Monday, November 23, 2009

Changes are a-comin'!

So, it's been SOOOOOOO long since I've posted. It's been what...more than four months? I'm sorry dear internet for not posting (not that I have a long list of following fans) but there have been some changes in our little household. I'm about four months pregnant! Yes! Thus the lack of posting. With the first trimester blues, there hasn't been much cooking going on here. I was not only feeling sick most of the time, but extreme fatigue doesn't lend itself to much. We've been eating a lot of homemade pizza, jar sauce spaghetti (Newman's marinara is pretty good), and tacos. Very, very dull.

While I was going through some old photos, I did find one recipe I never posted! My brother and his lovely girlfriend gave me a vegetarian cookbook last Christmas. It has an absolutely delicious recipe for a very versatile peanut sauce. It is perfect for summer rolls or a quick dinner, which is what I used it for. At the time, I bought these beautiful Chinese eggplants from the farmers market. What better way to use them but in peanut noodles!

Hopefully this post will be start (again) of more to come!

Chinese Peanut Sauce
directly from The New Moosewood Cookbook

1/2 cup good peanut butter
1/2 cup hot water
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs sugar
3 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 to 2 tbs minced fresh cilantro
cayenne to taste
salt to taste (if needed)

1) Place peanut butter in a small bowl. Add the hot water, and stir patiently with a spoon or a small whisk until uniformly mixed.

2) Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Let it come to room temperature before serving.

for Peanut Noodles:

Toss peanut sauce with buckwheat (soba) noodles and your favorite veggies. I used sauteed Chinese eggplant, edamame, and roasted corn. It was very, very tasty!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Easy and Light for a Summer Evening

Lately, the hubby and I have been really trying to get life in order. We've been continuing to fix up the house, organize our "office" materials, exercise on a regular basis, and just get on a better routine. I think we've been pretty successful so far, but we still have a large amount to do. Unfortunately, there are just not enough weekends. I know you probably feel the same way.

However, there is always time for a peach crisp! After the scone-baking, I decided to make something a tad easier. This is a great dessert for a summer evening. It was quick, simple, and delicious (especially with a scoop of brown sugar ice cream)! You can probably use the same recipe with any fruit. Also, who doesn't love a peach crisp in an apple dish?

Summer Peach Crisp

1 bag of organic frozen peaches (or fresh if you have them) need enough to put a layer and a half at the bottom of your medim-sized baking dish
4 tbs of cold butter, diced, some to butter the dish
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup old fashion oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
pinch of salt
sprinkle of ginger and curry powder

Butter a medium-sized baking dish. Add about a layer and a half of frozen peaches, enough to not really see the bottom of the pan. In a separate dish, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, curry powder, and salt. Sprinkle all over the top of the peaches. Lastly, add and evenly distribute the butter pieces to the top. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mishaps in Baking

So, just when I thought I was on a roll with my baking skills I end up with a small baking mishap. It wasn't TERRIBLE...I mean it was still edible. It just wasn't what it was supposed to be. I know enough about cooking that I can usually fix what I think went wrong. However, when it comes to baking I'm seriously at a loss. I am purely at the mercy of the recipe I'm following.

For instance, I've made scones before. I actually made them a lot in Boston and they came out perfect and delicious. The last two batches I've made were barely tolerable. (Well, that's harsh...they were just not SCONES). The first batch I made a few months ago I threw out in frustration since the dough was completely useless. This most recent batch was better but they did not come out crumbly. They came out a little like spongy biscuits. Maybe it was the use of whole wheat flour? Maybe Florida humidity is no match for the scone? I haven't given up quite yet, though. I'll be trying again soon. First, I have to finish this batch.

Basic Scones
from Domino Magazine

1 lb all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup unsalted butter
4-6 level tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups of whole milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut the butter into little pieces, and rub into the flour with the tips of your fingers as quickly as you can. Sift in baking powder; combine. Add milk and mix lightly into a spongy dough. Knead very lightly to make the dough smooth and roll out 1/2" to 3/4"thick. Cut scones and let it stand for 10 minutes. Brush with egg or milk before placing on to a greased baking sheet. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes, then let cool.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Comfort Food- Pho

One of my favorite comfort food dishes is pho- Vietnamese noodle soup. One of my best college friends is half Vietnamese and she introduced this soup to me. I crave this soup when I'm unhappy; I crave it when I'm sick; I crave it when I don't want to eat at all. It is amazing how this one dish can make me feel better inside and out. It is also perfect after you've eaten poorly for a weekend and just need something light and satisfying. I usually force A to go out for pho, and he is kind enough always to indulge me. You see, he does not like brothy soup. I know! Who doesn't like soup? But, that is probably a whole other entry in itself.

