Friday, August 30, 2013

Garlic Chickpea Salad

Ahhh night-before-the-grocery-store, how I love thee....  Why?  Because I have all kinds of odds and ends, but nothing to really make a meal.  I typically plan for two weeks of meals, and sometimes I stick to those plans and sometimes I don't.  If I don't, I'll have odds and ends.  Not everyone is perfect, right?  This is an original night-before-the-grocery-store, and oh boy, was it delicious!!!

{Garlic Chickpea Salad}

{Mixing the beans, cheese, onions, peppers, and parsley together}

{Mixing the dressing}

{Although you can't tell--this is the salad with the dressing!}

{I served this salad with Middle Eastern Garlic Chicken that was grilled (leave out the oil) and grilled corn!}

Garlic Chickpea Salad

Serves 6

2-15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red peppers, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
5 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Mix chickpeas, peppers, parsley, red onion and feta together until combined.
  2. Whisk remaining ingredients in a separate bowl until combined.
  3. Pour dressing over the chickpea mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight for best flavor.
I literally ate this salad every day for three days; the hubby said it was too 'beany' (yes--it's a bean salad--I don't get it either).  That was okay thought because there was more for me!

I hope that you guys have a lovely holiday weekend!  I won't be back until Tuesday so have a safe weekend!

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pesto Bean Salad

I've been seeing this recipe on Pinterest lately, and with a pantry full of random food from my mom, I knew the jar of pesto I had would be perfect for this!  This salad was delicious and unbelievably easy to make!  I'm not sure if the hubby got any, but my mom loved it!

{Pesto Bean Salad}

{Mixing vegetables together}

{Mix dressing and vegetables together}

{Served with fish baked in the versatile seafood sauce (coming next week!)}

One year ago:  Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pesto Bean Salad

Makes 4 servings

1-15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz pesto (jar or make your own)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup lemon juice
  1. Mix beans, cucumber, celery, and tomatoes together until mixed.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour dressing over bean mixture.
  4. Chill overnight for best flavors or serve immediately.
I know that I make many bean salads, but they are practically a complete meal!  You have a bean which has fiber and protein and then the veggies and a nice dressing, paired with a piece of grilled chicken, and you have my summer dinner nailed!

What do you like to eat in the summer?  Are you a salad-muncher like I am?

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Broccoli Slaw

I will admit that I eat some pretty weird stuff.  However, when I saw this broccoli slaw recipe, I knew that as weird as it sounded, I had to make it.  The hubby even tried it and said it was good; he also said it needed bacon, but he always says that......

{Broccoli Slaw}

{Start with fresh broccoli}

{Broccoli slices}

{Making the dressing}

{Adding the onion to the dressing calms down some of that in-your-face onion taste (I think it's the buttermilk that helps!)}

{Allow to sit for 10 minutes (or while you are cutting the broccoli and toasting the nuts}

{Add dressing to broccoli, nuts, and cranberries}

{Stir to coat and try not to eat it all before anyone else gets any}

Broccoli Slaw
from smitten kitchen cookbook

Makes 6 servings

2 pounds fresh broccoli
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 teaspoon vinegar)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Cut the broccoli into large chunks, and then cut the chunks into slices. 
  2. Toss the broccoli with the cranberries and almonds.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until smooth.
  4. Allow the dressing to sit for about 10 minutes (this will mellow out the onion flavor).
  5. Add dressing to the broccoli mixture and stir to coat.
  6. Can be served immediately, but best flavor is after an overnight refrigeration.
I will definitely be eating this throughout the fall and winter when broccoli and cranberries are more in season, but this salad was refreshing in the summer--easy to make, healthy and delicious!

Have you ever made anything that sounded completely bizarre and have it be amazing?  I'd love to hear about it!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

About the Town: Cookin' Up Kentucky

Welcome to a new Tuesday mini-series!  Tuesdays will switch between Tips and About the Town (whichever is available that week!) starting today.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

I know that I said that I don't go out to eat often, but this year has been an exception.  I have eaten at so many fantastic places (and been back more than once!) that I felt I needed to share with my fellow Lexingtonians!  So any time I go out to eat, and the food/service is great, I'll review it on here.  I am not paid for this, and all opinions are my own!

