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.