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

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sidecar has a new menu and new hours!

While Matty makes cole slaw for tomorrow I figured I would post a quick message about The Sidecar, our favorite neighborhood bar. We went tonight after an extended (apparently) absence to find a change in menu and hours. We suspected something was up Monday night when, driving home from Target (with our dinner from Tony Luke's) that Sidecar was open! On a Monday! Well apparently starting last Monday they are now open on Mondays! And they are now open from 3pm-2am Monday-Friday (kitchen open til 1:30am) and 10:30am-2am on Saturday and Sunday (kitchen open til 1:30). And we learned tonight that they have also changed their menu. Gone are the chili (much to Matty's chagrin) and the tequila poblano turkey burger (much to mine) but they have added a few awfully tempting things, including Shrimp and Crawfish Hush Puppies (sorry vegetarians) and a fantastic sounding romaine salad with smoked avocado! The happy hour special (M-F 3-7 and 12-1:30) are now 1/2 price carnitas (same as before), nachos (now with a delicious braised pork to replace the tasty but perhaps too greasy chorizo) and pretzel crusted chicken fingers (in a small (4) and large size (8) which are very good, but fairly typical chicken fingers). The new menu is available on the website. The brunch menu does not appear to have changed. The drink specials are $1 off all drafts (including PBR), $2.50 HighLife bottles, $2.50 well drinks and $3.50 call drinks. The nachos ($6.50 for happy hour) and chicken fingers ($4 for small for happy hour) were delicious. We know the carnitas ($2 each for happy hour) are. Tonight Matty tried Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale (reminded me of an IPA with a bit of a bite, but darker in color) and Victory Helio Saison ($4, a light wheat beer flavor). I stuck with my tried and true vodka cranberry. We are excited to try the rest of the new menu and now be able to go on Monday, which is something you dont realize you want so much until it isn't an option. We also hope them all the best with Resurrection Ale House (Memphis Taproom people) opening this Wednesday around the corner in the space most recently occupied by Yello' Bar.

American Blackout and 30 Rock

Do you guys like the way I have been splitting up posts like this. I know that a lot of people (ok, one or two of you) don't like to read the recipes, so I figured it would be easier to skip those if they were separate posts. Let me know if this is easier to read or more difficult. If I dont get any (or many) comments against it I will keep doing it this way.

Last night we watched American Blackout (2006). It won the 2006 Sundance Special Jury Prize for Documentary and was suggested to Matty by Netflix. Of course he forgot what it was about and thought it was about the blackouts in New York until we started watching it. Sooo . . . yeah. It is actually about voter (specifically black voter) disenfranchisement in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections as well as about the political machinations behind the career slaying of Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). It was well done. Themes are: Elections in this country suck. First voters don't vote (or at least specific voters don't vote) and then when they do vote (or try to vote) they are stopped by various means by various groups for various reasons. And the "powers that be" do not like people, specifically "uppity black women" (not my words!) from poking their noses where they don't belong. But that isn't really anything new. Or it wasn't to us. So it was less mind-blowing than it wanted to be I think. But worth seeing if that is your sort of thing.

After the movie we decided to start watching 30 Rock on Netflix streaming. We never watched it because we were trying not to pick up new shows, but it is really really funny! We only got through the first 3 or 4 episodes but we are definitely going to keep watching. God I love Netflix streaming.

In related news, Matty and I have recombined queues. So hopefully there will be fewer movies that sit in our living room that neither of us want to watch because Matty put them on his queue but doesn't remember why. And he is being re-given the chance to veto (or at least postpone) my movies. We are going to continue watching 30 Rock streaming. And we are going to start watching Flight of the Conchords Season 2 on DVD.

Asian corn soup

So Sunday while we were in the Italian Market I noticed that the spice place down there had lemongrass stalks on sale. I have never actually even seen lemongrass stalks anywhere, but I am sure it is just because I didnt really know what it looks like (a lot like palm actually. Like Palm Sunday palms). So I bought some. Because that is totally what you do when you find an ingredient you have no idea how to use right? You just buy it? That's right, I impulse bought lemongrass. I decided that the only thing that I know you can do with lemongrass fairly easily is soup. So I looked through my giant folio o' recipes and found this one. Combines Matty's favorite vegetable (it seems): corn and my lemongrass. Along with fresh ginger (which I also bought because it was on sale even though we had some in the freezer [good tip, keep leftover ginger in the freezer, makes it easy to slice or grate and keeps forever!]), lime and jalapeno. Sounded perfect to me. And I was pretty impressed. Lemongrass is not terribly difficult to use, especially in this way. The soup was incredibly easy (though I am completely unable to get corn off a cob without making a total mess) and made the apartment smell great. We had this with Trader Joe's pork gyoza on the side (Matty pan-fried them and then double pan-fried them with a little TJs Gyoza dipping sauce mixed with chicken broth - Delicious!). We thought the soup could have used a little something. I think it would be an excellent poaching liquid for chicken (or tofu). Maybe rice? I am not sure. The flavors is very delicate (which is good) but I would also increase the amount of ginger (maybe grate some of it) and garlic (again, maybe grate some) and cilantro (maybe coarsely chop it). The prominent flavors were corn, lemongrass and lime. Also, be sure to get all the silk off the corn! I scooped the solids out instead of straining and it worked fine (make sure you get all the lemongrass pieces). I also might decrease the liquid a bit to intensify the flavors. A good vegan recipe as well, as long as you stick with veggie broth (we had chicken so I used that). So overall: a good recipe but could definitely be played with.

