Archive for February, 2010

Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Not all red sauces are tomato-based, and they shouldn’t be.  Puréed roasted red peppers make a delightful sauce with a smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with chicken and pasta.  If you really must, you could use the peppers in a jar, but I recommend roasting your own peppers, which you can even do in advance and have them ready on the night you want to make this pasta.  So, if you’re looking for a great sauce that is a break from the tomato, then give this one a try.  You’ll be glad you did.

Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Recipe  Makes 3 servings.

2 roasted red peppers
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
cracked black pepper
pinch salt
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 pound chicken, chunked
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

  1. Put extra virgin olive oil in large skillet on stove on medium low heat. Add roasted red peppers, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper, black pepper, and salt.
  2. After red peppers are warm, remove from heat.  Purée in food processor.
  3. Meanwhile, cook chicken in the same skillet to absorb flavors left behind by the red peppers.  When chicken is almost done, add mushrooms.  Allow mushrooms to cook down until tender.
  4. Once chicken and mushrooms are cooked, pour the red pepper purée back into the skillet.  Add the heavy whipping cream.  Stir together and allow the sauce to heat through.
  5. Serve over pasta.  Sprinkle freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano on top.


Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I have always loved those sopapillas with ice cream at the Mexican restaurants, but it never occurred to me to try to make them at home. That is not until I was living in Costa Rica for several months and had incredibly limited kitchen equipment, not to mention the difficulty of shopping for food in a foreign language and not knowing half the ingredients or having access to half the ingredients I’m used to having. But, I digress. Where were we? Oh yeah, sopapillas. So it occurred to me one day to fry a tortilla and add cinnamon and honey and see what happened. I was not prepared for the goodness. It was a little experiment that ended in me practically licking my plate to get every last bit of honey and ice cream. It takes five ingredients and about five minutes to have a dessert that is beautiful and tasty. I particularly love to set the ice cream out so that it softens and melts all over my crunchy, crispy sopapilla.

Sopapilla Recipe

ice cream
canola oil

  1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.
  2. When oil is hot (flicking a bit of water in it sizzles), add the tortilla.  Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute.
  3. Flip tortilla and fry the other side until golden brown.  Remove from oil
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon and drizzle honey on top of the tortilla.
  5. If you want it con helados, with ice cream, then scoop some on top.

Salmon in Creamy Dill Sauce

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I just might be gushing about this one for weeks.  This salmon and creamy dill sauce were out of this world, definitely worth writing home, err blog, about.  The salmon–amazing. The sauce–divine.

We still had some salmon in the refrigerator, and I was jonesing for something creamy with dill and pasta. So that is what I created. I looked up a few recipes for a creamy dill sauce, and they were all based on mayonnaise and sour cream. That sounded less than appealing to me and outright disgusting to Russell, so I went to the drawing board with a marker, read stove-top with a skillet, and started making something creamy and then dill-y, and then threw it on top of some angel hair pasta.

Salmon in Creamy Dill Sauce Recipe  Makes 3 servings.


12 ounce salmon fillet
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dill
2 tablespoons lime juice
cracked black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drizzle olive oil in pan, then add the salmon fillet.
  3. Sprinkle dill on salmon.
  4. Crack black pepper on salmon.
  5. Pour lime juice on salmon.
  6. Bake until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, about 20 minutes.
  7. While salmon is in the oven, make the creamy dill sauce.

Creamy Dill Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons dill
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
cracked black pepper
pinch salt
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano

  1. Melt butter and cream cheese  in saucepan on medium low heat.
  2. Add dill, oregano, nutmeg, red pepper, black pepper, and salt.
  3. Add heavy whipping cream.  Stir until smooth.
  4. Add parmigiano-reggiano.  Stir until cheese melts.

Once the salmon is baked, chunk it up and add it to the creamy dill sauce and serve over pasta.

