Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thai-riffic Pizza

Another Rachael Ray recipe - Thai Chicken Pizza (Expresslane Meals). I tried to get pizza dough from the local pizza place but they would sell just the dough. Instead, I made pizza dough in the breadmaker. It definitely meant the recipe wasn't done in 30 minutes but it was worth it. Zeb found a great recipe online that includes olive oil and honey - so tasty! I usually use cornmeal on the baking stone to keep the crust from sticking. I was out of cornmeal so I used semolina flour instead - it worked even better. The pizza crust was baked with duck sauce, red pepper flakes, monterey jack cheese and sliced red bell pepper. While the pizza was cooking, I marinated chicken breast, which I flattened with a meat mallet, in tamari, vegetable oil, grill seasoning and peanut butter. I also marinated sliced cucumber in honey and cider vinegar. I sauteed the chicken and then sliced it into thin strips. Once the pizza came out, I loaded on the chicken, chopped scallions, bean sprouts, the drained cucumbers and peanuts. The thing was huge! Having spent so much effort (but little real time) putting the thing together, I couldn't face slicing it up so I turned the carving duties over to Zeb. My slice was a bit too tall and loaded to eat with my hands so I ended up eating the different parts separately. The chicken was a bit too salty. Next time, I think I'll lighten the amount of tamari and add more peanut butter. Still, even with the saltiness, it was a damn yummy pizza.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Easy Strawberry Empanadas

I don't do it often but tonight I made dessert - Easy Strawberry Empanadas (Intercourses cookbook). It's such a simple recipe but it's one of Zeb's favorites. The filling is just cream cheese, brown sugar and chopped strawberries. The crust is refrigerated crescent roll dough. When they come out of the oven, it's all about the hot creamy strawberry goodness.

Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Stoup

Tonight was a soup night - the weather threatened to turn into rain and it was actually cool (for Sacramento in the summer). I made Rachael Ray's Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Stoup from her 365 Meals: No Repeats cookbook. She does alot of cutsie things (like calling a cross between a stew and a soup, a stoup) but, damn, she comes up with some tasty dishes. This cookbook has been amazing. Of the 20 or so recipes I've tried, probably a third have been spectacular, one or two have been so-so/not good, and the rest have been welcome additions to the rotation. I've pulled out more than 150 (I can't remember the exact count) recipes to try. Definitely a worthwhile purchase.

The stoup this evening was quite good - the chicken was sauteed with cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and chipotle chile in adobo sauce (which gave it a nice heat). Vegetables were thrown in next (onion, fresh corn, and red bell peppers). A little flour and chicken broth rounded out the base. Black beans were added before a simple simmer. Lime juice and parsley (the recipe called for cilantro but given Zeb's abhorrence of that herb, I substituted) finished it off.

This is one that I might taken into work as a leftover. I supremely dislike leftovers but this might be an exception. Soups are usually pretty good the second time around.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Welcome Back to Me!

Gotta love procrastination! I have a number of different assignments that should be getting done but I just can't help myself. Made an awesome dinner this evening which reminded me of my blog. Flank steak marinated in Moroccan spices (Sunset) and roasted potatoes w/ parmesan and oregano. The potatoes were supposed to be Greek-style Lemon Potatoes (Sunset) but somehow, I forgot the fresh oregano and feta. The replacement though was quite tasty. Sliced potatoes tossed with olive oil, dried oregano, parmesan, salt and pepper, baked at 450 degrees for 45 minutes with slight interruptions for stirring. The potatoes achieved a lovely crust that hid creamy starchy goodness inside. Not bad for winging it! Zeb raved about the flank steak - an underrated cut of meat in my mind. The marinade was a vinegar base with coriander, paprika, cinnamon and a few other spices mixed in. I didn't overcook the steak either (something I have done in the past). It's rare when I hit two recipes out of the park!

Monday, September 12, 2005


Today, I left work on time (early?) and drove to the grocery store. I had my list out to get everything for two weeks worth of menus. The grocery store was pitifully understocked such that when I got home, I realized that I was missing 4 key ingredients for the meal I had planned for tonight. I then moved to another recipe only to realize that it was already 8pm and it called for a 2-hour marinade. It's enough to leave a girl depressed.

When it comes down to it though, I have been so busy lately with work and all, I haven't had a moment to catch my breath. I don't know if this is just how things are going to be but, I think, for the foreseeable future, I'm not going to be posting anymore. There are just other things I need to spend time on.

Signing off...