Asian Corn Soup

If you can't find fresh lemongrass, substitute strips of rind from one-half to one whole lemon. Serve as a side dish with stir-fried tofu and rice. (We served as a main dish with a side of gyoza) Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups) (As a main course we got 3 servings from this) Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2007 (That is their pic there)

4 ears corn
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups water (next time I would use 3)
2 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic) (we used chicken because we had it in the fridge)
12 sprigs cilantro (I might coarsely chop or use some as a garnish)
5 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger (I might grate some of it or use more)
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and quartered (I used 1 huge one)
1 to 2 fresh lemongrass stalks, including bulb end, smashed and coarsely chopped (I used 1 stalk that I halved lengthwise and then chopped into 1/2-1 inch pieces)
1 garlic clove, crushed (I used 2 and would use more or grate some)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Thinly sliced lime (optional) (very nice at the end)
Thinly sliced jalapeño pepper (optional) (adds a really nice finish as well)

Cut corn kernels from ears of corn; set aside. Reserve cobs.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Cut each cob into 3 pieces. Add cobs, 4 cups water, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Strain broth through a colander into a bowl; discard solids. Add corn kernels, juice, and salt to broth; stir to blend. Return soup to pan; simmer 5 minutes or until hot. Garnish with lime and jalapeño slices, if desired.

CALORIES 97 (18% from fat); FAT 1.9g (sat 0.2g,mono 0.8g,poly 0.8g); IRON 0.6mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 20g; SODIUM 300mg; PROTEIN 3.1g; FIBER 2.6g (As a reminder, this info is from Cooking Light and pertains to the recipe as it is presented, not how I doctor it)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Regulators and Daybreak

Ok, so it has been awhile since I have done a book review (or a tv review [see below]). Mostly because I have been working my way through The Dark Descent verrrrryyyy sllllooooowwwwllllyyyy. I blame the 1000 pages and not the fact that I am a very slow reader and we have been watching Food Network in bed instead of reading. I would love to do a series of posts on some of the stories/authors in there. Especially H.P. Lovecraft. We shall see. But since it is over 1000 pages, it was much too heavy to bring sailing over Labor Day so I brought The Regulators instead. This is by far my favorite Richard Bachman book so far. I really want to read Desperation, Stephen King's mirror to this book. This was a very King-ish Bachman book. Rich character development and description of feeling, thoughts, sensations and surroundings. The flow was very King-like and it had a bit of his "foretelling" that I often find a bit annoying but is very him. By foretelling I mean he will just give away something that happens that seems like a big thing at the time. I can't give a good actual example without actually giving something away. But a sentence will read something like "He dreamt of being old enough to drive his own car and impress the ladies." And then the next sentence will be, "Little did he know he would die still young enough to only own a bike and as much a viring as he was right then." Something like that, only written better obviously. But I am always like "What?! Wait! He dies?!" But anyway, back to this book. I really liked it. I thought it was going to be about the Low Men of the Dark Tower and Hearts in Atlantis because of lines from both of those books but it is completely different. Did I think it was an awesome piece of lit? No. But I really did like it. And I read it pretty quickly, for me at least.

And finally, we watched the last episode of Battlestar Gallactica last night. I won't give anything away for any of you who are watching/will watch. But I am very curious to discuss it with anyone who has watched it. I think I am happy with the way it ended. I am a bit unhappy that it has ended because I really like the characters and the cast is just so fantastic. But I am happy that they ended it when they did because anything more would be too much. I think they answered enough questions to make me happy. So I will just leave it with saying that I am happy with the way that it ended.

Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna

Yet another awesome recipe! One of these days we are going to have a really shitty meal I think. It is just karma. We have eggplants from the garden that needed to be used, so I picked this recipe since it sorta combines Matty's love of eggplant parm and my love of all things pasta. The only time consuming part was dealing with the eggplants. We actually put this all together Tuesday night and then baked it off yesterday which worked fine. And can I say I love these oven ready lasagna noodles! So much less work and so easy to work with! And it makes me feel like I have to worry less about my other ingredients being too wet. We had some fresh mushrooms and frozen spinach that needed to be used so we threw those in as well. I also have an eggplant question for any of my green-thumbed readers, we have some that grew under leaf cover and so they are a weird orangey-yellowy color. Are they still ok to eat? Also, "1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped" means 1 cup before you chop it right?

