Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Raising the (salad) Bar

Tonight, I hosted Ladies Night at my place and decided that it needed to be healthy and easy. I believe that the best way to have a quick and easy joint dinner is to have guests bring items that they already have around the house. One of the girls in our group hosted a salad bar night a few weeks prior and we all loved it. I especially loved it because we got such a variety of food from all of the seasonal veggies and fruits out right now to food from people's pantries. I love seeing how creative people get with food when you tell them to bring whatever they like.

I provided the lettuce and protein options which happened to be grilled chicken, salmon, and almonds. There were other toppings that ranged from blue cheese crumbles and sun-dried tomatoes to hard boiled eggs and turkey bacon.  The topping were hearty and healthy and the Salad Bar Night was a hit...again! We even had a few dressing varieties, as well. One of the girls brought a homemade french dressing. I suggest salad night to anyone hosting a girls night that doesn't have a lot of money or time to put together a big feast and not to mention anyone who is watching their waistline. I have a feeling we will be doing this again soon. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Meata Balla Subba!

What to do with leftover French bread....hmmm....I know!
Make a meatball sub! I am Italian and that is just the easiest question of the day.

First, I mixed together the ground turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, and garlic. I made medium size meat balls and placed them in a non-stick pan with evoo. They needed to brown on all sides to make sure they were cooked throughout. Once the meat balls were cooked, I cut the bread in half and placed three meatballs per sub roll. I cut the meatballs in half before putting them on the sandwich, so there were 6 halves on the roll. Then, I placed the cut pepperocinis in between the meatballs, poured the sauce over it and sprinkled cheese on top. They went into the oven at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes and then I broiled them on medium for about 4 minutes until nice and crispy. Wow, were these subs a mouthful! I love the addition of the pepperocinis. Our favorite local Italian eatery does this, so I guess I stole their ingenuity. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right?

1 lb. ground turkey meat
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup of egg beaters (or 1 egg white)
1 finely chopped garlic clove
3 tbsp. evoo
4 pepperocinis (sliced in half and de-seeded)
2- 6 inch french bread loaves
1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup of tomato sauce


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Supper: White Chili with Acorn Squash

The official last day of summer was Sunday and I decided to welcome the crisp, colorful season of fall by cooking a good hearty pot of white chili in the slow cooker. I love that thing. You put in all of the necessary ingredients and leave it alone for hours. It's like a sous chef that finishes the job for you.

I began preparations around 1:00 pm expecting to have everything in the crock pot by 1:30 pm. The white chili takes about 5 hours to cook on low in the slow cooker so it would be ready around 6:30 pm.
I began by boiling 4 cups of chicken tenders in a large pot of water until they began to float. I hate the smell of boiling chicken, but it is the easiest and quickest way to cook it that I have found. I drained the chicken and let the tenders cool in a colander. While the chicken was cooling, I chopped a large onion. Holding back the tears, I ran a garlic clove through a garlic press and put all of the cut onion and pressed garlic in a stove top pan with 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat. I allowed the garlic and onion to cook until tender.

I turned the crock pot to low and emptied the cooked garlic and onion from the pot and poured in the 3 cups of chicken broth. I then shredded the cooled down chicken tenders and put them in the crock pot. I stirred in the remaining ingredients, stirred it up a bit and covered the slow cooker. It needs to be stirred occasionally throughout the 5 hour cooking time.

Once the chili was ready, I served it with chopped tomatoes and tortilla chips for dipping. I will say that the acorn squash was an addition that I normally do not use. I bought it fresh at the Market and thought I would try it out. I think I prefer the white chili without the nutty squash taste, but it did add to the heartiness factor. When it gets a little colder, I will post one of my favorite soup recipes that calls for acorn squash.

·1/4 cup butter
·1 large onion (chopped)
·1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
·4 cups of cooked chicken or turkey (1/2 cubes)
·3 cups chicken broth
·2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
·1 tbsp dried basil leaves
·2 tbsps groud red chilies or chili powder
·1/4 tsp groud cloves
·2 cans (15-16 oz.) great northern beans (undrained)
·1/2 acorn squash (chopped into 1 inch cubes) optional
·1 medium tomato
· tortilla chips

Fall is here!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Green Tea Poached Asian Pears

I bought a basket of Asian Pears from a local farmer at the River Market last weekend and was worried they would go bad, so I found this great recipe. It is for for green tea poached asian pears with a maple nut cream sauce. I made a few modifications to the recipe and here it is...

