Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 5 Posts of 2012

Today marks the end of my first year as a food blogger. I'm still debating to what extent I'll be blogging in the new year, I'll likely keep it up but perhaps with a little less regularity. But as we look to 2013, just about everyone presents a "best of" list from 2012. So in keeping with this spirit, I present to you the Top 5 most clicked on blog entries from Small Girl, Big Appetite. Some of these come as little surprise, but I was surprised that considering i post a decent amount of meat dishes, not one of them made this list!

5) Baked Costa Rican-Style Tilapia

This is a very simple dish that has a nice sweet taste, brought about by the pineapple rice. The fish itself doesn't have a lot of flavor, BUT the rice is awesome and so when you mix it all together, it's a great dish.

4) Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon with Chive Pesto Fingerling Potatoes

I make this salmon all the time. You can easily mix the ingredients together with one fillet and not end up with a ton of leftovers. I regularly have all the ingredients in my cupboard. And it just tastes so good. I haven't made the potatoes in a while, but as we enter wintertime and I tend to gravitate to my favorite starch, I'm sure I'll revisit that side dish.

3) Food Porn: Belga Cafe

Let me give you all a brief lesson about Search Engine Optimization. Certain words naturally garner higher search results due to their popularity. I should put the word "porn" in every post because then my site visits will go through the roof. But I only choose to use it sparingly, when visiting restaurants with porn-tastic food dishes. This entry highlighted a great brunch restaurant in Capitol Hill. The truly interesting anecdote about this is that the owner/head chef of the restaurant was eliminated last week on Top Chef: Seattle. He made it about halfway through the competition. One of his dishes, the green eggs and ham, he featured on that show and it's high on my list for the next time I grab brunch there.

2) Buffalo Cheesey Bread

I need to give credit to my friend Nick Evans from for this recipe which I made for a Super Bowl party this year, and subsequent other sporting event watches. You take cheese, mayo, hot sauce, a good french bread, and chives to create something that tastes much like a buffalo wing, without the wing. Amazing.

1) Food Porn: Sticky Rice

Remember what I said earlier about SEO? This is a perfect example of how this works. This post included the words "porn" AND "sticky" in the title and "balls" in the body. (that's what she said?) Yep, this is a no brainer and received twice as many clicks as anything else. Sadly the owner of Sticky Rice passed away a few weeks ago, but the restaurant perseveres on. And I'll be visiting again in the New Year.

Happy New Year's Eve all!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Scalloped New Potatoes

I spent a week in Pittsburgh for the holidays. My initial intent was to cook for the family several times during the course of the week, but I only ended up cooking a full meal twice. I did assist my mother in the kitchen on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, contributing to the making of this potato dish.

It should come as no surprise to my readers from the burgh that we like our potatoes in this state. I think I had potatoes 3 ways over the course of the week. This recipe, that my mother has had cut out from a magazine from December 1999 takes a different approach to regular scallop potatoes, making them lighter, and adding a bunch of vegetables.

Scalloped New Potatoes (serves 8)

  • 2 lbs. tiny new potatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 TB margarine or butter
  • 3 TB all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups milk (we used 1%)
  • 6 cups torn spinach, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small red sweet pepper, cut into matchstick strips
  • 3/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 2 quart oval or rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. 

In a large saucepan cook potatoes, covered, in a moderate amount of boiling salted water for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and transfer to an extra large mixing bowl. In the same saucepan cook onion and garlic in 2 TB of margarine over medium heat for 5 minutes or until just tender. Stir in flour, rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir in milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

**Note that my mom has said that every time she makes this, she doesn't feel this is enough sauce. So we did 1 1/2 times as much of this milk sauce, but if you want to keep the calories/fat down slightly, you may want to follow the recipe.  Just know that the sauce won't cover as much as you expect.

Add spinach and red pepper to potatoes. Toss gently to combine. Pour sauce over potato mixture. Stir gently until evenly coated. Transfer potato mixture to prepared baking dish. The dish will be very full.

Sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Melt the remaining 1 TB margarine. Add bread crumbs, tossing to coat. Sprinkle over cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and crumbs are golden. Serve.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sweet Popcorn Mix

I could say that my family comes from a long line of bakers and the pressure is just too high to present beautiful cookies, however, the long line is really just one--my Grandma Gorscak. She worked in catering for years and as her grandchild, I was treated to various cakes and unique cookies over the years. From ladylochs to Serbian cookies with jam, her desserts never disappointed. While many of her recipes have been shared and my aunt has made some of them at the holiday times, I have yet to attempt them myself. For fear of not doing them justice. 

We celebrated her 90th birthday earlier this month and several guests had mentioned her amazing baked goods, further solidifying that I wasn't the only one to benefit from her treats.

So in my continuing series that I like to call "Why I opt to make cookies at the holidays" I present another simple sweet snack. This is a great gift to bag up for friends, which is exactly what I did.

Sweet Popcorn Mix

First, in a large roaster, combine:
6-8 cups of popcorn (large microwave bag makes 5 cups)
1.5 cups of peanuts
2-3 cups of Cherrios
2-3 cups of Crispix
Set aside.

Second, in a small pot, combine the following & bring to a boil for 5 minutes (do not stir)
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup of white Karo syrup
1 cup of sugar

Remove from heat & quickly stir in
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1/4 tsp of baking soda

Drizzle the liquid mixture over popcorn/cereal mix.
Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stir every 15 minutes.
Let cool and then serve, or package in bags for friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

PB Pretzel Crack

I'm not the best holiday cookie baker. Often times I don't quite read the directions carefully, or am missing cookie molds, or some other pertinent ingredient to get things just right, and it often ends in disaster. Take the madeleines I tried to make this weekend. I had all the ingredients, but assumed cake/cookie molds were the same as cookie cutters. I was wrong. I couldn't use the cakey dough with a cookie cutter, so I ended up making them round. And they ended up flat. Nothing I care to share with the office as evidence of my culinary skills.

This recipe, on the other hand, never fails. I'm not sure where I got it originally (other than my mom, who I managed got it from someone else), but I can say that it is never meant to look pretty, it's super easy to make, and I never get complaints on it. Even from people who claim to not really care for peanut butter-based sweets. So consider making this for your holiday party or to just have around the house this December. It's so addictive, I call it my PB Pretzel Crack.

PB Pretzel Crack


  • 6-8 cups of thin pretzels
  • 1 10-ounce bag of vanilla morsels
  • 1 10-ounce bag of peanut butter chips
  • 2 TB peanut butter

Melt the morsels, chips and peanut butter in microwave. Do this in short increments and stir on occasion, to make sure that it doesn't burn or get clumpy.

