Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tangy Corn and Avocado Salsa

Oh, Mollie... thank you so much for this recipe. You have combined some of my favorite foods in this world: avocados, cilantro, cherry tomatoes and cumin.

To preface this, you should know that I will eat avocados plain, right out of the skin with a spoon. I LOVE THEM. There's really no need to 'dress up' guacamole or avocados for me. However, in the spirit of trying new things and cinco de mayo, I gave this dip a shot. Certainly sounded good.

Yowzers!! I could have eaten the whole bowl myself, and then licked it clean. Unfortunately (for me), I'm a nice person and shared some with Tim.

Easily a very, very impressive avocado dip. Make for friends, or simply indulge yourself one day. We taste tested the dip with chips, delicious. Then used it as an accompaniment to quesadillas, super delicious.

Go ahead, make this... soon. Treat yourself.

Note: Mollie also recommends this, but because you are adding fresh cut tomatoes which get mealy after sitting out for a while, I recommend eating this same day. Which, believe me, you wont have a problem doing.

Note #2: I personally prefer Haas avocados for guacamole and dip making.

Tangy Corn and Avocado Salsa
from Mollie Katzen

1 cup finely minced red onion
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (and possibly more)
2 ripe-but-firm avocados
2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups fresh corn (shaved from 2 ears of corn) - I used canned, was still great
1/2 cup finely minced red bell pepper
1 cup tiny cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Put up about half a kettle of water to boil. Place the minced red onion in a colander over a sink, and when the water boils, pour it over the onion. Let the onion sit in the colander, draining, while you prepare the other ingredients.

Place the lime juice in a medium-sized bowl. Cut the avocados in half, pull out the seeds, and peel. Scoop out the flesh, cut it into small dice, and transfer to the lime juice. Stir gently until all the pieces of avocado are coated with lime juice.

Add all remaining ingredients except the cilantro (include the red onion from Step 1). Mix gently but thoroughly until everything is combined. Taste to adjust salt and lime juice, then cover and chill until serving time. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.

Lovely, lovely avocado. More recipes:
- Creamy Avocado Chipotle Dip, from Cafe Lynnylu
- Chunky White Bean Avocado Dip, from Food Network
- Three Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa, from Archana's Kitchen
- Guacamole, from My Wooden Spoon

Guten appetit!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cajun Seasoning

A while back, I posted a recipe for Shrimp Etouffee. Shrimp Etouffee is a cajun/creole dish with a lot of flavor and delicious spices blended together.

However, one of the spices requested in the dish wasn't something I had. Cajun Seasoning.

Sometimes I will just omit an ingredient in a recipe, if I don't have it, don't think we'll like it, or I don't think it's necessary. This one seemed too crucial to the shrimp recipe, and I wasn't willing to omit it.

Luckily, cajun seasoning is just a mix of other spices, so you can easily make your own and keep it in a jar or ziploc sack for future. Below is the recipe I used and liked, with one change...

The original recipe was too salty for me, so I've cut back on the salt from 3/4 cup to 1/3 cup. If you make the original version, I recommend omitting any other salt requested in the main recipe you are using the seasoning for.

Cajun Seasoning
adapted slightly from Allrecipes

1/3 cup salt
1/4 cup ground cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons ground white pepper
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder

Mix everything together in a jar or ziploc sack. Seal tightly and shake to mix before using.

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Butternut Squash and Edamame Pasta

I'm posting this recipe extremely tardy (it's from November!), because honestly, it didn't turn out that great. This belle didn't quite make it to her ball. Frankly, it was bland.

Because I can't recommend it, I also have to tag it as a 'disaster'. I don't think it was terrible, but I wouldn't make it again. Maybe it strikes your fancy though, and you decide to try it out. If so, let us know what you think. Could have just been me and my taste preferences.

I liked the idea of this recipe for two reasons, I love edamame and I love butternut squash. During this time of year, I have hankerings for squash. They call out to me at the market, I swear.

I had actually seen this recipe before, but in it's original version, using lima beans instead of edamame. When I saw this twist on the recipe, I jumped at the chance to make it. Not all recipes can be 'winners' though, so it's ok that it wasn't a favorite of ours. Try everything (or most things!) once. It's a good motto to live by.

Taste was just OK, but it definitely looked good!

Butternut Squash and Edamame Pasta
from A Good Appetite

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 t dried
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
3 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. (about a 2 lb squash)
1 10-ounche package frozen soybeans (shelled), thawed. (or use baby lima beans)
2 cups vegetable broth
10 ounces penne pasta (3 cups)
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add onion & saute under tender and golden, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic, thyme and crushed red pepper & stir 1 minute. Add squash & beans & saute 3 minutes.

