Caprese Pasta

September 7, 2017 – 2:56 pm

This is a great late summer meal. Sometimes, we’ll add some sliced grilled chicken or garlicky shrimp or langostino tails for a bit more hearty meal, but this is great all on its own.


 photo 20170904_172019_zpseibfgonz.jpg

Caprese Pasta
Serves 4

8 oz dry linguine pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise then cut into chunks
2 cups cherry tomatoes, stems removed, cut in half
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, or your preferred method.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds, or until the garlic just starts to sizzle and turn fragrant. Add the zucchini and cook for another 2-3 minutes, when the zucchini is just starting to get tender. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss to combine. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the cherry tomatoes start to blister a bit and the zucchini is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta and toss to combine. Turn off the heat. Add the basil, oregano, and mozzarella, and toss to combine again. Serve warm.

Bierocks

June 4, 2017 – 6:26 pm

This German street food is one of our favorites. A bit time intensive, but worth the effort at least a few times a year!

Bierocks
Makes 15 bierocks, 6 dinner servings

2 tbsp canola oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 lb ground beef (I use 15% fat)
3 teaspoon kosher salt
3 teaspoon black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 large green cabbage, cored and shredded
30 frozen dinner rolls, thawed and allowed to rise per package directions (I use Rhodes)
All purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 15-20 seconds, until it just starts to turn golden brown. Add the ground beef, season it with salt, pepper, and onion powder.and brown it well. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the cabbage, and sauté until the cabbage is wilted down completely. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for 5-10 minutes.

While the mixture is cooking and then cooling, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Flour a board or pastry mat, form a ball with two of the rolls, and roll out each larger ball into a round approximately 6 inches in diameter. Fill with 4 tablespoons of the filling and pinch closed, sealing completely. Place the bierock seam side down on a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Space the bierocks with at least 1 inch between each one to avoid sticking. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake bierocks for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Mini Banana Bundt Cake

April 12, 2017 – 4:30 pm

This is just my favorite banana bread recipe, with half white sugar and half light brown sugar, baked in a little 6 cup bundt pan. It only took about 35 minutes rather than an hour. Winning all around!

Mini Banana Bundt Cake
Makes 1 small cake

Ingredients
3-4 small to medium very ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and spray a 6 cup bundt pan with non-stick spray.

In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until mostly smooth. Stir in the melted butter.

Add the baking soda and salt and stir to combine. Next, stir in the sugars, egg, and vanilla extract.

Lastly, add the flour and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool. Slice and serve.

Longevity Noodles

January 23, 2017 – 6:25 pm

Traditionally served for the Chinese New Year, longevity noodles symbolize wishes for a long and happy life. Be careful not to cut or break the noodles as you cook them, as the length is symbolic of the eaters’ lives! These are wonderful with skinless boneless chicken thighs as well (use 1 lb, cut into bite size chunks), but my favorite version is with shrimp. My starting point for this recipe was the excellent one provided by New York Times Cooking.

Longevity Noodles
Serves 3 generously

For the noodles:
18 ounces thin fresh stir fry noodles (often found in the produce department)
3 tsp toasted sesame oil

For the shrimp:
16 oz “jumbo” shrimp (I use U20 flash frozen pre-shelled and deveined that I’ve defrosted in cold running water and patted dry)
1 tbsp finely shredded ginger
2 tsp Shaoxing Chinese rice wine
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp soy sauce
Kosher salt
¼ tsp ground white pepper

For the stir fry:
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
16 oz thinly sliced cabbage and shredded carrots (coleslaw mix)
8 oz fresh shiitake or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced (remove the stems first if using shiitakes)
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp soy sauce

Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the package directions. Drain well, then toss with the sesame oil and set aside.

Mix the ginger with the Shaoxing rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, a good pinch of kosher salt, and the white pepper in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to combine. Let the shrimp marinate for 5 minutes.

Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large flat bottomed wok over medium high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic and stir briefly to infuse the oil. Add the shrimp, spreading them out into a single layer. Let one side sear nicely (30-60 seconds), then turn them over to cook the other side (about 1 more minute). Remove the shrimp to a clean bowl.