Add the pretzels into the bowl and mix thoroughly. This will break the pretzels into smaller pieces.

Spread out thinly on a baking sheet covered with foil or wax paper. Refrigerate until candy hardens (1 hour will do it) and then break the candy into smaller pieces. Serve.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Food Porn: The Pig

I'm never shy about my appreciation of pork. I even have a kitchen towel that says "Bacon: The Gateway Meat."  Because if anything is going to turn a vegetarian, it'd have to be bacon.

Earlier this year, a restaurant opened in Logan Circle called "The Pig." As you would have guessed, probably 80 percent of the food on the menu contains some sort of pig. And it's fabulous.

I finally got around to checking it out last weekend. Ironically on the first day of Hanukkah, with a non-practicing Jewish person. But I digress.

He found "swine fine" so we went on to eat a ridiculous amount of the good stuff, including the "little pig platter" complete with three types of pork products like prosciutto, housemade pickles, and baked crostinis. We also sampled, as picture above, the Carolina-style pulled pork with mac and cheese. Some may see the oil in the picture and think "why on earth would I eat something so meaty and oily" and I say, "why the hell not?"

Check it out. The food is great, service is awesome, and even the bathrooms are covered in pictures of pigs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bison Burgers with Gruyere Cheese and Caramelized Onions

As I've written in this blog before, I'm very fortunate to live within walking distance to several farmers' markets. The best of these markets is a bit of a hike from where I live, but when you're on a mission for meat, it's the place to go. The target meat for that trip? Buffalo.

I think I first had buffalo meat when I traveled to Montana for a friend's weekend shortly after graduating from college. But the experience stuck with me and when I've found a crafty bison burger on a menu in DC, I've opted to give it a try. One of my favorite burgers at one of the local restaurants here in DC offers a bison burger with goat cheese and carmelized onions.

I decided to try something similar with two of the bison patties I picked up at the Dupont Circle Farmers' Market. Except I used some leftover gruyere cheese that I had handy. I'd put the recipe down here, but it was truly as simple as carmelizing some onions, and melting some gruyere cheese on these burgers, which I cooked in a skillet. One thing to note about bison meat is that it is extremely lean, and can get overcooked very easily. I cooked it about 3 minutes a side. Served with a side of sweet potato fries.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

CFC Chili Cookoff

Last week, I participated in my first-ever chili cookoff. This was an event organized at our office to raise money for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), a government-led initiative to raise money for non-profit organizations. I was one of 15 entries within our division at the Department of Health and Human Services.
We had a lot of different types of chili enter the competition, from super hot firewater chili to a savory turkey chili, carved right off the bone. I opted to make a Cincinnati-style chicken chili. You may remember me posting this recipe.

I decided to revisit this recipe, altering the ratio of spices a little bit and using a crock-pot to let it simmer overnight. I think this is the best version I've ever made of this chili. I believe a large part of it was the crockpot. I had to actually borrow one, as I typically use a dutch oven. But I may now be a convert.

While my chili didn't take home the big prize (but it did win second place for "People's Choice"), the big winner in this scenario are the charities that will benefit from our efforts. This competition raised nearly $400 for CFC. And I even managed to educate a few people who had never heard for a sweet and spicy chili. A win-win all around. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Creamy Butternut, Blue Cheese and Walnut Pasta

When I try to cook vegetarian, it usually ends up being a dish with a pasta base. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'm trying to limit my carbohydrate intake, so I opted to try a recipe that uses pasta sparingly, almost as a side ingredient to the main act-butternut squash.

This simple butternut squash pasta dish can be made with any tipe of rounded pasta, I opted to make it with gemili, though the recipe called for cavatappi.

Creamy Butternut, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Cavatappi (serves 4-6)


  • 4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/3 pounds)
  • 2 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 oz uncooked cavatappi/pasta
  • 1 cup prechopped onion
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 oz blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 TB chopped walnuts, toasted

  • Directions:

    Preheat oven to 425°.

    Combine squash, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 24 minutes or until tender, stirring once.

    Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta; keep warm.

    Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in 1/2 cup milk, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk, flour, and yolks in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly add egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently with a whisk.

    Combine squash, pasta, and milk mixture in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and nuts.

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Walnut Streusel Bread

    Last week, I bid farewell to a colleague I have worked with on our department's anti-bullying initiatives since June. She is going on to a fabulus opportunity, but she will be greatly missed by our groups. For our final editorial board meeting, I organized a farewell breakfast, contributing this walnut streusel bread. This is the second quickbread I've made in a month and I still find that my oven takes a bit longer than instructed for it to finish baking. But I've included the regular cooking instructions, just adjust accordingly per your oven.

    Walnut Streusel Bread (serves 16...very tiny people)


    • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1 TB all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • Dash of salt
    • 2 TB butter, melted
    • 2 TB chopped walnuts
    • 9 oz all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 5 TB butter, softened
    • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 cup fat-free buttermilk
    • Baking spray with flour (such as Baker's Joy)


    Preheat oven to 350°.

    To prepare streusel, combine first five streusel ingredients in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, stirring until well combined. Stir in nuts. Set aside.

    To prepare bread, weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine 5 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in vanilla.

    Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined. Scrape half of batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with baking spray; sprinkle with half of streusel mixture. Spread remaining batter over streusel; swirl. Sprinkle remaining streusel on top of batter.

    Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.

    Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Hot Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Bacon Spread

    December is just a few days away and with it comes endless holiday and office parties. Here is a great, easy, and healthy dip to serve the next time the occasion calls for potluck (which will happen again and again in December.) I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit. People were impressed at  how creamy it was, considering there isn't all that much creamy substance involved, just a whole lot of onions!

    Hot Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Bacon Spread (serves 8)



    • Cooking spray
    • 3 1/2 cups chopped onion
    • 2 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded and divided
    • 2 TB chopped fresh chives, divided
    • 1/3 cup canola mayonnaise
    • 1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 3 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled



    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan lightly with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; saute 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
    Reserve 2 TB cheese. Combine remaining cheese, caramelized onion, 1 TB chives and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer the mixture to a 1 quart glass or ceramic baking dish coated lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with reserved 2 TB cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining 1 TB chives.


    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Fennel, Sausage and Caramelized Apple Stuffing

    This year, I didn't travel for the holidays and as much as it would have been nice to spend time with my family, I spent the day with people I consider my "DC" family. This is pretty common as I talked over the holidays with others who opted to forego the traffic and spend time with friends locally. This brought on less stress for all, but also brought about a ridiculous amount of carbs.