At the farmer's market this past weekend, I walked past a food stand and saw lavander lemonade.  I love lavander but not in my food (lavander cookies--gross).  However, my mom and I decided to eat there because she was up to try the lemonade.  We ate from Cookin' Up Kentucky which utilizies local foods and is only located and open during the farmer's market.

{The menu.  I was going to get a picture of the tent, but there was a line of hungry people!}

So what did we order?  Well, the lavander lemonade, breakfast burrito, the Sandwich, and bratwurst (we are German--we know good bratwurst).

{The food}

The verdict--absolute deliciousness!!!  Even the lemonade!  We couldn't pick a favorite!  The breakfast burrito was spicy but not hot, and the flavors were interesting--I never thought of putting cilantro, lime and sour cream with a breakfast burrito!  The Sandwich had a garlic pesto aioli that we wanted to try, and with a fried green tomato and bacon--just awesome!  The bratwurst had a cabbage/apple slaw on it that we weren't sure about, but it ended up being delicious!

Do you have any local Lexington suggestions?  I'd love to hear!

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Parmesan Roasted Zucchini

What can I say about this recipe?  It combined garlic, cheese and a vegetable--not much can go wrong.  This was so easy and simple plus delicious that I raved about it as I ate it.  The hubby didn't like it too much, but then again he is not a squash person.  That's okay--I'm not beneath making something just for myself!

{Parmesan Roasted Zucchini}

{Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder}

{Add cheese} 

{Bake until zucchini is done and the cheese is browned}

One year ago:  Peach-Blackberry Crumble

Parmesan Roasted Zucchini

Serves 2-4

2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Line baking sheets with foil.
  3. Place zucchini on baking sheets and brush each with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper on each half.  For a more garlicky taste, use more garlic powder.
  5. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until zucchini is tender and cheese is browned.
This would also work for yellow sqaush.  How do you like to make and eat your squash?  I'd love to hear!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

BLT with Basil Mayonnaise

Continuing with using ingredients from the garden, one word--BLT!!!  Okay...  So maybe technically three words, but the accronym is one word.  Anyway, I LOVE BLTs!  Actually, for me it's more of a BOLT (bacon onion lettuce tomato), and I like to make it "fancy" as the hubby says with basil mayonnaise.  Making the basil mayonnaise--it's so easy it's ridiculous!  Just add basil to some mayonnaise and go to town (or BLT crazy!).

{My BOLT with basil mayonnaise, and yes, I did immediately eat this after I snapped the picture}

{Add chopped basil to mayonnaise--yup that simple}

{I let the hubby cook the bacon--big mistake!!!  For every 4 slices he cooked, he ate 3!  I fired him}

{Tomatoes donated to me from the in-laws and co-workers!}

{Building my sandwich--okay so I made a wrap}

BLT with Basil Mayonnaise

Makes 4 servings

1 pound bacon, cooked
2-3 tomatoes, sliced
4 oz lettuce
2 oz red onion, sliced (optional and recommended)
Bread or wraps
4 teaspoons basil, chopped
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use olive oil based mayo, but it works with anything!)
  1. Mix basil and mayonnaise together until combined.
  2. Build sandwich.
  3. Enjoy!
Do you like BLTs?  What do you put on yours?  I'd love to hear!

PS--Have a fantastic weekend!

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brie, Bacon and Basil Pasta

This is one of those recipes that my hubby wouldn't like because of the brie.  So what do I do?  I tell my mom I am taking over her kitchen and making her dinner!  How can you say no to that?

{Brie, Bacon and Basil Pasta}

{Cooking the bacon}

{Getting my mise en place together}

{Browning the onions and garlic}

{Adding cooked pasta}

{Add brie and milk, heating until brie melts}

{Stir basil in right before serving}

Brie, Bacon and Basil Pasta

Serves 4

1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
7 oz brie, cubed
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
10 basil leaves, chopped
8 oz dried pasta
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat bacon on medium high heat until cooked.
  3. Turn heat up to medium-high and add garlic and onions; saute until bacon is crisp and onions and garlic have a nice brown color to them.
  4. Add cooked pasta to bacon mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Add brie, milk and pepper to pasta mixture and turn heat down to medium.
  6. Cook until cheese is melted.
  7. Right before service, throw in the basil and stir to combine.
  8. Serve (with a basil garnish if you want to get fancy!).
This recipe will utilize some of that basil growing in your garden, just like it did at mom's.  This recipe was delicious and quick!

