Thursday, August 28, 2008

Snack of Choice...for the Semi-Lazy

Lazy, lazy, lazy days for me. I've been going through a cycle of kitchen burn-out...or stressed-out. Not really sure which one at the moment. I have not cooked anything decent in awhile. Lately, when I get home, my first thought is "what do we have in the house that I can just heat up in five minutes." So, my kitchen has seen it's share of frozen pizzas, canned soup, and black beans and rice. Really...nothing interesting at all.

In the spirit of all that is lazy in the kitchen, I give you a recipe (as if it was really needed) for quick pita chips to dip into your store bought hummus. LOL!

Pita Chips (semi-homemade)

Leftover pita bread, cut into triangles
sea salt and pepper
olive oil

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the pita triangles on a cookie sheet. Spray or drizzle on olive oil to both sides. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper (or any other seasoning you'd like to add...paprika, cumin, adobo). Place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes so it gets toasty (but not burned!). Eat after it's cooled a bit with your favorite dip. Easy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hurricane Day Cupcakes

I did get my half of a hurricane day, so that means I did get to make cupcakes. Hooray for hurricane day cupcakes! Fortunately, good old tropical storm Fay barely made an entrance for us. We just had some wind and rain. Our trees are still intact and we did not have to camp out with candles or a boy scout camping stove.

I saw this recipe for cupcakes on Nigella's show this weekend. I have failed several times at making cupcakes from scratch. They always came out too dry and hard. This, on the other hand, is one of the best cake recipes I've used! The cupcakes were AMAZING! They were moist and slightly fluffy, but still dense enough that you could tell they weren't from a box. It yielded exactly twelve cupcakes, which is perfect because I didn't want to be eating cupcakes all week. It is just such a great and easy recipe to have.

For the frosting, I didn't make her royal icing since I still get a little weird about using raw eggs. I'm sure eventually I'll get over it. Instead, I made a lemon white chocolate ganache frosting. It was such a good match for the cupcakes!

Nigella Lawson's Cupcakes

You can find the recipe here.

A few changes I made: I added one tbsp of almond extract instead of one of the tbsp of vanilla. I also added another tbsp (or two) of milk to thin the batter out a bit more.

Lemon White Chocolate Ganache Frosting

1 1/2 cup good quality white-chocolate chips or shavings
zest from one medium lemon
juice from 1/2 the lemon
2-3 tbsp milk

Melt the chocolate chips using a double broiler (or a double broiler method). Once melted, whisk in the rest of the ingredients until smooth. You can add more or less milk depending on the consistency you want. Let it stand for about 10-15 minutes to thicken and cool before frosting cupcakes.

I've done this method with dark chocolate chips and oranges too, and I've added lime instead of lemon to the above recipe. Both are great versions of the above frosting!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back for Now

I actually did a bit of cooking this weekend...just a bit. My motivation is starting to come back and my mind is beginning to think about what new recipe I can try next. I have a Nigella cupcake recipe sitting on my kitchen counter hoping for a hurricane day. We are possibly getting one tomorrow- an itty, bitty one that is small enough to be of no concern but big enough to hopefully close work. A and I have survived several larger category three storms since we've been here and lucked out. So, a category one hurricane is really just a holiday for us. Hey, we tend to be optimistic.

On Friday, I finally had the urge to get myself into the kitchen. I decided to do something similar to this pasta recipe. I changed it up a bit, but it's still similar. It was very, very good. I wasn't sure how the canned clams would turn out, but it was really a great buy. If you don't like clams, this recipe would be tasty with shrimp too, or skip the seafood and just use an additional sausage.

Sausage and Clam Linguine
adapted from

1 package linguine
1 small can of clams (in salt and water only, no preservatives or additives), drained but saving 2 tbsp
2 tbsp of the clam water from can
2 small spicy turkey sausages (spicy Italian, chorizo, or similar), uncased
1 small onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1 1/2 cup good white wine
2 tbsp butter
1/2- 1 cup reserved cooked pasta water
juice from half a lemon
olive oil
dried basil
fresh parsley
salt and pepper
lemon wedges for serving

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large pan or skillet, uncase the turkey sausage and brown until cooked thoroughly. You may need to had a drizzle of olive oil since turkey sausage tends to be very lean. Once cooked, remove the sausage from the pan. Add another drizzle of olive oil to brown onion and garlic (add the garlic once the onion is partly cooked to avoid burning). After onion and garlic are browned and soft, add in the white wine, reserved clam water, some salt and pepper, and dried basil. Make sure you pick up the bits from the bottom of the pan. After cooking down the liquid for about 5-1o minutes , add in clams and butter. Simmer on low for another 5 minutes. Slowly add in reserved pasta water until you have a sauce-like consistency.Toss cooked pasta together with sauce, fresh lemon juice, and parsley. Drizzle a bit more olive oil if needed. Serve with a generous sprinkling of shredded Parmesan or Romano and a lemon wedge.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Busy as a Bee

I've been so busy lately. Busy with what? I'm not exactly sure but I know there has been a lot of "stuff" going on, which means hardly any cooking to document. I did make some disastrous ice cream cookie sandwiches that melted all over my freezer, along with a spicy eggplant stew that didn't have any flavor. I haven't quite figured out went wrong, but I have a list of suspects.

Hopefully this week I'll get to cooking SOMETHING good!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Garbanzo Love

I have fallen hard in love...with the wonderful and glorious chickpea! Beyond the relationship I have with hummus, I have now introduced the garbanzo to all sorts of new dishes. It's been great in salads, pastas, couscous- the possibilities are endless. I am a casual vegetarian (meaning I do eat white meat and seafood on occasion, when the mood strikes), so garbanzo beans are a nice addition to "beef" up a dish.

This recipe is absolutely a keeper! I love tapas and I have seen this stew on a few Spanish menus. It is easy to make and really could be eaten as a side dish, or as a main course with some crusty bread and cheese.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

You can find the recipe here.