    My mom had always made a basic Stovetop stuffing the holidays, so for the most part, it's the only stuffing I'd ever known. But I've seen recipes for all sorts of stuffings over the years and thought this was my opportunity to give one of them a go. So I settled on this recipe for Fennel, Sausage and Caramelized Apple Stuffing. I opted for spicy sausage from the Farmer's Market in the neighborhood. This had a great kick to it and made a ton. That and it had 10 other side dishes to compete with. But after taking nearly 2 hours to make (there was a lot of chopping involved) I now know why so many people opt for the StoveTop. But I do feel this was better. I've been enjoying it all weekend.

    Fennel, Sausage, and Caramelized Apple Stuffing (serves 10-12)


    • 12 oz sourdough bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
    • cooking spray
    • 9 oz Italian sausage
    • 5 tsp olive oil, divided
    • 4 cups chpped onion
    • 1 1/4 cups sliced fennel bulb
    • 1 1/4 cups chopped carrot
    • 2 TB chopped fresh sage
    • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
    • 5 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 3 cups chpped Golden Delicious apple
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups fat-free chicken broth
    • 2 large eggs


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees

    Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake for 16 minutes or until golden, stirring after 8 minutes. Place in a large bowl.

    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 8 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add sausage to bread.

    Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 3 tsp oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add onion and fennel bulb, carrot, sage, fennel seeds and garlic. Add 1/4 tsp pepper, suate 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add vegetables to sausage mixture.

    Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 tsp oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add apple and sugar, saute 5 minutes or until apple caramelizes, stirring occasionally. Add to the sausage mixture.

    Combine broth and eggs in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add broth mixture and reamining 1/4 tsp pepper to sausage mixture, toss well to combine.

    Spoon sausage mixture into a 13 x 9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Cover with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover dish; bake for another 20 minutes or until browned and crisp.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Potato and Corn Chowder

    I've been on a bit of a soup kick lately. Perhaps it's the cooling weather, making an extra layer of warmth not only necessary, but comforting. I anticipate that I will be experimenting with a lot of stews and soups this winter, and this week's contribution is a Cooking Light recipe for a lighter chowder. I will say the soup is definitely better the following day, once all the spices have had time to blend and sink in to the vegetables. I added a bit more spice than the recipe called for, but by all means, adjust to your taste buds.

    Potato and Corn Chowder (serves 4)


    • Cooking spray
    • 1 1/2 cups prechopped green bell pepper
    • 1 cup chopped green onions, divided (about 1 bunch)
    • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
    • 1 1/4 cups water
    • 1 tsp seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay)
    • 3/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
    • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
    • 1 pound baking potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 cup half-and-half
    • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese


    Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell pepper and 3/4 cup green onions, and sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned.

    Increase heat to high; add corn, water, seafood seasoning, thyme, red pepper, and potatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

    Remove from heat, and stir in half-and-half, chopped parsley, and salt. Place about 1 1/2 cups soup in each of 4 bowls; sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese and 1 tablespoon green onions.

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Maple Stout Bread

    Fall is here. The weather is turning cooler in DC, and my mind is swimming with visions of comfort food I will be making over the next few months. One thing that I don't make very often are breakfast loaves or breads. I had some Guinness beer that I wanted to use, so I found this great recipe in my Cooking Light magazine for a Maple Stout bread. I'm not the best at baking and I was a bit skeptical when seeing this bake that I had done something wrong (the middle was taking a lot longer to cook). But, it ended up great and a co-worker even commented that it was just the right level of soft because there's nothing worse than a dry breakfast bread. So if I can do this, so can you!

    Maple Stout Bread


    • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (or 7.88 oz)
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 6 TB butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup stout beer, like Guinness
    • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
    • 5 TB maple syrup, divided
    • Baking spray with flour
    • 5 TB powdered sugar


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Place butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine beer, sour cream, and 1/4 cup syrup, stirring well with a whisk. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and beer mixture alternately to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.

    Scrape batter into a 9x5 inch loaf pan coated with baking spray. Bake for 45 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clining. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

    Place powdered sugar in a smal bowl. Add remaining 1 TB syrup, stir until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cooled bread; let stand until set, if desired.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Living Social Pumpkin event

    To get in the Thanksgiving spirit, I went to my first Living Social event at their headquarters on F Street. The event, called "Drunken Pumpkin," was hosted by the owners of Smoke and Barrel, a great BBQ place in Adams Morgan. The event was part education on the pumpkin in the culinary world, and tasting, where we got to try out three pumpkin-based dishes: a chipotle pumpkin soup, a roast pork with pumpkin risotto, and a maple pumpkin creme brule. All of this came with a pairing of a Pumpkin Spice Manhattan cocktail and a pumpkin beer.

    So if you're looking for a pumpkin-based appetizer this Thanksgiving, try out this pumpkin soup recipe. And if you're just looking for an awesome meal, visit Smoke and Barrel. You will not be disappointed.

    Chipotle Pumpkin Soup Recipe (Makes 2-2 1/2 quarts)


    • 2 TB olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1-2 chipotle peppers, chopped.  If canned in adobo, 1 for mild flavor, and 2 for spicy)
    • 8 cups chopped, cooked pumpkin or a three 15-oz cans of canned pumpkin
    • 4-6 cups chicken stock, amount used will vary depending on how thick the pumpkin puree is
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 2 tsp salt, more to taste
    • 2 TB lime juice
    • Toasted, shelled pumpkin seeds
    • Cilantro
    • Creme fresca


    Heat oil in large pot on medium  high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, and chipotle, cook for 1 minute more.

    Add the pumpkin, chicken stock, oregano, and salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered.

    Remove the soup from heat. Working in beatches of 2 cups each, puree the soup in batches, holding down the lid of your blender tightly while pureeing, and starting on a slow speed. Return the pureed soup to the pot.

    Add lime juice. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt, cumin, oregano, or chipotle to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more stock or water until you hit your desired consistency.

    Serve with pumpkin seeds, crema fresca, and chopped cilantro.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Green Chicken Curry

    During our Thai cooking class, we learned to make three different types of curry. I anticipate I'll be making each one of them here, barring any major issues with finding the ingredients. I ate a lot of green curry while I was in Thailand and before I took this class, I had no idea what the little green round vegetable was that was part of each green curry I had. Apparently it was a small eggplant.

