Sunday, January 31, 2010

Black Bean and Grilled Corn Salsa

Have I mentioned I love Mexican food?  I’m pretty sure I have, and while Black Bean and Grilled Corn Salsa probably doesn’t qualify as traditional Mexican food, it does have the south of the boarder flavors I love.  I know there are many people out there who don’t enjoy cilantro, but I love the spicy flavor of cilantro.  It tastes like spring to me, and I needed a bit of spring today after our last couple of weeks of rain.  We had bright sunshine outside today, and I had springtime on a tortilla chip.

This salsa is easy to put together, but it has a complex flavor that your cilantro loving friends are going to love. I’ve made Black Bean and Grilled Corn Salsa for years, and I never have any leftovers.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pesto Pizza with Red Peppers, Pine Nuts and Feta

I doubt anyone needs a recipe for pizza. What could be easier than throwing some toppings onto pizza dough and cooking it for 10 to 15 minutes? My family has tried countless pizza combinations. We all like a different type of pizza. Les likes sausage, salami and mushroom. My son likes sausage and pepperoni, and my daughter is a pepperoni purist. Me? I will eat all of the above, but my favorite pizza doesn’t usually include red sauce. I enjoy Barefoot Contessa’s White Pizza (which I made for myself last pizza night), but I love this pesto pizza with roasted red peppers, pine nuts and feta. I had this pizza for the first time a couple of years ago when a group of friends ordered it for an evening in the park we were enjoying during the summer. My pizza life has never been the same since.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Now that I’m an adult time seems to fly by more quickly every year.  This past year was no different, and I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for a year now.  I had wanted to celebrate this anniversary with more pomp and circumstance, but I didn’t have the energy.  I have been under the weather for over a week.

I did manage to bake a cake today.  Not your typical rich frosted birthday cake, but a cake that is more like a pie masquerading as snack cake.  The cranberry topping is fruity and tart with the cake adding a slight sweetness.  I was inspired to make this cake by a picture of a Cranberry Upside-Down Cake by Alice Waters in Eating Well.  Alice’s topping looked good, but her cake seemed fussy.  I liked the Apple Upside-Down Cake I made from Cook's Illustrated, so I changed the recipe to incorporate some of the healthier ingredients in Alice’s cake.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crunchy Oven-Baked Fish

I have another fish recipe to share with you, and if you’ve read my last fish post, you know I’m not much into fish. My family should be eating fish more often, and I certainly want my children to grow up liking it. So, here I am cooking and blogging about fish!

I have always eaten fish and chips, because how can you go wrong with something that’s been deep-fried? But, deep-fried fish kind of defeats the whole purpose of eating healthy.  I wanted to find a fish recipe that reminded me of fish and chips, but was healthier.  I found what I was looking for in the 2009 America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Green Chile and Chorizo Quiche

I was going to post another “healthy” recipe tonight, but this quiche was calling to me, and I just couldn’t resist. You can probably guess how well I do with my New Year’s resolutions. Actually, we are already in the second week of January, and I am still bringing my lunch to work, so I'm not doing too badly! It helps I love having leftovers for lunch, and this quiche was just as good for lunch the next day as it was the day I made it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chard and White Beans

With the end of the holidays and the beginning of the New Year, my mind turns away from rich caloric food to something a little healthier. Some of my coworkers are participating in their own “Biggest Loser” challenge. Everyone involved forked over ten bucks, and whoever has the biggest percentage of weight loss, gets the kitty. With dieting in mind (read: no one at work would appreciate me bringing in a big chocolate cake), I flipped through Eating Well magazine for ideas. I found Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chard and White Beans, and I though it would be perfect for a light meal.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Simple Pancakes

