Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Does this ever happen to you?

Ok, first off, I posted some pics from the holiday party if you are interested, check out that old post.

Ok, so this happens to us much more frequently than it seems like it should.

Last night Matty was doing his sit-ups and says "Hey, can I ask you something?" and I say "Uh huh" and keep doing what I was doing, at the time, Christmas shopping online for my godson. And he says "Does that hole in the wall look familiar?"

Now, generally walls are things that should not have holes. Especially unfamiliar holes. In my opinion anyway. Plus, the way he was looking, I didnt remember there being a hole there.

So I look up and there is in fact a hole. But not a wall-crumbing-down hole. A man made hole. With an open metal box and red wires inside (and hanging out) of it. Near the ceiling, behind the couch. A hole. With wires. The only thing we know that is supposed to be done in the apartment is a light being put in the ceiling of the shower. This is directly below the shower. But below. And there are lights in the bathroom. So why would a hole need to be made in the living room wall? Plus, we were told that no work would be done in the shower until after the new year. AND all the recent work that has been done in the apartment has been messy. But there was no new drywall dust, no moved furniture.

So I was generally freaked out.

But here's the thing. This isnt the first time something like this has happened. Back when the first hole was made in the living room ceiling to "fix" the shower leak we (me and our landlords) moved the couch in order to put a ladder up. And there was a 1 foot by 1 foot piece of carpet missing. From under the couch. We later found out that it was because an idiot insurance agent took it. When the first plumber came out to look at the shower, we found a hole in the ceiling where he apparently stuck his finger through the soft spot made by the drip. We came home one day from work and found that the tree that used to be behind our backyard fence was gone. As was the fence.

Does this happen to other people? Things disappearing. Or appearing in their apartment?

Ok, so when I uploaded the picture I noticed the weird discoloration of the paint. You cant see that just looking at it. So did they put in a hole, and then repaint and somehow manage to not completely destroy our couch?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Party 2009

I know it has been forever, but I have been really busy. With so many things. One of the things I have been most busy with recently was my holiday party. I look forward to this party all year. I start planning in August. I sent out the invitations in October. I start setting my menu in November (only because Matty cant handle me doing it earlier) and it is set by Thanksgiving. I started cooking on the 6th. I love doing it. The decorating and the music and the planning and the cooking and the favors and everything. Except maybe the shopping. Though I do love the reason to go to Wegman's!

It went really really well. There were 33 people in total (representing Boston, Maryland, New York and of course Philly), which is pretty considerable since we have a tiny apartment. But everyone seemed to have a good time. I thought I would at least post the menu here. If anyone is interested in any recipes, let me know. I will also hopefully post pictures soon. (Edit: some picture have been added)

Oh, by the way, we had an International theme.

Africa and Asia:
Moroccan Country Bread
Kefta (meatballs)
Sweet Onion Raisin Sauce
Ras el Hanout dipping oil

Indian Spiced Cocktail Nuts
Curry Dip
Roasted Onion Raita
Naan (bought)

Tempeh Cakes
Thai Dipping Sauce
Peanut Sauce

Edamame Ginger Dip
Rice Crackers (bought)
Chinese Potsticker
Potsticker Dipping Sauce
Spicy Mango Sauce
Plain and Mushroom-Vegetable Steamed Buns (bought)

The Americas:
Tortilla and Plantain Chips (bought)

Tomatillo Salsa
Crispy Corn Cakes
Smoky Black Bean Salsa
Cotija (bought)

Avocado Salsa
Black Beans

Southeastern USA:
Creole Corn Bread
Andouille (bought) and Biscuits
Remoulade Sauce

The UK:
Irish Soda Bread
Irish Cheddar with Porter (bought)
White Stilton with Cranberries (bought)

Marinated Olives
Salted Almonds
Hazelnut Romesco Sauce
Chorizo (bought) and Red Wine
Soy Chorizo (bought) and Red Wine
Spanish Meatballs in Almond Sauce

Marinated Olives
Roasted Tomato and Almond Pesto
White Bean and Roasted Garlic Spread
Fresh Rosemary Foccacia
Broccoli Rabe
Tuscan Bread (bought)

Potato Bread
Stuffed Tomatoes
Sour Cream Sauce

Pita (Bought)
Keftedes (meatballs)

Feta Baked Hummus
Za'atar yogurt dip
Pita (bought)
Kofte (meatballs)
Baba Ghanoush

Chicken Skewers
Assorted Crackers (bought)
Veggies (celery sticks, baby carrots, grape tomatoes)
Gluten Free Bread
Hot Spiced Cider (bought)

Chocolate Chip Cheese Dip
Pumpkin Dip
Oreo Balls
Raspberry Coulis
Caramel Sauce (bought following tragic burning of homemade caramel)
Graham crackers, Newman O's, strawberries, angel food cake (bought)

Cookies and Candies (favors):
Peppermint Bark
Peanut Butter Toffee Bark
Graham Cracker Bark
Crunchy Sesame Cookies
Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Croatian Honey Biscuits
Molasses-Spice Cookies
Whiskey Balls
Butter Balls (aka Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes)
Toffee Cookies
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Most things were made vegan if possible. And everything was meticulously (or obsessively, depending on your point of view) based on meat, gluten, soy or nut content.

