December 29, 2013

Baked Brie en Croute

Baked brie might seem like an expensive appetizer, but it’s really not — if you can find a great deal on Brie (hint: Try Aldi), all it takes is a few nuts, dried fruit and puff pastry to put together this decadent dish. All in all, this will come together for less than $12, but it will serve a crowd.

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December 22, 2013

Classic Lasagna Roll-Ups

Despite my love of food now, I didn’t really have much of an interest in making anything other than chocolate chip cookies and spaghetti until I was in college. After my sophomore year of college when I was living in my parents’ condo in Arizona with a really nice kitchen and I realized that during my junior year, I wouldn’t have that cushy meal plan anymore, I thought I should maybe have a couple of dishes under my belt. Lasagna was the first one I tried, although a disdain for ricotta lead to me to making it with cottage cheese.

So for the past eight-ish years, lasagna has been my thing. I’ve never made it any more complicated than I did during the first summer, always using cottage cheese, no-boil noodles, ground beef and jarred sauce. No one has ever complained.

But I have finally created a more refined version of lasagna. On top of that, this lasagna not only offers built-in portion control, but also makes dishing the lasagna out so much easier. Instead of trying to slop a square onto the plate (it’s supposed to come out neatly? Mine certainly did not), just neatly scoop out one roll. And while, certainly, boiling the noodles and then rolling them up took longer than simply layering all the ingredients, it was not as difficult or time-consuming as I thought.

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December 1, 2013

Peppermint Brownie Bites

Mini desserts are the way to go when you’re on a budget for a holiday party. People just take one or two of them, satisfying their chocolate fix while keeping your wallet safe and sound. With the crushed candy canes on top — plentiful and cheap this time of year — it’s festive and budget-friendly.

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November 13, 2013

Pancit Bihon (Filipino Fried Rice Noodles)

Even though I love crabs, chicken, and Maryland sweet corn as much as the next girl, I also have a wonderfully diverse group of friends. So on Saturday, when I threw the question of what I should cook that day out to the general world of Facebook, it was really exciting when my Filipino neighbor offered up some suggestions.

November 1, 2013

Chicken and Butternut Squash (Alternate title: How I received my first chopping-related blister)

Apparently, I am horrible at following recipes.

I find a recipe (online most of the time) that sounds great. Then I go to make it and realize that I forgot to buy an ingredient or two or just don’t feel like making it the way the recipe calls for. I suppose that means I just take recipes as inspiration and adapt them to fit my desires.

So this recipe that I’m about share with you that I’m blandly calling “Chicken and Butternut Squash” was inspired by this Butternut Squash Gratin recipe on Epicurious.  The spirit is the same, but most of the ingredients — and the method — are different.

The great thing about this dish is that if you just cook up some rice, which we did, you have almost a one-dish meal (almost, I said. Almost).

However, I cut up a butternut squash for the first time (versus buying it pre-cut or roasting it first) and I actually got a blister on the bottom of the pointer finger from it. It’s quite painful!



Chicken and Butternut Squash

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (They sell it like this, you don’t have to butcher it yourself)
1 butternut squash
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts
1 package sage, chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup light cream
4 ounces goat cheese, sliced or crumbled
Your choice of dried herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, etc.)

Cut the butternut squash into chunks, doing your best not to get a blister. Alternatively, buy pre-cut squash, which is what I’ll be doing from now on. Here’s a smart way to peel and chop a squash, which I did not follow. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the squash around the edges of a large roasting pan. Arrange the chicken pieces in the middle of the pan and drizzle the whole thing with olive oil. Sprinkle on your choice of herbs — I used a delicious French herbs mixture that I was given as a gift, but any of your favorites will do — and add the cranberry and walnuts wherever there is room. Drizzle the cream over the mixture; it just adds a little richness to the final dish.

Put the pan in the oven and roast for  30 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the chicken’s skin is crispy. Sprinkle the goat cheese and sage over the dish and return the pan to the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the goat cheese is slightly melted. Serve immediately with rice or broccoli.

October 30, 2013

Grilled Bok Choy

Raise your hand if you’ve ever eaten Bok Choy. 

