Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cucumber Sandwiches.

Pitas with Cucumber, Hummus, Honey, Salt and Pepper
 I saw a little article in our local paper that had a suggestion for these sandwiches, and for some reason, even though I'm not a major fan of cucumbers, and I thought the combination of hummus and honey sounded weird, I decided to make them.  Served alongside Carrot Ginger Soup, they ranked in Mark's "Top 5" meals.  They are just refreshing...and yummy.

So now, months later, I had a cucumber in fridge, we needed lunch-y type food, and the kitchen was already a complete disaster, so why not make some pitas and hummus?

Cucumber Hummus Pita Sandwiches
  • Sliced Cucumber
  • Hummus
  • Honey
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pita Bread

I think I use a different recipe every time I make it.  Here's a very basic one with which to start, but I would definitely say this is one of those things that requires you to "taste and adjust."  You can also mix in Cumin (I usually do), or sprinkle Paprika on top when you serve it for dipping.

Pita Bread


I've used This Pita Recipe twice, and was perfectly happy, but today I went with the Joy of Cooking recipe.  Most Pita recipes I've seen are very similar ingredient-wise, so it's really just about the method of the actual cooking part.  Here's a great post on one of my favorite food blogs: Smitten Kitchen.  She pretty much explains the method outlined in the Joy of Cooking, so bonus...I don't have to type it out for you!  I also think she really captures my feelings about making Pitas in her post.  While I mostly had success,  I did have a few end up as flatbread.  I admit, though...I was lazy and didn't do the water spritzing.  ...Perhaps that is the key!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blueberry Pancakes.

Blueberry Pancakes
I had a little 1/2 pint of fresh blueberries in my fridge just begging to be made into pancakes this morning.  I was determined to make them from scratch, but before pulling out my copy of "Joy of Cooking," I perused a couple of my favorite food blogs to see what they said about pancakes.  I was about to use the recipe from Smitten Kitchen (which was a Martha Stewart one), but when I glanced at the comments on the post, I was intrigued by someone's mention of a pancake recipe that used cornmeal.  I decided to go for it and we were not disappointed.  

So good!  Great texture, not too sweet, fluffy...yum.   I served them with a dollop of plain yogurt and maple syrup.

Also, I halved the recipe and got about 12 or 14 pancakes (4").

Cranberry Cornmeal Pancakes  (Or Blueberry!)

Sprinkle the Blueberries on the Batter
Time to Flip!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Black Bean Enchiladas.

Black Bean Enchiladas with Sweet Potato Sauce

For some reason, black beans, blue cheese, and sweet potatoes make an excellent combination.

For these bad boys:
1. Add a thin layer of the sauce to the bottom of a Pyrex
2. Roll up the black bean mixture with a few blue cheese crumbles in flour tortillas and add them on top of the sauce

3. Add a layer of the sauce on top
4. Crumble a little bit more Blue Cheese on top (a little goes a long way)

5. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until all is heated through
  • Black Beans (I used two cans; drained one)
  • Rotel (1 can)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 3 - 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  1. Saute Onion and Garlic until tender in a saucepan
  2. Add Black Beans and Rotel to saucepan and heat to let flavors combine
Sweet Potato Sauce
  • Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Chili Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Dairy (Milk, Cream, or Yogurt)
  • Water (for thinning)
  1. Cook Sweet Potatoes until tender (I boiled and drained mine, but I bet roasted would rock)
  2. Puree the potatoes in a food processor, or use an immersion blender (or just mash up really well with a fork)
  3. Season with Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Salt (just keep tasting!)
  4. Add a little Butter (a few Tablespoons)
  5. Add some dairy to begin to thin it while adding a little richness
  6. Thin it the rest of the way down with water (at least as thin as applesauce)
Flour Tortillas
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 2/3 cup Warm Water
  1. Mix all the ingredients into a soft dough
  2. Divide into 15 - 20 small balls of dough
  3. Roll very thin (as thin as you can), then peel off and put in hot, dry skillet
  4. Heat on each side until golden brown spots appear

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chicken Meatball Sandwiches.

Chipotle Chicken Meatball Sandwiches
with Apple Lime Chutney and Brie Cheese
Mark is the greatest husband for many, many, reasons, but one of them is that he is always game to eat whatever I make.  And while he is very easy to please, it is still extremely nice when he proclaims something as a "Top Ten" meal.  Tonight's Chipotle Chicken Meatball Sandwiches were honored with an exuberant Top Ten label,  so I am a happy girl on this Fat Tuesday!