Oh and I made snowglobes as favors as well.

Things I learned: you can stuff a tomato with damn near anything and at least some people will love it. I need to work on recognizing how much a recipe will make. 4 cups or any dip or spread is way too much!

And Matty is still talking to me. God Bless Him. He was up until about 5:30 Sunday morning cleaning, not to mention the several hours of cooking and baking and grocery shopping each and every night, I put him through the previous week.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ok, one quick post about some boobies

Have you seen this?

Critics a-Twitter over Meghan McCain's racy pic

Ok, so I guess Wednesday night Meghan McCain decided to curl up in a tank top and some sweat pants and get in some reading time. Who cares? Well in order to tell all of her friends she took a picture of herself and put it on Twitter. Again. Who cares? Well apparently a lot of people.
"You don't have to pull cheap gags like this to get attention. Leave this to the Paris Hiltons of the world," one of the milder rebukes went. "You knew you were posting a nearly NSFW photo, so don't pretend like you're surprised at people's reaction."
Which makes no sense to me. Who cares if she puts up a picture of herself on Twitter? I mean she isn't naked (I wouldnt even necessarily call it NSFW) and she isn't important. But what gets me is her response to the outcry.
"So I took a fun picture not thinking anything about what I was wearing but apparently anything other than a pantsuit [and] I am a slut," she wrote. ... "Seriously I was just trying to be funny with the book and that I'm a dork staying in," she wrote, later adding, "when I am alone in my apartment, I wear tank tops and sweat pants, I had no idea this makes me a 'slut,' I can't even tell you how hurt I am."
Now there is where I mark the line. I don't think people are calling her a slut because she wears a tank top around her apartment. I think people are calling her a slut because of the ginormosity of her boobs in this picture and the come-hither look accompanying them. Do I think people should give a shit about what she wears or posts on her Twitter account? No. But do I think it is fair for her to throw up the white flag of chastity and innocence? Mmmm no.

Quick update

We are back from our trip to Canada and Maine. It is so beautiful up there. The leaves are in full or near to full peak and there is so much empty land. I could never live there. But it was very pretty to ride through.

The wedding was a lot of fun and was very pretty and different in several ways from traditional American weddings.

We ate some really good (and some not so good) food and I have some restaurant reviews to do on some Canadian (Fredericton and PEI) and Bar Harbor, ME restaurants.

The bathroom is usable but not finished. Not real happy about that.

More info and pics to come.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


You are probably wondering about all the posts in the last two days. Well Matty and I are going on vacation and I wanted to get caught up before we left and I had been really busy the last two weeks and had fallen behind. Well, we are going to Prince Edward Island with his family for his cousin's wedding. We are leaving tonight to fly to RI, then we are going to drive (with his parents, brother and sister in law) to PEI tomorrow/Friday morning. The wedding is on Saturday and then we will be back in RI Wednesday. Matty flies back Wednesday night. I will be staying until Thursday morning so I get a chance to see my parents who have been in Turkey since the 19th of September and will be returning on Sunday.

While we are gone some work is being done on the apartment. And by "some work" I mean our shower is being torn out and replaced. Hopefully with one that no longer drips from the upstairs bathroom unto our living room ceiling (or through it as the case may be). So here are some before pictures of our bathroom. And when we return, we will have some after pics.

When we return I will also hopefully have time to post a review of SliCE, Flight of the Conchords Season 2, The Tudors Season One and Gerald's Game. As well as an update on PEI and vacation with the Gallaghers.

BMA quesadillas

That is bacon, mushroom and avocado to those of you not in the know . . . Ok, I just made that up. But we made pretty damn tasty quesadillas on Monday. This is based on this Smoked Turkey Quesadilla recipe from Betty Crocker that I would also highly recommend. I also made a side of salsa (see recipe below) that we had with chips on the side.

Bacon Mushroom Avocado Quesadillas

This made enough for us for dinner, but we were pretty hungry.