Add the cabbage and mushrooms. Stir fry until the cabbage is just starting to wilt and the mushrooms are turning tender, 1-2 minutes. Remove the veggies to the same bowl where the shrimp is waiting.

Add the other tbsp of olive oil and when it shimmers, add the noodles to the wok. Carefully toss and stir so that the noodles separate and get just a little bit of caramelization. Add the shrimp and veggies back to the wok along with the Shaoxing rice wine and soy sauce, and toss to combine well. Cook for another minute or two to bring the shrimp and veggies back to piping hot and meld the flavors.

Serve hot.

Mushroom Risotto

September 26, 2016 – 8:33 pm

Amazon had a great lightning deal on Instant Pot electronic pressure cookers. Several of my friends have been raving about theirs, so I finally hit the buy button. I gotta say, I do love it! We tried the kalua pork that’s in the instruction manual, which turned out as good as my all day crockpot pulled pork, but with about 90 minutes of cooking time. Today I tried my mushroom risotto. Normally it’s not something I’d try on a weeknight, but the recipes I checked out for the Instant Pot put it in the realm of possible, even with my little tornado of a helper. He was not interested in “mama’s mushroom rice” but we’ll give it another try sometime!

Mushroom Risotto
Serves 6

3 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb sliced crimini mushrooms
1 small bottle (187 ml) dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
2 cups uncooked arborio rice
4 cups chicken broth (I like Swanson Natural Goodness when I don’t have my own)
Kosher salt and black pepper
Shaved parmesan (optional)

Turn the Instant Pot to saute and add the butter. When it starts to sizzle, add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds until it just starts to turn golden. Add the mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook the mushrooms until they are just starting to brown and cook down. Add the wine and let the mushrooms cook down until the alcohol smell is almost gone and the wine is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes.

Add the rice and the chicken broth, stirring to combine. Season again lightly with salt and black pepper. Place the lid on and turn to seal. Turn the Instant Pot to Manual and set the timer for 6 minutes. It will come up to pressure over about 10 minutes, then it will count down the 6 minutes cooking time at pressure. WHen the timer reaches zero, carefully switch the top valve from Sealing to Venting for a fast release. When you are able, remove the lid and stir the risotto a final time. Serve warm with shaved parmesan cheese.

Apple Salad

April 30, 2016 – 4:17 pm

This easy salad comes together in a few minutes. The hardest part is chopping the apples. My recipe is based off of this one from AllRecipes.

 photo e2f38742-cf8f-4949-85ed-844b86d627b4_zpsnq9a4nfq.jpg

Apple Salad
Serves 4

8 oz vanilla yogurt (I like Stonyfield whole milk vanilla yogurt)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup craisins
4 medium granny smith apples, cored and chopped
1/4 cup seeded and shelled sunflower seeds

Stir together the yogurt, honey, and lemon juice until smooth. Add the craisins and apples and toss to combine. The salad can be made in advance up to here. Stir in the sunflower seeds just before serving so they stay crunchy.

Scalloped Oysters

January 4, 2016 – 8:15 pm

This is an easy and delicious way to enjoy oysters if the ones you have are not quite up to the quality needed for on the half shell. The buttery crunchy topping plays nicely with the plump juicy oysters. This serves 4 as a light dinner, or 8 as a small plate.

 photo 20160104_181531_zpslnp0bpqh.jpg  
   photo 20160104_181848_zpsaetz30na.jpg

Scalloped Oysters
Makes 4 servings

1 quart small shucked oysters
About 30 Ritz Crackers (or other buttery crackers), crushed
4 tbsp butter, melted
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place about half of the cracker crumbs in the bottom of an oven proof dish (I used a 9 inch pie plate). Evenly spoon the oysters over the top, draining most of the liquid. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with remaining cracker crumbs. Drizzle butter evenly over the top.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the liquid is bubbly all the way through and the cracker crumbs are toasted to a golden brown.

Serve warm.