    This photo was taken at the market we toured as part of our class. Our instructor is showing us three different types of eggplant. the small ones in the middle, that almost resemble mini watermelons, are the ones used in Thai green curry. I have no idea if I will be able to find these here, but apparently, any eggplant will do. First you have to make the paste. Recipe below

    Green Curry Paste


    Dried Spices
    • 1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted until fragrant
    • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted until fragrant
    • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, roasted until fragrant
    • pinch of salt
    • 1-2 big green chiles
    • 1-5 small green chiles for extra spicy
    Fresh ingredients
    • 1 tsp galangal, skin removed, chopped
    • 1 TB lemongrass, chopped
    • 1 piece kaffir lime peel, chopped (about 1/4 tsp)
    • 1 tsp coriander root, chopped
    • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
    • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
    • 1/4 tsp shrimp paste


    Put the small chilies, coriander seeds, cumin, black peppercorns into a mortar and pound them into a powder. Then add the rest of the ingredients and pound for 15 minutes until paste is smooth.

    It's important to note that you should grind the dried spices first, then mix with the chopped fresh spices.  Also, the curry paste can keep a few days at room temperature, a few weeks in the refrigerator, or 3-6 months in freezer.

    Green Curry Chicken (serves 2)


    • 7 1/2 oz. of chicken breast, sliced
    • 1-2 TB of green curry paste
    • 1 cup coconut cream
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 2 apple eggplants, quartered or cut in pieces
    • handful of sweet basil leaves
    • 2 kaffir lime leaves, rip off the stem and torn into small pieces
    • 1 big red chili, sliced
    • 1-2 TB palm sugar (brown sugar can also be used)
    • 1 TB fish sauce


    If you use fresh coconut cream, heat coconut cream in the wok over medium to let it reduce water until oil is separated then add the curry paste. Stir until fragrant.

    If you are using coconut cream from the tin or box, fry green curry paste first with vegetable oil until fragrant and then add the cream.

    Add chicken, eggplant, then add coconut milk. The consistency of curry sauce varies with the amount of coconut milk.

    Cook them on medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. Season with fish sauce and palm sugar.

    Add sweet basil, kaffir lime leaves, and big red chili. Remove from heat and serve in a bowl.

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    Tom Yum Goong (Hot and sour prawn soup)

    One of the highlights of the Thai cooking class was making this soup and seeing just how spicy each chef would make their version. We learned how to make two versions of this soup, one of which was a creamy version which uses a few additional ingredients to give it a creamy, cooler taste.

    The way to increase the heat in this soup is to add one chili at a time. For those who just like spicy food (and I'll put the clarifier here of 'white people spicy') then just one chili pepper is plenty to give it a nice kick. However, if you like spicier foods, you can add additional chili peppers to increase the heat. I made mine with 2, but I think I could have brought it up to 3. Two of our chefs opted to go the three-chili route and their soup was right up my spice level alley. You be the judge on what kind of heat you want to bring.

    Tom Yum Goong (serves 2)

    Ingredients for making prawn stock

    • 7 oz raw prawns
    • 4 cups of water or vegetable stock (cabbage, carrot, and coriander)

    Directions for making prawn stock

    Remove the prawn heads. Peel the prawns' shells, leaving the tails intact. Using a sharp knife, slit each prawn down the back and devein. Keep heads and shells, set the prawns aside.

    Make stock by putting the heads and the shells of the prawns in boiling water with vegetable stock and braing back to boil for 5-10 minutes until they are deep orange.

    Ingredients for making soup

    • 1 TB of Galangal or Thai ginger (skin removed/cut into thick slices)
    • 2 kaffir lime leaves (rip off stem and torn into pieces)
    • 2 stalks of lemongrass, sliced into 1 inch long
    • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
    • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced
    • 1 lime, cut into 3 wedges
    • 1 1/2 oz mushrooms
    • 1 tomato, cut into 8 pieces
    • 1-5 small green chillies, finely chopped (depending on how spicy you want it)
    • 2 TB fish sauce

    Directions for making soup

    Remove the prawn peelings and bring the stock back to a boil.

    Add all vegetables into the pot, except the lime, then boil them for 2 minutes and follow with the prawns and fish sauce.

    Cook for 10-20 seconds until the prawns are completely cooked through then turn the heat off and add lime juice.

    Stir well and serve, can sprinkle with coriander for garnish.

    ****To make a creamy version, add 2 tsp of Tom Yum paste or Thai chili paste and half a cup of coconut cream or plain condensed milk.


    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Pad Thai

    Pad Thai is one dish that I've never gravitated toward when ordering Thai food. It can tend to be overly oily depending on where you get it, and I'm not the biggest fan of tofu. But you can easily substitute a meat into the recipe should you desire.  I never ordered it while in Thailand, but it was an option to cook during my class. This version was not oily and had a lot of great flavor. So for all you vegetarians out there, enjoy!

    Pad Thai (serves 2)


    • 7 oz. fresh noodles (or dried noodles, soaked in water for about 10-15 minutes)
    • 2 TB cooking oil
    • 1.5 oz tofu, sliced into small pieces
    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1 oz chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 3.5 oz bean sprouts
    • 2 TB ground roasted peanuts
    • 1 small shallot, chopped
    • 1 TB fish sauce
    • 1 TB soy sauce
    • 2 TB oyster sauce
    • 2 TB tamarind paste (or lime juice)
    • 2 tsp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder


    Heat cooking oil in wok over low heat. Add tofu and fry until turned golden brown.

    Add shallow and the eggs and scramble well until egg cooked.  Then add rice noodles and water, stirring well until noodles get softened.

    Add fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, tamarind paste, sugar and chili powder, mix well until the noodles turn brown.

    Add chives, bean sprouts and roasted peanuts. Stir fry quickly (5-10 seconds) ensuring everything is well combined. Can keep on high heat for half a minute to dry all the water and sauce.

    Turn off the heat and serve with extra sugar, peanut, chili powder and piece of lime.

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Chicken Satay

    For the first of my blog arch on Thai cooking, I'll be sharing the recipe I learned during my Thai cooking class. Before I get to the recipe, let me tell you about this class.

    The class was held in a home which had a separate demonstration kitchen area as well as a covered patio to cook. The two instructors were fantastic and in addition to teaching us how to make several different dishes, they also educated us on the flavors of Thailand. We got to pick what we wanted to make out of several choice options, but walked away with a recipe book of all the options!

    There were six people in the class and we all represented different countries. The first couple from the UK, included a man from Glasgow who was quite the personality and his sweet wife. They lived outside of London.  The next couple was from Poland, and the wife/girlfriend (I'm not quire sure what the nature of their relationship was) had won some local cooking competitions in her native Poland. Rounding out the group was me and a man from Australia.

    The instructors would joke throughout the class as to who would put more chili peppers in their food. The man from Glasgow usually won out, and me and the Aussie were a close second. What can I say, I like my food hot!

