Category Archives: Recipes

And Tonight’s Dinner is…

It’s one of those nights.  You’re exhausted from work, have virtually nothing in the refrigerator and absolutely no motivation to go to the grocery store. Here’s the contents of my refrigerator right now: shredded rotisserie chicken that is at least 2 weeks old (not edible at this point, but I’m going to let the culprit throw it out), some arugula that needs to be used or thrown out, leftover basmati rice, half an avocado, 3 radishes, 1 mango, a package of mint, a quarter of a bunch of cilantro, several condiments, orange vinaigrette leftover from making Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad, lunch meat (no bread), prepackaged, pre-sliced scallions (that cost twice as much as unsliced scallions but the store was out and I needed them) and a block of parmesan cheese.  It’s not much to go with, especially considering the questionable chicken.  So what in the world can I do with all of this (or at least some of this)?  Well let’s look at the major players: rice is a good start, produce should be utilized, and I have that leftover vinaigrette….

So I tossed the rice together with the remaining arugula, diced up pieces of the half of an avacado I had, half of the mango, some mint and cilantro leaves, and the remaining orange vinaigrette. The chicken would have been a nice addition if I hadn’t thought it might kill me.  If I had any sliced almonds or maybe some cashews that would have gone well with it for a little crunch.  I pulled some Tomato Basil Soup out of the freezer, zapped it in the microwave and voilà: we have dinner.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking a little outside of the box.  Rice is used in cold salads, so it wasn’t a great leap to think of dressing it up with the lettuce and herbs that needed to be used. The orange vinaigrette is light and not over powering, but even an Italian vinaigrette would have worked (though maybe not with the cilantro).  I also could have added in the radishes, but I wasn’t in the mood.  If I had thought about it at the time, there is almost always frozen shrimp in my freezer and they take all of 3 minutes to defrost under cold running water.  The possibilities are only limited by the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. I think a lot of people are afraid to venture out beyond the recipe box, but really, what’s the worst that could happen (other than burning down your house)?  If the food ends up tasting horrible at lease you know what not to do next time and you can always order pizza at that point.

 


Arugula, Watermelon, and Feta Salad

Some days you just want something incredibly simple for dinner.  Last night my husband suggested hotdogs and me in my sleep-deprived state jumped all over it.  We stopped at the grocery store and I thought, “maybe I should make a fruit salad to go with the meal, just something easy.” That’s when I saw the watermelon.  Granted, it’s not really watermelon season just yet, but this watermelon looked perfectly ripe and Ina Garten‘s watermelon feta salad is the perfect compliment to a casual dinner or picnic lunch.

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly squeezed Orange Juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed Lemon Juice (2 Lemons)

1/4 cup minced Shallots (1 large)

1 tablespoon Honey

1/2 cup Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Salad:

3 cups (4 ounces) Baby Arugula, washed and spun dry

1/8th Seedless Watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes

12 ounces good Feta Cheese, 1/2 inch diced

1 cup (4 ounces) whole fresh Mint Leaves, julienned

Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt, and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.

Place the arugula, watermelon, feta, and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks:

I did not plan very well for this meal and thus I did not have a shallot at home.  I substituted 1 minced garlic clove and 2 tablespoons of minced white onion.

If you want to simplify it even further you can certainly buy the crumbled feta you can find in the deli section of the grocery store.

You could substitute watercress for the arugula if you prefer.


Grilled Artichokes with Remoulade Sauce

Artichokes are a mean and vicious vegetable, but they taste really good.  If you are willing to put aside 30 minutes to prepared these spiky bulbs and risk personal injury in the process (they can and will cut you) you will be well rewarded with succulent artichoke leaves and hearts to enjoy. They are the perfect indulgence.

Ingredients:

Remoulade Sauce:

1/2 cup Mayonaisse

2 teaspoons Lemon Zest

1/2 tablespoon Capers, minced

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 tablespoon Parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon Prepared Horseradish

1/2 teaspoon Whole Grain Mustard

1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, ground

1/4 teaspoon Salt

Artichokes:

2 Artichokes

1 Lemon (reserved from Remoulade Sauce)

2 1/2 cups Water

1/2 cup White Wine

1 teaspoon Salt

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Orange Biscuits

I am always happy when I find* a recipe that makes entertaining a little bit easier.  These orange biscuits fit the bill, they can even be prepared the night before and then cooked when you need them.  A morning coffee date doesn’t get much easier (or tastier) than this.

Ingredients:

Glaze:

1/4 cup Butter

1/2 cup freshly squeezed Orange Juice (about 2 oranges)

1/2 cup Sugar

2 teaspoons Orange Zest

Biscuits:

1/4 cup cold Butter, cut into small pieces

2 cups Flour

2 teaspoons baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

3/4 cup Milk

1 1/2 tablespoons melted Butter

Cinnamon Sugar:

1/4 cup Sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

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Conversation Heart Cupcakes

My husband’s 30th birthday is coming up this weekend. I was reminiscing about past birthdays in anticipation of this one and I thought I would share what I did for him a few years ago.  There was a short period when I had to fill in and be the pastry department at work.  I was leaving the house at hours previously unknown to me and I was not going to see Patrick at all on his birthday.  I decided to make conversation heart cupcakes so that they could cheerfully greet him that morning in my absence.  These would, of course, be the perfect addition to any Valentine’s Day party or even as a treat in a loved one’s lunch box. It’s a creative and yummy way to say “I love You.”