PS--Thanks mom!

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake

Remember how I said that sometimes I create occasions to make food?  Well--I made one last week.  It was really a perfect storm.  I had five pounds of cornmeal that I confiscated from my mom during the great pantry-clean-out, and blueberries were on sale for $1 a pint at my local market.  Plus, I was in sore need to see my grandparents, who I typically see weekly and haven't really visited with since the end of July.  I asked if I could bring over cake, and they lovingly agreed!  If all of those circumstances don't scream, "MAKE THE BLUEBERRY CORNMEAL BUTTER CAKE YOU'VE WANTED TO MAKE FOR 8 MONTHS!!!!"  I don't know what would...

{Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake}

Not only that, I made some and brought it to work for my lovely co-workers.  To say that it went fast was an understatement.  It's nice to know that my baking is held in such regard!!!

{Whisking the dry ingredients together}

{Adding eggs to the creamed butter}

{Add flour mixture until just combined!  (Key if you want a soft cake!)}

{Mix blueberries with flour and fold into batter}

{Cake batter!}

{Dry ingredients for the topping}

{Add butter and mix until crumbly (hands work best in my opinion so I wear gloves}

{Spread cake batter evenly in the pan; plus a shot of the yummy cake I was making!}

{Sprinkle topping on top of the cake batter; this is the cake that I made for work.  I doubled the recipe to fit this pan}

{My grandparents gave me this pan; it's called a brownie tin.  Same principle as a cupcake tin, just square.  The original recipe only makes this much, and I had not used this pan so I decided to do it (it's much better individually in my opinion because the edges get crunchy!)} 

One year ago: Peach Sangria

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake
from smitten kitchen cookbook

Makes an 8x8 pan or 12 cupcakes

1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups blueberries


1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of salt
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add eggs in one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions.
  5. Add vanilla and lemon zest until combined.
  6. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Add sour cream and mix until just combined.  Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture until just combined.
  7. Add blueberries to the remaining flour and stir to combine.
  8. Gently fold blueberry-flour mixture into the batter until just combined.
  9. Spray cake pan or cupcake tins with non-stick spray.  Spread the cake batter evenly if in a pan; if in a cupcake tin, fill each cup until almost full and smooth out the top.
  10. Mix topping ingredients in the bowl that held the blueberry-flour mixture (save dishes!) until crumbly.
  11. Spread the topping evenly and in a thin layer--this mean that you might not use all the topping.  I made this twice and never did use it all, but I sat there and ate it instead (don't judge).
  12. Bake until a tester comes out clean--cake pan will take about 70 minutes while cupcakes will take 20-25.  To ensure even brown-ness, turn the pan halfway through baking.
  13. Cool and watch as they last a scant 24 hours!
Did I get some strange looks when I brought this to work?  Why, yes--yes I did.  However, almost everyone tried a piece, and no one hated it.  Some said "huh that's interesting" while most said "love it!"

So go forth and make cake!  No excuse or reason needed!  ;o)

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Tip: Making the Cut

I know I have a recipe collecting problem (Ben calls it hoarding--tomato, tamato).  I see a recipe and think "I need to keep this recipe because I am going to make it!"  Then before I know it, three years have rolled by, and the recipe hasn't been made.  I was going through my recipes the other night, and I came up with some guidelines on how to choose recipes.  Because if I know that I have a problem, I'm pretty sure others do too!

