Moving my blog

…to my own domain name and stuff is up there in the top 3 HARDEST THINGS EVER (electronically speaking.) Phew. 

It’s, like, 2 am. My husband got all into it because he’s a computer guy. Apparently I can’t actually do anything to it for a few hours because it needs that time to update itself. Or something. lol :)

Anyway, if and when it ever gets fully updated, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, if it self-destructs and/or vaporizes, never fear. I will return. I think. ;-) 

Pina Colada Muffins

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First I’d like to thank Annie from Annie’s Eats for posting this recipe for Pineapple Muffins. Please visit her blog for the original recipe!

Mine became Pina Colada Muffins simply because I couldn’t find the yummy-looking yogurt that Annie used. Instead, I used Wegman’s brand Pina Colada flavored yogurt. They came out very good, but I agree with Anne that some shredded coconut would be a good addition. The pineapple flavor definitely overpowered the coconut 1/2 of the “pina colada.”

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I also decided this was a good excuse to use my new square silicone muffin cups from Wilton. Sadly, though, I filled them too much, and they sort of pushed themselves into a round shape anyway! Oh well. I learned something for next time. My husband thinks I should mix a little Malibu Rum into the glaze. I think that’s something we should try for dessert because I don’t know that I could handle rum for breakfast ;-) . I will update if it’s good.

img_0351(note the brown sugar clump that didn’t get dissolved in the glaze. oops!)

Chicken with Pancetta and Olives

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(Do you like the water bottles in the background? They’re waiting to be recycled. I get the best light next to my sink, lol.)

This was THE BEST chicken I have ever made, at least as far as bone-in, skin-in, roast chicken is concerned. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe (except for only making 1/2), so I will just direct you to the original recipe here: Roast Chicken with Pancetta and Olives, from Gourmet Jan 09 issue. There are some much better photos there as well. We were so hungry by the time I was ready to take pictures that I must admit I just took a few quick snap shots! We ate some of the chicken and removed the rest of it from the bones to reserve for other uses this weekend.

With it, I served the suggested Polenta with Franklin’s Teleme, again from Gourmet Jan 09. We used the recommended tip of subbing a combination of mascarpone and parmesan, since our local grocery store does not carry Franklin’s Teleme. I thought I didn’t like polenta, but apparently I was wrong. Definitely not the healthiest recipe, but SO GOOD!

I also served some steamed broccoli. I highly recommend this recipe!

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Quick dinner take 2

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Well, kind of quick. Less than 1 hour anyway, which to me is pretty quick! 55 minutes, to be exact. :) Actually, there were 2 main reasons this took longer than about 20 minutes: 1. I had to defrost the frozen shrimp, and 2. I decided to make Kasmati rice to with this diner, simply because we had it on hand and I love it!

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The original recipe that inspired this dish was from Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2009 issue. I halved the recipe and then added shrimp, rice, scallions, and some soy sauce. Here’s the basic idea:

Steamed Snow Peas and Peppers with Shrimp over Rice
adapted from Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 09; this recipe serves 2

Ingredients

  • handful of snow peas (the amount you’d like for 2 people)
  • 1 orange bell pepper (or whatever color looks good at the store that day)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • cooked white rice (I think this would be good with brown rice too)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (I used frozen because I had them leftover from another recipe; I’m sure fresh would be great too; for fresh, you’d probably have to adjust the cooking time a bit.)
  • scallions for garnish

Directions

  • Cook rice according to package directions (I used Kasmati, so I started this first because it takes 50 minutes. Yes, 50! 20 min. for the rice to soak in water, bring to boil, 20 minutes to simmer with lid on, and let sit 5-10 min. May seem like a long time, but I really really love it. A quick cooking rice would speed this recipe up drastically of course!)
  • Meanwhile, defrost shrimp in cold water if frozen. Devein if necessary, and remove tails. Sautee shrimp in a non-stick pan with cooking spray for a few minutes (until warmed for frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, or until cooked through, pink and opaque for fresh or uncooked frozen shrimp.)
  • Trim snow peas, and de-seed pepper. Cut pepper into strips. Put snow peas and pepper into a vegetable steamer above simmering water and steam for 4 minutes, or until tender but still crisp.
  • In a bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, vegetable oil, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • When shrimp and veggies are done, combine in one pan and toss with above vinaigrette. Serve over cooked rice. If desired, sprinkle some scallions on top for garnish, and add a splash of soy sauce (I used low-sodium soy sauce.)

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Had to include this photo because my camera started to steam up while I was trying to get it to focus, haha.  Maybe we can say the haze adds to the ambience of the photo? ;-)

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A 51 minute meal.