    So first up is the chicken satay. This sauce is boss. :)

    Chicken Satay (serves 2-4 as an appetizer)


    • 4-6 pieces of chicken tender fillets (approximately 3/4 pound)
    • Bamboo skewers
    • 2 tsp curry powder
    • 2 tsp sweet condensed milk
    • 1/2 cup coconut cream (important to note that this is not coconut milk, but cream. Coconut milk in the U.S. is mixed with water, so this is thicker, straight from the coconut. Hope to find this in an Asian supermarket)
    • 2 TB cooking oil
    • pinch of pepper
    • pinch of salt
    Peanut sauce
    • 1 TB cooking oil
    • 1/2- 1 TB red curry paste (depends on how spicy you want to make it)
    • 1/2 cup ground peanuts
    • 2 tsp palm sugar (regular sugar will work)
    • 1/2 TB fish sauce
    • 1/2 cup coconut cream
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
    • 1 TB tamarind paste or lime juice


    Mix all the marinade ingredients together with the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinade 30 minutes.

    While the chicken is marinading, make the peanut sauce. To do this, put the oil in a saucepan with curry paste and cook over low heat and fry until fragrant. Then add coconut cream and ground peanuts and continue stirring for few seconds. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind paste and stir well for 3 minutes until the sauce is thick.

    Once the chicken is done marinading, skewer each slice of chicken onto a bamboo skewer (soak skewer in water to prevent sticking). Grill the skewered chicken and brush with remaining marinade until done and still moist. Probably 3-4 minutes a side.

    Serve chicken with sauce as an awesome appetizer.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    What I ate in Thailand

    Before I left for my trip to Thailand, I did a lot of research...on food. I rewatched the Anthony Bourdain "No Reservations" episode from Chiang Mai, I read up on some top foodies' best places to eat, and packed a bunch of stomach distress medicine in my suitcase. Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, all of this preparation went right out the window.

    While food in Bangkok and Phuket was good, none of it compared to the food I ate in Chiang Mai. I found it was best to just "wing it" in Chiang Mai. Yes, I checked out Trip Advisor for some general restaurant recommendations, but that really only worked for some of the more upscale restaurants. And when I say "upscale" I'm not necessarily talking about fine dining, but places with white tablecloths, that are indoors (maybe even with air conditioning!). Other times I just opted to find one of the random silver pots on the street and point to one of them and just see what I got. And I'm happy to report, everything was wonderful.  Here is my culinary adventure through Chiang pictures. I'll follow up with several of the recipes I learned to make in my cooking class over the next two weeks. Enjoy!

    This was a lovely panang curry with jasmine rice from one of the nicer restaurants (W by Wanlamun) I dined in which doubles as a culinary school. It was a short walk from the guesthouse I was staying in and I ended up eating their twice. They had a very inventive approach to how they presented food, even offering up veggie spring rolls up in shot glasses.
    But this pananag curry was my favorite dish there. While I felt like it could have been a bit more spicy, the flavors were a nice balance and the chicken was cooked perfectly.  For more food envy, here is their website:

    One of the regional Northern Thai/Burmese specialities, which can be found in large pots along the street and in most of the restaurants, is called Khao Soi. Khao Soi is a curried noodle dish that usually includes chicken or pork, noodles, and the occasional stray vegetable. The dish is topped with crunchy noodles and served piping hot.

    In short, it's like taking an indian curry (which tends to be runnier than Thai curries) and putting on top of rice noodles. Delicious. And from what I understand from my guidebooks, not a dish you can find very easily in Thai restaurants in the states. But I will definitely be on the lookout for it.

    A trip to Thailand would not be complete without sampling some of the street foods. The smells are overwhelming as you walk through the night markets. There are a lot of exotic dishes out there, and to be honest, I'm not sure what it was I was eating half the time, but it was usually meat on a stick like these guys. For 10-20 baht per skewer (somewhere around 75 cents each) you have your pick of sweet street meat.
    While most of what I ate over there consisted on meat, rice and noodles, there was the occasional opportunity to satisfy any sweet tooth I might have. This beautiful bit of street food, the roti, is the Thai version of a crepe. This was filled with banana and nutella. Divine.
    This is just the tip of the iceberg of the food I enjoyed on my trip. The next few entries will include pictures and recipes from the Thai cooking class I took while on my trip.


    Monday, October 29, 2012

    White Bean Chicken Chili

    I'm back!!! And ready to wreak havoc in the kitchen like the Frankenstorm is wreaking havoc on the East Coast.

    After 24 hours in flight back to the states, I arrived last week exhausted, but absolutely thrilled about my trip. Thailand was a true culinary masterpiece from fine meals, street food, and a cooking class, I'll have a lot to share over the next week or two. But in case you've been living under a rock, we're in a severe weather advisory here in DC and what better way to hunker down for cold, wet weather than to make a hearty chili.  So here's what I made yesterday. More savory than spicy, this is great for this weather. And I'll be eating it until I lose power.

    White Chicken Chili (serves 6)




  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 TB ground cumin
  • 1 TB fennel seeds
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 TB flour
  • 2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 11/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 


    In a duth oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
    Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Ladle the chili into serving bowls and sprinkle wit parmesean cheese and chopped parsley.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Leaving on a Jet Plane

    Tomorrow, I leave for a 2 1/2 week trip to Thailand. This means the blog will be on a bit of a hiatus because I wasn't organized enough to cook ahead and drum up some posts. But considering I'm going to an amazing culinary location, and have plans to take a 7 hour cooking class, you better believe I'll have some awesome posts for when I get back.

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Chicken with Pepperoni Sauce

    As I prepare to take my vacation, I've been trying to work through ingredients that I already had to avoid going to the grocery store and spending money on food that would likely go bad during my absence. This recipe requires few ingredients and is extremely easy to make. I made this for my parents during their visit and they commented that it would be a good meal for my brother and his wife to make, since they are short on time with the baby. I think they're right. This would be a great meal for a busy family, especially one with kids because there isn't really anything in this meal that a picky kid wouldn't like.

    Chicken with Pepperoni Sauce (serves 4)


    • Cooking spray
    • 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
    • 16 slices pepperoni, coarsely chopped
    • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
    • 2 TB chopped fresh basil
    • 2 tsp olive oil
    • 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


    Preheat broiler to high.

    Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and pepperoni; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Add oregano; cook 30 seconds. Add marinara sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil.

    Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper. Add chicken to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

    Serve over pasta with a green salad.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    Food Porn: Pretty Plates at Maple

    I love a pretty plate. There can be a real art to plating a meal in a nice restaurant and I'm always appreciative of a place that does it well.