That’s not too many of you! This Asian vegetable is cheap, guys — we’re talking maybe $1.50 a pound here. I like to saute it or add it to soups, but when the weather is nice, consider grilling it.

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October 25, 2013

How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Making your own pumpkin puree is easy as pie (Bad pun, I know). If you can’t find any canned pumpkin — and at this time of year, grocery stores are often cleared out of the stuff — just pick up a sugar pie pumpkin and roast your own.

Start with a 2- to 3- pound sugar pie pumpkin. Large carving pumpkins aren’t suited for roasted and pureeing because the inside of it is stringy and unpalatable.

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.

Pumpkin

There is no reason it has to be organic. I just happened to be shopping at an organic food market the day I bought this little guy. Using a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin in half.

Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin with a spoon, scraping all the stringy bits out, too. In a pumpkin of this size, there won’t be a ton of seeds. However, if you want to put in the work for roasting them, I salute you. I did not do that.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil (or don’t. It just makes for an easier clean-up). Drizzle just a smidgle (I just made that word up) of olive oil and put the pumpkin halves cut side down on the sheet.

Place in the preheated oven and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the skin of the pumpkin is tender when poked with a fork.

If you haven’t noticed by now, this method is basically identical to roasting any other type of squash.

When it’s done, the pumpkin will look like this.

ou’ll notice, despite the not-so-impressive photograph, that the pumpkin’s skin deepened to a red-orange color (there’s no Photoshop trickery here! It was actually quite lovely.)

Scrape the flesh into the bowl of your food processor (this should be pretty easy, the flesh will just fall right out if it’s cooked properly). Pulse for a few seconds, and you’ll have pure pumpkin puree. Store in the refrigerator for a few days.

September 25, 2013

Zucchini Parmesan

While versions of this recipe using chicken and eggplant are staples in any Italian kitchen, using zucchini brings a fresh rendition to this delicious classic. If your backyard zucchini plant is still producing, this is a great way to use it up!

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February 4, 2013

Pumpkin Turkey Chili // Breaking My Food Photography Obsession

I love food photography. I can browse Pinterest’s food & drink section for hours, staring at all the beautiful photos of recipes, both sweet and savory.

However, I don’t often love my food photos! Working at a food editor for a magazine, I often felt pressure to take beautiful photos to accompany my recipes; however, I never had any proper training, equipment or styling skills. It ended up being an obsession – but I am breaking through that obsession now (and because I’ve been rejected from Tastespotting and Foodgawker so much, I think it’s definitely time).

So, don’t mind if my food photos are more of the iPhone variety these days (although I still plan to use my DSLR when it’s handy). Really, it’s for my own well-being.

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I’m officially calling this recipe “Pumpkin Turkey Chili,” though some might article that it’s a bastardization of the word “chili.” If you say that – fine, it’s a stew. Whatever you want to call it, it’s chock-full of healthy things and really filling, to boot.

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January 10, 2013

Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Truffle Oil topped with Short Ribs // The One Where Crouton Tries to Go Shopping

I often feel the need to add a disclaimer to my blog posts, stating “THIS PHOTO IS NOT STAGED. I PROMISE.”  Crouton gets herself into such weird little situations and poses that I could imagine someone thinking, “Please. This is a cat we’re talking about. This is not for real.”

That would only come from someone who hadn’t actually met Crouton, but I digress.

Over the weekend, David had borrowed my debit card. When I was sitting on the bed, he tossed at me to return it (Not exactly the most responsible method of return, but again, that’s digressing). It soared passed me onto the floor on my left.

In the 10 to 15 seconds between the card landing on the floor and me looking to my left, I couldn’t tell you what happened. But, I looked down to see this:

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I guess there’s a chance that the debit card simply landed there. I prefer to think that it landed next to Crouton, and that she stealthily drew one paw out to slide it back to her. “I’ll take this, thank you. I’ve been considering purchasing a new hair dryer to maintain my fluffy exterior. Or food. I need some more food.”

Crouton always thinks she needs more food.

truffle pasta
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