4 slices bacon
5 lg mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, roasted and chopped
1 ripe avocado, pitted and removed from peel (is it a peel? a shell?)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 chile pepper, chopped (I used one of our Anaheim's)
~1 cup shredded taco blend cheese
5 flour tortillas

1) Cook the bacon until crispy, let cool and then chop.
2) Drain most of the grease (which can be used to cook the quesadillas) out of the pan and add mushrooms and cook until done.
3) Mix all ingredients from bell pepper to chile pepper in a large bowl. Try to get pretty smooth.
4) Heat bacon grease, butter, oil, whatever you are going to cook with in a frying pan or skillet, add flour tortilla and cook until starting to brown. Sprinkle 1/5 cheese on half and spread 1/5 avocado spread on the other half. Add 1/5 bacon and 1/5 mushrooms and then fold over. Cook until cheese is melty. Repeat with remaining.


This was just a quick thing I made to use up some tomatillos we had lying around.

2 tomatillos
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 chile pepper (I used one of our Anaheims)
4 leaves fresh basil
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced

1) Preheat broiler
2) Peel and wash tomatillos to get as much of the goo off as possible. Cut in half and put on foil lined baking sheet, cut side down. Put under broiler until starting to brown (about 5 minutes). Chop.
3) Mix everything together and let sit for flavors to meld and juices to flow.
4) Ta da. Serve.

Pasta e fagioli and Sopressata-Parmesan Beer Bread

This pasta e fagioli is my recipe which has been edited and revised and played with over the last 6 years or so. It was originally based on a recipe I found in a compilation Cooking Light cookbook, but it has changed drastically since then. So I call it all my own and it is awesome! Matty said this is the best one I have made. :-) The bread recipe is not mine however. It is also very good, however, we used a strong-ish beer and I think the cheese and salami flavors were a little lost. The recipe called for asiago but we used parmesan which may be too mild to stand up the the beer.

Pasta e fagioli

This made enough for us to have dinner on Sunday and then I had it for lunch yesterday (I think it might even be better leftover!) and Matty had it for lunch yesterday and today.

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 stick pepperoni, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans cannelini beans
6 cups cooking liquid (water, veggie broth, chicken broth, combination)
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup small pasta (ditalini are my favorite, I used pastini this time)
Parmesan cheese, grated (or the rind)
Crusty Italian bread (Or croutons)
Fresh basil for serving

1) A Dutch oven works really well for this, but any large heavy bottomed sauce pot would do. Cook bacon in olive oil until almost crisp.
2) Add onion and pepperoni and cook until onions and bacon are cooked.
3) Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
4) Add beans, crushed red pepper, cheese rind if using and cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour. I usually just let it cook until we are about an hour from wanting to eat. But you want at least a good hour.
5) Add reserved garlic, salt and oregano. Simmer an additional 30 minutes.
6) Scoop out 2 cups worth of the stuff. Not the liquid, the solid stuff and food process until smooth, add back to the pan.
7) Add pasta and cook until done.
8) Serve with fresh basil, parmesan cheese (unless you used the rind in which case it is probably cheesy enough) and bread (we made croutons with some old bread, we melted some butter with olive oil and garlic and poured that over the cubed bread, sprinkled with fresh basil and then baked until crispy).

Sopressata-Asiago Beer Bread

This savory quick bread pairs well with soup or chili and is ideal for an open house or casual get-together. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice) (Once again, if you can eat just one slice, god bless you) Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2008

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese (We used parmesan)
1 (12-ounce) bottle Italian lager beer (such as Peroni) (We used Clipper City Beer's Red Sky at Night Saison, but I would recommend a lighter beer)
2 ounces finely chopped Sopressata salami
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons melted butter, divided

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and green onions to pan; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir Sopressata salami into batter.

4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

CALORIES 154 (29% from fat); FAT 5g (sat 2.4g,mono 2g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 11mg; CALCIUM 89mg; CARBOHYDRATE 21.2g; SODIUM 301mg; PROTEIN 5g; FIBER 0.7g

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Italian Sausage Supper Stuffing

This is a recipe that we have made before and really liked. Though I do say, even with 2 people cooking and having done it before, there is no way we could do it in 30 minutes. But it is so tasty. We added ricotta cheese (why not right?) because we needed to use some we had. I wouldn't do it again. It was good but the creaminess was over the top and I think it diminished some of the other flavors.

Italian Sausage Supper Stuffing

This is from the Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine (the pic is from the website) from fall of 2007 I think. It is supposed to be 4 servings. But we got dinner for the 2 of us, 2 lunches and a midnight snack out of it.