Zippy Salmon

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Delicious.  Nutritious.  Gorgeous.  Nope, not a commercial or a word game, just me raving about this salmon.  A lot of ingredients go into the marinade, making this a hard-to-classify salmon that Russell calls zippy. The marinade gives the salmon a kick that complements  rather than overwhelms.  This recipe is special enough for an occasion, without being overly complicated. The list of ingredients may be a little intimidating, but there is nothing difficult about it.  Grilling it over some charcoal sends this salmon to another plane, but it is too good not to have all winter, which is how I know that it also bakes nicely in the oven.

Zippy Salmon Recipe  Makes 2-3 servings.

1 pound salmon fillet
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup sherry
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. In a small bowl, combine canola oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, hot chili sauce, brown sugar, green onions, garlic, ginger, red pepper, and salt.
  2. Place salmon in a baking dish.  Pour sauce over the salmon, and let marinade for up to 1 hour.  (Any longer and the salmon will start to break down and result in a mushy texture.)
  3. Grill or bake at 400 degrees until the salmon reaches 145 degrees, about 25 minutes in the oven.

Oven-Roasted Red Peppers

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

They are smoky, sweet, and colorful.  Great on pizza, with pasta, in hummus. Red peppers liven up a lot of dishes, and roasted red peppers add another whole level of flavor.  If you like the ones in a jar, then you’ll love these.  But once you try them, you cannot go back to the jars.  And frankly, you shouldn’t.   When peppers look particularly tasty or they are on sale, stock up and make a batch.  You can refrigerate them for a couple of weeks, or put them in the freezer for even longer.

Oven Roasted Red Peppers Recipe

red peppers
olive oil

  1. Remove stickers and wash peppers.
  2. Place sideways on pan and put in oven set to broil.
  3. Watch peppers closely and turn with tongs when the side facing up has blistered and turned black.  This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Repeat step 3 until all sides have turned black, about 20 minutes.
  5. Put the hot peppers in a bowl and cover with a lid or foil to capture the steam from the peppers as they cool.  This will make removing the skins easier.
  6. Once the peppers are cool, peel the skin and remove tops and seeds.  Do this in a strainer over a bowl so you can capture the juice that drips from the peppers.
  7. If you are not using the peppers right away, put them in a jar and cover with olive oil.

Spinach Feta Pasta

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Remember that old Rice Krispies Treats commercial where the mom is in the kitchen reading while the family waits on the treats, thinking she is slaving away. (If not, watch it right now!) I loved this commercial when I was a kid and still make jokes about making Rice Krispies Treats when I’m covered in flour. So, what in the world, you are wondering, does that have to do with Spinach Feta Pasta? Well, this pasta is just as easy to make as Rice Krispies Treats. The difference is that not everyone knows it, so you can fool your spouse, or whomever, into thinking you slaved away in the hot kitchen, when really you barely did anything more than boil water.

So, pick up a book, head to the kitchen, and make this for dinner if you really want to impress someone (even if just yourself) but can’t be bothered to make homemade lobster ravioli. (recipe coming soon)

Spinach Feta Pasta Recipe  Makes 3-4 servings

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh baby bella mushrooms
9 ounces fresh spinach
6 ounces feta, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

  1. Sauté shallot in extra virgin olive oil on medium low heat.
  2. Add garlic, mushrooms, red pepper, black pepper, and salt.
  3. When mushrooms are cooked, add spinach and feta.  Stir together and allow feta to melt.
  4. Serve over pasta of choice.

Ginger Scones

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Don’t you love those dry, crumbly scones that lack flavor and are hard as a rock?  Me neither, yet that seems to be the status quo.  I had pretty much decided that scones were one of those boring foods that the Brits ate, but I couldn’t really figure out why.  So it isn’t too surprising that I was not particularly excited about my friend Jay offering to bake me some ginger scones, even though I knew he was a great baker.  I thought scones were just one of those foods on which we’d have to agree to disagree.  I began to doubt myself when I smelled the wonders emanating from his oven, but it wasn’t until I took a bite of this delicacy sent from heaven via Jay that I converted and begged him for the recipe.  He probably didn’t realize at the time that I would hand over just about anything to get my hands on that recipe, or if he were anything like me, he would have taken advantage of my new found love.  Fortunately for me, Jay is as wonderful as these scones, so he gladly shared the recipe.