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Today I decided to try something new: I wanted to see how fast I could make an interesting, somewhat balanced dinner. Tonight my husband had rehearsal until 5:00, I was teaching lessons at home until 5:00, and we were both going to have to leave for a board meeting by 6:45. Although I know that’s plenty of time to whip up something for dinner (and eat it), on days like this I typically resort to a frozen pizza or even just snacking and then stopping for a bite to eat on the way home from the meeting (at about 9:00 pm).

Today’s solution: bite the bullet and just COOK. I figured if I didn’t finish in time it wouldn’t be the end of the world. As you can see, I started at 4:43. When I say I “started,” I mean I hadn’t done anything yet. This time includes preheating the oven, prepping all the veggies, etc., and also plating the food and setting the table! I really loved the combination of flavors. They reminded me of summer! I think it was the mint and lime.

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Spice-Rubbed Turkey Cutlets with Roasted Carrots and Minted Couscous
(adapted from Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2009); I made it to serve 2 *Note: original recipe calls for roasting turkey breasts with the carrots, but I wanted to speed up the process. I used cutlets instead.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into 2 inch lengths
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound turkey breast cutlets (very thinly sliced)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss carrots, garlic, and 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast 35 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Sprinkle turkey cutlets with cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Cook turkey cutlets until cooked through, a few minutes on each side.
  • In a small bowl, mix yogurt, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper. Serve on the side.

Minted Couscous (again, from Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2009. This recipe is listed “as is.” It serves 4. I halved it to make 2 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup couscous
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, torn (*I did not use the full amount because I was afraid the mint would overpower. It turned out to be much better than I thought it would be! I’m glad I took a chance. I would add the full amount next time.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Directions

  • In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in couscous; season with salt and pepper. Cover and, off heat, let steam in the pan, 5 minutes.
  • Add scallions, mint, oil, and lime juice; fluff couscous with a fork.

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Granted, our board meeting was canceled because of bad weather, but I decided to use the opportunity to see if I really could make an interesting, healthy dinner on a busy weeknight. Added bonus: more time to update the blog. :)

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I found it, I found it!

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I think I found my “go to” spaghetti and meatball recipe. I really love a good red sauce that tastes like it could be authentically Italian. I know taste is a matter of opinion, but I think this sauce had the perfect mix of flavors for me. I also love meatballs a little more than the average person probably should, and these were fantastic meatballs. I think the method of soaking the bread in milk made a difference (see instructions below.)

The recipe came from the Jan. 09 issue of Gourmet. It’s their cover recipe, actually, titled Spaghetti and Meatballs. I halved the recipe because I wanted to freeze leftovers, but not THAT many leftovers. The recipe here is listed “as is,” not halved.

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Spaghetti and Meatballs (recipe from Gourmet, Jan 09)

Serves 12 TO 16;  Active Time: 2 HR; Start to Finish: 3 HR  

FOR TOMATO SAUCE     

Ingredients       

  • (28-oz) cans whole tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano *I did find this kind of tomato, and I think it did make a difference in the flavor)
  • 2medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil *Use a good quality oil because this is really flavoring the sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • FOR MEATBALLS  

    Ingredients

  • 2medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cups torn day-old Italian bread
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 lb)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried, crumbled *I used fresh
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 1/2 lb ground beef (not lean)
  • 1 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • FOR PASTA

    Ingredients

  • 2 lbs dried spaghetti
  • ACCOMPANIMENT:

  • grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • EQUIPMENT:  

  • a 12- to 16-qt nonreactive heavy pot or 2 smaller nonreactive pots; a 6- to 8-qt pasta pot with a pasta/steamer insert for cooking spaghetti in 2 batches
  • MAKE SAUCE:

    Drain tomatoes, reserving juice in a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to juice. *I thought this would be a pain in the butt, but it was actually really fun.

    Cook onions in oil in pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, 4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt. *I did not add any more salt.

    MAKE MEATBALLS WHILE SAUCE SIMMERS:            

    Cook onions in extra-virgin olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.

    Soak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding milk.

    Stir together cooled onion mixture, bread, eggs, parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, 5 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 1/2 tsp pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not overmix).

    Form meat mixture into about 70 (1 1/2-inch) balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs on 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans.

    Heat olive or vegetable oil (1 cup) in a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown meatballs in 4 or 5 batches (without crowding), turning frequently, about 5 minutes per batch. Return to baking sheets.<

    Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. (If pot is not large enough, divide meatballs and sauce between 2 pots.)

    My sauce simmering away on the stove:

    PREPARE PASTA:             

    Cook spaghetti in 2 batches in pasta insert in boiling salted water (3 Tbsp salt for 6 qt water *I did not add this much salt) until just al dente, draining and tossing each batch with some of sauce in a large serving dish.

    Serve with meatballs, remaining sauce, and grated cheese.

