Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cajun Chicken

This week is SP's birthday so I let him pick the one meal we'd be eating at home. He chose Cajun Chicken so we could try out the Cajun spice mix he picked up at Reading Terminal Market on Friday.

I don't know if it's because of the heat or my lack of appetite today, but this didn't taste nearly as good as I remember. SP gobbled it up so I know it was good, but it wasn't hitting the spot for me. Hopefully it'll be better tomorrow as leftovers for lunch.
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Memorial Day Weekend

Our friends C and A came up from Atlanta to spend Memorial Day weekend with us, hence my brief hiatus. We divided our time between eating out and cooking, but I still managed to get plenty of food photos out of the weekend.

First up, breakfast on Saturday - scrambled eggs, bacon and diced tomatoes.

I cooked the bacon in the oven like I always do, but this time I cooked it on a rack so it wouldn't sit in its own fat. While it turned out nice and crispy (and greaseless) the flavor of the bacon was too smoky for my tastes.

I scrambled the eggs with a little milk so they'd be nice and creamy.

And for the tomatoes I diced up some grape tomatoes and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

On Sunday we decided to take go all out with a grilling feast. We'd done our shopping at a specialty grocery store where we picked up some fun cheeses for an appetizer while the food was grilling.

I marinated the shrimp in my usual oil, garlic, pepper flakes, salt and pepper combo, then threaded them on skewers for easy grilling. They always take on this amazing smoky flavor from the grill.

I also marinated the asparagus in a combination of balsamic vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and garlic. After they came off the grill I put them back in the marinade so they could soak up more of the good flavors. There was a ton of asparagus for four people but they were so good we ate them all.

Our friend C had been thumbing through my Ina cookbooks and wanted to try something fun for dinner, so after much deliberation we decided on Ina's Sagaponack Corn Pudding.

We made a half order and ate all but two spoonfuls (which SP and I devoured the next day). We used fresh corn and you could really taste the difference between fresh and frozen. It was almost like a really light and fluffy omelet, with bits of basil and cheddar running through it. I think I'd use more basil next time since it kind of got lost in the mix, but overall this was an outstanding side dish.

My plate with some shrimp, corn pudding, asparagus and steak. C and A graciously bought us a steak to grill for dinner, a nice piece of sirloin. I seasoned it simply with salt and pepper and we grilled it to a perfect medium-rare. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it except on my plate.

And for dessert - pumpkin gems. The Amish farmers market in our town has a stand that sells these mini pumpkin cakes with cream cheese frosting and other amazing baked goods. A friend bought us a container of these when we moved into our house and I've been dying to go back and get more for months. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more on the market; now that we've been we plan to go back as often as possible.

C and A left on Monday, but not before we had a huge lunch, so SP and I decided to keep dinner simple with chicken sandwiches. This time we topped them with roasted red peppers, provolone and red onion. We didn't feel like firing up the grill so I baked the chicken in the toaster oven. The flavor wasn't nearly as good as when we grill the chicken, but it was still a mighty tasty sandwich.

While we were eating I saw this baby bunny hop past our window. I quickly grabbed the camera and managed to get a few shots of him before he scurried away. The babies are much faster and jumpier then the adults. Fat Rabbit always lounges in our yard and it takes a lot of noise to get him to move. This little guy was hopping all over the yard.

If you look in the back of the photo you'll see the bottoms of our new patio chairs. Unfortunately we didn't have the full set for Memorial Day weekend, so we had to sit inside for dinner. Of the three components we have the umbrella and the four chairs. All we need is the table, which they assure us will be here sometime in July. Two to six weeks my...
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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chinese Takeout

When we got our first apartment together, SP and I found a great greasy Chinese takeout place down the road that was our go-to spot whenever the craving hit. Even when we moved to another town we still went to this place because it was the best around. Now that we've moved to another state, albeit only 15 minutes from our old apartment, we can't justify the drive anymore. We rarely get Chinese takeout, but we knew we needed to find a good spot in town. Our first experience left a lot to be desired so now we're on a quest for good Chinese takeout.

SP had band practice tonight and while I was trying to think of what to make for dinner (and feeling very uninspired) I came across a coupon from one of those bulk mailers for a Chinese place we pass on our way to the supermarket. I decided to start the quest with this place and ordered a few dishes from our standard fare - an eggroll, roast pork egg foo yung and sweet and sour chicken.

I really liked the way the duck sauce and spicy mustard pooled together, kind of artistic. The egg roll was beautifully crisp, with a nice mix of pork, shrimp and vegetables in the filling.

