Monday, February 25, 2008


No food this post, but it's been 9 months since we've seen each other. Even though I only got to spend 2 of my 44 hours in Boston with her, it was enough time for hot chocolate-- which, we didn't have to make ourselves. =)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Peas and Prosciutto

On Sundays, John and I go grocery shopping for a few hours, trekking from the wine store to Trader Joes to our local international food store, all to get just the right ingredients (at the right price!) for the week. Then, we come home, turn on food network, and cook and relax for the evening with some tasty dish being on the stove for several hours.

Something that doesn't take long at all, however, is this neat recipe Peas and Proscuitto
It was really simple, really FAST and the only special thing you need to watch out for is to ask your local deli to slice the prosciutto thicker than normal, about 1/8 inch thick. You could also sub onions for shallots, but I do have to say shallots are tasty!

I didn't know that the difference between proscuitto and bacon is that while both are cured, bacon is smoked and prosuitto isn't. Learn something new everyday

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Slow Cooked Chili

Here's the chili I made in my slow cooker. It was great, I just dumped everything in and left it there for four hours. The best part about it was that I used this whole container of tomato soup that we bought and no one wanted to eat. I thought it was going to go to waste until I had this stroke of genius. We had the chili with cornbread of course, we love cornbread so much we're like cornbread fiends.

Who has more slow cooker recipes???

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Superbowl Snacks

I don't have pictures to share, but for the Superbowl this year I made 2 very successful dishes: 7 Layer Dip & Creamy Mac & Cheese. I've made both before, but I will say that I was particularly proud of my culinary adventure this time.

7 Layer Dip:
1 can (16 oz.) Refried Beans (I used ones that had green chilli's in it to give it an extra kick)
1 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning Mix
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Salsa
1 cup Guacamole (you could make your guac from scratch but I didn't bother this time)
1 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Shredded Cheese (totally worth using this brand of other shredded cheese b/c there's something fantastic about the spices they mix in there
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 Tbsp. sliced pitted ripe olives

I then neatly layered them all in a glass dish (so you can see all the pretty layers), pretty much going down the list from top to bottom. Mix the taco seasoning into the beans as your first layer.

I believe the recipe says you should actually refrigerate it for a few hours before serving. I think mine was in the fridge for 20-30 mins before we put it out.

I got this recipe from one of my co-workers a couple years ago and it has always been a huge success - the Superbowl was no exception.

reamy Mac & Cheese
I volunteered to make two trays of lasagna for the Superbowl because it feeds a lot, is easy, and I've made it so many times I could practically do it in my sleep. Later, it was decided the boys wanted to get Dinosaur BBQ (amazing stuff) so Rajeev volunteered me to make Mac & Cheese. My initial (internal) reaction was one of panic b/c I hadn't make mac and cheese from scratch in at least a couple years. To be fair, I had just been telling Rajeev that I make great Mac & Cheese and should make it for us one day.

I decided that if I was going to make this for 16 people, I'd better do a test run. So I made it once the Friday before (it was great - phewf!) and then made it again for the Superbowl on Sunday. It came out waaaaaaaaay better (which - if I do say so myself, is pretty good considering I thought it was just fine on Friday) on Sunday since I made a few tweaks to the recipe. Here's the final version of the recipe that I used. (It originally came from The New York Times via my friend Monica.)

1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat - I used the highest fat % i could find - 4%)
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked. (this is the best part of this recipe! no cooking noodles in advance!)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. (My notes: The NYT recipes used a temp of 375, but I changed it 350 on Sunday- otherwise the cheese got too hot and once cheese boils its a gooey mess. The NYT recipe also says to grease the bottom of the pan with butter. I didn't do it for the Superbowl and it was just fine, if not better. I made a double recipe that day and it filled 3 aluminum 8 x 8 pans [not sure how deep] from the grocery store. The single recipe from the NYT calls for 1 9 x 9 pan.)