    COOKS’ NOTES:                        

  • Meatballs can be made and simmered in sauce 5 days ahead and chilled (covered once cool).
  • Meatballs with sauce can be frozen in an airtight container or heavy-duty sealable bags up to 3 months.
  • RECIPE BY MAGGIE RUGGIERO

    I served the spaghetti and meatballs with a red leaf lettuce salad with homemade croutons (had to make use of the leftover day old Italian bread!) We had blue cheese dressing because it’s my husband’s favorite… so I cheated and used store bought. :-)

    I also made the Garlic Knots from “Amber’s Delectable Delights.” Thanks for posting, Amber! They were a huge hit. Here is the recipe with my modifications in italics. The source that Amber got the recipe from is listed too. Please visit her blog for some awesome pictures of how to tie the dough into knots!

    Soft Garlic Knots
    Source: I Heart Food for Thought adapted from King Arthur Flour

    Ingredients
    Dough

    3 cups bread flour
    1/4 cup milk
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 teaspoons instant yeast
    1-1/4 teaspoons salt
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
    Glaze
    2-4 cloves peeled, garlic
    2 tablespoons melted butter
    1/4 teaspoon Pizza Seasoning or Italian seasoning, optional *I omitted.

    Directions
    1. For the dough – In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the dry ingredients together then add the olive oil, milk and water *I heated the milk and water a bit together on the stove. Using the paddle attachment or dough hook, mix and knead to form smooth, elastic dough, adding additional water or flour as needed. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s doubled in bulk. *I mixed and kneaded by hand.
    2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces *For some reason, I got 11! I guess I don’t divide evenly well :), and roll each into a rope about 10 inches long; tie each rope into a knot. Place the knots on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for 45 minutes to about an hour, until very puffy looking.
    3. To make glaze – Unpeel garlic cloves. Chop the garlic in a food processor (or you can use a garlic press), with the melted butter.
    4. To bake – Bake the knots in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes *I let mine go for about 23 minutes because some of them were big. They were also kind of baking together because I used a small pan. They should be set, but only very lightly browned. Remove the knots from the oven, and brush or drizzle them with the seasoned butter. (You can reheat the butter briefly in the microwave, if it’s solidified).

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    My very first crepe…and a new bar?

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    …well, at least my first time making crepes. I have eaten them out at restaurants several times, and love them! Tonight, after our steak dinner we went shopping. We’re looking for something to put in our living room on an empty wall. First we thought maybe a hutch or cabinet of some sort, but we weren’t sure. So, off to Christmas Tree Hill we went, which is our absolute favorite place to shop for our house. We sort of have a modern country look going on. If you’ve never been to one, you really should go check it out. The website doesn’t do it justice! 

    Ok, I know I’m off topic, but I think we might get this to go on the big empty wall:

    It’s the perfect size for the wall, the perfect color, and when we walked up to it we thought “oh, nice cabinet!!” and low and behold… IT’S A BAR! Better yet, it’s a bar that doesn’t always have to look like bar. :) We love to entertain, and really don’t have a convenient place to put bottles of wine, glasses, etc. It’s a teensy bit damaged (not even noticeable, and very possibly fixable) so it’s like 50% off.

    Back to crepes! When we got home I decided to make dessert. I adapted this recipe from Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2009 issue: Crepes with Sauteed Bananas and Chocolate (sorry no link…it doesn’t appear to be up online yet!) Crepes totally weren’t as hard as I thought they’d be. My adaptations are in italics. Enjoy!

    Crepes with Sauteed Bananas and Chocolate (Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2009)
    Serves 6 *I halved the recipe, but it’s listed here “as is.”

    • 1 cup AP flour (spooned and leveled)
    • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon melted unsalted butter, plus more for skillet
    • 3 bananas, peeled and sliced
    •  1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

    1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center. Add milk, eggs, and 1 tablespoon butter *I made sure my melted butter was cooled before adding so it couldn’t start to cook the egg; whisk to combine. Cover, and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 1 day.)

    2. Preheat oven to 250; place a baking sheet in oven *I used the “warm” function in my convection toaster; I lined the baking tray with parchment just to be safe. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high. Lightly coat skillet with butter *I used cooking spray. Pour 1/3 cup batter into skillet, and quickly swirl skillet so batter evenly coats bottom. Cook crepe until edges are dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Loosen with a wide spatula, and using both hands, grip edges with fingertips and quickly turn over *If you move fast, this is not as hot and painful as it sounds!. Cook for 1 minute more. Slide onto sheet to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter (you should have 12 crepes.)

    3. Heat 1 teaspoon butter in skillet over medium. Add bananas and brown sugar; cook, stirring occasionally, until bananas are lightly browned on one side, about 3 minutes. *Here’s my big addition: my husband LOVES bananas foster, so here I added a splash of banana liquer and slightly larger splash of dark rum, and ignited. Fold crepes into quarters; top with bananas and chocolate *I melted the chocolate over simmering water in my double boiler.

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