Ok, so here goes:

Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna

This recipe makes use of summer-fresh produce in a meatless entrée.
Yield: 12 servings (Yeah . . . ok so I would say we would be able to feed 6 with this. With a salad and garlic bread, maybe 8?) Cooking Light, AUGUST 2008 (Their pic is on the left, ours on the right)

Water tally: 5.8 ounces.

1 large eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
(5-6 mushrooms, sliced)
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (we used ~1/4 tsp dried since I misread the recipe)
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
(1/4 tsp crushed red pepper for a little extra bite)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
(~1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
Cooking spray
1 (8-ounce) package precooked lasagna noodles
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I cut it crosswise into rounds like the eggplant, not sure exactly what they wanted)
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (we used about 6-8 oz since that was all we had)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. (We did all the building steps the night before and then baked the night of.)

2. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 15 minutes.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes (we sauteed until they were softening and then added the mushrooms until they started to soften), stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, oregano, red pepper (this is where we added the crushed red pepper), and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes (we simmered about 30 min while we ate dinner Tuesday night, the sauce seemed pretty wet and longer tastes better anyway), stirring occasionally.

4. Combine basil, ricotta (this is where we added the spinach), and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture (used about 1 cup here) into the bottom of a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 4 noodles over tomato mixture; top with half of eggplant and half of zucchini (I did this in two layers, a layer of eggplant rounds then a layer of zucchini rounds). Spread ricotta mixture over vegetables; cover with 4 noodles. Spread 1 cup tomato mixture over noodles (I used about 1 1/2 cups here); layer with remaining eggplant and zucchini slices. Arrange remaining 4 noodles over vegetables, and spread remaining tomato mixture over noodles. Top evenly with mozzarella. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. (Here we put it in the fridge overnight) Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until browned. Cool for 5 minutes.

CALORIES 216 (32% from fat); FAT 7.7g (sat 4.2g,mono 2g,poly 0.4g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 21mg; CALCIUM 247mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.7g; SODIUM 393mg; PROTEIN 12.7g; FIBER 4.2g

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh

I told Matty last night, we need to start making some shitty recipes. Because everything is so damn tasty and so I have to keep all the recipes. One of the points of trying all these new recipes lately has been to thin the herb a bit. I have more recipes than I could ever even think about making and I keep finding more. And I am having some issues with storage. Anyone have a really good recipe storage system they want to share? But here is yet another one that goes into the keep pile (a steadily growing pile). Matty made it since I was late coming home last night so I can't offer any changes he made (if he made any). I know we ran out of feta and so he added some asiago. And we served leftover falafel from last week on the side. This is so easy (so Matty tells me) especially if you have leftover cooked chicken around.

Chicken and Feta Tabbouleh

Fresh: Delicious when eaten right away, the flavors in this one-bowl meal stand up admirably when it's prepared ahead—making this a good take-to-work lunch. Serve with toasted pita wedges or flatbread. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups) (we got two dinners and a lunch out of it) Cooking Light, APRIL 2009 (That's their pic, of course)

3/4 cup uncooked bulgur
1 cup boiling water
2 cups chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (I think he used Purdue cooked chicken strips maybe? I will have to ask)
1 cup chopped plum tomato
1 cup chopped English cucumber
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Place bulgur in a medium bowl; cover with 1 cup boiling water. Let stand 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

2. Combine chicken and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add bulgur to chicken mixture; toss gently to combine.

CALORIES 296 ; FAT 9.5g (sat 3.4g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.2g); CHOLESTEROL 72mg; CALCIUM 128mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.6g; SODIUM 344mg; PROTEIN 28.2g; FIBER 6.4g; IRON 2.7mg

La Lupe and Tony Luke's

Sunday for brunch we went to La Lupe. You know, that mexican place next to that cheesesteak place in the Italian Market? I know, how have we not been there? I don't know. But we hadn't. So we went on Sunday. And now I really don't know how we missed it for so long. We started with chips and guacamole (after the chips and "salsa" they gave us). The salsa is very good but more similar to a mild/medium hot sauce. It is orange and served in a maple syrup pourer thingy. Go figure. The guac was good, nothing spectacular. Very fresh, but a little wet for my taste. And it needed a little salt I think. Then we had a chorizo taco, a carnitas taco and chilaquiles with red sauce and chicken. The tacos were by far the winners of the day. For $2.50 apiece you got a lot of meat. And the meat was awesome. The chorizo was crumbled and fried so it was crispy. And the carnitas tasted like it was just pork. No fancy seasonings needed. Just pork. Somehow at the same time, fall apart tender and crispy. Don't know how they do it was it was awesome. Each was served with cilantro, onions and lime on a soft corn tortilla. Mmmm! Really really tasty. The chilaquiles was good. A lot of food, we actually couldn't finish. The sauce was perfect. It was all very good, but nothing that blew my socks off, especially compared to the tacos. So we will definitely be going back. And getting more tacos. And trying more things.