The pork egg foo yung was actually pretty good. I could tell the brown sauce would be nice when I stirred it and it wasn't gloppy. It had a good flavor, not too mild but not too salty either. The egg pancake was good, a little too hard in some places but generally good.

I got the sweet and sour chicken for SP so he'll have that and some of the egg foo yung when he gets home. We'll see what he thinks. Overall I'd say this place has serious potential.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The quesadillas I made last week were such a hit that I decided to make them again this week. The steak was the leftover London broil from Sunday and SP grilled the chicken, shrimp and chorizo on Monday.

Plates of crispy, cheesey quesadillas:

Some innards shots, first the steak with sauteed peppers, onions and cheddar cheese:

... and the chicken with peppers, onions and cheddar:

... and finally my favorite, the shrimp and chorizo with pepper Jack cheese:

And for my friend Erica:

... a picture of our new bistro set.
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Cobb Salad

I realized the other day that I haven't made a Cobb salad in almost a year. With the weather getting warmer and our new bistro set crying out for a fun inaugural meal, I decided to put Cobb salad on the menu for this week.

One of the things I love most about Cobb salads is how they're arranged. I think it makes for a truly gorgeous plate of food. I made sure all the usual suspects were present - grilled chicken, avocado, tomatoes, blue and cheddar cheeses, hard boiled eggs, olives and bacon all piled high on a bed of chopped Romaine hearts.

Since SP hates lighting the grill for only a few pieces of meat, I've started planning meals that involve grilled meats a couple days in a row. Tonight SP grilled the chicken for the Cobb salad, as well as shrimp and chorizo for later in the week. We enjoyed our salads at our cute bistro set on the porch. Unfortunately the bugs wanted to join the party so I think a citronella candle might be in order.
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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bistro sets and Safari vs. Firefox (with some London broil on the side)

One of the things we loved about our house when we bought it was that we have a small covered porch in the front. It's just large enough for two chairs and a table and now that it's warm out we've been keeping our eyes peeled for a bistro set. We searched high and low for one this weekend and after a lot of disappointment we finally found the perfect one (and it was on sale!) We even planned a slightly French-inspired meal to christen it, but then the storm clouds moved in.

In preparation for Memorial Day, our supermarket had double packs of London broil on sale. We decided to grill the steaks (saving one for various dinners over the next couple of days) and serve it with smashed potatoes and a simple arugula salad.

SP marinated the two gigantic steaks in a mixture of cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil before grilling it. The outside got a nice crusty sear to it while the inside stayed moist and juicy rare.

For the arugula salad I shaved some slices of Pecorino over the top and tossed it with red wine vinegar and olive oil.

It's been awhile since we've had smashed red bliss potatoes with the skins on. I smashed them with sour cream, butter, milk, salt, pepper and scallions. They were rich and creamy.

I started this blog after we got our new computer, which happens to be a Mac, so for the last 9 months I had no idea that Blogger had all these cool functions like being able to change the font type or color, add a link without typing in the HTML coding, etc. Apparently Safari (which was the web browser loaded onto the Mac when we got it) isn't really in use anymore and doesn't play well with PC programs, especially Google. Firefox is much more compatible, so after I discovered this fun fact this weekend, I loaded Firefox onto the computer and it's like a whole new world. At some point I'll actually start futzing around with all the cool functions, but for now I just changed the template.
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chicken Sandwiches

Chicken sandwiches are one of our favorite dinners, especially when it's warm enough to use the grill.

Tonight's sandwich was outstanding - chicken marinated in lemon juice, salt, pepper, oil and garlic grilled and topped with bacon, roasted red peppers and provolone cheese. After the chicken came off the grill I topped it with the bacon, peppers and cheese and ran it under the broiler so the cheese would get nice and gooey melted. I lightly toasted the rolls and slathered them with homemade lemon/lime/garlic mayo. Yum!
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ginger, Garlic and Scallion Shrimp

This recipe for Ginger, Garlic and Scallion Shrimp is one of our favorite ways to prepare shrimp.