After our anniversary trip to Amelia Island where we had AMAZING food (really, really amazing food like shrimp and grits and pulled pork pizza) my body just needed a moment to breathe. Instead of going to my favorite little Vietnamese restaurant, I decided to tackle this myself. I've been wanting to make pho on my own, but it always seemed so difficult. However, if you do my cheat way, it actually was really easy. I used store bought veggie broth and used all the pho spices to give it that little something. Add a little veggie and poached chicken, and voila! Yummy, comforting pho.

Deb's Pho in a Pinch

For the broth:

1 large box of organic veggie broth (no MSG!)
1 medium cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
2 star anise
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
sprinkle of salt
1-1/2 inch chunk of ginger

Bring broth to boil. Place cinnamon stick, cloves, and anise in a tea bag or tea ball and add to broth. (Or, you can do as I did and fish it all out later.) Add ginger, coriander, and five spice. Let broth simmer on medium-low heat, covered, for about 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

For the soup:

1 bag of medium-width rice noodles (cooked according to package directions)
2 poached chicken breast, pulled (I poached the chicken in chicken broth with ginger and garlic. I also added the broth from the chicken to the broth above to not waste it.)
Variety of veggies (shredded carrots, snow peas, mushrooms...anything is good)
Fresh shredded basil and cilantro to top it all off
Lime wedges

Arrange the soup as follows: noodles, broth, chicken and veggies, basil and cilantro, and lime splashed on top.

I like my pho with some sriracha and hoisin at the end to taste.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Little Bit of the South

Our little household is still suffering from some boring eats. Don't get me wrong, we are still eating the stuff we love- tacos, pizza, veggie burgers- but not many new and exciting dishes. I will fully admit that now that I have time to cook, I have been a little lazy. Well, lazy is harsh. I've been rejuvenating.

A recently went on a work trip to New Orleans and came back raving about the wonderful food he had. I am a bit jealous since I've always wanted to visit just for the food alone. One of my favorite things about the South is the food. From the deep south to the low country, the food is delicious. A and I had a chance to visit Charleston last year and just fell in love with the area. Since our vacation has now been cut down to a workcation (where we will stay home and fix our house), we have been playing with the idea of returning to Charleston for a weekend trip.

This recipe started with the idea of making gumbo and developed into a mish mash. Think gumbo meets shrimp and grits (one of my all-time favorite southern dishes) meets Italy!We ended up with polenta since we didn't have rice or grits, but it was perfect for the gumbo.

New Orleans Style Gumbo with Polenta

For gumbo:
3 link andouille sausage, cut into bit size pieces
1-1 1/2 cup of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 medium size onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1-1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp thyme or herbs de Provence
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

In a large, deep sauce pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted and a little bubbly add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Add a bit of salt and pepper since it's always better to salt and pepper as you go. Cook until softened. Put in a bowl and set aside.

Add andouille sausage to the pan and cook through. The sausages I used were precooked, so I it didn't take very long. Once cooked through, add in the cooked veggies (that were set aside), garlic, and sprinkle in flour. Cook until garlic and flour are browned. Add in chicken broth and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the bits from the bottom. Add can of tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, paprika, red pepper, worcestershire sauce, and a bit more salt and pepper.

Let it cook all together for about 20-30 minutes to let the flavors stew. Add the shrimp about 5-8 minutes before serving so shrimp isn't over cooked. Shrimp are ready once they are pink and curled.

For the polenta:

Follow the instructions on the packaging. However, I make it like oatmeal by just adding a little at a time while stirring it continuously. For more flavor, use broth instead of water, and toward the end add heavy cream and a pad or two of butter. Rice and grits can always be substituted.

Serve gumbo over polenta and enjoy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Monday Night Pasta

Okay, I have not kept up my end of the bargain and have not posted as much as I would like. I PROMISE to be better! Really!

So, now that I've apologized, let me tell you about the make-shift pasta I made. It was so good! The pasta was inspired by trying to use up some leftover stuff in my fridge (how most pastas are inspired in my kitchen). I don't really have exact measurements but I took my best guess at what I thought it could be. However, there really is no way to mess this up and you can add whatever leftovers in the kitchen. The key ingredient was really the organic veggie broth.

