Friday, October 26, 2007


I am all about dishes that are fast, easy, and bursting with fresh flavors. When I'm tired (which seems to be all the time lately) I sometime cave in and have A pick up a pizza or just eat a bowl of tomato soup with a grilled cheese...both always comforting and satisfying. Yet, sometimes you just crave fresh, simple ingredients. This is exactly one of those dishes. I love insalata caprese- an Italian salad that consists of tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil. I turned this love into a pasta dish for those days when a salad is just not enough!

Whole Wheat Linguine with Pan-Roasted Tomatoes and Basil Cream

1/2 box of whole wheat linguine
about 2 cups of cherry tomatoes
1 cup pesto
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tub bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
olive oil
salt and pepper (to taste)

1-1 1/2 cups fresh basil
1-2 cloves of garlic (I like mine with a lot of garlic, so adjust to your palate)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/8 cup of Parmesan
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients together with about two tablespoons of olive oil to start. Once you begin blending, start slowly drizzling olive oil through the top until it gets to the consistency to like. I prefer my pesto on the thicker side, but some people like it thinner. If you are not in the mood to make your own pesto, store bought pesto works just as well!

To assemble the pasta:
Cook linguine using box directions (make sure to salt your water!). In a medium size pan, add olive oil and roast cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper just until they start to split. Take off heat and let them cool. In the meantime, mix pesto and sour cream together. Then, toss noodles, tomatoes, and mozzarella all together and top with a generous scoop of basil cream mixture. This dish is best eaten at room temperature.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mushy and Tasty Mess

I have no picture for this recipe because the pictures that I did take show that the meal had turned into a mushy mess. I decided that even though my experience with this recipe was not wonderful, someone else may have a better one. Unlike the other previous botched up cooking attempts (for example, Cooking Light Shrimp Curry mishap) I actually DID follow the recipe this time, measuring everything out as carefully as I could, and still I seemed to foul it up. The flavors in this recipe are good- I like the lemon, olives, and oregano. However, the proportion of orzo to chicken stock is in question (or it may be my fault too, which is very likely). Orzo tends to turn out somewhat creamy by itself, considering it is the rice for risotto. However, when I took the dish out of the oven, the orzo was not only creamy but almost melded together and stuck. It looked like golden oatmeal rather than rice. A loved it since he claims to like "mushy" things in general. I thought it tasted good although I did not enjoy the texture. However, I still brought it to work for lunch.

Chicken and Orzo with Lemon and Olives
*from Wednesday Chef

8 chicken drumsticks (I used six boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
Salt, pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups orzo
3 cups chicken broth
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives (I used Spanish olives to cut cost)
1 large bay leaf
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, divided (I used 1 tablespoon of dried oregano)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken legs well on all sides with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

2. In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the legs well on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan.

3. Add the orzo, chicken stock, garlic, lemon wedges and juice, olives, bay leaf and 1 tablespoon of the oregano. Stir to combine all the ingredients, then return the chicken to the pan. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is done (the meat will be firm and its juices will run clear). Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, sprinkle with the remaining oregano and serve.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Looking for Inspiration

So, I've been a little MIA in the kitchen the past few days. Between work and rest (yes...or laziness may be a better way to put it) I just haven't had the time to cook. I do have several recipes in the works for this week, so those posts will come. However, I thought I'd start an "ideas" list on this blog. This list will be all the recipes I have on the back burner and will, hopefully, make their rotation into my kitchen. I admit, I am not a good cook in the sense of creativity. I rarely (there have been a few occasions) have been able to look at a set of ingredients and come up with some magical dish that is purely my own. My way of cooking? I take other recipes from cooks, websites, magazines, etc. and make a few of my own changes to them. If you notice, most of the recipes you find here are from other places. Maybe someday this will give me enough practice to be my own food artist and create a masterpiece. Until then, I'm happy to use the wisdom of others to please my stomach! Check out the list of recipes that I'll be trying soon, and maybe you can find one to try!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Simple and Delicious- Dessert