Monday night, after a trip to Target/Best Buy etc. we decided to pick up dinner at Tony Luke's on the way home. I hadn't been in forever! We decided to try something a little different and got a Chicken Parmesan with Sharp Provolone and an Egg and Potato with Sharp Provolone. And a side of rabe. Mmmmm!!!!! The egg and potato is the stuff that cravings are made out of. It is probably a good thing the place is so damn far away. I have no idea how they manage to completely incorporate the potato into the egg, but whatever the magic, I am all for it. The chicken parm was also very good. Lots of chicken, basic yumminess all around. We put some of the rabe on the sandwiches and it was all really really fantastic (especially that egg and potato!).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NoLibs afternoon

The weather is very strange here today! It isn't warm but it is humid so it isnt quite jacket weather but . . . I dont know. At least eh rain held off so we took a jaunt up to NoLibs for lunch. We decided to check out a new-ish place up on Girard that we have heard great things about - Paesano's, the sister to fellow-Girard restaurant Modo Mio. This is a little hole in the wall sandwich place right on Girard that is SO much more. There is one table outside on the sidewalk and 6 seats inside with a front row view of everything. The menu is small but packs a punch. We split a Diavlo (spicy chicken, fried salami, some of the sharpest provolone ever, some of the best broccoli rabe I have ever had [besides my mom's of course] and these awesome roasted tomatoes all on a toasted seeded roll) and an Arista (whole roasted suckling pig, those broccoli rabe again, that provolone again, long hots that just melt into the roll and jus, all on that roll again). Oh and a side of potatoes (home fry style that taste like roasted, with more of that sharp provolone again). The sandwiches were $7 and $8 respectively and the potatoes were $2. And it was probably the tastiest $17 ever. The whole menu looked awesome (it is available from that link, though they are tweaking it soon with the change in seasons) and we sat and watched them make everything, to order. Delicious! And there were people at the window or inside ordering, or calling for pick up the entire timew e were there. So check it out. Totally worth the hike.

After lunch we went to grab a drink at The Swift Half Pub at Piazza. The new sister to Good Dog looks the exact opposite. It is big and bright with high ceilings and big windows and big flat screen TVs. But the service is just as friendly, the beer list just as good and I am a huge fan of the "swift half" concept - a half pint meant as a last drink before heading home, or somewhere else, or just a quick drink. Matty had Troeg's Dead Reckoning Porter ("a welcome to fall" he says), Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout ("it doesnt taste as dark as it looks, a refreshing dark beer" he says) and Two Brothers Domaine DuPage French Country Amber Ale (I think it was, he says it isn't, we will go with what I remember. He says about it "it was ok"). I had a Blue Point Toasted Lager (it was the closest to Lager I have had really. Still pretty beer-y.) and a Magner's (my new fave).

I told Matty I don't feel like I belong at Piazza. And I stand by that. I don't feel comfortable there really. I feel like I need to be a whole bunch more ironic, cynical and fashionable. But I like the Swift Half and I think I would like some of the other restaurants around there. We will see.

Baked Falafel Sandwiches with Yogurt Tahini Sauce

Yet another tasty tasty dinner. I have been so impressed with us lately. We have had difficulty with falafel in the past. Usually the patties or balls are fried and we have had difficulty with sticking and with falling apart. So I was interested in trying a baked recipe. Also I was interested in using bulgur in the patties since I have not used bulgur before. And boy was I right to check this recipe out. By far the best falafel we have made from scratch. I was a little concerned with the sauce since it seemed almost too simple. But I resisted the temptation to add garlic or scallion as I was close to doing. And again, a good call. Matty went back for 3 servings of the sauce! So go ahead, try these out. It makes quite a bit. We each had a 2 patty sandwich and it was plenty for dinner. But they are great leftover, just throw them in the toaster oven for a minute or two.

Baked Falafel Sandwiches with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Falafel is a popular Middle Eastern offering consisting of seasoned pureed chickpeas shaped into patties and usually fried. It's worth the effort to seek out Greek yogurt, which is thick, rich, and creamy. Make the sauce up to three days in advance (we made the sauce the day of while the falafel mixture was getting to room temp) and the falafel mixture up to one day ahead (we made the falafel the night before and refrigerated overnight); bake falafel patties just before serving (I took the mixture out about 10 minutes before making patties and baking). Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 stuffed flatbread) (For once I actually agree with the serving size here, we had some of the couscous salad from earlier in the week on the side and each had 2 patties) Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2007 (That is their pic, in case you had any question)

1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (such as Fage Total Classic) (I used nonfat yogurt which worked just fine)
1 tablespoon tahini (sesame-seed paste)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup uncooked bulgur
3 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (I used 2 cans worth, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 to 1/2 cup water (I used about 1/4 cup water)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (I used 1/2 tsp)
3 garlic cloves
Cooking spray

Remaining ingredients:
6 (2.8-ounce) Mediterranean Style white flatbreads (such as Toufayan) (We used whole wheat pita breads)
12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato (I juliened a plum tomato, some red onion and some cucumber to put on top)
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

To prepare sauce, combine the first 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To prepare falafel, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; add bulgur to pan. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine chickpeas and the next 9 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until well blended (I turned it on, as opposed to pulsing, for almost a minute) and smooth (mixture will be wet). Spoon chickpea mixture into a large bowl; stir in bulgur.