    This past weekend, my parents visited me here in Washington, DC. I've lived here nearly 9 years so anymore, the only new thing I introduce them to in this city (besides the random new memorial or museum) is new cuisine and local restaurants. On recent visits, I've helped them expand their sushi tastes beyond the basic tuna roll, and they are usually good to just let me order for them. We had another meal like that this weekend at Jaleo, but the purpose of this blog post is to review some pretty plated food at a newish restaurant in my neighborhood: Maple.  This intimate little restaurant boasts a beautiful bar made out of a slab of maple and an extensive list of wines.

    I ordered the caprese salad, which boasted three beautiful, large, tomatoes, bigger than my fist. It really is a pretty plate and something I've made on this blog before.  I followed this up with a tagliatelle pasta with a lamb ragu sauce.

    This dish was very flavorful and was plated topped high with thinly shredded parm cheese, topped with basil, olives and other vegetables. It tasted as good as it looked.

    I will definitely go back to try one of the paninis on their menu. My only complaint is that despite the quaint, home-like atmosphere, the wait for attention at the bar (to get a drink menu, much less to order a drink) was far too long and the service at the table was marginally better. Hopefully they are still working out the kinks of being a relatively new restaurant on a busy block.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Orzo Chickpea Salad

    This week I had made plans to go on a picnic on the National Mall to check out the renovated reflecting pool (the largest pool cleaning took two years!), but Mother Nature had other plans and literally rained on my picnic parade. So I decided to stick with the theme and have an indoor picnic with PB&J sandwiches, pasta salad, cheese, and brown butter oatmeal cookies.

    I wish I had thought to take a photo of the entire spread, basket and all, but I completely forgot. However, the orzo pasta salad I had made lasted a few days afterward so I managed to snap a picture of that. Very refreshing and light pasta salad-perfect for a lunch or a picnic!

    Orzo Chickpea Salad (serves 4)


    • 1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
    • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
    • 1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled feta cheese
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
    • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
    • 3 TB fresh lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 TB cold water
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic 


    Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water.

    Combine pasta, onions, cheese, dill, and chickpeas in a large bowl, tossing gently to combine.

    Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Park City Cashew Chicken

    I am always one for trying something new when it comes to cooking. I like fusion restaurants, combining Latin ingredients with a dash of Asian flair, and other combinations that might not sound like a good idea in the beginning, but turn out beautifully. This recipe, from my Rachel Ray's 365 No Repeats cookbook, takes some of the basic ingredients for a cashew chicken stir fry but mixes in sweet flavors. I find that I've been using a lot of maple syrup in recipes lately (oh so much more than a pancake topping!), however this is one example where I think the original, your standard asian-style cashew chicken, is superior. You be the judge. 

    For the record, the recipe says this serves 4, but I think it's more like 6. Or I've gotten really good at portion control in recent months.

    Park City Cashew Chicken (serves 4-6)


    • 3 TB vegetable oil
    • TB unsalted butter
    • 1 large onion, 1/4 finely chopped, 3/4 thinly sliced
    • 2 cups brown rice
    • 4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
    • 2 lb chicken meat (tenders; skinless, boneless breasts; skinless, boneless thighs), cut into 2-inch pieces       
    • TB grill seasoning blend, such as Montreal Steak Seasoning blend by McCormick
    • 2 - 3 TB soy sauce
    • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
    • 10 - 12 water chestnuts, sliced or chopped
    • TB canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, or 1 1/2 TB ground chipotle powder
    • TB ground cumin
    • 2 - 3 TB honey
    • 1/4 - 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
    • 2 - 3 TB cilantro or parsley leaves (a handful), chopped
    • 1 cup raw cashews


    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil (1 turn of the pan) and the butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add the rice and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the chicken stock and cover the pot. Raise the heat and bring the stock to a rapid boil. Once the stock boils, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 18 minutes.

    While the rice cooks, make the chicken. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with the grill seasoning. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (2 turns of the pan) and then the chicken. Brown the chicken on both sides, season with the soy sauce, then move the chicken to 1 side of the pan. Add the sliced onion, garlic and bell pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the water chestnuts and green peas, and mix the vegetables and chicken together. Add the chipotle chiles and cumin. Toss to coat. Glaze the chicken mixture with the honey and maple syrup and turn off the heat. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley (whichever you prefer) and the cashews.

    Spoon the rice into bowls, top with the cashew chicken and serve.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Greek Pasta Salad

    This week we had a staff retreat at work and I thought this would be a good opportunity to make a pasta salad recipe I usually reserve for large parties, baby showers, etc. It makes a solid amount of food, and I'm always asked for the recipe afterward.

    Greek Pasta Salad (serves 10-12)


    • 1 box of bow-tie pasta, uncooked
    • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
    • 1 1/4 cup Feta crumbled cheese
    • 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 can of drained canned chickepeas, rinsed
    • 3/4-1 cup Greek Vinaigrette dressing


    Cook pasta as directed, drain. Place in large bowl.
    Add remaining ingredients, mix lightly.
    Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    I find this usually holds for a day or so if you have leftovers.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Sweet Corn Salsa

    This past weekend, the best team in the NFL (the Steelers in case you didn't know) played their first game of the regular season. Sadly, it did not end well as they didn't stick their neck out there as much as Peyton Manning did (yes, bad joke completely intentional), but I did end up having a great meal with some fellow foodie football fans. I made some regular favorites, sticky asian chicken wings and buffalo bread, but I also made my first salsa! This was adapted from a recipe on my friend's blog, The end result was far more sweet than spicy, but it tasted great!

    Sweet Corn Salsa (serves a party and some)


    • 4 ears fresh corn, roasted
    • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 chopped poblano pepper
    • 2 jalapenos, diced
    • 3/4 cup red onion, diced
    • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/8 cup bottled lime juice
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1  tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp coriander
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt


    To make salsa, shuck corn and place under a broiler on high heat for about 3 minutes per side. Turn and continue to broil until corn is nicely charred. You can also grill the corn if you are so lucky to have a grill. I sadly do not.

    Dice tomatoes, peppers, and onion and add to a large pot.

    Once corn is charred, let cool until you can handle it, then slice the corn off the cob and add to pot with tomatoes and peppers. Add spices to pot along with vinegar, sugar, lime juice, and salt.

    Bring salsa to a simmer and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it starts to reduce and thicken.


    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    California Turkey Burger

    So this is a first...two sandwich posts in one week! But this is all part of the master plan of being economical and not wasting ingredients that can carry over into other recipes. This mainly was these wheat buns I used, but hey, my grandma taught me how to count my pennies. So no bread was harmed by prematurely being subjected to the garbage can.

