Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pasta with garlic scapes pesto and peas

 My cousin AA gave me some spinach pasta and olive oil for my birthday, so when JW was out at the Phils for dinner, I decided I'd treat myself to this meal!

I love the flavor of garlic scapes, which I've been collecting the tips left over from other dishes to make pesto:

1/2 pound garlic scapes, cut into 2-inch pieces

3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

ground black pepper to taste

The flavor seemed so intense- so I doctored it up a bit, adding a little more lemon juice, a dash of balsamic, 1/2 a diced tomato, and a few basil leaves.

As the pasta finished cooking, I threw in a handful of fresh peas from the CSA. DELISH!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Extreme Chocolate Cake

I was celebrating a birthday recently, and couldn't decide if I should make a cake or just buy one of those so terrible they are amazing supermarket sheet cakes... so I did both.

JW has been living off the sheet cake for a week, and meanwhile, I've been living off this delightful chocolaty goodness. I don't think anything beats a nice cold piece of cake! COLD... yes!

This cake was easy enough.


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water (I heard that with coffee would have been good too, instead of water)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. (I realized I didn't own any cake pans, so made it in the bundt pan. I also didnt flour the pan, which was maybe why I had issues later.)
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely. (Bake 45 for bundt. Cooling 10 minutes was not long enough as it crumbled into a pile of mess when I finally got it free from the pan since it was so moist and too hot.)
  4. To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners' sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.
  5. Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.

YUM! The buttercream icing is delicious. I've been eating the cake with my coffee for a week! It's awesome

Salmon Cakes and Garlic Scapes

I made my typical salmon cakes and sauteed some diced garlic scapes at the same time. I served them with some wild rice. To be honest, the scapes were the perfect addition to the rice.  The scapes, garlic asparagus in flavor, were just made with butter, salt and pepper, my veggie go to!

I also prepared roasted fennel, which I got the recipe from my CSA:

JW thought this meal tasted a little TOO organic, as everything had a fresh field flavor to it... (the scapes, the wild rice, the fennel, the fresh onion, scapes, and herbs in the cakes) but I liked it. A lot.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

I made Chicken Tikka Masala before, and it took several days to marinade and then cook. I don't really operate that way- so I decided to try it again and test the need for days of marinade.

JW's verdict: the best tikka masala ever, "now go write it down!" (of course, I didn't)

So, I started with the basic recipe I blogged about before, but here were my modifications for 1 Day:


Masala Marinade

  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I probably added a bit more... it was nice and warm!)
  • One 35-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I had half and half...)


  1. MAKE THE MASALA MARINADE: In my food processor, I ground the garlic cloves, fresh ginger, cumin, whole coriander seeds, ground ginger, cayenne and turmeric. In a plastic bag, combine the yogurt and spices. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken into small chunks and make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate for as long as you have.
  3. MEANWHILE, in a cast-iron casserole, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the almonds and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.
  4. Heat the remaining oil and add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper. I also added 1 bouillon cube with some water.
  5. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.
  6. Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat. 
  7. Remove the chicken from the marinade; scrape off as much of the marinade as possible. Spread the pieces on a baking sheet and season the chicken with salt and pepper. 
  8. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut it into 2-inch pieces.
  9. Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. 
  10. Stir in the chicken; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve. 
Next time... I want to make it in the crockpot. We'll have to see how that goes.

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Chicken Goodness

So, here is the problem... I made this so long ago I don't remember it. I know it was good, and I know JW said, hurry up and write down what you did so you will remember. Well, I didn't and I don't...

Or, is it coming back?? Hmm....

I found it! of course, it was some variation of!


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, with skin
  • dried parsley, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven broiler. Lightly grease a baking pan.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, mix the butter & oil, garlic, soy sauce, pepper, and parsley. (I might have added some paprika, but I really don't remember now...) Cook 2 minutes on High in the microwave, or until butter is melted.
  3. Arrange chicken on the baking pan, and coat with the butter mixture, reserving some of the mixture for basting.
  4. Broil chicken 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until juices run clear, turning occasionally and basting with remaining butter mixture. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

I also made some CSA veggies to go with it. I smashed cauliflower by steam/boiling it, and then mashed in butter, milk, salt and pepper and some cheese.

These greens were amazing, and I will definitely do these again:


  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 5 leaves collard greens - rinsed, trimmed and chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon greens seasoning, divided
  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 pinch white sugar


  1. Fry the bacon with the onion in a large skillet over medium heat until the bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped collard greens, sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the greens seasoning; cook and stir for 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the darker chopped cabbage leaves, and cook and stir until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining cabbage; season with salt, black pepper, sugar, and the remaining greens seasoning. Stir well; cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally so that the greens do not scorch, about 10 minutes.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Peach salad

I really thought the picture was much better...
until I saw it on the computer and not the phone.The iPhone.
I was heading to my friend ES's pool for a grill dinner. Which is great for sooo many reasons (I don't have a pool, ES is fantastic, someone else was cooking...), but especially because we could have dinner on the grill.

I had bought some peaches, and for some reason, REALLY wanted to make a salad with them. I don't know why. I don't think I've even eaten peaches on a salad before. But it was enjoyable. I'd do it again.

But, in prepping for the salad, I researched like 50 recipes for "green salad peaches." In the end, I combined ideas from several different posts, but found this one to be the ingredients most in line with what I had on hand. (Note to self, I want to start following this blog. She has better photos than me. Amongst other things...)