I made pancakes for breakfast this morning. For years, we were a Bisquick family. Bisquick met our pancake “needs.” It was easy, quick and tasted okay. But, sometimes the kids wanted pancakes, and we would be out of Bisquick, so the kids would have to eat something else. Then a friend told me she made pancakes from scratch, because she always had the ingredients on hand for scratch pancakes, but didn’t always have pancake mix. She gave me her recipe, and I haven’t made Bisquick pancakes since. This recipe is almost as easy, with only a couple other steps, and the results are delicious.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Remember when I said I could only make Poached Salmon with Herb Vinaigrette if I also made a yummy cake for dessert? Well, Apple Upside-Down Cake is the cake I made. I saw this cake in the October issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Usually when I flip through my food magazines, I make decisions on what to cook based on pictures of the food. And, I have to admit, this generally works for me, but sometimes the food looks better in the picture than it tastes. Cook’s Illustrated recipes almost always taste better than they look. Have you seen the pictures in Cook’s Illustrated? I understand if you've missed the 3-inch by 4-inch black and white pictures. They are a bit underwhelming, but when I find a recipe I want to make in Cook’s Illustrated, I know it will turn out well. I also know I am making my decision on the ingredients and technique not on a beautiful picture.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Poached Salmon with Herb and Caper Vinaigrette

I am a little shocked by my posting a salmon recipe. Why? Well, I have never enjoyed fish or shellfish, but I have been trying to change my palette, and I had heard if you keep introducing certain foods to your diet, you would eventually enjoy the food you have introduced. This worked for me with dark chocolate, so I decided to try it with fish (a little more difficult than chocolate, I’ll admit).

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Well, my hibernation is almost over, and I'll be going back to work tomorrow. I'm sad the season is over even though Christmas was bittersweet this year. For me, Christmas is always a joyous season filled with love and hope, and we were blessed to spend time with wonderful friends and family to help us celebrate. But, we also tragically lost a dear friend who will always be missed.

Even with my heavy heart, Christmas had to go on, but to make matters more difficult (especially for the kids) Les had to work on Christmas Day. Despite everything, we had a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And, lucky for me, everything slowed down right after Christmas, and I was more than ready for the slowdown.

At about noon on the day after Christmas, I finally stopped urging the kids to get dressed, so they stayed in their pajamas all day. We put together new Lego sets (or at least my son did), read our new books, and watched our new movies, and we did all of this in front of a roaring fire. I think we started a new “pajama day” tradition. We liked it so much we had a second “pajama day” on New Year’s Day to include Les who was working the day after Christmas.

With the exception of going to a New Year’s Eve party, we stayed fairly close to home during our time off after Christmas. So, what do you serve your family during hibernation? Well, if you're like me, you serve Pumpkin Black Bean Soup and Minestra with Sausage. Both of these soups are perfect for a quick meal whether you're hibernating or not. And, I had all the ingredients for the Pumpkin Black Bean Soup in my pantry, so I didn’t even have to leave the house. This soup is delicious with a creamy spiciness. I served simple grilled cheese sandwiches with it.
Pumpkin Black Bean Soup
Adapted from Rachael Ray at Food Network
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
1 14 ½ ounce diced tomatoes in juice
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained
2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 green onions chopped for garnish

Add the oil to a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add onions, and sauté until the onions are softened about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, black beans, and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine and bring soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt. Simmer 5 minutes and taste to adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped onions.

My son loves the Minestra with Sausage soup. He is a big fan of sausage, pasta and soup, so this soup was made for him. And I get some green vegetables into him, so I love it too. I’ve made this soup a couple of times. The first time, I used all spicy sausage, but it was too spicy for my daughter, so I adjusted the recipe to make it less spicy. Everyone loved the soup after I adjusted it.
Minestra with Sausage
Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 link hot Italian sausage, casing removed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 14.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained
2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup mini penne pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese, for passing around the table

Add the oil to a soup pot or Dutch oven, and heat on medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Then stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and spinach; season with salt and pepper to taste, and then add a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Add the chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover the pot and stir in the pasta. Lower the heat and cook until the pasta is al dente. Serve and top with the cheese.

Here are a couple other soups for hibernation or just a quick weeknight meal...
Florentine White Bean Soup
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup


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