Ginger Scones Recipe  Makes 8 scones

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps.
  4. Stir in ginger.
  5. Stir in heavy cream.
  6. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball.
  7. Shape and press the dough into an approximately 8″ circle, like a pizza.  Then cut into eight wedges.
  8. Place wedges on ungreased cookie sheet and bake until tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes before eating.

Cinnamon Ginger Granola

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

You know the best thing about granola? It’s yummy. But the second best thing is that you can pretty much make it any way you like it–adding different dried fruits, sweeter or less sweet, using any combination of nuts or sweeteners, or even adding chocolate chips. Heck, you can even vary the baking time to get your ideal texture. You can also experiment with how you eat it–plain, as cereal alone or as cereal mixed with other cereal, on top of yogurt, or one of my favorites as granola bars. Really, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination, but I’ve pretty much settled on this recipe because I love that ginger flavor.

Cinnamon Ginger Granola Recipe  Makes about 2.5 quarts

6 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup ginger syrup
1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Put oats in (stove-top safe) roasting pan on burner set to medium-low, and stir occasionally.
  3. After you smell the oats and they have darkened in color (about 7 minutes), stir in sunflower seeds, almonds, and wheat germ.
  4. After 3-4 minutes, stir in coconut.
  5. After an additional 3-4 minutes, stir in maple syrup, ginger syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
  7. Allow to completely cool before transferring to a sealed container.

Scalloped Turnips

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

What happens when you add heavy cream and butter to shallots and turnips? A creamy goodness that will have you coming back for more. I love turnips, the sweet, delicate flavor with just a hint of bite. In this dish, they are unbelievably tender, and did I say buttery? If you’re looking for a substitute to the ubiquitous potato side dish, this will not let you down.

Scalloped Turnips Recipe  Makes 3-4 servings

2 turnips, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons flour
black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in 11″ x 7″ casserole dish.
  3. Sauté the shallots in 1 tablespoon of butter.
  4. Layer bottom of casserole dish with half the turnip slices followed by half the shallots. Top with 1 tablespoon of small pats of butter. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of flour, black pepper, and salt.
  5. Repeat step 4 to create a second layer, then add heavy cream.
  6. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Why I didn’t eat black beans for the first 20+ years of my life is beyond me, but as soon as I tried them, I was hooked and haven’t looked back. They are tasty, healthy, and versatile, not to mention cheap, which is why they immediately became a staple in my kitchen.

For a while, I have wanted to make some black bean soup, but I never managed to avoid eating the beans long enough to create such a concoction. Until recently.  (I discovered that all I have to do is make enough beans to eat and still have enough left for soup.  Now I can eat my beans and have them, too.)  After culling through a dozen or so recipes for black bean soup for ideas, I came up with this magical soup.

Spicy Black Bean Soup Recipe  Makes about 7 bowls

1 medium onion, diced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons, oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (For vegetarian, substitute vegetable stock)
6 cups black beans, cooked, salted, and drained
1 14.5 ounce can niblet corn, drained
1 14.5 ounce can tomatoes
1/8 cup hot chili sauce

  1. Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil until onions are soft.
  2. Stir in chili powder and cumin.
  3. Add chicken stock, chili garlic sauce, corn and 3 cups of the beans.
  4. Bring to boil, then let simmer.
  5. Puree the other 3 cups of the black beans and the tomatoes together.
  6. Add puree to the soup, and let simmer at least until carrots are soft.

Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.  Serve with Mexican Cornbread.