  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausages
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausages
  • 2 Cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 hot pickled cherry peppers, seeded and finely chopped, plus a splash of their juice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (We used vegetable broth because we ran out of wine)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 loaf Italian bread, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino-romano cheese (a couple generous handfuls) (We used asiago because we had it on hand)
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley (a generous handful), finely chopped
  • We added 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with foil and scatter the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

  2. While the tomatoes cook, in a medium skillet (I think you need a large skillet for 2 lbs of sausage), add 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, the hot and sweet Italian sausages and enough water to fill the pan by 1/4 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid evaporates, 10 to 12 minutes. Cook until the casings brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.

  3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the Cubanelle peppers, red bell pepper and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook until just tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the pickled peppers and their juice.

  4. Remove the sausages from the skillet and cut into chunks. Add to the peppers and onions. Pour the white wine into the sausage skillet and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour into the pepper-onion mixture.

  5. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the sausage skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the chicken broth and cook until reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved tomatoes and mash into the liquid; reserve the baking sheet, discarding the foil. Cover the tomato gravy to keep warm.

  6. In a microwaveable bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon EVOO and the garlic. Microwave for 20 seconds. Brush the garlic butter over the bread, then sprinkle the cheese and parsley on top. Cut the bread into large cubes. Arrange the bread cubes on the reserved baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. (I cut the bread into cubes and then pour the garlic-butter mixture over it and sprinkle with cheese and parsley)

  7. Combine the garlic-bread cubes with the sausage-pepper-onion mixture (this is where we mixed in the ricotta), spoon into shallow bowls and top with the tomato gravy and basil.

Chicken Thighs with Olives and Tomato Sauce

A slow cooker recipe! I love using my slow cooker. Especially in the fall and winter. A hot meal waiting when you get home, your house smelling all yummy. Yay! It seems especially awesome when it is already dark when you get home in the winter. And this is a really good one. Like most of our slow cooked meals, we prepare it all the night before in the slow cooker liner and keep it in the fridge. I take it out of the fridge when I get up and then as I leave for work I put it in the slow cooker and turn it on. We halved this recipe but I am going to give you the full recipe here. We served this over couscous and it was perfect. I had it leftover for lunch as well and it was delicious.

Chicken Thighs with Olives and Tomato Sauce

Add capers along with the olives, parsley, and seasoning for a more briny flavor, if you like. The parsley goes in last to keep its flavor and color intense. Yield: 6 servings (We halved this recipe and served over couscous and got dinner for the two of us and then one lunch) Cooking Light, MARCH 2009 (The picture is theirs; EDIT- The top picture is theirs, the bottom ones are ours)

12 chicken thighs (about 4 pounds), skinned (For our half recipe we used 4 skinless boneless thighs and 2 boneless skinless breasts because we ran out of thighs)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon f
reshly ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 to 3 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. (We did this all the night before) Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place chicken in an electric slow cooker. Add garlic to pan, and sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 30 seconds. Place wine mixture in cooker. Add tomato paste, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes to cooker.

2. (And this the morning of) Cover and cook on HIGH 4 hours (I did it on low for 5 and a half hours). Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, olives, and parsley

CALORIES 270 ; FAT 12.9g (sat 3.3g,mono 5.6g,poly 2.8g); CHOLESTEROL 99mg; CALCIUM 44mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.7g; SODIUM 658mg; PROTEIN 29.1g; FIBER 2.2g; IRON 2.4mg

Bacon-chipotle Twice Baked Potatoes

Bacon. Chipotle. Cheddar. Potato. Let me sop up that drool real quick . . .

We had a salad on the side. That makes it ok right? Who cares? These are FANTASTIC! And really really good leftover as well. I mean really, how could they not be? I will repeat. Bacon-chipotle twice baked potatoes . . . We did a third of the original recipe. So what is here is what we made, you can follow the link for the original. We also cooked them the first time in the microwave to cut down on the time. Also, I think I have a picture which I will post from home. Assuming we have internet. Which is a huge assumption. Damn you Verizon! (EDIT - Picture posted below; we did not have internet long enough last night to do this so I am doing it now.)

Bacon-Chipotle Twice-Baked Potatoes

This recipe [what we made] made enough for us for dinner, plus a lunch. Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2008 (Again, this is what we made not the original)

2 medium baking potatoes
a little less than 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
a little less than 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 tablespoon thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled (drained)

2. Pierce potatoes with a fork. Cook potatoes in microwave on baked potato setting; cool slightly (this is VERY important that you cool them slightly otherwise the fall apart). Cut each potato in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Combine potato pulp, buttermilk, 1/4 cup cheese and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Spoon potato mixture evenly into shells. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over potatoes. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Broil for a few minutes for a nicely browned top.