Monday, August 01, 2005

The South meets the Southwest

Last night, I made South by Southwest Catfish with Guacamole Aolii (Southern Living) and Fruity Black Bean Salsa (also Southern Living). The catfish fillets were breaded with crushed tortilla chips and fried. I got the dense corn tortilla chips so the crust was super crunchy. Next time I make this though, I'm going to add more spices to the breading. There was a bit of coriander but that was it. Catfish is a dense and rich fish but needs to be matched with zestiness or else it just tastes heavy. Need to kick it up a knotch with my spice weasel. BAM!

The fact that the catfish needed more spice was more than compensated for by the Guacamole Aolii. I blended together avacado, cream cheese, mayo, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper. The recipe called for putting a dollop of the aolii on the catfish and then topping the whole thing with canned diced tomatoes with chiles. Instead, I mixed the tomatoes into the aolii. Oh. My. God. I have my new favorite dip that I will take to every party from now until I die. This stuff was fabulous!! Zeb and I were snacking on chips and this dip before the catfish was even ready. Highly recommended.

The Fruity Black Bean Salsa was heavy on the chopping but worth the effort. It had black beans, avacado, papaya, jalapenos and red bell pepper. So colorful! It was dressed with a dressing made with the juice and zest from one lemon, honey and salt. It made a great side. Score one for Carlyn's side picking!!! Planning ahead, I can handle. Coming up with a side on the spur of the moment...not so good.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Premptive Poundcake

I'm not really a baker. I don't have the patience or the attention to detail required to make really good baked goods. However, my mother-in-law is coming into town on Wednesday and she is a fabulous baker. We recently got a new gas oven and, while I've already tried out all the cool features of the stove (Power Boil rocks my world!), I hadn't yet baked anything. Well, I baked the coconut curry chicken but that, in my mind, is cooking not baking. So yesterday, I got ambitious and baked a chocolate swirl poundcake. Actually, it's my mother-in-law's recipe but I've made it several times before and it usually turns out quite well. Gas is so cool - the oven glows! The poundcake came out great - I had a slice for breakfast (back to the bad eating habits - oh well). At least now, when my mother-in-law pulls out all this great stuff out of the oven, I'll know I tried it first.

Two meals of mac and cheese

It never fails. If I don't have something planned and Zeb's gone, I eat absolute crap. Yesterday for lunch I had Kraft Mac and Cheese. For dinner, I boiled up some macaroni and melted cheese on it in the microwave. It's lunchtime now and I'm thinking about doing it again.

A new kitchen

One of the hard things about moving has been that I haven't yet gotten the hang of the new kitchen. There's more storage but there doesn't seem to be as good counterspace as we had in the last house. I'm finding it difficult to carve out a functional prep area. The space in the center of the kitchen is quite large so I think we're going to look into getting an island to expand the prep area. I'm going to check out Target and Crate and Barrel. Any other suggestions?

Balsamic and Blue Cheese overload!!!

Zeb's been out of town so I had some friends over on Friday to keep me company. I made Balsamic Blue Cheese Portobello Burgers (Southern Living). The recipe called for big portobello mushrooms but the ones at the store were absolutely pitiful so I went with the baby portobellos instead. After scraping out the gills, I marinated the mushrooms for about an hour in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. The recipe called for the mushrooms to be grilled but, since we haven't set up the grill yet, I cooked them on the griddle insert on my new gas stove. After about two minutes on each side, I topped the mushrooms with blue cheese and let the leftover heat melt the cheese. I put the mushrooms on toasted buns with mayo and a tomato slice. For sides, I threw together a salad with balsamic vinegarette and toasted walnuts and balsamic and blue cheese polenta. Much better pairings than my coconut curry chicken and garlic orzo of last week. I'm slowing getting the hang of this side dish thing.

The burgers were great. I paired them with a 2003 Montevina Barbera which was quite good.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hamburger Soup

Yesterday, we got the crockpot working for the first time since the move. I've been dying to try out all of these recipes out of Mabel Hoffman's Crockery Cooking since I got it and I think I've only tried 3. Last night we had Hamburger Soup (pg. 31). I don't know if it the cooking style or the recipes but crockpot meals always feel a bit one-note. The soup was a good one-note however. The ground beef crumbled nicely and Zeb put it enough black pepper for it to reall have a zip to it. The macaroni made it quite filling. I added a little cornstarch because it was too soupy for my tastes; I tend to like these things a bit heartier. I wish I had picked up some sourdough or french bread - this was a good sopping soup.

Finished off the Husch 2001 Chardonnay. I'm not a big Chardonnay fan - I don't like the oak notes but this one was tasty. I actually liked it better the second night than the first. Go figure!