I know, I know...Chipotle Flavoring again.  But we had Chipotle flavored chicken sausage that we needed to cook, so I went with it anyway.

Chipotle Chicken Meatballs
Brie Cheese
Apple Lime Chutney (I guess it's Chutney.  What makes something chutney?  Chutney is a weird word.)
And a good ol' Toothpick

[So, since I made my meatballs from Chipotle-flavored chicken sausage, I didn't have to add too much.  But I did look around and found some lovely-looking recipes for making Chicken Meatballs (Here's one) using plain ground chicken and the wonderful Chipotles in Adobo Sauce of which we are so fond.]
  • 1lb Chipotle Chicken Sausage
  • 3/4 cup Plain Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 3 Tbsps Shredded Romano Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients well
  2. Roll up your meatballs - I used about 2 Tablespoons of mixture per meatball
  3. Cook at 400 for approximately 20 minutes or until they reach an internal temp of 165-170
Apple Lime Chutney
  • 2 Apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 Lime, Juice and Zest
  • 1/4 medium-sized Red Onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar (this depends on how sweet/tart your apple is...just taste!)
  • Salt - just a pinch or two
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Butter
  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat
  2. Add the Onions and Apples
  3. Add Brown Sugar, Lime Juice and Zest
  4. Sauté until tender

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tomato Soup.

Tomato Soup

  • Onion (I used about 1/4 of a medium sized red onion)
  • Garlic (I was always taught at least 1 clove per person)
  • Grape Tomatoes (About 1/2 pint)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chicken or Vegetable Broth (1 cup)
  • Milk (3/4 cup)
  • Butter (a couple of Tablespoons)
  • Sugar (a pinch, only if needed)

  1. Saute the onion and garlic until in butter or olive oil until the onions begin to get translucent 
  2. Add the Grape tomatoes whole
  3. Continue to heat until the tomatoes burst and wither (if you get impatient you can help them along with a little smashing)
  4. Add salt and pepper
  5. Add the chicken stock, and then blend with an immersion blender
  6. Taste it - adjust the salt and pepper; if needed add a pinch of sugar
  7. Stir in the milk (or cream!)
  8. If it tastes a little flat, add a teeny bit of works wonders

Grilled Chipotle Cheddar Sandwiches
I served it with Grilled Cheese, but to spice things up, I spread on a thin layer of Chipotle yumminess.
I just blended the contents of a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce and added it inside with thick chunks of local cheddar.


Dad's Omelet
After going home to Little Rock this past weekend I was made aware that I have pretty much no self control when it comes to eating.  I love food.

And I'm pretty sure this is deeply rooted in my upbringing.  My Dad has always been a bit of a food connoisseur, and tried his hardest to pass this on to us.  I distinctly remember being bribed as a child to try certain foods: caviar, fried oysters, escargot...  Who am I kidding?  He still tries to bribe me to try things.

When it comes to cooking, my Dad is the famous omelet maker in our family.  Not only because of his innovative ideas about what should go inside them (Fritos, anyone?), but also because of his garnish.
Smiley Garnish.  (Mark's had a mustache)
Yesterday, as we were getting ready to leave Little Rock to return to Tulsa, my Dad served us up more of his delicious omelets: Fabulously melty brie, cheddar, and american, with diced onions and my parents' homemade salsa.  Yum.

Thanks for the omelets Dad.  And for sparking my love affair with food.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Twice Baked.

Twice-Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes
Because of some Jerky and Chili Making we have done lately, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce has become a pantry staple for us.  This is a good thing, because when we got our produce from naturalfarms this past week, one of the recipes that came with it was for Twice-Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes.

I thought this would make a great addition to our Valentine's Day Brie Burgers.  Oh was.

I even forgot to add the chopped onion to the potato/pepper mixture.  But it didn't matter.  They were SO good.  I highly recommend.

Twice-Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Brie Burgers.