Divide mixture into 12 equal portions (about 1/4 cup each) (I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop it out and then formed patties in my hands and then put on baking sheet which worked out really well); shape each portion into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes on each side or until browned. Spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce onto each flatbread. Top each flatbread with 2 falafel patties, 2 tomato slices, and chopped cilantro, if desired.

CALORIES 388 (18% from fat); FAT 7.7g (sat 3.5g,mono 1.6g,poly 1.6g); IRON 5.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 7mg; CALCIUM 181mg; CARBOHYDRATE 64.6g; SODIUM 535mg; PROTEIN 18g; FIBER 14.7g

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Six-Veggie Bake

This was pretty good. A good basic veggie strata that could easily be played with. I think it needs a bit of heat. Either a hot pepper or some crushed red pepper or something. I was thinking pickled hot cherry or banana peppers would be good because it also needs a little more salt. And it I think it needs salt, it needs salt. I was also thinking black olives would be good. The cheese also needs a bit more bite. I used lite shredded mozzarella from Trader Joe's. Something with a little more flavor, maybe a fontina would be nice. Or you could go Mediterranean and use kalamata olives and feta and some oregano. It seems like it would be easy to play with to easily change the flavor profile. So a good base but needs a little work all in all.

Six-Veggie Bake
(I have no idea where I got this recipe from, but it is available on All and that is where I copied it from.) Servings: 16 (With a side of salad I think this probably makes 6-8 servings)


  • 1 (1 pound) loaf Italian bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper (I used red, about half a pepper)
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini (I used a whole small zucchini, chopped)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 cup egg substitute (I used 4 eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend (I used Spice Terminal's Italian Seasoning)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. In a large bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients; mix well. Place in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. in a small bowl, combine milk, egg substitute, seasoning blend and pepper; pour over the vegetable mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. (We did overnight) Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Cover and bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals 128 calories, 3 g fat (0 saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 292 mg sodium, 18 carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 8 g protein.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad

Another awesome salad from Cooking Light! They are really impressing me lately! So last night we had Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad and Asiago Crescent rolls. And it was awesome. I changed the recipe a little bit and I have a few changes I might make in the future, but it was awesome! Another highly highly recommended meal! I LOVE the crescent rolls and will totally make them again in the future too. I could have them with every meal.

Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad

Acini di pepe [ah-CHEE-nee dee-PAY-pay] are tiny pasta rounds resembling peppercorns. Use ditalini (very short tube-shaped macaroni) or any other small pasta shape if you can't find acini di pepe in your supermarket (So Thriftway actually had acini di pepe but I bought pastine instead because they were star-shaped! But then we actually used Israeli couscous because we have been wanting to try it). Serve with Asiago breadsticks (recipe follows). Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups) (We got two dinners and a lunch out of it with the crescent rolls) Cooking Light, APRIL 2009 (Their pic on the top, ours on the bottom)

6 ounces uncooked acini di pepe pasta (about 1 cup) (we used 8 oz of Israeli couscous)
2 1/4 cups diced plum tomato (about 14 ounces) (~3 plum tomatoes)
1/3 cup capers, rinsed and drained (we left these out)
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup sliced pickled banana peppers (I chopped them up and would probably use 1/2 cup next time)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (I left this out since you use olive oil to brown the couscous)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (I might use a mild cheddar if I had it to avoid having to buy another cheese for so little)
1 (16-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained (I used cannelini, are they the same?)
1 ounce salami, chopped (I used a hot Calabrese salami from Trader Joe's)
1 garlic clove, minced (I used 2 cloves)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. (I made the couscous according to the package, brown in a little olive oil, then add boiling water, simmer til water is absorbed, so I left out the olive oil in this recipe)

2. Combine tomato and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add pasta to tomato mixture, tossing well to combine.

Asiago breadsticks: Combine 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (we added some garlic powder as well) in a small bowl. Separate 1 (7-ounce) can refrigerated breadstick dough to form 8 sticks; roll each breadstick in cheese mixture. (I couldn't find breadstick dough at Thriftway so we used Pillsbury reduced fat Crescent rolls and put the cheese mixture on top of the triangle before rolling it up) Bake according to package directions.

CALORIES 371 ; FAT 11.6g (sat 4.7g,mono 5.3g,poly 1.4g); CHOLESTEROL 21mg; CALCIUM 164mg; CARBOHYDRATE 51.7g; SODIUM 919mg; PROTEIN 16.6g; FIBER 6.3g; IRON 3.5mg

Southwest Airlines - pissing me off!