I would say that I have a very slight sweet tooth. For instance, I love having something sweet usually after dinner or whenever I'm drinking my afternoon coffee. I only like a little of that something- just enough to cure the craving and not too much to make me sick. One evening while I was scouring my kitchen for some type of dessert makings I put this yummy dish together. Talk about simple and delicious! This is now one of my top ten favorite desserts and it only has two ingredients- vanilla bean ice cream and raspberries. The tartness of the raspberries balance perfectly with the creamy sweetness of the ice cream. It is just divine!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Raspberry Sauce

1 small scoop of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream (I like Breyers- all natural!)
1/2 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries (Fresh raspberries could work too, but I always have frozen ones in my freezer. They work perfectly!)

Put frozen raspberries in the microwave and heat for about 1 1/2 minutes. It should be slightly warm (not hot!) and soft. Take a fork and smash the raspberries until they are a thick sauce. No need to add anything else- just pour over vanilla ice cream and eat. The warm raspberries should just melt the ice cream a little leaving swirls of pink and white. Optional: You can also top with roasted walnuts for a crunchy addition.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

When Life Hands You Bland Curry...

Well, life really didn't hand me bland curry...Cooking Light did. And even so, I can't blame Cooking Light entirely for a not-so-tasty recipe since I didn't follow it. In my rush to make the curry, I had to use frozen shrimp. I was supposed to thaw it and then marinate the shrimp in the coconut curry sauce. After marinating it, the shrimp had to be steamed in a wok. Long story short, I didn't do any of this and ended up with what could only be called shrimp curry soup. I put too much coconut milk and added a touch of chicken broth. It was okay- not completely inedible. It just was boring.

Well, I didn't want to throw out a whole batch of curry "soup" and rice. What a waste that would be! With a little bit of creativity I actually came up with this recipe, which is much better.

Coconut Curry Shrimp Fried Rice
*adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 can light coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 small red pepper, diced or sliced into thin strips
1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce (or pad thai sauce)
1 tsp honey or brown sugar
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped salted and roasted cashew
3 tbs olive oil
a sprinkle of chopped green onion
1-2 cups of cooked basmati rice
Lime wedges

To make the curry sauce:

In a medium pot, saute red pepper with 1 tbsp of olive oil until softened. Pour in coconut milk and chicken broth and heat together until a light boil. Add lemon juice, fish sauce, honey, curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Let the whole sauce simmer for about 15 minutes on medium low until all the flavors have melded together. Add in shrimp and cook shrimp until pink.

To make the fried rice:

In a wok, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add in cooked rice. Stir fry rice for about 3-5 minutes. Add in curry sauce slowly, one ladle at a time, to make sure the rice is not soupy. You want the curry to just infuse flavor through the rice, having no extra liquid settling at the bottom. Stir fry all together, adding the cashews toward the end. Take off heat and garnish with green onion and lime wedge. Optional: Add in an egg at the very center of the wok half way through the process, scrambling it in the center as you cook the rice.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Simple and Delicious

I like dishes that are really simple to make but packed with layers of flavor. When Aaron and I went to visit our friend Shannon, she made us this wonderful sofrito dish. Her dish had the addition of pieces of fish and scallops, which I definitely recommend. However, since we had no seafood in the house (for the exception of some curried shrimp that turned out less than great-story and better recipe to come) I kept my dish vegetarian with just beans, rice, and sofrito. If you are not a seafood lover and need the addition of some meat, chicken would also work nicely. Thanks Shannon for a wonderful meal and a recipe to add to my collection!