Brie Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Blackberry Sauce
Two things of which you really can't have enough:
A - Caramelized Onions
B - Brie Cheese

This burger involves both.  
Also good as sliders!
Here's all it is:
  • Hamburger Buns (obviously) -I use this recipe: Homemade Hamburger Buns
  • Burgers (even more obviously) seasoned and cooked to your liking (I season mine with Worcestershire, Cavender's, and Salt and Pepper)
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Blackberry Sauce
  • Generous Chunks of Brie Cheese (keep at room temperature and put on the hot burgers immediately off the grill/pan so it gets nice and melty)

Caramelized Onions
  • Onions, sliced - At least 1 onion for every 3-4 really.
  • Butter or Oil (just a few Tablespoons)
  1. Slowly sauté your sliced onions in butter or oil over medium-low heat until they become soft and deep golden brown (This can take around 20 - 45 minutes...but so worth it)
  2. If your onions start to look too dry or begin sticking to the pan, just add in a little more butter or oil
Blackberry Sauce
  • Blackberry preserves (or any fruit that sounds good: I also recommend Plum or Raspberry)
  • Horseradish
  • Prepared Mustard 
  1. Start with a generous helping of your Preserves.  At least 1/2 cup for 4-5 burgers
  2. Stir in, about 1/2 T at a time, the mustard and horseradish
  3. This is really all about preference, so just keep tasting and adding until it's spicy/mustardy/sweet enough for you (You can also adjust the flavor by adding salt or lemon juice if needed)
  4. Heat the sauce on the stovetop (or even in the microwave) to get a nice saucy consistency that will drip out the sides of your burger as you eat it.  No really...this is important.
This was the main event for Valentine's Day.  And we served them with salad and Twice-Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes.  Oh was a gooood meal.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 stick of Butter
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of flour
  1. Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the flour 1/4 cup at a time
  2. Once you have a slightly stiff dough, turn out on a floured surface, roll to about 1/4" thick, and cut
  3. Bake at 350 for 10 - 20 minutes (depending on your oven, how big you cut them, and how soft/crispy you like them)

Once upon a time, I wanted to make something dessert-like, but I didn't want to go to the grocery store.  I had no eggs, baking soda, or baking powder, and the only oil in my cabinet was olive oil, so I wasn't sure what I'd really be able to make.  But, after a few minutes of consulting with the internet, I came upon a shortbread cookie recipe made with just butter, sugar, and flour.

I've slightly adjusted the recipe and have been making them for years, now, with a few flavor variations, but lately I've been on a real experimental flavor kick, which was originally prompted by the fact that Mark got a dehydrator for Christmas (Thank you, Ellen!).  It opened the door to me for adding flavors into the cookies from powdered ingredients, like pineapple or strawberry.

"Pineapple Upside Down Cake" Shortbread Cookies

One flavor I've been trying to perfect is inspired by Carrot Cake.  With shredded carrots, cinnamon and vanilla in the cookie, cream cheese drizzle and walnuts on top.  ....Almost there.

"Carrot Cake" Shortbread Cookies

The ones I'm happiest about so far are inspired by a cake my mom has made for as long as I can remember: Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cake.  She always made it in a bundt pan, and there was no icing or anything, so it was just a brown ring of cake...until you cut into it.  Then it was this glorious pistachio green, with chocolate chips scattered throughout.  And the flavor...SO good.


So for my cookies, I decided to make Pistachio with Chocolate.  The color baked out a bit, but the ground pistachios made the dough a fabulous green.  A little almond extract also went in, as well as chopped pistachios and chocolate drizzle on top.  Doesn't beat mom's cake, but...Yum!

Pistachio Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Friday, February 10, 2012

Maple Bourbon.

Last night was Ham Steaks with Maple Bourbon Sauce, with Potato Soup (with local cheese) and roasted green beans.

I found this recipe for a Maple Bourbon Sauce, and decided that it might make for some yummy Ham Steak.  I just brushed it on both sides of my ham while it was cooking in the skillet.  I liked it a lot.  I feel like I would use it again on pork chops, or even chicken.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Roasted chicken breasts with mushroom sauce, with a salad a la Mark that contained mixed greens, pear, dates, pecans, and for the dressing just a drizzle of oil and a squeeze of orange juice.

Roasted Chicken Breasts

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 450
  2. Pat your chicken breasts dry, then rub on olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper
  3. Heat a skillet on high heat for a few minutes
  4. Add your chicken breast-side down to the dry skillet
  5. Let it sizzle for about 3 or 4 minutes, and then flip them over and transfer your skillet to the oven (um...unless it's not oven-safe; then put it in a pyrex or something)
  6. Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temp of 165-170
  7. Mine took about 20 minutes, but depending on how big the pieces are, you might check them at 15
  8. Let them rest for about 5 minutes before digging in

Mushroom Sauce

  • Mushrooms, sliced (I had about a 1/2lb)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Chicken Stock, White Wine, or if you cook them in the chicken skillet, you can get away with plain ol' water
  • I also highly recommend garlic, but I was out, so skipped it last night
  1. As soon as you take the finished chicken out of the skillet to rest, add your sliced mushrooms to begin to sauté in the same pan
  2. If you need more fat in the pan, just add a little butter or olive oil
  3. Once the mushrooms are as tender as you'd like them, scootch them over to one side of the pan
  4. Melt a couple of Tablespoons of butter on the empty side of the pan, then whisk in a spoonful of flour
  5. As soon as you have a paste, whisk in your liquid - wine/stock, etc. (I added about a cup)
  6. Once it's smooth, stir in the mushrooms and allow it to slightly thicken
  7. Pour it over your chicken breasts and eat

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tilapia Tacos.