    Turkey burgers can be tricky to make them in a way that is flavorful and not too dried out. This recipe which is an oldie but a goodie from my friend Nick's blog ( accomplishes this feat by adding some vegetables and herbs into the ground turkey mix and adding sliced avocado on top. I'm not sure why I resisted avocado for so long because it is my far one of my favorite ingredients this year. I also tried out the super thin-sliced cheese Sargento recently started marketing and it was just the right amount of cheese to add some flavor, without approximately 1/3 of the fat of a regular slice. How Cali of me.

    California Turkey Burger (makes 3, 4-oz burgers)



    • 12 oz ground turkey
    • 1/4 red onion, diced
    • Handful of parsley, minced
    • 1 Serrano pepper, minced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • Salt and pepper
    • 4 oz Cheddar cheese (or your favorite)
    • Ciabatta rolls, I used wheat since that is what I had leftover
    • Avocado
    • Greens, I used arugula since that's what I had leftover


    Mince onions, parsley, garlic, and pepper. Mix with ground turkey along with salt and pepper. Form 3 patties with turkey mixture.

    Grill over high heat for 5-6 minutes per side. Once the burger is just about cooked, add cheese to burger.

    Grill buns until lightly charred.

    Assemble burger with sliced avocado, mayo/mustard or whatever you normally like on your burgers, and greens!


    Sunday, September 2, 2012

    Warm Lemon Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Pears

    I love meals that can be repurposed and presented in different ways for later iterations. For instance, since most times I'm cooking for myself, I'll end up with four or more meals' worth of leftovers but let's admit, eating the same leftovers day after day get old. Sometimes I freeze some of it to be brought out at a later date, and other times I try a simple repurpose. For this recipe, which is a Rachel Ray recipe I tried last year during my year of new recipes, is great on a bun, but also works without it on a salad. I also put this in a pita at one point. So it's been the same basic meal for a week, but the small variations made it a little less boring, but equally tasty!

    Warm Lemon Chicken Sandwich with Arugula and Pears (makes 4 sandwiches)



  • 2 lemons
  • 2 TB fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB white wine vinegar
  • 5 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TB grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 4 kaiser rolls, split
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 ripe bartlett pear ( Anjou or Bosc)
  • 8 slices prosciutto di Parma
  • 2 -2 1/2 cups arugula, cleaned and trimmed


    In a shallow bowl, combine the juice of 1 ½ lemons, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add in the chicken breasts; toss to coat; marinate chicken 5-10 minutes.
    In a small bowl, mix the dijon mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper together; whisk in 3 tablespoons oil, then the Parmigiano.
    Toast the rolls; rub the toasted cut sides with the garlic clove.
    Preheat a big nonstick skillet over med-high heat; add remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
    Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side.
    Thinly slice the pear and toss in a salad bowl with the juice of the remaining ½ lemon.
    Slice the prosciutto into strips; add the arugula leaves and prosciutto to the salad bowl; toss with the vinaigrette (dijon mixture).
    Thinly slice the cooked chicken; layer half of the chicken slices onto the rolls and top with the arugula-pear salad; add remaining chicken and roll tops.

    Or screw the bun and just mix everything else together. :)

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    Caprese Salad

    Right now is a great time to get heirloom tomatoes at my farmer's market. These tomatoes (while a bit pricey) come in an array of shapes and colors, some orange, some yellow, and all a little lopsided. :) This post is not so much a recipe, but just basic instructions on how to make a simple caprese salad. You can adjust the servings sizes accordingly, but this is what I did for one lunch sized caprese salad. And look how pretty it is!

    Caprese Salad


    • Heirloom tomatoes (for one serving, I used 2)
    • Mozzarella (3 oz for two tomatoes was my best estimate)
    • Fresh basil (one solid basil leaf per tomato slice)
    • Olive Oil
    • Balsamic Vinegar
    • Sea Salt
    • Pepper


    Thickly slice the tomatoes and mozzarella, stacking as shown with a basil leaf. Sprinkle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top (I did about half a teaspoon of each). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve.

    I'm making this again this weekend. Makes a truly delightful weekend lunch.

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Three-Bean Salad

    Yesterday marked the season finale of yet another campy, vampy season of True Blood on HBO. This show is best watched with a crowd and with wine, which is just what I did. A neighbor of mine hosted a few people over for a potluck. We had barbecued chicken, ribs, pasta salad, corn on the cob and alcohol. I took this as an opportunity to make a side dish that I've been wanting to make for awhile, but it would definitely be too much for my dinner parties of 1 most nights. So here is an awesome southwestern side dish that is not only pretty easy to make, but extremely healthy. I actually didn't even use the oil called for in the recipe, but that's your call. I did just fine with a grill pan and non-stick spray.

    Three-Bean Salad (serves 10-12 as a side dish)


  • 1 cup halved heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 3 ears shucked corn
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 diced peeled avocados

  • Directions:

    Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

    Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes.

    Brush corn, onion, and jalapeño evenly with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill corn for 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 6 minutes. Grill onion slices and jalapeño 8 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 4 minutes. Let vegetables stand 5 minutes.

    Cut kernels from cobs. Coarsely chop onion. Finely chop jalapeño; discard stem. Add corn, onion, and jalapeño to tomato mixture; toss well.

    Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 4 ingredients (through kidney beans) to corn mixture; toss well. Top with avocado.

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Cilantro Chicken

    As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, I am working my way through a lot of frozen chicken, so the same night I cooked the chicken curry, I made this dish with what I didn't use for the curry. I found this recipe as a link on my friend Nick's food blog so I followed suit and am just providing the direct link to the Recipe Girl site here:

    Cilantro Chicken (serves 4)

    My modifications included using chicken breast tenders as opposed to thighs, because that is what I had available. My picture turned out a bit differently than the ones on the Recipe Girl site but that might be because I improvised a bit on the amounts of the ingredients listed. This turned out ok, but I think since I was using a grill pan and the breasts were not even thicknesses, that might be why some of it got a little dry. But you be the judge.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Simple Chicken Curry

    As I mentioned last week, I decided to get back in the kitchen this week after a bit of a hiatus brought on my work projects, and other distractions (such as a mediterranean fast food place that opened up in the neighborhood). With a large pack of chicken to go through, I opted to make two different chicken dishes this week. The first is a simple chicken curry. I received this recipe from a coworker who is on the paleo diet. In keeping with that theme, I went carb free and served it over sugar snap peas.

    This is appropriate for my next bit of news...I'm officially going to Thailand in October!  I am beyond excited for the food and have plans to take a cooking class while I'm there. I will no doubt chronicle all these food tidbits in this blog.

    Simple Chicken Curry (serves 4)


    • 1 lb chicken, cubed
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp chili powder
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 large red onion, chopped
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 jalapeno peppers, minced
    • 1 cup coconut milk, I opted for light
    • 3 TB fresh basil leaves, torn


    Combine spices in a small bowl and set aside.