Bulgur Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes . . . Sorta

This is one of those recipes that I sorta messed with a bunch. Some on purpose, some due to necessity. First I couldn't find shelled edamame and I wasn't shelling them myself. And I didnt agree with all of the ingredients (we aren't huge fans of dill). And then I didn't want to let it cook as long as I was supposed to. But what we made was very good . . . so there. I am pretty sure that we took pics but they are on the camera at home and so I will add them tonight. (EDIT - Picture added below) Matty had this leftover for lunch and said that it was very good!

Bulgur Salad with Edamame (or baby lima beans) and Cherry Tomatoes

The vitamin C from lemon juice aids iron absorption. Round out the meal with grilled chicken, lemony hummus, and toasted 100 percent whole-wheat pita wedges. (We had this with the leftover Asian Corn Soup and some whole wheat pita). Substitute fresh shelled fava beans for edamame, if you like. (I used frozen baby lima beans because I could easily find them) Fava beans also supply protein, fiber, and B vitamins. Yield: 6 servings (We each had dinner and then 1 lunch) Cooking Light, JUNE 2009 (That is their picture, I will add ours soon! EDIT - Theirs is the top, ours is the bottom)

1 cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup boiling water
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans) (or baby lima beans)
1 pound yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved (we used 12 oz of red cherry tomatoes and then two plum tomatoes chopped)
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I left this out)
1 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine bulgur and 1 cup boiling water in a large bowl. Cover and let stand 1 hour or until bulgur is tender. (Yeah. I let it stand for 30 minutes. Because we were hungry. And it was fine. But I realize that this is how I have always cooked bulgur and so maybe I don't know what it is supposed to be like?)

2. Cook edamame in boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. (I followed the cooking directions for the lima beans) Add edamame, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients to bulgur; toss well. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving. (Again, we were hungry so I only let it stand for 30 minutes.)

CALORIES 208 ; FAT 10.5g (sat 1.3g,mono 6.7g,poly 1.2g); CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 59mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.4g; SODIUM 332mg; PROTEIN 6.3g; FIBER 7.1g; IRON 2.2mg

Cheddar Chicken Corn Chowder

A mouthful to be sure. I have decided that (when possible) Sundays are going to be soup (or chili) and bread days for me. So two weekends ago I decided to try Cheddar Chicken Corn Chowder from The Big Book of Soups and Stews. It was ok. The flavors were great, but it didnt thicken up as much as I would have liked. And it separated out in the fridge and so leftovers were a little tough. You really had to cook it to get it back together. I dont know if I would necessarily make it again. Though if I did I would probably cut back on some of the liquid and also let it cook longer. So that's what I have to say about that. But it was very tasty and so here is the recipe.
Cheddar Chicken Corn Chowder

From The Big Book of Soups & Stews: 262 Recipes for Serious Comfort Food

3 slices bacon, diced
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (I used red because I like it better)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock or broth
1-1/2 cups unpeeled cubed red potatoes (about 2 medium)
1-1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (I used frozen Fire Roasted Corn from Trader Joe's)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
1 cup seeded, peeled, chopped tomato
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 chile pepper, diced (I added this myself)

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to a plate, leaving 1 tablespoon drippings in Dutch oven. (I left all of the drippings and cooked the chicken breast in them and then removed it from the pan and used the rest of the veggies) Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in corn.

In a bowl, blend flour and milk. Stir into soup. Increase heat to medium-high and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add chicken, reserved bacon, tomato, cheese, (chile if you are using), salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, until flavors are blended and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes longer.

Yields 6 servings. (We each had our fill for dinner and then it made 3 lunches)

Resurrection Ale House

It has been almost a week and a half since we went, but I am still thinking about our appetizer. Mmmmmm . .

This is the newest incarnation of the space most recently held by Yello'Bar. Which we liked. In theory. When they first opened. But they couldn't compete against Sidecar. And then their food quality started to decline. And now it is Resurrection Ale House from the people who own Memphis Taproom which we have never been to but have always heard great things about. I will say, I am impressed. The decor hasn't changed much, but the menu and beer list are about as different as you can get from Yello'Bar and still even think about being considered a neighborhood bar. They specialize in lambics and if you are beer person (which I am not) the beer list is simply to die for. I was much more interested in the food, and they certainly did not disappoint in quality. They do not yet have a brunch menu however they do have brunch specials during brunch hours and the brunch menu we hear is coming. We decided to stick to their published menu since that is where they have spent so much time and effort. We started with the Pan con Tomate ($7, Grilled homemade bread with tomato, manchego and sweet chorizo, pictured to left). Oh my god! This is something I will certainly get cravings for. Everything about it was perfect. The manchego was by far the best I have ever had. The chorizo was perfect. The olive oil was so fruity. Really, it was awesome. Just fantastic. I ordered the Monte Cristo ($9, Traditional ham, turkey and Swiss on brioche, served with hand cut fries). And it was also something cravable. The ham was so thin and the turkey so thick and delicious. And the bread was delightful. The best I have had in the city (though both Nodding Head and National Mechanics make damn good ones). This had the perfect amount of sweetness and savoriness and the bread had the perfect amount of soggniess. The syrup was awesome. It was like the absolute essence of maple. Mmm . . . and the fries. Oh the fries. I cant even describe them. They were just perfectly fried potato. Nothing more, nothing less, but really perfectly cooked. Matty had the Hamburger ($9, Challah bun, pickled red onion, served with hand cut fries... Add Swiss cheese for $1, pictured to left). The waitress told us that the chef dedicated himself for an extended period of time perfecting this burger. And it shows. It just melted in your mouth and the beefiness was perfect. Due to the perfectionist tendencies of the chef, he will only allow it to be served with Swiss or no cheese. Which we thought a little strange, but I can understand obsessiveness about food. And the Swiss really was perfect on it.

