Category Archives: Recipes

Moules à la Marinière

Summer is approaching here in the District, and that means outdoor dining. There is nothing greater than meeting up with friends after work for a drink and a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants that have outdoor patios. I always enjoy good food with good friends on warm summer nights. Of course, I love preparing easy and delicious meals that can be enjoyed indoors or out. One of my favorite recipes that is light but packed with flavor is Moules à la Marinière. In English this dish is translated to mussels steamed in wine and flavorings. It is so simple and doesn’t take long to make, but will impress guests. This dish is also fun to make and eat slowly while sitting on the balcony/rooftop, chatting with friends. If you are feeling ambitious, homemade frites (French fries), go really well with mussels! My version of home cut fries will show up soon. Hopefully you enjoy these mussels as much as I do, and cheers to the start of summer!

moules

Moules à la Marinière

Ingredients:

2 cups dry white wine

1/2 cup minced shallots

1/2 bunch fresh parsley

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon pepper

6 tablespoons butter

6 quarts mussels, scrubbed, soaked, and debearded

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Directions:

In a large pot or sauté pan with a lid, bring all ingredients but the last two to a boil. Allow the alcohol to evaporate and reduce by boiling for 3 minutes.

Add mussels to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Every 30 seconds or so, shake the pot around (while keep the lid tightly on) so the mussels move around and cook evenly. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the shells open*.

Carefully spoon the mussels into large soup bowls, and ladle the remaining liquid over the mussels. Garnish with chopped parsley, serve immediately, and enjoy!

 

*Don’t forget: any mussels that haven’t opened should not be eaten!

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Oodles of Zoodles

Am I the only one who sometimes gets sucked into fads? No? Good! Because I’m hooked on a trend that I hope sticks around for awhile. Meet: the Zoodle (zucchini noodle)!

Spiralizer

Veggetti Spiralizer

Zoodles can be made in a variety of ways. I make mine using a spiralizer. The Veggetti spiralizer is a handy little tool that can take most oblong vegetables and turn them into ‘noodles’! The Veggetti is a more affordable option if you want to give zoodles a try. You can also buy a julienne peeler, which is like a regular vegetable peeler but has little ridges to cut thin strands.

 

Once you have your zoodles cut, the preparation options are endless. Tonight, I made zoodles with meat sauce.

Zoodles with meat sauce

Zoodles with meat sauce

Zoodles with Meat Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchinis
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • pam, cooking spray, or olive oil
  • parsley
  • basil
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Spray pan with pam or drizzle with olive oil, and sauté mushrooms and minced garlic until tender. Add ground beef and brown. While the beef is browning, use a Veggetti (or other instrument) to slice zucchinis into zoodles. Once beef and mushroom mixture is well browned, add cans of petite diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste (I use a good amount of each because I like an herbaceous sauce). Turn heat down to low and let the sauce simmer; this allows the flavors to develop. As the sauce is simmering, heat another large sauté pan on medium heat. When the pan is hot, spray with pam and add the zoodles. Toss the zoodles and heat through for only a couple minutes. You want the zoodles to stay bright green and crisp; do not overcook or they will get wet and soggy. Once warm, plate zoodles and top with a heaping portion of meat sauce. Enjoy!

 

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Fall Fun

It certainly has been a while. Oops! Summer somehow came and went in a blink of an eye. In that time, I managed to do a good amount of cooking and not write about it. I’ll have to take the time to post a summer recap.

As for this past weekend, fall has come upon us and a few friends and myself decided to take advantage. We drove about 45 minutes outside of DC to Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD to go apple picking! The day was absolutely gorgeous.

There were endless rows of Sun Crisp, Fuji, and Cameo apples that we wandered through and filled our baskets with. At one point we found a ladder, which meant access to the untouched apples on top of the trees! And beautiful pictures like this:

We even found the perfect teacher apple!

I ended up with a beautiful bounty of 16 lbs of mixed apples, 2 butternut squash, and a box of the most delicious yellow grape tomatoes I’ve ever tasted (I had to stop my friends from eating them all in the car- they were that good!).