SP said tonight's meal was the best version yet. I'd have to agree. It was spicy and garlicky with a nice kick from the ginger. The shrimp were bursty and the scallions had a great onion flavor. Even the rice was top notch because I used chicken broth instead of water for added flavor. I also used 1 3/4 cups instead of the 2:1 ratio so the rice was perfectly cooked and not too moist. Unfortunately I didn't prep any of the ingredients ahead of time and I had to work late, so dinner didn't hit the table until 7:30. By that time we were both famished and I was kind of haphazard with my picture-taking.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sausage with Peppers and Onions

SP is a big fan of using up the meat we stick in the freezer and inevitably forget all about so tonight's dinner was an attempt to use up some of the family pack of Italian sausage we bought a few weeks back. Usually we make sausage sandwiches but I always end up taking the sausage out of the roll and eating it separatly so I decided to cut out the middle man and make sausages, peppers and onions with garlic bread.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Bruschetta Chicken

After putting this meal on the menu a few weeks in a row and always getting sidetracked, I finally got around to making it. My friend C Laz (who recently started her very own food blog) has been raving about her recipe for Bruschetta Chicken with Cheesy Orzo forever.

I modified her recipe slighty because we have a charcoal grill and it's SP's job to get it going and he wasn't home until dinner was almost ready. I made Rachael Ray's Cheesy Orzo and added a few tablespoons of heavy cream as per C Laz's instructions, but I chose to leave in the grated cheese because we love it and it really worked well with the dish as a whole. In fact, SP (meat-eater extraordinaire) said he could have eaten a bowl of just the orzo and been very happy. I also made a knock-off version of bruschetta using canned diced tomatoes mixed with chopped garlic, dried basil and parsley that was good but not nearly as good as the bruschetta I can get at the local specialty food market for $6.99/pound.
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Sunday, May 13, 2007


While planning last night's dinner I was also planning tonight's since I had a feeling we'd have plenty of leftovers. After enjoying the beautiful day with a long walk in the park, I made quesadillas. It could not have been a simpler meal since all I had to do was grate some extra cheese (a combo of cheddar and pepper Jack), heat up my griddle pan and layer the ingredients between two tortillas.

I made four quesadillas so we'd have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. It was hard to take good pictures of them since they all looked the same, but this plate held one quesadilla made with steak and cheddar and one made with chicken, cheddar, peppers and onions.

This plate has another chicken, cheddar, peppers and onions as well as my favorite of the bunch - shrimp, pepper Jack and chorizo.

My plate with one chicken and one shrimp, as well as some leftover guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

And because I forgot to take a photo of the rice last night, here is some of the yummy Spanish rice T made for our dinner.
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Huevos Rancheros

And for breakfast this morning, another plate of huevos rancheros:

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Dinner with C & T

Even though Cinco de Mayo was last weekend we kept up the Mexican theme for dinner last night with C and T, who are both huge Mexican food fans. I decided to do a trio of meats for make-your-own-fajitas along with salsa and guacamole for noshing while we enjoyed cocktails.

For the fajitas I marinated shrimp in lime and lemon juices, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper then threaded them onto skewers for easier grilling:

I also marinated the chicken and skirt steak with lemon and lime juices, oil, garlic and for the steak, some ground cumin and coriander:

All the meats were grilled to impart that smokey flavor. We also had some chorizo in the freezer so I grilled two links of that as well.

Salsa, sour cream, guacamole and grated cheddar were available for dressing the fajitas:

... along with sauted peppers and onions that I slow-cooked in a skillet until they were nice and tender.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

Peanut butter and chocolate are a classic combination that most people can't get enough of. Since our friends C (the guitarist in SP's band) and his wife, T, were coming to dinner last night I decided to make Ina's Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing, especially after I found out C was a fanatic when it comes to chocolate and peanut butter.

I have to admit, this is the first time I've made cupcakes from scratch. They couldn't have been easier to make and were quite tasty, but SP made me leave them uncovered so the icing could harden a bit and I think that caused the cupcakes to dry out. They also weren't as chocolately as I would have liked, but they were still incredibly yummy. I especially liked the chopped salted peanuts on top. Yum!
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Friday, May 11, 2007

Pizza Friday

Tonight's Pizza Friday pizza really hit the spot. I could have easily eaten 4 slices, but I was good and only had 3.

For the toppings I used some slices of the turkey meatballs I had frozen a few weeks back when I made spaghetti and meatballs, sliced pepperoni and black olives. I loved the meatiness of the turkey meatballs and the flavor of the sauce that can only come from slow-cooking it with meatballs. The black olives added a nice zing and the pepperoni provided a slightly spicy note.

SP noticed that the pizza seemed to cook a lot quicker this time, despite the fact that I set the oven at 550 degrees like I've been doing since we moved here. He was wondering if the fact that the outside temperature has risen substantially would have any impact on the cooking time. Something to look in to.