All in all we are glad they have come to the neighborhood. They will certainly not replace Sidecar for us. The menu tends towards a bit fancy-pants for our regular taste. But we will be back. Matty is still talking about that burger. And I could have a plate of the Pan con Tomate pretty much everyday. And we have yet to even look over the entire beer list, which Matty is certainly interested in.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Spasso Italian Grill

This season for Restaurant Week we went to Spasso Italian Grill on Front. We have a tendency to do Italian for Restaurant Week (Le Castagne, Ristorante Panorama) because we rarely go out for Italian, mostly because we dont like to pay as much as it normally costs. So when we can get it cheaper, we go for it.

Spasso had the highest ratings on Yelp for the Italian places we were looking at and so we decided to try it. And I am very glad we did. It is so isolated way over on Front (between Market and Chestnut, south of Swanky Bubbles) we never would have just gone I dont think. The food was excellent, the service was delightful (a great Italian lady who reminds me of one of my Italian aunts), the portions were huge and the people watching was great. The place was almost packed by the time we left, and they weren't all Restaurant Week people. We were a little concerned when we had no trouble getting a reservation and were given a booth even though we were only 2. But the dining area is deceptively large and they were not hurting for customers. We had a bottle of Chianti and we were brought bread (when was the last time you got bread a a restaurant) and a mixed grilled veggie in olive oil . . . thing, like a chunky tapenade. It was really really good. The veggies were perfectly grilled and it was a nice change over just bread and butter. Then we started with Spiedini de Mozzarella (bread and mozzarella skewers, grilled with an anchovy/tomato sauce) and Arancini (fried balls of risotto stuffed with cheese served with pomodoro). Both were fantastic. I thought the sauce with the spiedini was a little anchovy-heavy, but I am not a huge anchovy fan. And really, how do you make risotto better? Fry it up and stuff it with cheese :-) We then both got a plate of penne pomodoro. I like their pomodoro, it tastes like tomatoes, the way it should. And they cooked the penne to a perfect al dente. For our main courses we had Gnocchi Con Asparagi (perfectly made and cooked gnocchi in a light asiago, truffle oil and asparagus broth) and Involtone di Manzo (beef rolled with proscuitto, spinach and mozzarella in a mushroom demi glace with fresh veggies). Both were excellent. I was concerned by the word "broth" with the gnocchi but it was more like a really light cream sauce. The gnocchis may be the best we have had in the city and the portion was huge. We rarely order beef out (except for burgers) but I am so glad we did. It was SO beefy! Mmmmm . . . it was really excellent. For dessert we had a cannoli (which was enormous and filled with the best chocolate chip filling ever [ok, maybe second to Mike's]) and tiramisu (possibly the best I have ever had). Both had the perfect amount of their respective cheeses, perfect amounts of sweetness. Just lovely. See?

So all in all I would HIGHLY recommend this place. The dinner prices are not cheap, but a couple could split a single appetizer, entree and dessert and be more than satisfied. And everything else we saw come out of the kitchen looked fantastic.

Two non-recipe meals.

We have those sometimes. Honest. I just have all these recipes that I want to try, it is hard so sometimes just decide not to over plan. I know, hard to believe that I would overplan. But last week we had too underplanned nights. It was largely because I was working late and Matty was making dinner and he is much more apt to just cook. And not be obsessed by the recipes. So one night we made grilled cheeses using our Rachel Ray panini pan. We had ciabatta rolls leftover from an earlier meal (composed of olives and cheeses from the new Olive Bar at the Superfresh on South. It is so nice now). And we used manchego, shredded taco cheese and cheddar. Matty makes the best grilled cheeses. My contribution was to buy a an of Campbell's tomato soup. Grilled cheese and tomato soup with Cheez-its. A delightful meal.