I started off by boiling a little over 2 cups of water on the stove top. Once the water began to boil, I dropped in both green tea bags and let it steep for about 3 minutes. I removed the tea bags from the pot and the pot from the heat. I then added the turbinado sugar. The sugar needs to completely melt away before adding any other ingredients. This works best right after boiling. I then added the lemon peel, ginger, sugar, star anise, and mint. While all of the flavors began to gently meld in the hot water, I peeled, cored, and halved all of the asian pears. I dropped them in to the pot and placed the pot back on the hot burner for another 15 minutes to simmer and stirred the mixture periodically. While the pears were poaching, I mixed together the yogurt, maple syrup, and chopped pecans for the cream sauce. Once the pears poached, I removed them from the water and placed them into small bowls. I drizzled the warm pears with the cream sauce and ate this delectable, yet healthy dessert.

poached pears
2 cups water
2 green tea bags
lemon peel from 1/2 a lemon
2 inches of ginger root (cut into thin coins)
1 cup of turbinado sugar (regular sugar will work fine, too)
2 star anise
1 tsp of dry mint
10 mini Asian Pears (shaved, cored, and halved)
cream sauce
6 oz. of low fat vanilla yogurt
1 tbsp. of natural maple syrup
2 tbsp. of chopped roasted pecans


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Supper: Wild Salmon Pita Pizzas

I started off by grilling a 6 oz. fillet of Wild Salmon in a pan with EVOO, salt, pepper, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and all purpose seasoning. While the Salmon was cooking, I made a green onion and cilantro cream cheese spread by mixing together 2 chopped green onions and a tablespoon of cilantro with about 2.5 tbsp of light cream cheese. I spread this mixture evenly over two 6 inch, whole wheat pita pockets. Once the Salmon was fully cooked, I flaked it with a fork and sprinkled the salmon over the pita bread. I then topped the salmon with capers and 2% mozzarella cheese. I placed both pita pizzas on a pizza tray and baked them in the oven at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Then, I set the oven to broil to get the cheese all nice and brown (about 2 minutes). I let the pizzas cool for another 2 minutes and then sliced them both up the middle with a pizza cutter. Dinner was served...and it was good, I tell ya!

INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)
6 oz. fillet of Wild Salmon
all purpose seasoning
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2- 6 inch pita pockets
2.5 tbsps of light cream cheese
2 green onion stalks
2 tbsp of cilantro
20 capers (10 per pizza)
2 oz. of 2 % mozzarella cheese (1 oz. per pizza)


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Survival Recipe: Creative Cooking with Found Food

I came across this recipe in The Bear Deluxe Magazine, an artsy, earth friendly magazine. Hopefully, they are not serious, but I give them an "A" for resourcefulness!


1 road killed or hunted squirrel
1 cup prepared acorn flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Acorns are gathered in the fall, ground up, soaked in many changes of water until no longer bitter, dried in an oven and then ground into flour. Any type of acorn can be used, although some are more bitter than others. Place a cup of acorn flour and 1 tsp of salt in a plastic bag. Throw in prepared and quartered squirrel and shake until coated in flour.

In an iron skillet over medium-high heat, bring 1/4 cup of vegetable oil to a sizzle. Throw in breaded squirrel quarters.

Cook meat on both sides until breading becomes browned, about 15 minutes total. Reduce heat to a simmer and place lid on pan. Cook for 30-45 minutes. When meat appears fully cooked, take lid off and continue cooking for 5 minutes to make breading crispy. Serve with steamed greens.

So the next time you almost hit a squirrel with your car and you slam on your breaks to save the little guy's life, instead of thinking
phew, you should be thinking damn, that could've been dinner!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Supper: Orange Roughy with Sweet Potatoes & Green Beans

I apologize for the lack of home cooked meals since I have started this blog. We have been traveling so much lately and have had no groceries to cook with.

Have I mentioned how much I love Sundays? There are many reasons why Sunday is my favorite day of the week and here are a few of them: the whole day is yours and you can decide what to do with it; from sleeping in and being lazy all day or getting up early working out and running errands. I normally go to the market on Saturday so on Sunday I have a whole fridge filled with fresh fruit and veggies to cook with. I love opening up the fridge and seeing the endless options of meals right there in front of me. JJ and I usually eat together on Sunday nights, so I take the time needed to prepare a delicious feast for the both of us. Sunday night, I prepared Basil & Lemon Orange Roughy with mashed Sweet Potatoes and Steamed Green Beans. Here's how it went down:

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven was heating up, I prepared my two Orange Roughy filets by rubbing them down with a little EVOO, (did I just write that?- Rachel Ray bugs the hell out of me, but it is a pretty useful acronym when writing out recipes, I'll give her that.) Then, I sprinkled them with a little sea salt, pepper, all purpose seasoning, garlic powder, and the juice of half of a lemon. I chopped up two green onions, 5-6 leaves of basil and spread it over both fillets. I baked the fillets for about 20 minutes. While the fish was cooking, I started two pots of boiling water on the stove top; one for the sweet potatoes and one for the green beans. I peeled one large sweet potato and cut it into small cubes, uniformly cut so they all cook at the same time and dropped them into the boiling water. I was able to tell when they were done by taking a fork and trying to break off pieces of the potato. When it breaks apart easily with a fork, then it is tender enough to mash. I strained the hot water and began mashing the potatoes with a tbsp of butter, a tbsp of brown sugar, and a sprinkle of salt. The green beans didn't take long to blanch and when they were ready I strained the water and sprinkled them with sea salt. Sunday Supper was ready.