Sofrito Dinner
*adapted from our friend Shannon's recipe

1 bag VIGA yellow Spanish rice (cooked according to directions on the back)
1 can black bean (heated) *I season mine with about a tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, and a splash of lime for added flavor

For the Sofrito:
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced or cut long and thin
1 cubanelle pepper
1/2 a lime
*1 tsp of adobo chili (optional- I added this to give the sofrito a spicy and smokey undertone)
paprika (to taste)
olive oil

To make the sofrito, coat the bottom of a pan with a small amount of olive oil (about a 1-2 tbsp) and saute the onions on medium heat until they are slightly caramelized and translucent. Add the garlic and cubanelle pepper. Saute all together until ingredients are softened. Add crushed tomatoes and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Add in 1-2 tbsp paprika (to taste), adobo chili, lime juice, and salt and pepper (again, to taste). Let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Serve on top of black beans and rice.

If you are adding protein (seafood, chicken, pork), cook separately and season how you like. Add on top the above dish.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I finally had a day off yesterday and I must say I really did need it. I feel I've been running on empty for a few day now, so having two days off from Sbux is giving me time to refuel for the weekend. Having said that, I now have time to post a few recipes and cook a bit more.

There is just a hint of Fall here in Orlando. When I walked outside this morning to my car, the air was little cooler than usual. I am so glad! It has been too hot here for too long! So, as promised the other day, here is my recipe for apple spice muffins. Since I used whole wheat flour and one cup of sugar less than most recipes, the muffins were not only healthy but substantial. It is great with a swipe of honey butter!

Apple Spice Muffins

3 cups whole wheat flour (or 1 cups unbleached flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 apples (your favorite apples of the sweeter variety) chopped and diced
1 handful of chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line your muffin tin with liners

Whisk or sift together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients and mix well with a wood spoon or spatula. Stir in chopped apples and walnuts. Batter will be very thick and sticky!

Divide muffins in muffin tin. They will not rise very much, so you can fill them about 2/3-3/4 high. Bake for 25 minutes and test with a toothpick (or chopstick for me) to make sure centers come out clean .

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fall and Pumpkins

Fall is usually my favorite time of year- the air gets a little criper and the leaves start to change. I love that first evening when you have to grab your sweater and need to where shoes instead of summer sandals. In Orlando, sadly it has not felt like Fall. It is still too hot during the day, even though the evenings are a cooler 85 degrees. It really makes me miss days in Boston.

*photo from

With my new schedule of working two jobs, I don't have as much time to cook as I used to. I'm lucky these days to get two days a week to make an actual dinner rather than eating a bowl of cereal when I get home at 11:30 at night. This weekend I did wake up early Sunday morning to make some apple spice muffins to welcome Fall and October (recipe to be posted hopefully tomorrow). So until I can post tomorrow, I leave you with one of my top five favorite things about fall: the pumpkin patch. I actually don't like pumpkin in dishes (yes, even pumpkin pie is not a pie I choose to eat) but I LOVE going to the pumpkin patch to get my Halloween pumpkin. I like to walk around and inspect them all before I choose one to take home. I like that each pumpkin is so different from one another in texture, markings and patterns. For me, it is truly an amazing sight to look out among all the pumpkins placed on tufts of hay. It just reminds me that there are things to be excited about still- even if they are small.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Classic Comfort Food (for me at least)

The weather has been dark and rainy lately. I wish I could say it was colder, but here in Orlando, Florida it is still a balmy 90 degrees. Even so, I still love gray days when you can hear the sound of the rain and thunder. It is almost relaxing and perfect for a bowl of veggie chili! This chili is based on my best friend Mel's dad's recipe. It was a favorite of mine and has become a "usual" in our house.