Monday Night Pasta

2/3 box of rigatoni pasta
2 cloves chopped garlic
8-10 medium crimini mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes
1/3 of an onion, chopped
1 cup of organic vegetable broth
olive oil
salt and pepper
small hand full of chopped basil
shredded Asiago cheese for the top

Cook pasta according to box directions

Saute onion in olive oil (enough to lightly coat pan). Once onion is softened, add mushrooms and garlic. Saute until onion is slightly caramelized, and garlic and mushrooms are browned. Deglaze the pan with vegetable broth, scrapping the bottom to get all the brown bits. Cook for about 5 minutes, until broth has become more condensed. Add sun dried tomatoes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add in cooked pasta. Serve with a good helping of Asiago cheese and basil.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Banana Bread Muffins

Lately, I've been baking more than I've been cooking. I'm not sure why that is the case, but perhaps it is easier to make the effort to make treats instead of a meal. Either way, it has been wonderful making time to do the things I love. In the next few months we'll be making some changes around the house. A and I will finally be making the effort to do the renovations we've been putting off for so long. Once those renovations start happening, especially in the kitchen, A and I may have to use his little boy scout camping stove in order to make dinner. That will be interesting! We've done it before when the hurricanes knocked out our power. So we can survive!

Until then, we'll see what I can do in the kitchen. These muffins were based off a banana bread recipe I found in one of my cookbooks. I made some alterations, which is reflected in the recipe below. They came out moist and delicious! They are really good with a swipe of whipped cream cheese too.

Banana Bread Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chunks
Adapted from Gifts from the Kitchen , Parragon Books

Makes 12 muffins.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup light sour cream
few shakes of cinnamon
couple handfuls of dark chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 35o degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Put aside

Cream eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add oil and vanilla, and mix well by hand. Mix in mashed bananas and cinnamon.

Add flour to wet ingredients, but alternate with adding the yogurt mixture. Finally, mix in the chocolate chunks.

Fill baking cups about 2/3 of the way. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Better than Starbucks

When I worked at Starbucks in graduate school, they sold these amazing molasses cookies. They were soft and chewy with a slightly spicy bite. They were such a treat! I've been craving these cookies and discovered that there isn't one Starbucks in our area that sells them. Did that stop the cravings? Of course not! Instead, I put on my baker's hat and decided to make some of my own molasses cookies. To my surprise (since baking is not one of the skills I have perfected yet) they came out delicious! They tasted just like the ones I love at Starbucks, but even better since I made them. These will definitely go in my cookie files!


Molasses Cookies
recipe directly from

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ground ginger together on a sheet of waxed paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together 1/2 cup of the sugar and the butter until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and ginger root and beat until light. Gradually add the flour, stirring until well blended. Cover dough and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

Form dough into one inch balls, rolling them between the palms until smooth and round. Spread remaining 1/4 cup sugar on waxed paper and roll each ball of dough in sugar. Place dough balls two inches apart on greased baking sheets.

Bake in the center of hot oven until tops are rounded and crinkled and the cookies are just beginning to color, about 12 to 14 minutes.
Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool. Store in tightly covered container.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Veggies and a Whole New Year

That's right...I'm FINALLY back! I took a hiatus from cooking real food for awhile and how I've missed it. My life has been so busy that most of the food at our house revolves around frozen pizza, black bean tacos, and soup. It's been boring and definitely not worthy of blogging.

Well, now I'm back and it's a whole new year with a whole new food outlook. One of my New Year's resolutions is to be a pesco-vegetarian again. So far, I have had to break it twice. Otherwise, I've been very good at sticking to it. In all reality, it hasn't been too hard to keep because we don't eat much meat in this house. A gets a steak every so often when he's out at a restaurant, but for the most part he has been a good sport about the whole thing.

Anyway, back to the blog. Yes, I am going to try and cook at least one interesting thing each week to post every Monday (at least). I'm going to start with this recipe I found at The curry ended up coming out pretty good. There are a few things I would change. I would add some Thai chilies to give it some heat. I would also change the whole coconut milk to a lighter version since the curry was a little rich. Add a touch more salt, and I think it's a tasty meal!

Cashew Curry

1 cup whole coconut milk
1-2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup water
4 ounces of tofu, in small cubes
1 cup green beans, in 1 in. segments
1 1/2 cup cauliflower, in tiny florets
1/3 cup roasted, salted cashews
handful of cilantro

1) Bring half of coconut milk to simmer in a large pot over medium-high heat.
2) Whisk curry powder and salt, working out all clumps.
3) Stir in onion and garlic, cook for a minute.
4) Stir in remaining coconut milk and water, then add tofu.
5)Cool down liquid a little before adding green beans and cauliflower. Cover and simmer until veggies are tender with a slight bite.
6) Remove pot from heat and stir in cashews.
7) Serve with a garnish of cilantro.