Now I love Southwest Airlines. I have flown Southwest exclusively since moving to Philly. I used to be able to get flights from PHI to PVD for $29 each way. I can still get them for $49 each way. I use their credit card and fly so often that I rack up free flights way faster than I can use them. You can even give the free flights to other people for free! Which I have done. All flights are done in one-way portions so I can fly Philly to Providence but then Manchester to Philly without paying extra for one-ways. They fly into PVD so I can visit my parents, MHT to see my family/go skiing, PIT to see alma mater and FLL to see my godson. They are courteous, fun and haven't lost one of my bags yet. And honestly we have had a hard time even paying for a drink on a plane because they keep giving them to us for free (if only they had another vodka since I am not a huge Finlandia fan). You can check 2 bags for FREE! I really really like them. I really do. But then . . .

My first issue with them (that I knew about) started last week when I ordered a gift card from them to give to my parents this weekend. I ordered it on Wednesday around noon. And everything was fine. I got the little confirmation screen telling me to print it out for my records etc etc. I didnt. I never do. My bad. But I always get confirmation emails with the same information! So by the end of the day I hadnt gotten either the confirmation email (supposed to be immediate) or the actual gift card email (can be delayed up to 12 hours) but I wasn't worried. I was worried Thursday evening when I hadn't gotten either the confirmation email or the actual gift card. Yes I checked my spam folder. No charge had gone through on my credit card so I wasn't panicking. But I was planning on giving it to my parents on Friday so I wanted to print it out at work before going to the airport (to fly with them no less). So I called them up and told them the problem. Just asking for general information since I didnt have the confirmation number (I know, my bad) but they were really nice about it. They canceled the previous order, put in a new order, gave me my confirmation number, told me the confirmation email would arrive shortly and the gift card email within 12 hours. Plenty of time before I had to leave. Well it is now Wednesday. It has been a week since my original order. I have gotten no confirmation emails. I have gotten no gift card emails. And my credit card has been charged. Luckily it wasn't super important that I actually give my parents the card, I could just tell them about it. But some sort of information would be nice here. Apparently, according to someone's post on Southwest's Facebook page, I am not the only one with an issue. Which is fine, I understand that there is some sort of problem, but send me an email or give me a phone call and tell me about it and apologize or something. I just don't expect this sort of lack of attention and consideration from this company. Or I didn't. Which brings me to my next problem with Southwest Airlines that was brought to my attention this week . . .

EarlyBird Check-in. So in case you have never flown with Southwest, let me explain how the boarding process works. And has worked. They do not have assigned seating. It is open seating. Which means you get on a plane and as long as you are over 15 you can pick any seat that is open. If you are 15 or under you can pick any seat other than the emergency exit rows. So in order to get that perfect seat it all depends on when you get on the plane. When I started flying Southwest in 2004 the way it worked was this. Starting at midnight the day that you are flying you can check in for your flight (one of the first online check-ins and so great not to have to go to the counter or even a kiosk if you arent checking bags). And depending on when you checked in you got an A, B or C boarding pass. You printed this out and went to the airport. When you got there you went to the gate and there were 3 lines (A, B, C) set up. You got in line and sat there and waited. So depending on when you checked in determined your line. And when you got to the airport determined your place in that line. This worked fine for me because 1) I dont mind checking in at midnight. 2) I dont mind sitting on the floor. 3) I dont mind getting to the airport early, in fact I prefer it. But I could see how it was annoying. And there were fights about saving places in line and if putting your bag in line counted, etc etc. And it meant you had to be at a computer at midnight the morning before flying. So it made sense when they changed it. First they changed the midnight thing. Instead of midnight the day you were flying, they changed it to 24 hours before your flight. Which was nice. No more sitting at the copmuter waiting to go to bed. But you still had to camp out in line. So next they changed it to the current system. Starting 24 hours before your flight you can check in online and get a boarding number. So you get A 1-60, B 1-60 or C 1-60 depending on when you check in. So as long as you have access to a computer (or mobile device) 24 hours before your flight you have a good chance of getting your A boarding pass and then you could show up to the airport whenever and sit in the chairs or the bar until your number group was called. Now this is all important because, especially now (even though it is free to check bags) NO ONE seems to check bags. And so if you are boarding as a late B or C, most likely 1) you are going to get a dreaded middle seat and 2) you might have to check your carry-on because the overhead bins will be full. But at least you know it will get on the plane since you are gate checking it. But it is annoying. So that was fine with me. It is crazy how many people check in at 24 hours before on the dot. If you are a minute late, you are getting a high A or a B even. But as long as you have an A, you will get a window seat if you want it. So that is all well and good. Cheap flights without all the extra fees and fair seating (assuming you have ready internet access; which is obviously not true for everyone). But it is what it is. Then they instituted the Business Select seating. So now you pay more (like $80 more) but you are guaranteed an A, no matter when you check in. So now you can pay for an A 1-16. Which seemed a little against Southwest's whole thing. You also get a free drink and more credits towards free flights. But there are only 16 Business Select seats per flight. So it isnt like everyone can buy an A etc. Then they instituted the A-list. If you fly 32 one-way flights in a 12 month period you automatically got an A boarding pass whenever you flew within a 12 month period after that. That is a whole lot of flights and that didnt bother me. There aren't that many A-listers. But then, this started within the last week or so, they instituted the EarlyBird Check-In. The way (I think) this works is this. You buy your ticket (not Business Select). And then between that time and 36 hours before your flight you can buy into the EarlyBird program for $10 each way on your flight. And then 36 hours before your flight, the Business Select passengers are automatically assigned their numbers. Then the A-listers are automatically assigned their numbers. And then the EarlyBird-ers are automatically assigned their numbers (I assume in order of purchase? but I am not sure). Between 36 hours and 25 hours prior to your flight you can also buy in. At 25 hours before the flight all of those people (who bought in between 36 and 25 hours prior) are automatically assigned their numbers. And then at 24 hours prior to the flight everyone else can manually check in. Which means that if most people on your flight use EarlyBird, then 1) they arent even guaranteed an A because now everyone is in the same pot and 2) you are stuck with whatever is left. So they are forcing you to pay an extra $10 just for the CHANCE to get an A. And (I think) it is all dependent on when you buy into the EarlyBird pot. So if I buy my ticket for Christmas now I can probably get an A. But if say I have to fly tomorrow or this weekend, for an emergency, I am screwed out of an A. Maybe. This seems antithetical to previous Southwest policy. If they need to make more money, raise the fares. If they want to streamline the way the seating works, then assign seats. But this just seems wrong to me. And the general tone of commenters on the Southwest blog (Nuts About Southwest) and on their Facebook page looks like I am not alone.