    Saute chicken until it’s nicely browned and cooked through. I used a non-stick spray on the pan, but no oil.

    Take the meat out of the pan, and throw in the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Stir fry until tender and onions are translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

    Add the chicken back into the pan and add the spices. Stir fry until fragrant; about a minute.

    Add the coconut milk and basil leaves. Simmer until the meat is cooked through and the sauce thickens a bit. Serve over vegetables and/or rice.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Five-Spice Chicken with Green Beans

    I'm baaaaccckkkk!!! After a bit of a break from cooking with reckless abandon while I dealt with crazy work deadlines, I am back to cooking more and eating out less. My latest endeavor was a simple Asian recipe that only required items I already had in my pantry. Imagine that. It's been a while since I'd broken out the 5-spice powder. This chicken worked equally well served cold and thrown on a spinach salad. Which is what I've been doing with it all week. Enjoy! (and yes, I realize this photo is quite ominous...didn't realize my shadow was such a fixture.

    Five-Spice Chicken with Green Beans (serves 4)



    • 1 lb chicken breast, I used chicken tenders so they would cook faster
    • 4 cloves minced garlic
    • 1 TB kosher salt
    • 2 TB sesame oil
    • 1 tsp five-spice powder
    • 1 TB rice wine vinegar
    • green beans
    • soy sauce
    • panko breadcrumbs


    Combine garlic, salt, oil, five-spice powder and vinegar in a ball and whisk together. Place marinade in plastic bag with chicken. Marinate at least an hour.

    Once you are ready to cook the chicken, heat up a grill pan and coat with non-stick spray. Grill until cooked all the way through. This took me about 4-5 minutes on each side.

    In the meantime, clean your green beans and place them in a skillet. Cover them slightly with water. Cook 5 minutes or so in covered skillet. Depending on how much water is still in the skillet, you might to drain some of it out. Add soy sauce (I probably added about 1 TB) and mix. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle panko breadcrumbs on top and cook an additional minute or two, until the green beans are a little soft.  The crumbs probably could have crisped up more if I had less water, but this result was fine.

    Serve with chicken. I also threw in a corn on the cob because they are still in season and just really damn good.

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Food Porn: New York City Restaurant Week

    As I mentioned last week, I took a few days off work to travel up to New York and Connecticut to visit friends and family. My trip happened to coincide with NYC's Restaurant Week, which is so popular that it actually lasts 2 1/2 weeks. Nevertheless, being the foodie that I am, I was pretty pumped I would be there for it. I received a recommendation from a coworker who knew of a recent James Beard award winning pastry chef (she's classy like that) and that his restaurant may be a good place to go. I was lucky to score a reservation for said restaurant: Bar Boulud.

    But before that meal, I went a bit carb crazy. I hit up a great pizza place (though to clarify, NOT NYC-style) in my friend's Gramercy Park neighborhood and will admit, some bagels were consumed. Can I just say that NYC truly has the best Everything Bagels I've ever eaten. They put the good stuff...the salt, garlic, onion, you name it, ALL OVER the bagel. So it's like having a top of a bagel on the bottom as well. I don't have any evidence of those because seriously, I ate them pretty quickly.

    So here are play-by-play photos of my meal at Bar Boulud.

    First course was Braised Pork Rillette, Tomato Confit, Roasted Garlic, Zucchini and Crostini. The pork was pretty tasty and my best guess was that the zucchini was hiding out in the pork patty. This wasn't exactly what I was expecting when I read the description, but I cleaned by plate.

    Second course was Cavatelli Pasta, Hudson Valley Duck Confit, Roasted Tomato, Fennel and Breadcrumbs. This was my least favorite dish of the three. While the housemade pasta was the perfect amount of al dente, the duck was a bit tough. In the restaurant's defense, I'm hit or miss when it comes to enjoying duck so perhaps I should have gone with the fish.

    The third course was to die for. This was the James Beard award-winning dish I had heard about from my coworker and it failed to disappoint. This was a chocolate mousse, with hazenut cream and coffee ice cream. Yep, those our crushed oreos under the ice cream. Yes that is a caramel or butterscotch swirl around the plate. And my best guess was the little nuggets on top were candied hazelnuts. This. Was. Awesome. And I'm not a dessert person, so you know I'm not exaggerating. 

    And my most delectable morsel during my trip is one that is so sweet I could eat him with a spoon, my nephew Brayden.

    While he's still trying to learn to appreciate the whole "solid foods" thing, I think we have a foodie in training. Here, he is dining on a fine soda bread at Apricots restaurant near Farmington, Connecticut. He preferred this to the crunchier french loaf, which he admittedly dropped on the floor in disgust. Repeatedly. But this Irish soad bread? Nom Nom Nom. (and some other indecipherable grunts of appreciation)

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    New York City Bound

    I'm taking several much needed few days off to take a mini vacation up to NYC and CT to visit friends and family. While no doubt some of the highlights of my trip will be visiting my super awesome little nephew Brayden (who is still figuring out solid foods, but I'll make a foodie out of him yet!) and seeing Evita on broadway, I will also partake in some awesome food. I recently discovered that I will be up there for the NYC Restaurant Week, which is more like 3 weeks, but in any case, it will be awesome. I'll be sure to document the meal I've reserved at a James Beard award winning restaurant (hint: its the pastry chef!) and report back when I'm back in town.

    I'll also get back in the kitchen on a more regular basis as I've been slacking a bit with all the craziness at work. It will be good to prepare my own, healthier meals again and to save a bit of dough for my fall vacation...details coming soon.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Easy Stuffed Jalapenos

    A few weeks ago, I cooked dinner for my regular True Blood Family Dinner crowd. Usually, we are treated to the fine cooking of my friend from Louisiana who whips up gumbos, po boys, and other Southern specialities better than anyone I've ever met. But for this particular Sunday, I made fish tacos and stuffed jalapenos. The fish tacos I've made several times already and they are always a hit. These jalapenos were a new, quick dish. The hardest part was cutting a dozen jalapenos. These must have been the most potent peppers I've ever worked with as I could not stop the burning sensation in my eyes for a solid 30 minutes while I cut and gutted these. Once you get past that part, these are a piece of cake.

    Stuffed Jalapenos (makes 24 poppers)


    • 12 jalapeno peppers
    • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 1 1/2 cup of finely shredded cheddar cheese
    • 2-3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
    • hot sauce (optional)


    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Cut peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and membranes. Combine cheeses and bacon, spoon into the pepper halves and sprinkle with a couple drops of hot sauce, if you want a little extra heat. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.