Add broth & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover & simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes, or until the squash is mostly soft. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain & return to pot. Add squash mixture to pasta. Toss to blend, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if necessary (our was overly soupy and I had to drain most of the broth). Season with salt & pepper.

Transfer to bowl & sprinkle with cheese.

Other Butternut Squash pasta recipes I'd like to try:
- Fettucini with Butternut Squash, Sage and Brown Butter, from Apartment Therapy
- Butternut Squash and Sage Ravioli, from La Tartine Gourmande
- Baked Pasta with Butternut Squash and Ricotta, from Urban Drivel

Guten appetit!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Breakfast Egg Sandwich with Avocado and Chipotle Mayo

I'm in love with Susan, aka Food Blogga. Have you ever seen or read her blog? If not, please do.

Not only is Susan inventive with her own food creations, her parents are italian, and she shares some really great traditional family dishes. Her posts are fun, interesting, not too long and I've bookmarked over half of her recipes to try. They're everyday, delicious foods - right up my alley!

Here she is again, combining some of my favorite foods: english muffins, eggs and avocado. Not to mention, giving this sandwich a mexican twist. Oh Susan, I really, really do love you. Not like I love my husband or son, but in another friendly, admiration filled way.

I tried this breakfast egg sandwich this weekend, and it's nothing short of divine. I had to make a couple substitutions, the most critical being the chipotle sauce. I thought I had a chipotle chili in adobo sauce can in my pantry, but hadn't checked for sure. Always a mistake. So for a substitute, I used 1 teaspoon dry taco seasoning mix, and it worked great! I love the smoky chipotle chili flavor though, and intend to re-try this recipe soon using the chili sauce. Also to note though, that chipotle chili in adobo sauce is *quite* spicy. If you are not a fan of heat, or never tried the adobo sauce before, use 1/2 teaspoon to start and taste it before making the sandwich (you can always add more).

Served with a side of sliced pear

My basic fried egg sandwich is like 'old faithful', but this is my new egg sandwich with pizazz. There's a time and a place for both of them in my life.

Thank you, Susan, for sharing with us such delicious recipes!

Breakfast Egg Sandwich with Avocado and Chipotle Mayo
from Food Blogga

1 multi-grain or whole wheat English muffin
3 egg whites (I used 5 egg whites for 2 sandwiches, and it was plenty. Using the yolks is OK too)
a dab of olive or canola oil
about 1 teaspoon soy mayo mixed with 1 teaspoon chipotle adobo sauce (dont use the chilis, just the sauce)
1/4 of an avocado, sprinkled with lime juice (lime juice is optional)
1 ounce cheddar cheese (I used emmentaler)

Toast the English muffin. Mix the soy mayo and chipotle chili and set aside. Slice the avocado and sprinkle with lime juice to prevent it from oxidizing, or turning brown; set aside.

Rub a dab of olive or canola oil over the surface of a small non-stick skillet over medium heat Add egg whites and cook 2 minutes, or until slightly puffed; fold in half and cook 1 minute, or until lightly browned; flip, add the cheddar cheese, and cook 1 minute more (or until your preferred doneness).

Spread the chipotle mayo on the toasted English muffins. Add the eggs with melted cheese and avocado slices.

Plenty more egg sandwiches to try:
- Jamaican Fried Egg Sandwich, from Asparagus Thin
- Egg, Mayonnaise and Cress Sandwich, from Greedy Gourmet
- Focaccia Egg Sandwich, from Baking Cottage
- Open-face Balsamic Egg Sandwich, from Yum Sugar

Guten appetit!

Pasta with Halibut and Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

This should be a guest post, as I'm stealing the real chef's hard work. While Jamie & Chria visited us in December, they made this delicious Ratatouille. I simply sat back and snapped the pictures, then savored the meal. Lucky me!

The dish idea came about because of a discussion with Jamie over Tim's and my dislike of eggplant. I don't understand why so many vegetarian dishes include eggplant, and the general public assumes a vegetarian loves two things: portabella mushrooms and eggplant. I'm sure some people do, but not me. Don't like either.

However, Jamie promised me that I would like eggplant when made in one of her favorite recipes: Pasta with Halibut and Oven-Roasted Ratatouille.

If she's cooking, I'm game to try it! I get lots of yummy recipes from her, so the trust is there. And who knows, maybe my eggplant aversion could be turned around (Jamie, when are you going to start eating tomatoes?).

I must say, she was right. Cut up small, and roasted to soft goodness, I didn't mind the eggplant. I even think I liked it! I preferred the zucchini and other veggies, but there were so many flavors mixing in this dish, I didn't really notice the eggplant. Next time someone asks if I like eggplant, I can say 'yes, when made in pasta with halibut and oven-roasted ratatouille'. This is a major step (pat, pat on my back).