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

1 box of Cake Mix, your favorite flavor (look, these cupcakes are somewhat labor intensive in the decorating department, there is no need to go overboard and make a cake from scratch unless you have several hours to kill).

Eggs, as specified on box of Cake Mix

Oil, as specified on box of Cake Mix

Water, as specified on box of Cake Mix

Frosting:

1/2 cup Butter, softened

4 cups Powdered Sugar

2 teaspoon Vanilla

4 tablespoons Milk

4 pack of Food Coloring

Writing:

4 ounces White Chocolate Chips

Special Equipment:

Silicone Heart Shaped Cupcake “Pan” (such as one sold by Wilton at craft stores)

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Arugula Pesto

I would have to say that arugula is my favorite lettuce, it’s got a crisp, peppery flavor that compliments everything from hamburgers to turkey sandwiches.  The one problem with my arugula love affair is that I very often end up with more than I can eat before it goes bad.  The solution?  Make pesto.

Ingredients:

3 cups Arugula Leaves

1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

3 Cloves of Garlic

1 tablespoon Salt

1 teaspoon Pepper

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Aarti Sequeira’s Beef Vindaloo

Goan Beef Curry with Vinegar: Beef Vindaloo

Consider yourself warned; this is not the meal to make to impress your boss or as a romantic dinner for two. Don’t get me wrong, the recipe is fantastic!  But you really don’t want anyone you’re trying to impress to see you with gravy running down your arm as you try and get every last drop off your plate.  It’s not a pretty picture folks, but it is great curry.

Ingredients:

Cucumber Riata:

2 cups plain whole milk or low-fat yogurt

2 cups grated English or Persian cucumber (unpeeled)

1 clove garlic, minced

4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only, minced finely

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons golden raisins

Freshly ground black pepper

Wet Masala:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 (1-inch) pieces cinnamon bark

6 whole cloves

4 whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne (more if you’re feeling feisty!)

1 heaping tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste*, recipe follows, or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped and 1-inch thumb fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Beef Vindaloo:

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 medium red onion, sliced very thinly

1 serrano pepper, sliced in half

2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin, trimmed of all excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Parmesan Potato Wedges with Lemon Thyme Aioli

The which-style-of-fry-is-the-best debate is ongoing in my house.  I like fries that are a bit more crispy and I am not picky about shape, my husband on the other hand likes his fries softer and he really likes potato wedges. Being the kind of girl I am I thought, “well, we can have it both ways.” A couple of easy tricks will give you oven fries that are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.  Give them a stylish addition in the form of a little grated parmesan cheese and a lemon thyme aioli and you have a side dish that is perfectly at ease in a gastro pub or sitting at your kitchen table.

Ingredients:

Potato Wedges:

2 Russet Potatoes

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pepper

1/3 cup Parmesan, finely grated

Lemon Thyme Aioli:

1 Lemon, zested and juiced

2 Egg Yolks

1 large Clove of Garlic

1 tablespoon fresh Thyme Leaves

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1/4 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Salt

3/4 teaspoon Pepper

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Blue Cheese Souffle

I love souffles, sweet or savory.  I think their depth of flavor combined with their light and airy nature is sheer brilliance.  The best thing about souffles, however, is that they are simple and elegant dishes that are practical for every day indulgences or even a fancy dinner party. Enjoy the versatility.  This recipe comes from Ina Garten.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, plus extra for greasing the dish

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling

3 tablespoons Flour

1 cup scalded Milk

1 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

4 Egg Yolks, at room temperature

5 Egg Whites, at room temperature

3 ounces Roquefort Cheese, chopped

1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

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Rocky Mountain Brisket

Brisket makes a great casual entertaining dish.  It’s one of those “put it in the oven and forget it” meats that allow you to spend more time with your family and friends and less time worrying about what is going on in the kitchen.  You can even cook it while you’re at work.  As an added bonus it is the perfect family-style meal: slice the meat, place the sandwich buns in a basket and put the barbecue sauce in a gravy boat and you’re good to go.  This recipe comes from my mother’s 25-year-old copy of the Colorado Cache Cookbook (by the Junior League of Denver).

Ingredients:

Brisket:

1 (5 pound) Brisket

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pepper

2 tablespoons Chili Powder

2 Bay Leaves, crushed

2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke

Barbecue Sauce:

14 ounces Katchup

2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke

3 tablespoons Brown Sugar

1/2 cup Water

4 tablespoons Worchestershire Sauce

1 tablespoon Dry Mustard

2 teaspoons Celery Seeds

6 tablespoons Butter

1/4 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

To Serve:

8 Onion Rolls, toasted

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