That night I wanted something easy for dinner, so I threw the tomatoes into a frying pan and added in some red grape tomatoes from the grocery (not nearly as flavorful as the farm-fresh ones).

This was a simple saute with olive oil, sprinkled with dried basil and ground black pepper, and finished off with some minced garlic. I topped some spaghetti with the colorful fresh tomato ‘sauce’ and chowed down. It was delicious!

I hope everyone has the chance to go apple picking at some point this season! All the produce was fresh and fantastic. Expect a lot of apple recipes to come!

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Greek Chicken Salad

Easy, but still delicious, dinners are the best. Last night was one of those nights where I was hungry coming home from work, but not in the mood to make a huge meal. Additionally, I had a rotisserie chicken left over from the day before that I wanted to use up. Solution? Clean all the meat off the chicken, and create something tasty with ingredients already in my pantry! If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you Mediterranean is by far my favorite genre of food. This means I always have staple ingredients such as Greek yogurt, feta, or olives in the house (this recipe could’ve used some kalamata olives but I was out!). Therefore, my rotisserie chicken was transformed into my version of Greek chicken salad!

Greek Chicken Salad:

3 tablespoons EVOO

Juice of half a lemon

Kosher salt and pepper

Leftover chicken meat from rotisserie chicken (I had everything left but the breasts and drumsticks), in chunks or shredded

2 mini cucumbers, very thinly sliced into half-moons

1/2 a small Vidalia onion

2 tablespoons of dill

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (you may need more)

Block of feta cut into chunks

Pita pockets

Arugula for garnish

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Fold in the chicken, cucumbers, onion, dill, and yogurt. Taste and adjust seasonings and add yogurt if it is too dry. Cut pita pockets in half, stuff with shards of feta, then chicken salad. Top with arugula and enjoy!

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Greek Quinoa Salad

I meant to post this recipe a while ago (2 months ago, in fact), but clearly life got in the way. Between work and friends and everything else, I have been so busy and have sadly neglected the blog a bit. However, I am back and have cooked a lot in the lapsed time! This means many posts to come. This recipe for Greek Quinoa Salad is the one I made when my girlfriends came over a few months ago for wine night. It is fresh and very herbsious, which I love. It has very fresh notes when you bite into a cucumber or tomato, and a nice tang from the calamatta olives. I highly recommend making a large batch of this: it is great to much on as a snack or bring for lunch throughout the week (and nothing is better than having lunch prepared a week in advanced when you work!).

Greek Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

2 Cucumbers, diced

1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved

Scallions, diced

1 can chick peas

½ cup chopped calamatta olives or black olives

Handful of chopped fresh parsley

Handful of chopped fresh basil

Crumbled feta cheese

2 cup Quinoa

4 cups chicken broth

½ cup Olive oil

½ cup Red wine vinegar

Juice of one lemon

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp coriander

1/8 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Directions:

Mix all vegetables and herbs in a large bowl, set aside.

In a saucepan heat over medium/high a tablespoon of olive oil add the quinoa and a little bit of each of the spices (last 6 ingredients), sautee for about a minute and add the chicken broth and fresh lemon juice. Heat on high, when it comes to a boil, crack the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot (from this point, cook according to your quinoa box’s directions).

While it’s simmering whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of vinegar with salt and pepper (to taste). Pour the dressing over all of the vegetables and mix them together.

When the quinoa is done fluff it with a fork and let cool.

Mix the quinoa in with the vegetables.

To serve: top with the feta cheese

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Herb Crusted Sweet Potato Bites

Herb Crusted Sweet Potato Bites

(adapted from How Sweet It Is)

serves about 8

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into uniform rounds

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs*

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil*

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley*

1 teaspoon fresh thyme*

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed*

2 teaspoons finely grated parmesan cheese*

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place a nonstick wire rack on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine panko, parsley, basil, thyme, parmesan, salt, pepper and garlic. Mix up with your hands to get everything combined.

