti
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (or Asiago) cheese, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the bread is in medium crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and add the milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, sausage, bread mixture, cheese, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Lightly combine the ingredients with your hands. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and the eggs, and stir lightly with a fork to combine.
With your hands, lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch-round meatballs and place them on the prepared sheet pans. Brush the meatballs with olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops are browned and the centers are completely cooked.
Pour the marinara sauce in a large, low pot, add the meatballs, and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the directions on the package. Drain and place the spaghetti in individual bowls, and top with 3 meatballs and lots of sauce. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good For Casual Company or Anytime

I was recently at a friend's house for dinner and had a great meal that I knew I must try to replicate at home. Of course, I didn't think to make it myself until the day I realized we were having company over that night. Although I couldn't get in touch with my friend to get her recipe, I was able to find a similar recipe from Emeril, who always seems to get cajun cooking right in my book. I have adapted the recipe slightly to mimic what I was looking for, but you can certainly add your own spin on the dish, making it more or less spicy or even adding a different protein like chicken. I find that it is a great meal for company, and I love to serve it with spinach salad. 

Jambalaya Pasta with Penne, Shrimp, & Andouille 
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse
Serves 4-6


  • 1/4 cup plus 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 pound dry penne rigate
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound peeled, deveined large shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons or more of Cajun seasonings, like Tony's 
  • 3/4 pound andouille sausage, diced into small half-moons
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, small diced
  • 1/2 cup red or green bell pepper, small diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (optional, I left this out)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I added a little more for extra creaminess)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or more, for added flavor)


Fill a large, 1-gallon stock pot with a pasta insert, 3/4 full with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and add 1/4 cup of the salt as it boils. Place the penne in the salted water and return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook the pasta until nearly al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
While the pasta cooks, set a 14-inch saute pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, swirl the pan to evenly coat with the oil. Season the shrimp with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Place the shrimp in the pan and sear for 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of the olive oil to the saute pan and season the chicken breast with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. 
Place the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the saute pan and add the sausage, onions and bell peppers. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is lightly caramelized and the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock to the pan and scrape with a spoon to remove any browned bits that have formed in the bottom of the pan, about 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, the remaining tablespoon of Essence and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes. Return the shrimp and chicken to the pan, as well as the nearly al dente pasta and the reserved 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Continue to cook the sauce and pasta, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is cooked through, the pasta is al dente and most of the pasta cooking water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the basil and Parmesan. Toss to combine and serve while hot.
Spinach Salad:
Ingredients: one bag of baby spinach, washed, one pint of sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds or chopped pecans, and creamy poppyseed dressing (I use Brianna's). You could also add blue cheese or parmesan if desired. 
Directions: Toss and serve immediately. Serves 4+