Of course, I came up with my own recipe, but here it goes:

3 small peaches
2 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 t lemon juice (But it probably would have been better to leave out...)
sea salt and black pepper
dash of garlic powder
1/4 c Parm cheese  (But would have used 1/4 cup grated strong cheddar, if I had it)
6 large handfuls rocket/arugula (bitter greens... I surprisingly had some assortment from the CSA)
1 large handful baby spinach
1 green onion, diced
1 Tbs. chopped almond slivers (but would have been interested in pecans)

1. Rub the peaches under water and scrub hard to pull the fuzz off. (or pretend like you did)

2. Remove the stone and cut the peach into 8 wedges. Or as many as you want.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, optional lemon juice, and salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste. (If I had used cheddar: Add the grated cheese and stir well, breaking up the strands of cheese as much as possible.)

4. Rinse and dry the greens, then place in a large prep bowl. Add the nuts and dressing, and toss well with your fingers.

5. Arrange the peach wedges on top of the salad plate. Sprinkle the parm cheese over the top and serve.
(to be honest, my peaches weren't really sweet- and since they had to travel- I diced them up and put them in a container with a drizzle of honey- and then poured them on. I can't wait for peach season- when I'll definitely make this again.)

When trying to find the base recipe again, I stumbled onto this post from that I think will be a good reference for salads in the future. I nice little salad formula. The nerd in me likes formulas:

We have a couple of thoughts. First of all, you could easily improvise by following our rule of thumb with salads: something salty, something sweet, something soft, and something crunchy. In this case the goat cheese is soft, the peaches are sweet (and soft), and you could add pistachios for salty and crunchy. Hold to this partially with the vinaigrette too; balance some good olive oil with a touch of vinegar or lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Add a dash of sugar if you want it sweeter. The key is to taste as you go along.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

BBQ sauce

With so many pulled pork sandwiches, it was finally time to make my own BBQ sauce. After talking to the "experts," my guy friends who smoke meats all weekend long, they told me that Joy of Cooking has the best. For some reason, I'm holding out on buying a copy, so searched the web for some version.

I found one that claimed to reference JofC, and then I modified it, especially since I don't measure anything:

1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry mustard
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 slices lemons (I used 1 t of lemon juice)
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1/2 t pepper

So, my question to my guy friends, JCH and DSG, is- at what point to you stop? Do you then make your own ketchup to make your own BBQ sauce? So far, the answer was no.

Read more:
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Quiches for a Queen

Well, maybe not a queen, but certainly these quiches for the queen of my brother's world. My brother is getting married in a few months, and for the bridal shower, I made plethora of quiches: quiche lorraine, spinach and mushroom, and a crustless broccoli and cheddar.

The fun part about the quiche recipe is that it came from the CIA (culinary institute, duh) cookbook my brother gave me for Christmas.

Filling for one 9" Quiche:
3 large eggs
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Bake pie crust. (I used frozen dough that I added to throw away pans to make clean up easy!)

Whisk together the above ingredients in a bowl. I used 2.5 times the above recipe since my metal pans were smaller than 9" and it worked perfectly. Quiche takes about 40 minutes at 325.

Add ins:
To make the add ins for the 3 quiches, I started with the bacon. I cooked 8 slices, and then cut it with kitchen sheers into tiny slices. I drained the fat, but didn't not wipe the pan, and then sauteed 3/4 of an onion in the fat residue. I added these 2 ingredients with 3/4 cup of Gruyere cheese with the egg/cream mixture and poured into the pan.

I sauteed 1/4 of an onion and garlic together along with a handful of mushrooms and 3 handfuls of fresh spinach until the mushrooms are cooked and spinach is wilted. (Spinach takes less time than mushrooms.)

I sauteed the broccoli for a few minutes and then added 3/4 cup cheddar cheese to the egg mixture with the broccoli, and poured it straight into the metal pan- no crust.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Buffalo chicken wraps

I had a bit of the sauce leftover from making the buffalo wings, so I thought it would be good for the wraps I made before!

I sauteed the chicken in a pan to cook it-- I find that if I defrost it 3/4 of the way- when I slice it in cubes, it holds its shape better. Once cooked, I added the buffalo sauce.

Meanwhile, I made the blue cheese sauce:
2 T Greek yogurt
2 T mayo
blue cheese crumbles
diced green onion
and a squirt of ranch dressing for good measure

On some tortillas (take it from me, flour are better for this than corn), I layered lettuce and the sauce and chicken.


I served it with some great corn! Super easy to make in the summer- boil water. Add corn for 5 minutes. Smother in butter, salt and pepper!
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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Salmon BLT

Another successful recipe, modified slightly, from SELF magazine. JW even commented that he wouldn't be disappointed if he had been served it in a restaurant. I think that's a good sign...

Super easy and super fast for summer cooking.


  • 1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 slices center-cut bacon
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 10 oz salmon, cut into 4 fillets, skin removed (I just used 2 frozen fillets)
  • sesame, whole wheat buns
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 8 slices tomato
  • sliced red onion


    Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest, juice and cayenne in a bowl; set aside.

    Cook bacon in a nonstick medium skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes; remove skillet from heat and transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain (into a can and discard).

    Pour off all fat and wipe skillet clean; add oil. (I didn't add the oil, I just didn't wipe out the pan.)
    Return skillet to stove and heat to medium high; add salmon. Cook until fillets are no longer translucent in the center, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

    Toast bread of your choice and spread with mayonnaise mix. Place 1 lettuce leaf, 2 slices tomato, 1 fillet and 1 piece bacon on top of each; close; cut in half; serve.

    On the side I served sliced sweet potatoes browned in olive oil with a dash of cumin and salt. They cook much quicker than regular potatoes.

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