If you like, peel the sweet potatoes (or not) and slice into rounds about 1/4 of an inch thick. Place in a larger bowl and drizzle with olive oil, then flip around your hands to make sure each piece is coated. Add in panko and herbs, tossing again with your hands and pressing lightly to adhere. Some will stick – some will not. Place potato rounds on the wire rack, and then sprinkle the remaining panko and herbs over the potatoes.

Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until crust is golden and sweet potatoes are soft. After making and serving the potatoes bites, I found that some thicker slices were a bit harder or still had a crunch to them (meaning they were not cooked all the way through). Though I did no try doing this, I think baking the slices of sweet potato for a few minutes before adding the herb and panko mixture would make them perfect. I recommend baking them before adding the mixture because the breadcrumbs crisp up just right in the normal baking time (and you don’t want them burned!).

*In regards to the amount of herbs and bread crumbs for the mixture: You can really play with the amount you use. I followed the recipe as a guideline, but because I was making for a larger crowed I added more as I went based on how much I wanted the sweet potato slices covered.


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Wednesday Wine Night

Earlier this year, a small group of my girlfriends decided we wanted a regular gathering every month or so. Thanks to Jordy, ‘Wednesday Wine Night’ began in the Fall! The idea is simple: every 4-6 weeks a different person in the group would have everyone over, serve wine, and prepare some offerings to snack on. Though I am allergic to wine, and we do not always meet on a Wednesday, this has been a great way to have a relaxing night with girlfriends. This past Monday the group came over to my apartment, which I took as an opportunity to try and wow everyone with my food. The menu consisted of:

  • Homemade sun-dried tomato hummus with veggies
  • Herb crusted sweet potato bites
  • Greek quinoa salad
  • Roasted red pepper pizza with a splash of balsamic
  • Lots and lots of wine & desserts

Thankfully, my wonderful friends loved the meal! I had been nervous about the pizza because it was the first time I used a real pizza pan, but the crust came out perfectly crisp. Everyone enjoyed the sweet potato bites because they were something tasty and different. One of the best compliments to the chef was when a few people asked for the recipes! Most importantly, everyone had a great time with each other chatting about life and nibbling the food.

For now, feast your eyes on some photos from the evening. Recipes to come individually!

Herb Crusted Sweet Potato Bites

Greek Quinoa Salad

Roasted Red Pepper Pizza

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Recipe Exchange: Chicken Sausage, White Bean, & Cabbage Soup

The other day while at work (before Christmas), I received an email with the subject line “Recipe Exchange”. I opened it and read:

Hi friends!

We are participating in a collective, constructive, and hopefully TASTY experiment. As such, you have been invited to be part of a recipe exchange concept. We hope you will participate. We have picked those we think would make this fun. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 (even if you don’t know him/her) and it should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now. Don’t agonize over it, it is one you make when you are short of time.

After you’ve sent the recipe to the person in position 1 below and only to that person, copy this letter into a new email, move my name to position 1 and put your name in position 2. Only my and your name should show when you send your email. Send to 20 friends BCC (blind copy). If you cannot do this within 5 days, let us know so it will be fair to those participating. You should receive 36 recipes. It’s fun to see where they come from! Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas. The turnaround is fast as there are only 2 names on the list and you only have to do it once.

1. xxx      2. xxx

Happy Holidays!

Naturally, I was very excited about this! I immediately responded with my Chocolate Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookies recipe which I felt was appropriate since 1. I had just made them the night before and 2. it was the holiday season. I proceded to forward the email to 20 friends and waited my turn to receive recipes in return. So far, I’ve gotten a few interesting ideas but have only made one: chicken sausage, white bean, and cabbage soup.

