Category Archives: Things I Love

Thursday Night Special

Thursday is becoming increasingly my favorite day of the week.  Blue Eyes has a very long day on Wednesday, so lots of weeks we don’t see each other from bedtime on Tuesday until he gets home from work on Thursday. 😦

In those weeks, Thursday becomes celebration time, and I often want to plan a special dinner for the two of us.  Tonight is one of those times.  I:m planning the menus around what I found  on sale in the supermarket this week: asparagus, veal cutlets, Marsala wine, and mushroom.  Plus I am having some staples I happen to have in the pantry and fridge: some Yukon Gold potatoes and heavy cream.

Thus, the menu is Veal Marsala, Potatoes Gratin, Roasted Asparagus, and an Apple Cake I’ve been wanting to try for some time. Now, the recipes:

VEAL MARSALA (This is for two generous grown-up portions)

3/4 pound veal cutlets

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper

2-3 T olive oil

8 oz sliced mushrooms (fresh, not canned)

1 large shallot, minced

3/4 cup Marsala wine

1/4  cup water

2T  chopped fresh parsley (can use 1T dried if you don’t have fresh)

2T butter

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet, make sure the veal is very thinly sliced. (If it is not really thin, pound each piece between two pieces of plastic wrap with a mallet or even a rolling pin.) Salt and pepper the veal and coat it lightly in the flour.  When oil is hot, saute the veal on both sides until light golden brown.  Remove the veal to a plate.  Add the shallots and mushrooms to the hot pan an saute until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms have given off their liquid.  Add the wine and water, scraping up any delicious brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add the butter and the parsley.  When the butter is melted and the sauce is deliciously glossy, add the veal back in and make sure the veal is heated through. This entire dish, once you turn on the heat under the oil should not take more than 10-12 minutes.

Pro tip:If you are making this with the potatoes and asparagus, do the veal last.

POTATOES GRATIN

I saw this recipe on a Jamie Oliver show years ago.  I never made those “Au Gratin” potatoes from a box again! This makes enough for two very hungry adults or two modest adults who sneak leftovers later.  Double or triple for a large family.

4-5 medium Yukon gold potatoes (or whatever kind you have, really!)

1 clove garlic, minced

8 oz heavy cream

1t dried thyme or 1T fresh if you have it

salt and pepper to taste

2 generous handfuls of shredded cheese, whatever kind you like (I use sharp cheddar).

Directions:

Slice the potatoes very thinly, use a mandolin if you have one. Put these in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, reserving about half of the cheese for later.  Mix it all up–use your hands if you’re like me. Put it in a casserole dish.  Make sure the dish isn’t too large, or they will dry out and you won’t get the delicious sauce effect from the cream. Top with the reserved cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes until bubbly and lightly golden on top.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS

This is a favorite way to use asparagus, because you get a slight caramelization effect from roasting it that you don’t get from steaming.

You need:

asparagus

olive oil

salt and pepper

Directions:

Wash and trim your asparagus, lay it in a single layer in a sheet pan, drizzle with oil, salt and pepper it, roast it for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the heat of the oven.  Since I am making this with the potatoes, (at 350) it will take a bit longer.  If I were roasting it at a higher temp (400) it would be done in about 10 minutes.  You can turn the spears over about halfway through the time, if you want.

Its all Greek to me…

I made  a pot of my new favorite soup today, to celebrate Fall.

I love to make soup.  My favorites are:

Chili, Chicken and White Bean Chili, Minestrone, Chicken Noodle, Vegetable Beef, Broccoli and Cheese, Potato,  White Bean and Sausage.

But my very new favorite is Avgolemono made with lemon, chicken, and rice. It is very delicious, fairly simple (although it involves a couple of steps) and does not require exotic ingredients–at least nothing more exotic than white pepper and lemons.  If you want to make a vegetarian version of this, use vegetable stock or soup base for the chicken soup base, and leave out the pieces of actual chicken.  As this recipe is egg-based, I don’t think there is a way to make it vegan.  This is so velvety and smooth, you will swear it is cream-based, but it is not.

Avgolemono

In a stock pot, combine:

10 Cups water

6T of chicken soup base or granulated boullion

1/2 large onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, grated (I do mine on the box grater)

1/2 t white pepper

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer (also known as BTBRTS in the foodie world).  Simmer for 20 minutes.  In the meantime…

Blend 8 egg yolks in the blender until light yellow in color. Carefully and slowly add about 2 cups of the soup mixture to the blender while it is on a slow speed.  This is to temper the eggs.  If you don’t do this step you will end up with scrambled egges in the soup. I learned this one the hard way.

Combine 1/4 C melted butter and 1/4 C flour until very smooth.  Add the butter/flour mixture slowly to the soup, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Then slowly add the egg mixture, stirring constantly.

Add 1.5 Cups rice and 1.5 Cups chopped chicken. This is a great way to use leftover rice or chicken.  I have to be honest–I didn’t measure the chicken.  I just poached a very large chicken breast, and then shredded it.

Delish!

You Just Might Smack Your Mama

Its that good.

And sooooo easy.

About a year a go I invested in a smallish slow-cooker, not the Lil’ Dipper, but the next size up.  It was on sale.