I am disappointed in Southwest right now. And I hope that it changes soon. Because in general as a company I really do like them. I think they make excellent use of Twitter, Facebook and the internet at large. They have the nicest, friendliest (and it seems happiest) airline employees I have dealt with. And I feel like I fly pretty often considering I am not rich and I dont fly for work. I have flown with them 18 times in the last 12 months. I hope they fix their gift card glitches soon and more importantly I hope they look again at who they are trying to serve and dont start becoming a big fee airline.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto

So I should really be telling you all about Sanctuary and Being Human and Quantum Leap and Revolutionary Road and Guitar Hero 5. I really should be. But I am not going to. Maybe later. Hopefully later.

Wednesday night we had Oven Roasted Italian Chicken Sausage (from Martin's, grilled on Monday) with Mashed potatoes (with caramelized onion, roasted garlic and marinated mozzarella) and broccoli and cauliflower (frozen, put in microwave with 2 cloves of chopped garlic to cook, then add crushed red pepper, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil and stone ground dijon mustard). It was all very tasty.

But nothing compared to last night's dinner, in my opinion. We made Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto with chickpeas and had whole wheat pita on the side. It was SO delicious. It was a little wet which worked nicely with the pita, it held together a little bit so we could scoop it up with the bread. But I think you could probably leave out a little bit of the liquid. Also it is easily veganized by substituting vegetable broth for chicken. Highly highly highly recommend!

Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto

Quinoa [KEEN-wah] is a quick-cooking whole grain supplying protein, iron, and vitamin E. (One of my absolute favorite go to ingredients!) Pair this side dish with simple grilled chicken or fish. For a vegetarian entrée option, use organic vegetable broth and add one (15 1/2-ounce) can of rinsed, drained chickpeas to ramp up the protein. (We added the chickpeas but still used the chicken broth and had this as the main course with a side of pita) Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup) (For us this was 2 entrees and 1 lunch [excellent leftover too!]) Cooking Light, JULY 2009

1 red bell pepper (I would probably use 2 next time)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (this is about 2 medium oranges worth of juice if you are going to fresh squeeze like I did)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
12 oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped (I used 13 kalamata and i think next time I will use a few more)
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1. Preheat broiler. (We grilled the pepper on Monday so I didn't do this step.)

2. Cut red bell pepper in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 12 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand for 10 minutes. Peel and chop. (Monday we grilled the pepper and then I put it in the fridge until last night. I didn't peel it because I forgot Monday and it was too hard last night but it didn't seem to make a difference)

3. Place quinoa, broth, 1/2 cup water, and juice in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. (It took a bit longer and the liquid was never fully absorbed but worked lovely!)

4. Place cilantro and next 7 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine bell pepper, quinoa mixture, cilantro mixture, and olives in a large bowl. Sprinkle with nuts. (I made the "pesto" and then mixed it with the chopped pepper, olives, nuts and chickpeas and then added the quinoa when it was finished. I let it stand about 5-10 minutes before serving so it wasn't quite so hot.)