Chicken Sausage, White bean, and Cabbage Soup:

  • Olive oil
  • 12 ounces fully cooked andouille chicken sausages cut crosswise into bit sized pieces (about 4 sausages, I used portobello mushroom chicken sausage which added another layer of flavor)
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/2 large head or 1 whole small)
  • 3 leeks or 5 shallots thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (1/2 small can)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
Heat  olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage slices and saute until brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage; cook 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add olive oil to same pot and heat over medium heat. Add leeks or shallots and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, parsley, and rosemary and stir 1 minute. Add broth, sausage-cabbage mixture, and beans and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes.
This soup is very hearty and delicious. Simple and easy, this is a great dish to make ahead for dinner or lunches throughout the week. I was able to get about 8 servings (give or take on portion size) out of the recipe. I highly recommend trying this soup to warm up during the cold winter months!
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Chocolate Choco Chip Candy Cane Cookies

It has been far too long since I have posted. Life has certainly been busy these past few months. Since my last update on July 22, 2011 so much has happened. I got a job, joined a new sports league, made new friends, gone through a lot with old friends, settled into a new apartment, and started my post-college journey through life. All of this, and more, has swept me away from blogging (and sometimes cooking). Finding ways to balance all parts of my life has been somewhat of a challenge, but I believe I am starting to get the hang of it (more thoughts on this to come in a new years post). And so, here I am, finally taking the time to sit down and write about my beloved passion: cooking.

Seeing as todays date is December 23, it is fair to say we are in the midst of the holiday season. In some places it is getting cold (or if you’re in DC, its oddly warm) and everyone is bundling up. Twinkling lights adorn buildings and trees, and the warm-fuzzy-joyful holiday feeling fills your insides. Naturally, this means it is time for some holiday cookies. I decided to dive right in and make Chocolate Choco Chip Candy Cane cookies (gotta have the candy cane!).

CHOCOLATE CHOCO CHIP CANDY CANE COOKIES

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup softened butter

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Handful of chocolate chips

3 candy canes

Preheat oven to 350 F

Mix together all ingredients except chocolate chips and candy canes. Smash two candy canes, and fold in candy cane pieces and chocolate chips.

Place balls of batter on cookie sheet and sprinkle remaining candy cane pieces over the tops of each ball of batter.

Bake for 15 minutes.

This is by far one of the simplest cookie recipes I have ever made. And did I mention delicious? Actually, I thought they could have used a bit more peppermint flavor. I was discussing with a coworker and debated between adding more crushed candy cane or a few drops of peppermint oil. I believe either would do the trick. Nonetheless, these cookies were a huge success at the multiple holiday parties they made an appearance at.

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Tabbouleh with Chicken (Or Tofu)

What is Tabbouleh? I bet most of you have no idea what I am even talking about. Well, let me tell you. Tabbouleh is a Levantine (originally from Lebanon) wheat salad. I have traveled to the middle east and have always had many friends from the region, so this is a dish I started enjoying early on. It is super simple, and the light lemony flavor is GREAT for summer time!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup bulgur wheat

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

Olive oil

Kosher salt

1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)

1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and medium-diced

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the bulgur wheat according to package directions. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and 1.5 teaspoons of salt to the bulgur as it sits and cooks. Set aside for about an hour to let cook through.

*Next, rub chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the over for 35 minutes, or until just cooked. Again, set aside and let cool off.

Remove chicken meat and dice into medium pieces and add to the bulgur wheat. Then add scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. At this point, you MUST taste the dish to see if it needs more seasoning! The most important thing when cooking is to taste your food! Make sure it is seasoned to tasted. You can either serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold. The longer the Tabbouleh mixture sits, the flavors will intensify and improve.

 

Cool, refreshing Tabbouleh can be used as a side dish or a main dish. When I know I am cooking for a vegetarian and meat eating audience, I love to use this dish! Follow the same directions, but serve the chicken or tofu on the side and allow guests to help themselves.

*This step is easily replaced with Tofu! Cut extra firm tofu into cubes and sprinkle with the same seasonings. Roast in the oven until crispy and use in place of the chicken.

My interpretation of Ina Garten’s Chicken with Tabbouleh

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