For those who've been keeping up with the Fat Rabbit saga: when I got home this evening I opened the slider curtains and when I looked down I saw this teeny tiny baby bunny sitting about a foot away. In the time it took for me to turn around to see if my camera was downstairs he was gone, but I'm hoping he comes back soon so I can snap a picture. He was precious and probably could have fit in the palm of my hand.
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fish Tacos

When I planned this week's menu I tried to come up with meals using some of the 36 corn tortillas I bought for the enchiladas I made for Cinco de Mayo. Tonight's dinner was Fish Tacos using a recipe from my Williams-Sonoma Mexican cookbook.

I had some reservations about this meal, mainly because I've never eaten a fish taco before let alone made my own. But they were outstanding. The fish was light, the cabbage added a nice crunch and contrast of flavors and the sauce was tangy and creamy.

I used frozen tilapia filets that I cut into strips and marinated in lime juice, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper for about 10 minutes. The batter was 1 cup of flour mixed with 1 cup beer (I used Dos Equis because SP bought a case for Cinco de Mayo), cayenne pepper, salt and garlic powder. The sauce is 1/3 cup each of plain yogurt, mayo and ketchup mixed together. You heat a pan with some oil and once it's nice and hot you dredge the fish in the batter, allowing the excess to drip off, and then fry in batches. The fish actually floated in the oil, which was a pleasant change from the last time I batter-fried something and it stuck to the bottom of the pan. Once the fish has fried to a nice golden brown, drain it on paper towels. While the fish is cooking, heat a griddle or skillet over high heat and toast the corn tortillas (we used 8 and it was more than enough for two people) until they brown on both sides. Serve with thinly sliced cabbage and salsa fresca.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula and Broccoli

I've seen Ina Garten make this recipe for Lemon Fusilli with Arugula a few times on her show and it always looked amazingly good. The recipe is also in her new cookbook that I got for Christmas and have been dying to cook my way through.

I halved the amount of pasta but kept everything else the same. I think there was too much arugula, which is funny since we both love arugula. One thing to note is that the recipe in both the cookbook and online doesn't include broccoli even though she makes the dish with broccoli on the show. I, of course, added the broccoli since we love broccoli. I cut one head into bite-size pieces and cooked it in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. I then shocked it in ice water and used the same pot of water to cook the pasta.

As a general rule, lemon and cream don't go well together. For starters, lemon juice can curdle the cream, although I think heavy cream is harder to curdle then milk or half-and-half. There's also a taste issue, mainly that something creamy doesn't necessarily work well with a strong citrus flavor. Even so, I wanted to make this recipe and I thought it was good, but by the end of the bowl I wasn't enjoying it quite as much. I know SP isn't a fan of something when he starts asking me pointed questions about the various ingredients. He ate it and said it was fine, but it isn't something I'll likely make for us again.
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Monday, May 07, 2007

A New World

Thank you to everyone who sent thoughts and prayers to my family this past week. It's been a strange few days. I don't think anything has really sunk in yet. The funeral was today and the whole thing was surreal. As my husband keeps saying, "It's a new world out there." We're taking it one day at a time.

Despite the lack of posts, I've still been cooking here and there over the past week. I'm emotionally drained from today so I'm just going to give a brief description of everything in one long post.

I made Rachael Ray's Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli before, but I used a different kind of pasta. This dish works much better with cavatappi:

I threw this dish together using whatever I had on hand - grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, garlic, onions and Pecorino cheese. Unfortunately I also decided to use a package of pasta we'd gotten as a gift for Christmas and it was awful. The flavors were good but when the pasta disintegrates as you're trying to eat it, the dish fails to impress.

During the week Fat Rabbit returned and was close enough to the house for me to get a good picture of him.

SP and I had lunch together on Friday and he ordered a sandwich with grilled chicken, chorizo, tostones, guacamole and tomato. He could only eat half so I had the other half for dinner that night.

On Saturday we had our neighbors over for Cinco de Mayo and I made salsa:

... guacamole ...

... and beef enchiladas. The enchiladas were much better then the last version I made where the tortillas disintegrated in the sauce. These had a nice kick to them from the chipotle and were very flavorful.

I doctored mine up with some hot sauce, sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

My store only sells corn tortillas in bags of 36 so I had quite a few leftover. On Sunday I decided to make huevos rancheros since I had all the ingredients on hand. I fried the corn tortillas in a little oil and then fried two eggs for each of us, sunnyside up so the yolks stayed pretty. Two tortillas per plate topped with some leftover salsa, sour cream, a little Monterey Jack cheese and the two fried eggs sprinkled with cilantro.

And for dinner I made Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup from Ina's new cookbook. It was incredibly spicy because of the 4 jalapenos I used, but it had excellent flavor. And since the chicken was roasted in the oven it was perfectly moist and tender.

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