CALORIES 263 ; FAT 15.8g (sat 2.2g,mono 8.3g,poly 2.4g); CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 36mg; CARBOHYDRATE 28.2g; SODIUM 318mg; PROTEIN 5.8g; FIBER 4g; IRON 3.3mg

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Middle Eastern" Eggplant Salad and Grilled Chicken

Another yummy dinner last night! I am not sure what makes this salad "middle eastern" besides having eggplant. In fact I am not really sure what makes it a salad per se. It is a warm dish more reminiscent of ratatouille in my mind. But it sure is tasty. Monday night we grilled the red peppers (instead of roasting them) and the eggplant (instead of sauteeing). We also grilled two chicken breasts which I quick marinated (about 15 minutes) in olive oil, thyme, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and white wine. Last night I sliced them and served it at room temp alongside the "salad" and some leftover focaccia from Le Bus. Would definitely recommend!

Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad

Reminiscent of baba ghanoush (really?), this salad can be served alongside roasted or grilled meats or as a dip with crackers or flatbread. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup) (Matty and I finished all of it with our chicken and focaccia) Cooking Light, JULY 2009 (that is their picture, I forgot to take one. Ours was much wetter and redder.)

2 medium red bell peppers
1 medium tomato, peeled and seeded (used 2 plum tomatoes and didn't peel)
3 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste (didn't use no-salt-added)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Dash of ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (didn't thinly slice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound eggplant, cut into (1-inch) cubes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat broiler. (I didn't do either of these first 2 steps. I simply cut the peppers in half lengthwise, removed seeds and membranes and then grilled until they started to blacken. Then put them in the fridge overnight. Yesterday I chopped them into ~1/2 inch squares. I didn't peel them because I forgot when they were hot and it was hard when they were cold. The peels didnt bother us at all.)

2. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 12 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop.

3. Place tomato in a blender (I used a small food processor since we don't have a blender); process until smooth. Combine tomato puree, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, ground red pepper, and garlic in a blender; process until smooth.

4. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add eggplant; cook 30 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently (Monday I halved the eggplant and then grilled cut side down until it started to blacken. I put it in the fridge overnight with the peppers. Last night I cut it into ~1" cubes. I cooked it in the olive oil until it was hot). Stir in bell pepper and tomato mixture. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. (I added the salt and pepper with the peppers and tomatoes because I misread but whatever).

CALORIES 182 ; FAT 14.1g (sat 2g,mono 9.9g,poly 1.7g); CHOLESTEROL 0.3mg; CALCIUM 25mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14.6g; SODIUM 315mg; PROTEIN 2.7g; FIBER 6g; IRON 1.2mg

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yummy dinner

Well Matty went to LA and I watched a whole lot of TV. Which I will talk about. At some point. And then we went to New England for a wedding. Which was lovely. But I wanted to talk about a dinner I made last week. Which I am calling Chik'n Sarambocca with Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts. The brussels sprouts recipe is based on this one from George Duran.

First I roasted a head of garlic. I cut the top off a head of garlic and put it in a small baking crock with a drizzle of olive oil and bake at 300 for an hour. While that was going I made a quick sauce. In a saucepan I added a quarter of an onion, chopped in some olive oil. When that was softened I added half a 28 oz can of my favorite tomatoes (Pastene Kitchen Ready, which You totally can't get here [I had to have my mom send some with the Gallaghers when they visited]). When that had heated through I added some balsamic vinegar and dried thyme. I let this simmer until I was ready to make the chicken. When the garlic was finished I added 3 cloves to the sauce and continued to simmer.

Next I started the brussels sprouts. I cut the bottoms off the sprouts and then cut them in half lengthwise and put them in a casserole dish. I also cut up a quarter of an onion and added that. Then I added about a quarter of a cup of pine nuts, the leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I tossed that all together and put it in the oven for 25 minutes at 425. After the first 25 minutes I tossed it all again and put it back in at 350 for another 20 minutes. (I dropped the temp because this was when I put in the chik'n.)

For the chik'n I used Morningstar Farms Italian Herb Chik Patties. Chicken saltimbocca alla Romana is chicken, rolled with proscuitto and sage and cooked in Marsala and butter. I used the chik patties and topped them with chopped pepperoni, chopped fresh basil and mozzarella. I put them in the center of a large baking dish and added cremini mushrooms (cut in half) and chopped broccoli. Then I topped the whole thing with the sauce I had made earlier. I covered this with foil and put it in the oven with the brussels sprouts, put the temp down to 350 and baked for 20 minutes.

It all came out lovely. The brussels sprouts caramelize beautifully in the vinegar. I served this all the focaccia and the rest of the roasted garlic to spread on top. It was all really really tasty and good and made up (almost) for me totally not cooking lately (it has just been too damn hot).

This week we should do better. Last night we grilled (Monday, no restaurant) a bunch of stuff for the week. We had Trader Joe's Parmesan Pesto Turkey Burgers with a side of peapods with shallots in white wine done in a foil packet. The burgers were fantastic. They are a little messy to cook, make sure your grill is very hot, otherwise they could fall apart as the thaw.