Matty also made another dinner last week. He made a veggie frittata (zucchini, red peppers that he roasted in the oven and asiago). We had a side of sausage from our favorite Amish people at Reading Terminal, L. Halteman Family. They were a little salty. But I think matty may have added some breakfast seasoning which may be the culprit. It is nice having lefover frittata around. I had that for breakfast two mornings this week since I was running low on cereal and milk.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ranch Chiles Rellenos with Ancho Chile Salsa

So you may remember that last weekend we made Ancho chile salsa. Well that was in advance of making Ranch Chile Rellenos. Mmmmm . . . chile rellenos . . . These were remarkably easier to make than I expected and so tasty. We used Anaheim's from the garden but I think poblanos might be a good idea. The Anaheims were a bit too skinny and so split when I put the cheese inside. But it didnt all melt out and wasnt nearly as messy as I thought it would be. So tasty, will definitely make again!

Ranch Chile Rellenos with Ancho Chile Salsa
Dark green, shiny poblano chiles are the traditional choice for chiles rellenos. They have great flavor, but may be too spicy for some tastes. Anaheim chiles are reliably mild substitutes. You can stuff chiles with almost anything: cheese, shrimp, smoked fish, tuna and sour cream, grilled vegetables or crabmeat. For a larger crowd, the recipe can be doubled. Serve the chiles rellenos with beans and rice. (We made basmati rice and mixed it with a bean salad I had made the previous weekend) Adapted from Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta: Recipes from the World-Famous Spa (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008) by Deborah Szekely and Deborah M. Schneider with Chef Jesùs González, Chef of La Cocina Que Canta. From EatingWell January/February 2009 (That is my pic up there and theirs down below). 6 servings (yeah . . . we ate all of them) Active/Total Time: 50 minutes.

  • 6 small poblano peppers, or Anaheim chiles (We used Anaheim's)
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 6 long strips (We used about 2 oz since the peppers were so skinny)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican (We used regular)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (We used regular salt)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3/4 cup Ancho Chile Salsa
  1. Char peppers (or chiles) on all sides directly over a gas flame until the skin blackens and blisters, or broil directly under a preheated broiler until the skin blisters and begins to pull away from the pepper (we used the broiler since we have an electirc stove). Wrap in paper towels until cool.
  2. Use the paper towel to carefully rub off the blistered skin. Leave the stems on. Make a 2-inch slit lengthwise in each pepper and remove the seeds. Tuck a piece of cheese into each pepper and fold the pepper over to completely enclose the cheese (Dont worry if you split the peppers too much).
  3. Working over a shallow bowl or plate, rub the oregano between your palms to bring out the flavor. Add flour and salt and stir to combine. Put egg whites in another shallow bowl or plate and lightly beat until frothy. Dip each pepper into the flour mixture to coat on all sides, brush off any excess, then dip into the egg whites.
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Carefully set each pepper into the hot pan and cook until the cheese is melted and the peppers are golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. (If you have larger peppers, you may need to cook them in two batches.) Serve warm with 2 tablespoons Ancho Chile Salsa each.
Per serving: 152 calories; 9 g fat (4 g sat, 4 g mono); 17 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrates; 8 g protein; 2 g fiber; 339 mg sodium; 278 mg potassium.

Apple Blackerry Oatmeal Crisp

Matty wanted to use some apples that we had lying around and some blackberries that we had in the freezer. And he loves to bake. So for dessert following our buffalo chili last week we had an Apple Blackberry Oatmeal Crisp. He looked at this recipe while he was baking though I am not sure how closely he followed it. He only made a small one (two apples). It was delicious! Really you could put that crisp topping on just about anything and I would be happy. It was a nice ease into fall baking.

I haven't forgotten!

I am giving my department Research in Progress talk on Friday and so work has been beyond busy and whenever I get the chance to be away from my computer I have been. So I am sorry about not writing sooner. By the end of the week I hope that have caught up on these topics from last week:
Apple Oatmeal Crisp
Chile Rellenos
Grilled Cheeses and Tomato Soup
Spasso for Restaurant Week
Squash Cake muffins . . . or cupcakes . . .
Tortillas wraps
Resurrection Ale House
Cheddar Chicken Corn Chowder

Planned for this week:
Bulgur Salad with Edamame and Cherry Tomatoes
Bacon Chipotle Twice-Baked Potatoes
Chicken Thighs with Olives and Tomato Sauce
Italian Sausage Supper Stuffing

So I will be back. I promise!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ancho chile salsa, High Plains Buffalo Chili and Manchego-Jalapeno Beer Bread