The sweetness of the basil in the Orange Roughy really complimented the mashed sweet potatoes. The green beans were clean and refreshing. JJ mentioned that the mashed sweet potatoes were the best potato dish he had ever eaten. I love his enthusiasm for my cooking. It is one of the main reasons why I enjoy it so. I don't know if they were best potatoes ever, but they were pretty darn good. It was my favorite part of the meal. We were both very satisfied and thus cleaned our plates!

Sunday Supper Recipe:
2 Orange Roughy filets
1/2 lemon
2 tbsp EVOO
2 green onion stalks
5-6 leaves of basil
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp all purpose seasoning
salt/pepper to taste

1 large sweet potato
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
sea salt to taste

1/3 lb. of fresh green beans
sea salt to taste

Friday, September 5, 2008

City Girl's Guide Cookbook: A must!

This is the perfect cookbook for any girl-on-the-go that is looking for a few lessons in the kitchen. It holds recipes for quick and easy appetizers to cart to girl's night and delightful dishes that will make their way right to your man's heart (through is know that old saying!). There are helpful tips and tricks and even wine pairings to go with the dishes you will create. The best part is that it is not just a cookbook. There are funny stories and anecdotes through out.

This cook book was created by two sisters that are very close to me. I grew up with them and I am very proud of this accomplishment. You may even find some recipes submitted by yours truly! The City Girl's Guide to the Kitchen is a "go to" cookbook. Keep this one close at hand. You can check it out at

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Brats by Candlelight

The last night in Atlanta, our friends decided we would grill out. Sunday morning, Tony got up and dropped some brats in a beer bath. He poured about three beers in a large pot, put the brats in and placed the pot in the fridge for the remainder of the day. Katie was in charge of the cole slaw and beans. The recipe she used for the cole slaw was the Ramen Noodle Slaw which I have always wanted the recipe for and now I have it! They serve it sometimes in The Crown Room (Hallmark's Cafeteria) and I jump into the salad line every time I see it. It is delectable! When the grill was hot, Tony placed the pot directly on the grill to boil the beer and warm up the brats. Once the pot was boiling, the brats were taken out of the pot and placed directly on the grill. By this time, the brats were swollen with goodness. I think by this point in the weekend, we all were! The beans were heated up on the stove top and the cole slaw received its last churn. Dinner was ready.

We contemplated eating outside, but we wanted to sit around an actual table. The dining room was prepped in about 60 seconds. Table cloths were placed on the table, extra chairs pulled around, and one candle was lit. All of us filled our plates with food, our glasses with wine and sat down. We then began to chuckle because we were eating brats & beans with red wine by candlelight. There's nothing like an ironic cookout with your closest friends. The food was delicious and the company better. The dinner proceeded with inappropriate conversation and sarcastic banter. I think a little wine even squirted out of my nose at one point. All in all, it was a night to remember.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


After traveling to Atlanta over Labor Day weekend to visit friends, I was overly impressed with the amount of cool, new restaurants that have popped up there in the past few years. Every block holds a hip new eatery with a one word name. Having lived in Atlanta before moving to Kansas City in 04, I thought I would be familiar with my old city. I was not, however. I felt left behind. Why wasn't anyone telling me how cool Atlanta was becoming? I guess it was always cool, I was just a starving student when I lived there and could barely afford to pay rent. I mean they don't call it Hotlanta for nothing- right? There are so many hot spots it would be hard to hit them all.

We did get to hit one hot spot: Spice Market. It is a newly opened restaurant owned by world renowned chef, Jean-George Vongerichten, and is located in the W hotel in midtown. Spice Market features cuisine inspired from the street food of South Eastern Asia. The eclectic design and exotic patterns caught my eye. When you first walk in you notice enormous wooden boxes that drop from the ceiling encasing ropes of gold bells that hang over raised banquettes toward the center of the open dining area. Oriental silk pattern pillows line the seats. I loved the antique bird cages filled with mismatched porcelain spice jars along the wall.

But the food is what I should really be writing about! Spice Market participates in Midtown Restaurant Week which means on a certain week of the month, you can pick certain items from a pre fixe menu for only $25. You can pick an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. This is my favorite way to dine because you get smaller portions, but get to sample more dishes. I also love a bargain. I was sold! I chose to go with Charred Chili Rubbed Beef Skewers with Thai Basil Dipping Sauce for my appetizer; Spicy Shanghai Noodles with chilled silken tofu with garlic and herbs for my main dish; and for dessert, Ovaltine Kulfi over a carmelized banana covered in a spiced milk chocolate sauce. It was all delicious but the dessert was freaking amazing. It stole the show. Three other people at our table ordered the same dessert and everyone else was jealous. The mixture of the chocolate with carmel corn and the carmelized banana was heavenly. There were sprinkles of a green herb of some kind but I could not figure out the taste. I normally have a discerning palette, but I couldn't figure this one out. I thought it was fennel, but it was sweet. It could have been anise, but the only anise seed I have seen is brown. Anyway, I guess it will be a mystery, but my mouth will never forget it. If you are ever in Atlanta, I suggest you check out this new hot spot and if you live there, put it on your list!