Veggie Chili
*adapted from Mel's dad's recipe

1 16 ounce can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 larger size can (I think it's a 20 ounce can) of chili beans in zesty sauce
2 16 ounce cans of diced tomatoes, with green chili and/ or in chili ready sauce
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 small garlic clove; minced or pressed
1/3 can or bottle of your favorite beer
1 small box of frozen corn
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp worschestire sauce

In a large pot, saute onion, garlic, and diced bell pepper in olive oil until tender and slightly brown (not burned!). Add in beans, can tomatoes, and beer. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add cocoa powder, chili powder, cumin powder, brown sugar, and worschestire sauce. Let it all simmer together for another 30-40 minutes. Five minutes before serving, add in the frozen corn. Once all the flavors have infused in each other and the corn is heated, serve with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream. Also works great with cheese quesadillas on the side!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


So, my first no-pasta meal was a very delicious concoction. I know, I basically replaced bread for pasta. Since A and I don't eat much meat, it is so much easier to use starch to bulk up a meal. Either way, this was a fabulous dinner and I am definitely adding this to my list of nightly meals. It was easy to put together and you can experiment by adding different ingredients (such as leftover veggies) to make it a whole new creation. I love versatile dishes!

Tomato, Goat Cheese and Feta Strata
*Adapted from Food and Wine

4 large eggs
1/2 cup low fat or nonfat plain yogurt
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (basil would also work nicely)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium thinly onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried sage
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, Italian style (with garlic, basil, and oregano)
5 oz. of whole wheat artisan peasant bread, cut into 1 in. cubes
1/4 cup feta
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, then whisk in yogurt and parsley. Add salt and pepper (a few pinches of each). In a pan cook onion in olive oil until slightly caramelized, then add in garlic, sage, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. When garlic is slightly browned (not burned) add whole can of diced tomatoes with juice and stir together. Take pan off of heat and add in the bread cubes. Mix all together so that each piece of bread is coated in the tomato mixture.

Spray a medium size baking dish (close to 10x10) with non stick spray and add bread mixture. Pour over the egg mixture and goat cheese and mix lightly to be sure the egg and cheese seeps through all the cracks. Top with feta and bake for 20 min until golden brown. Let it cool slightly and serve.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Tribute with Pears

This recipe is a twist on one I took from A's Great Aunt B. Great Aunt B was an amazing woman and one of my absolute favorite people who I feel very privileged to have met. Sadly, she passed away this year, making the world a little less nicer to live in. Before we officially moved to Orlando, I was lucky enough to live with Great Aunt B for a few months while A was finishing up things in South Florida. During that time, she showed me a recipe for curried fruit that was absolutely delicious. It was warm, sweet, spicy and drizzled all over vanilla ice cream. I never thought of making a dessert with curry and fruit together, but as I was researching it on the internet I discovered this dish is actually very southern. Who knew? (I honestly would never have guessed since curry seems so exotic for the South). It did sound a bit strange to me at first, but it really is one of the best desserts I've had. So, here's to Great Aunt B! This recipe is typically made with a can of fruit cocktail (which is equally delicious), but I decided to use fresh pears and a little less sugar to make a guilt-free version.

Curry Poached Pears

2 firm pears, peeled, halved and cored
2 cups water (OR 1 cup water and 1 cup of good white wine)
1/2-1 cup brown sugar (I don't like it as sweet, but some may)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp curry powder

To prepare the poaching liquid, bring the water (or water/wine mixture) and brown sugar to a boil then lower heat to about medium. Add cinnamon, ginger powder and curry powder. Keep it on a low rolling boil for about 5-7 minutes until everything is dissolved and mixed together. The liquid should be a little thicker, but not syrupy. Next place pears with flat halved side down. Poach pears for about 30-40 minutes (depending on how firm your pears are), flipping them half way through so the whole pear gets poached evenly. The pears should be fork tender. Once they are done, let them cool for several minutes. Then serve with vanilla ice cream and toasted walnuts.

Monday, October 1, 2007

No-Pasta Week Begins

So, this week as a challenge I will make no pasta dishes. This is going to be very hard! I'm headed to the grocery store tonight with no idea of what to make....I need to start thinking now! Since I'm starting my second job this week, there will only be a few nights I'll be able to actually cook a meal. That makes it a bit easier...