But you could make this recipe in a larger one, especially if you double it for a crowd.   This is very yummy.  Dangerously yummy.

You just might smack your mama. (Don’t worry; mine lives 350 miles away. She’s safe.)

Cheesy Corn

1 bag of frozen Corn (16 oz)

4 oz Cream Cheese ( I use reduced fat)

2T Butter

2T Milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the corn in the crock pot, season to taste, add other ingredients, stir to combine.  Cook on low for several hours.

You can also melt cheese, butter and milk together and pour it on the corn in the crock.  But if you are in a  hurry you don’t need to.

There are a number of variations you could make to this recipe.  I’m thinking you could add diced green chilis, onion, other cheeses.  (Goat cheese might make it fancy!)  Wht ever you do to it, prepare for ZERO leftovers!

And be nice to your mama.


I really do cook. And eat.

Holy cow!  I went and ignored this thing for a month???

But now I’m back, better late than never as they say.

I decided I would list my favorite ingredients, my favorite things to cook or include in dishes (in no particular order):

  • Lemons
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Fennel (bulb, not seed)
  • Wild caught salmon. NEVER the farmed stuff, even if it means I only eat salmon a couple of times a year.
  • Israeli couscous
  • Greek yogurt
  • Fresh thyme
  • Home grown tomatoes
  • Bacon
  • Red onions
  • Olives
  • Ponzu sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Butter lettuce
  • Beets
  • Fresh mint
  • Butter
  • Feta cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Raspberries
  • Puff pastry
  • Agave nectar
  • San Marzano canned tomatoes
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Whole peppercorns
  • Cannelini beans
  • Quinoa
  • Red potatoes
  • Cilantro

With a few notable and unavoidable exceptions, I keep almost all of these on hand all the time, plus some basic proteins, like chicken, pork tenderloin, occasionally beef.  This allows me to make a pretty simple and substantial dinner fairly consistently.

What are your must haves?  Are there ingredients you seem to reach for, over and over?

Delicious (Orzo I’ve been told…)

Orzo. That fun little rice-shaped pasta that finally can be found in organic, whole wheat form. (Yes, I’m trying to avoid teh white stuff.)

The nice thing about orzo is that like our other new friends quinoa and brown rice, it can take on a variety of delicious personalities.  Tonight we’re having is as a cold salad, with chickpeas and grape tomatoes.  Enjoy!

Orzo and Chickpea Salad

6 oz whole wheat orzo, cooked according to package directions and rinsed in cold water.

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

3T balsamic vinegar

1T olive oil

handfull of flat leaf parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, let “meld” in fridge for at least an hour.

We’re having this tonight with seared scallops.


Quinoa Tabbouleh

It may not be all that pronounceable, but it certainly is delicious!

Keen-Wah  Ta-Boo-Leh”

I’ve been a tabbouleh fan for years, and have used lots of different recipes.  I’ve come up with my favorite configuration of ingredients.  I’ve seen it made with as few as four ingredients, but  really like a variety of flavors and textures, so I go all out!

I am new to quinoa as an ingredient.  It’s kind of funky–its not rice, or wheat.  It can be adapted to recipes much in the same way rice or couscous can, taking on many kinds of flavor profiles.  It is high protein, high fiber, and very quick cooking.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

1 cup of dried quinoa, cooked according to package directions and cooled

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced.

4 green onions,  thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

handful of mint, finely chopped

handful of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped

juice of one lemon

3 T of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, and let the flavors “meld” in the fridge for at least an hour.  Just try to keep your mitts off it for that long!

Why Nigella Is My Foodie Girl Crush

We recently started getting the Cooking Channel.

Because really, one channel devoted to nom-nom-nom is not enough!

And I rediscovered Nigella Lawson.

Nigella has been around for a while.  Before Rachael, and Giada, even before Paula and Ina–at least their Television Careers.  There was Nigella, cooking in her London kitchen.

This gal has been around the block.  Married, widowed, married again.  Filthy rich.  Mother.  Looks like she has enjoyed her meals over the years.  Rocks a cardigan like nobody’s business.

She’s self-taught, and second career.  She cooks because she enjoys food, and according to sources, hates being referred to as a celebrity chef.  Because she’s not a chef.  She cooks, and talks, and people film it.

And beautifully filmed, it is.  Close-ups of the food, and the cookware, and the stove top.  Then of herself and whomever she is cooking for eating what she has cooked.

She tells a story about what she is cooking–gives the occasion for the meal.  Once it was hangover food after a pub crawl.  The episode I watched last night was about cooking foods her tweenage children would eat–a kitschy take on baked potatoes and chicken fingers and salad.

Plus, there is always dessert.  Even though I seldom eat dessert myself, I love watching her justify fat and calories.

Also each show ends with Nigella raiding the fridge for a midnight snack.

Another great dish she made on last night’s episode was pea soup.  Although she is filthy stinking rich and could easily make it with fancy expensive organic English peas, she made it with frozen peas from a bag.  Frozen veggies!  There is truly hope for the ordinary home cook like me.

I saw those frozen peas, and I swear, I fell in love all over again with this show.