This dish was delicious, filling and very healthy. Looked easy to prepare too, just a bit of prep and waiting for the roasting process to happen (I think our oven is slower than most though). For a vacation day, or weekend evening, this is a great recipe to try.

Thanks Jamie & Chria!

from Epicurious, and graciously cooked for us by Jamie & Chria

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1-pound eggplant, unpeeled, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 small zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, flattened
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence*
1 12-ounce halibut fillet
2 cups medium-size pasta shells

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Spread next 5 ingredients on sheet. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. Roast vegetables until tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Push vegetables to sides of sheet. Place fish in center of sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until just opaque in center, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot. Add roasted vegetables and enough reserved pasta cooking water to pasta to moisten; toss. Cut fish into 1/2-inch pieces; add to pasta and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper.

*A dried herb mixture available at specialty foods stores and some supermarkets.

More rat-a-tat-touille:
- Ratatouille Tart, from Smitten Kitchen
- Ratatouille on Polenta with Baby Greens, from Karina's Kitchen
- Seasonal Ratatouille, from Serious Eats
- The movie!

Guten appetit!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Product of the Month: Organize with free online tools

I need all the organizational help I can get. I do well with lists, but the lists are usually on random scraps of paper, on the back of receipts or possibly on a sticky note.

Enter, stage left, Mommy Track'd!

Mommy Track'd has generously put together and offered 6 different organizational tools, which we can download for FREE to help us mommies (and daddies) keep our heads on straight.

I especially love The Eat Sheet weekly meal planner/grocery shopping list. It's something you could do yourself on a wipe board, but if you don't have one of those, theirs is awfully cute and free (did I mention, free?!). The Party Planning Worksheet is my second favorite tool.

Check them out, I bet you'll find something you like and can use too!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta

Like garlic? You're going to love today's recipe.

Any time you use raw garlic, you should put a warning on the dish... "only to be consumed by both parties currently in a relationship". If you are single, and enjoying a leisure night, eat away. You're still forewarned, if you take leftovers to work (or other public place) the following day.

Thankfully, I like garlic and really enjoyed this dish the night of, and following day for lunch. Tim, however, was not with me when I made and ate it. I wanted to try it out first, since it involved 'cream', and super creamy sauces are not his favorite. My garlic breath was a bit overpowering when he got home, but it's always worth a laugh when you force a few kisses on him.

Next time, even with the two of us eating it together, I will either roast the garlic first, or use only 1/2 of a raw garlic clove (needs but a hint of the powerful garlic flavor). I've adjusted the recipe below to reflect this. If you want to make the original recipe, it calls for 3 raw garlic cloves.

With the garlic change, the dish is extra delicious, and the cream sauce is just right. It coats the pasta, but isn't a thick, overly filling cream. Definitely a keeper recipe for fast weeknight suppers.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta
originally from Picky Palate, adapted by Annie's Eats

3 cloves garlic roasted, OR 1/2 raw garlic clove
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup roasted red bell pepper (fresh or jarred)
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup heavy cream, optional

Place garlic and pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add Parmesan, red pepper, basil leaves, salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined. With the motor running, add olive oil through the feed tube and process until incorporated. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Add the pesto to the pasta and stir to combine. Stir in heavy cream if desired for a creamier sauce. Heat until warmed through. Serve immediately.

More Hausfrau weeknight pasta dishes:
- Four-cheese Stuffed Shells
- Garlicky Peppers and Shrimp Pasta
- Mac & Cheese
- Chipotle Pasta Casserole

Guten appetit!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This recipe was first made for me by a friend, Erica. She was pregnant and had been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. For a girls lunch, we were all to bring a dish, and Erica brought this Artichoke and Spinach Dip, with veggies to use for dipping. She needed to stay away from carbs, and I thought it was a brilliant choice. Not to mention very tasty! Everyone at the lunch complimented her on it and wanted the recipe, including me.

Best part of this recipe, it's ridiculously easy. Will take you approximately 5 minutes to make, or less. There was so little for me to do and prepare when I made it a couple months later for my sister's housewarming party, that I can't even put together a 4-square picture collage. I suppose I could have taken a picture of someone eating the dish, but isn't it cruel and unusual punishment to publicly post pictures of others eating? I think so.

Once you hear the source of this recipe, you might not believe me that it has a creamy, delicious flavor and the perfect mix of flavors. It's from Atkins. Yes, I know! I hear anything 'diet' related, and cringe. But I promise you, it's delicious. It was fully consumed at my sister's housewarming, just as it had been at our girls lunch. A definite crowd pleaser, and I promise, no-one will know it's from a diet source.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
from Atkins

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1(13 3/4-ounce) can artichoke bottoms, drained
2 garlic cloves
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix, mix, mix

Ready to bake

Heat oven to 350F. Grease a 1-quart ovenproof pan. In a food processor, process spinach, artichokes, garlic, cream cheese, Parmesan and pepper until well combined, scraping down sides of processor, as needed.Spread mixture in prepared pan. Bake until warmed through, about 30 minutes. Serve hot with sliced vegetables.