2. With a hand blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together. Reserve 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 20 minutes. (My Notes: I forgot the mustard when I made it on Sunday and it came out just fine. One trick that I think helped things on Sunday vs. Friday -- I definitely used exactly the right amount of pasta - possibly a bit less than I was supposed to - which added to the creaminess. On Friday I was guesstimating when I poured in the pasta and I think I added a bit more than a 1/2 lb. so it was a bit drier. )

3. Check on it after 20 mins, stir the entire thing, recover, turn the heat up to 375 and cook for another 20 mins.

4. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese (and dot with a tablespoon of butter -- I didn't do this part from the NYT on Sunday. When I did it Friday I felt like I needed to watch to make sure the butter didn't burn and it just added extra grease to all already oily dish. I much preferred it without the extra butter). Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

One last note from me -- the NYT recipe said to bake the full hour at 375 and only stir it once. I did that on Friday and it was fine, but I felt like the cheese was sooooo hot and kinda gooey by the end. I used the temps and times described above and I felt like it made the cheese sauce smoother and creamier.

Overall it was a huge success at the Superbowl party. The boys ate every last bite and kept digging in to eat more even when I was shoo-ing them out of the kitchen. :)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tuna Noodles

Here we have a nice Rachael Ray "Yum-o!" supper - Creamy Tuna with Tarragon and Egg Noodles. It was pretty easy to make, and tasty too. Although I definitely had too many noodles in proportion to the sauce. I've noticed that Rach's secret ingredient is mustard - she uses it in everything. I left it out of this because I hate mustard, but I think I might try it next time. I bet it adds more flavor and I'm less likely to hate it if it's in something. This pasta wasn't spectacular but I'll probably make it again since I love tuna and creamy sauce.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The ghetto and the fabulous

So I remember when Louisa and I first started this blog. The idea was that I was a fabulous cook and she the ghetto one. But remember, we sometime switch roles.

Yesterday was that day. Oatmeal cookie disaster. Behold: The flattest cookies ever.

The recipe was promising, but the dough ended up being too runny and the cookies spread out. Each cookie is super thin, less than 1/4 inch tall. Sooooo flat. Not the soft chunky cookie i was hoping for. After adding 1/2 cup more flour to the remaining batter, the rest turned out less runny but more stiff. Ghetto cook messes up oatmeal cookies.

But, the fabulous was a potato and cauliflower curry from the Joy of Cooking (totally check it out if you have this book) which was much, much better.

A little yellow in this picture, but lots of delicious (and by lots, I mean 2-4 more meals worth!) Glad we froze some; J will probably eat it next week when I'm in LA. =)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Roasting Lamb

On the subject of roasts, one of my favorite pieces of meat to roast is lamb. In response to Louisa's questions about lamb, you don't buy a whole lamb (although I suppose you could, if you felt inclined to take up butchering). You generally buy a leg of lamb, which is a big hunk of lamb meat that often comes boneless, or a rack of lamb, which is the ribs of the lamb. Or you can buy lamb chops, but you probably wouldn't roast those. 

A rack of lamb is often rather expensive, but a leg of lamb on the smallish side can be reasonable and well worth the price.

Here's a classic version that's simple and I can vouch for how good it is:

Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary
Makes 8 servings
1 (7lb) semiboneless leg of lamb, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dry red wine or beef broth

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Pat lamb dry and score fat by making shallow cuts all over with tip of a sharp small knife.
3. Pound garlic to a paste with sea salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a heavy knife) and stir together with rosemary and pepper. Put lamb in a lightly oiled roasting pan, then rub paste all over lamb. 
4. Roast lamb in middle of oven until an instant read thermometer inserted 2 in. into the thickest part of the meat (do not touch bone) registers 130 F, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Transfer to cutting board and let stand 15-25 minutes (internal temperature will rise to 140 F for medium rare).
5. Add wine to roasting pan and deglaze by boiling over moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Season pan juices with salt and pepper and serve with lamb.

Since you're likely to have extra rosemary, buy some vegetables - onions, butternut squash, bell peppers, potatoes, beets, carrots, or whatever you like - roughly chop them up, toss them with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary, put into a shallow pan, throw in a few whole rosemary stalks and roast along with the lamb. You can probably put the veggies in the oven when the lamb has roughly a 1/2 hour to go. Depending on how many veggies you have, it shouldn't take more than 45 minutes. Then get some good bread and make a salad and you have yourself an amazing and simple meal that can also be for a lot of people (like if you want to invite me over...).

Here are a few fancier recipes to try if you give roasting lamb a go:
(Disclaimer: I haven't tried any of these, but they are all on my list of recipes to give a try and some only require a few ingredients.)