It's Sunday in football season! That has always meant a stove full of food for me growing up. And so I am picking up my mom's tradition. So after a delicious early brunch at Sidecar (brunch menu hasnt drastically changed) with my college roommate and her husband I sent Matty for ingredients and I got to work. I started with my very first savory bread. It is a beer bread, not a regular bread. But considering how I usually avoid anything that could be construed as baking, this is a big deal! And it was a hug success! Yay! It was so tasty and moist and perfect. Then I made a buffalo chili (what is football Sunday without chili?) which sounded really different and cool. And it was. It is like a combination between chili and beef stew. Which buffalo. It is so meaty and rich tasting. And finally I made a batch of ancho chile salsa for an appetizer (and to use with Chile Rellenos later in the week). Also delicious though I think it was a little oregano-y (but that may have been due to a mistake of when I added it, or maybe I would just use less). Matty also made a batch of guacamole to have with the salsa. And he currently has a batch of Apple Oatmeal Crisp in the oven that I will have to tell you about later. So here are the recipes, enjoy!

Manchego-Jalapeño Beer Bread

This savory quick bread pairs well with soup or chili and is ideal for an open house or casual get-together. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice) (More power to you if you can eat just one slice) Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2008

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeño pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups) (I used 3 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Manchego cheese
1 (12-ounce) bottle Mexican beer (such as Dos Equis) (I used Heavy Seas
Small Craft Warning Über pils)
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons melted butter, divided

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add green onions and chopped jalapeño to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes (only took 20) or until deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

CALORIES 148 (28% from fat); FAT 4.6g (sat 2.4g,mono 1.7g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 12mg; CALCIUM 108mg; CARBOHYDRATE 20.6g; SODIUM 244mg; PROTEIN 4.7g; FIBER 0.7g

High Plains Buffalo Chili

Similar in flavor to beef and with less saturated fat, buffalo makes an excellent choice for chili. (I love cooking with buffalo. It is leaner, so be careful not to dry it out, and so much more flavorful than beef) Stirring in the cornmeal at the end yields a distinct taste and texture. (We grated a little manchego cheese over the top) Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup) (I would say 4 servings) Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2008

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds lean ground buffalo (we couldnt find ground buffalo this morning so I used Trader Joe's ground buffalo steak burgers [1 1/4 lb] and defrosted them in the microwave first)
2 tablespoons New Mexican chile powder (I used regular chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 1/2 cups water (I used 2 1/2 cups water and 1 cup chicken broth)
2 cups diced peeled baking potato (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1 tablespoon stone-ground cornmeal

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add buffalo; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chile powder and pepper.

2. Add 3 1/2 cups water, potato, and next 5 ingredients (through sage) to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until potato is very tender. (After 50 minutes I turned the burner all the way down and let it sit on the stove for another 3 hours or so) Stir in cornmeal; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

CALORIES 216 (23% from fat); FAT 5.4g (sat 1.7g,mono 2g,poly 0.7g); IRON 3.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 55mg; CALCIUM 31mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.6g; SODIUM 603mg; PROTEIN 25.9g; FIBER 2.9g

Ancho Chile Salsa

From EatingWell: January/February 2009

This mellow salsa, made with dried ancho chiles, is a good all-purpose salsa. It's delicious with anything from scrambled eggs to tostadas. A rich tomato flavor is important in this salsa, so when tomatoes are out of season, good-quality canned tomatoes may be a better choice than fresh. Adapted from Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta: Recipes from the World-Famous Spa (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2008) by Deborah Szekely and Deborah M. Schneider with Chef Jesùs González, Chef of La Cocina Que Canta.

About 2 1/2 cups | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 55 minutes


  • 3 large dried guajillo, New Mexico or California chiles, (about 3/4 ounce) (I used 4 guajillo)
  • 2 large dried ancho chiles, (about 3/4 ounce) (we used 1 ancho)
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 small cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 large tomatillos, husks removed, washed and chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups water, or vegetable broth (I used water)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried, preferably Mexican (I used regular dried)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Wearing gloves, remove the stems, seeds and inner ribs from the chiles and tear the chiles into large pieces. (Kitchen scissors here are really useful and the gloves are more to keep your fingers from turning red than for heat)
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chile pieces, onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the chiles are fragrant and the onions are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add tomatillos and tomatoes, reduce heat slightly, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes more. Add water (or broth), salt and pepper (I accidentally added half of the oregano here). Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in oregano and let cool for a few minutes (I let this sit for about 2 hours until we were ready to use it) . Puree the sauce in a blender until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Stir in cilantro.

Nutrition Per 2-tablespoon serving : 18 Calories; 1 g Fat; 3 g Carbohydrates; 1 g Protein; 1 g Fiber; 119 mg Sodium; 85 mg Potassium