Dips to love:
- Hummus
- Fresh Salsa
- Tom Douglas's Crab Dip, from Al Dente
- Hot Sweet Onion Dip, from Closet Cooking

Guten appetit!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Orange Sugar Biscuits

I'm not sure if this is cheating... But those are my mom's hands rolling and cutting these delicious biscuits. I simply snapped a few photos and enjoyed the finished product with dinner. Yum, yum.

I couldn't help it. Once I found out she was making them for dinner, I ran to get my camera. I knew I had to share them with you, and because they've always been a special occasion biscuit, which we usually eat at my moms, I've never made them myself. I'm sure I will someday. But they're one of the foods I associate with my mom, and frankly, I like sitting back and reaping her rewards. I know, I know. "Terrible daughter. Stop being a taker!" I promise, I make up for it in other ways.

As I mentioned, my mom usually makes these for special meals (Christmas dinner, Easter brunch, birthdays, etc). What makes them worthy of a special meal? Well, I'm sure most of you would agree that biscuits alone are quite tasty. Especially right from the oven, hot and fluffy, with a pat of butter melting in the middle. However, these biscuits truly are special. They include a hint of orange, as well as a sugar cube melted in the top, center of the biscuit. Oh, how lovely. It really is like biting into a special treat.

Next time you have a special meal to prepare for, and you need a bread/biscuit option. Think of these! They're great for brunch, lunch or dinner.

Orange Sugar Biscuits

from mom, original source unknown as it's been in her recipe box over 30 years

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium orange peel, finely grated
5 tablespoons shortening
2/3 cup milk

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the finely grated orange peel. Cut in shortening until the dough starts to resembles coarse meal the size of corn kernels. Add milk gradually, and stir until soft dough forms (don't over stir).

Turn out dough onto a floured work surface, and knead lightly (about 30 seconds). Pat or roll to 1/2-3/4 inch thick, and cut with a 2 inch round biscuit cutter. Arrange biscuits in a 9-10 inch round ungreased pie or tart pan. Biscuits can touch each other, but shouldn't be squished to fit. Dip sugar cube in orange juice and press into center of biscuits.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes to cool, serve warm.

Biscuits galore:
- Italian Pepper Biscuits, from Food Blogga
- Herbed Cheese Biscuits, from Pinch My Salt
- Buttermilk Biscuits with Goat Cheese and Chives, from Simply Recipes
- Classic Buttermilk Biscuits, from Serious Eats

Guten appetit!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Brussels Sprouts Pasta

While our friends Jamie, Chria and little miss Clara were visiting, we reminisced over a favorite recipe of theirs. Jamie had shared this recipe with me years ago, and I made it a couple times, to our tummy's delight. But in the last couple years, I couldn't find the page I had the recipe printed on, so it had dropped off my radar.

Jamie was not deterred. She went out to the wonderful "world wide web" (what did we ever do without you, oh beloved internet?!) to search and find the recipe. She also did all the brussels sprout prep the night before, so we had a fast, delicious dinner with good friends, good wine and delicious food after a day of busy sightseeing. Can life get any better? (answer: no!)

Thank you for visiting us, and thank you for this delicious dinner. xoxo.

Brussels Sprouts Pasta
from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables

2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems removed and separated into leaves
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pinch hot red pepper flakes
1/2 lemon, juiced
Bread crumbs (optional)
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
1 pound/box of pasta (original recipe calls for orecchiette, we used bowties)

Prep your brussels sprouts. (This is the most time consuming part of the original recipe, and will take up to 20 minutes if you chop the bottoms and separate all the brussels sprout leaves, as requested. I prefer to clean and remove the stems, then zap them in a food processor for much faster results. Doesn't give you the same pretty presentation, but tastes just as good.)

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, in a medium-large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss in the sprout leaves, add salt and freshly ground black pepper, and saute for about one minute over high heat. Stir constantly.

Add the onions and the red pepper flakes, and continue to saute until the sprouts are tender and a little browned, 2-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the garlic, and toss (I like to add the garlic a little before removing it from heat, so the garlic isn't quite as raw/pungent). Pour lemon juice onto the sprouts.

When the pasta is done, add it, drained, to the saute pan and toss everything together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve drizzled with olive oil (try to use a good olive oil). Toss with toasted bread crumbs or parmesan cheese, if desired. Serves 4.

Brussels sprouts, oh brussels sprouts:
- Brussels Sprouts with White Beans, from Pro Bono Baker
- Creamy Brussels Sprouts Soup, from French Kitchen in America
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
- Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts, from Orangette

Guten appetit!