Soboro Don (Japanese Chicken Rice Bowl)

November 18, 2015 – 11:43 am

This delicious and fast meal is perfect for week nights. My little rice cooker (Zojirushi NS-LAC05XA Micom 3-Cup(Uncooked) Rice Cooker and Warmer) has a timer so you can put rice and water in the bowl in the morning and have hot fluffy rice just in time for dinner when you get home. It’s an awesome feature.

The chicken is marinated in a sweet and savory sauce for a few minutes, then simmered over medium heat to get the fine grain before the heat is turned up to boil off the remaining liquid and get the yummy browned surfaces. The eggs are scrambled over low heat with constant stirring to get a similar small grain size.

Soboro Don (Japanese Chicken Rice Bowl)
Serves 4

For the chicken:
4 tbsp sake
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, grated
4 tsp granulated sugar
16 oz ground chicken

For the eggs:
8 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
4 tsp granulated sugar

For serving:
Cooked rice (I do two rice measure cups for 4 servings)

Whisk together the sake, soy sauce, grated ginger, grated garlic, and sugar for the chicken in a large skillet. Add the ground chicken and gently chop up the chicken with a spatula to stir the marinade in well and break up the chicken into fine chunks. It should almost look like oatmeal when you’re done. Set the chicken aside to marinate for a few minutes.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together with the sugar and salt until the mixture is a consistent viscosity and color. Set the eggs aside.

Put the skillet with the chicken over a burner on medium heat. As the chicken cooks, continue to stir to keep the pieces of chicken small. Once the chicken is cooked through (about 5 minutes), turn the heat up to medium high and boil off the remaining liquid, Brown the chicken well, then remove the chicken to a serving bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet and add a little non-stick spray. Turn the heat to medium low. Pour the eggs into the skillet and scramble, stirring often to keep the grain size small. When the eggs are cooked through, spoon them into another serving bowl.

Spoon rice into a bowl and add egg to one half of the bowl and chicken to the other half. If desired, garnish down the middle with some diced scallions, chives, or even green peas like I did. Serve warm.

Two!

August 24, 2015 – 10:54 am

I blinked, and our little guy turned two! We had a nice little dinner at home on the actual day (lamb chops, corn on the cob, and broccoli – some meal time favorites), and a party with friends at a local park this past weekend. Everything went very well – the kids had a blast playing on the playground, and the picnic shelter was perfect for the sandwich fixings, fruit, veggies, and of course cookies and cake. Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate with us and for those who sent wishes even though they couldn’t come!

Steven is a smart, funny, independent, adorable little fellow. He loves books of all types, animals – especially furry ones and most especially kitties and corgis, trucks, dinosaurs, Batman and Green Lantern (and the rest of the Justice League), and the Minions. He’s speaking in 4-5 word sentences and has very clear ideas about his needs and wants and how things should be. It’s been a blast watching him learn and grow, and now that he can express himself with words and have mini conversations, it’s even more fun!


 photo 2ndBirthdayInvite - Redacted_zps4ms9rqis.jpg
 photo 20150822_103627_zpsbrpvstwl.jpg
 photo DSC00769_zpshfgek7zq.jpg

Nectarot Upside Down Cake

July 18, 2015 – 2:01 pm

This delicicous cake is based off one I found via Pinterest. The buttermilk adds a subtle tang. The original recipe called for nectarines, but this would work well with any stone fruit. I used some of the surplus of nectarots (a hybrid of nectarines and apricots) in mine.

Nectarot Upside Down Cake
Makes 1 9-inch round cake

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
6-8 nectarots, sliced into 1 inch thick wedges (6 wedges per fruit)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, 4 tablespoons of the melted butter and eggs. Pour the liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Lumps are okay.

Pour the remaining 4 tablespoons melted butter into the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Tilt the pan until the bottom and sides are all coated. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter in the bottom of the pan. Arrange nectarot slices on top in a single layer, packing them together tightly.

Spoon the batter evenly over the fruit slices, then smooth out the top.

Place the pan on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow, then put the cake into the oven and bake for 35 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it, then turn it upside down onto a serving plate.

Serve immediately.