Tilapia Tacos with Sautéed Zucchini

I originally wanted to make blackened Tilapia sliders for dinner, but alas, we had no milk for my bread recipe.  So, since flour tortillas are so super quick, it was time for Tilapia Tacos.

Flour Tortillas
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 2/3 cup Warm Water
  1. Mix all the ingredients into a soft dough
  2. Divide into 15 - 20 small balls of dough
  3. Roll very thin (as thin as you can), then peel off and put in hot, dry skillet
  4. Heat on each side until golden brown spots appear

  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Lightly coat both sides of fish with spices
  2. Heat a small amt. of olive oil in a skillet
  3. Cook Fish 2-3 minutes on each side over medium-high heat, or until fish is white and flaky
  4. We broke it up and served it in the tortillas with guacamole, a squeeze of lime, and mixed greens

Monday, February 6, 2012


Eggplant Parmesan
Yum.  Eggplant Parmesan (Sort of).

I cut my eggplant into 3/4" slices and salted them for about 30 minutes to remove the excess water.  After brushing off the salt and giving them a good squeeze (that part was therapeutic, somehow), I dredged the slices in flour, then egg, then grated parmesan (actually it was Romano), and then flour (with salt and pepper).  Then pan fried them in olive oil until golden brown.  We served it on fresh pasta with a simple tomato sauce and topped it with more parmesan (I mean Romano.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Burn a Hole in your Esophagus Chili

Mark had made jerky several weeks ago, and using his "Barbecue Bible," found a recipe for a Chipotle Adobo marinade for the meat.  It was really good, so when we had some stew meat from naturalfarms, we decided to make a steaky chili with some of the same chipotle adobo flavors.

Jalapeño, Red Onion, Garlic
We started pretty simply, with chopping a pepper, an onion, and a few cloves of garlic.  Then browned the meat, added our spices and veggies, and once the meat was cooked through and the vegetables were getting tender, we added the beans and sauces.  One of the sauces was blended chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  It's a delicious, smoky flavor...but it's made out of smoked jalapeños.  I don't think we considered just how hot it might make our chili.  Holy Moly, the flavor was great, but let me just say, the fresh jalapeño might not have been needed.
  • Beef Stew Meat, or cut-up Steak (about 1 lb)
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped, ribs and seeds removed
  • Orange Zest (about 1/2 an orange)
  • Orange Juice (1/2 an orange)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • Red Wine Vinegar (just a splash or two)
  • 1/2 can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, blended (or you could chop the peppers)
  • 1/2 cup of Tomato Sauce
  • Lots of milk (to drink to ease the burning)
  1. Brown the steak in your chili pot, and add salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin
  2. Add jalapeño (really, this jalapeño is probably overkill), onion, and garlic
  3. Once vegetables are beginning to get tender, add the zest and juice, stir around for another minute
  4. Lower the heat a bit, and add the beans and liquids
  5. Let it simmer for as long as you're willing....then eat!  
Say goodbye to all feeling on your tongue.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pasta with Peppers and Sausage.

Pasta with Peppers and Sausage

  • Turkey Link Sausages (I used 5)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 an onion, sliced
  • Sweet Peppers, Sliced, with seeds and ribs removed (I used about 5 or 6)
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • White Wine (or chicken/vegetable stock)
  • Grated Romano Cheese
  1. I cooked Turkey Link Sausages in the skillet then removed and sliced them up.
  2. I then sautéed onion, garlic, and sweet peppers, until tender, and added the sausage back in.
  3. Roux time! In one side of the pan, I added a couple of tablespoons of butter, and as soon as it melted, I whisked in a T of flour. As soon as I had a paste formed, I whisked in some white wine, stirred everything around to coat, and let the sauce thicken up a bit.
  4. Once the pasta was cooked al dente and drained, I tossed everything together, and served it in bowls with grated Romano on top.
Sweet Peppers, Onion, Turkey Sausage Links, Garlic, Romano Cheese
Fresh Pasta
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