{My modest collection of cookbooks--not pictured are the eight binders that I have from culinary school--hahahaha} 

Guidelines for Choosing Recipes

Will you/family/loved ones actually eat it?  If the recipe has ingredients you know your family/loved ones would never touch, don't save it!  It's not worth the dust on the shelf.  Now, there is a difference between the family not liking ingredients and never tried the ingredients before.  For instance, my husband doesn't like spinach--at all.  So I don't make anything with spinach in it, and if I find something I want to try with spinach, I make it for my mom, who loves spinach.  Not only do I get to try out recipes I wouldn't normally, but it's a nice gesture to make dinner for my mom (you know--after she gave birth to me and puts up with my crap all the time).  Another instance is that the hubby had never had spices like curry, turmeric, garam masala, etc, but I make dishes with them because they were new ingredients.  Turns out that he tolerates (the cooking of them) and likes (their flavors) them enough to request the dishes every now and then.

Do the ingredients fit into your budget?  If the recipe has some exotic ingredients, would you be able to use those ingredients in other recipes so nothing is wasted?  If you come across a delicious recipe for lobster but can't afford it--keep moving on!  Will you one day be able to afford the lobster?  Of course!  But in the interim it's not practical to keep.  When you get to that day, the internet will help you find what to do with the lobster--PROMISE.  Also, if the recipe has exotic ingredients like lemongrass, curry paste, sun-dried tomatoes, etc, it's not practical to buy an entire 1 pound container for $50 when you only need 2 oz.  Unless you find other recipes to try at one time that uses that ingredient, or go in with someone on the cost, it's not worth you throwing away the $43.75 that will go bad (yes that is a correct calculation).

Do you have the equipment?  I have a tiny kitchen.  No kidding.  I have kitchen equipment in storage because A) I don't have the room in my apartment and B) because I don't use it too often (mainly serving stuff like platters, tongs, etc).  If you find recipes to make pasta but don't have a pasta maker....  Don't keep the recipe.  Some equipment can be substituted.  For example, if you don't have an ice cream maker, you can still make ice cream; the ice cream just won't be as smooth and pretty if you had used an ice cream maker.

Do you have the time?  If you don't have the time to make a recipe that takes 8 hours (crockpot recipes are the exception)--don't even keep it!  Also make sure that you have the time to do all the steps.  I won't lie--if a recipe has more than 15 steps (besides preheating oven, cooling, serving) I probably won't make it.    I want recipes that are quick, easy, healthy, and low cost.  Several of the recipes that I keep, I modify because they take unnecessary steps so I streamline them and present them to you!

Do you have the occasion?  As much as I would love to eat cakes, cookies, and other various desserts all of the time, it's not practical for my health or anyone around me.  Especially since that's really all I did at the beginning of this blog, I've learned to be EXTREMELY picky about which desserts I keep.  I have to have an occasion, and yes, sometimes I make an occasion around a dessert because who doesn't want to get together for coffee and cake in the early afternoon? 

This goes for Pinterest too!  I pin everything to a board labelled "Holding Place" and then go through recipes when I have more time using these guidelines. 

When I complete a recipe, if I decide it is worthy (so delicious that shouting to deities are involved and the pot is licked clean) of staying in my collection, I make notes of the date and changes I would make the next time.  If not, then it goes in the trash!

As with everything, getting into habits takes lots of time.  Going through recipes at least once a year also helps. 

So tell me--are you a recipe hoarder?  How do you choose your recipes?  I'd love to hear!

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Beef with Gravy and Buttered Noodles

This was supposed to be traditional beef stroganoff.....  However, the gravy was so fantastic that I completely forgot to add the sour cream to make it traditional stroganoff!  Which is why I've changed the name to beef with gravy and buttered noodles.  Let me tell you--I go weak in the knees for meat gravy.  Seriously.  Any meat gravy.  This recipe has one of the BEST meat gravies that I have ever had--so unbelievably DELICIOUS!!!  The best part?  It's made in a crockpot!  SCORE!

{Beef Stroganoff with buttered noodles}

{Saute mushrooms}

{Brown onions and garlic}

{Deglaze the pan (tutorial tomorrow!)}

{Watch out!!!  It'll steam up pretty quickly!}

{Cooked mushrooms, onions and garlic with beef in the crockpot awaiting the saucy goodness!}

{Heating the sauce up after deglazing the pan}

{Beef stroganoff is ready to cook for 6-8 hours on low}

{Making a roux to thicken the sauce}

{Add liquid from the crockpot to make a thick sauce}

{Add sauce back into the crockpot}

{Buttered noodles!}

{Serve over buttered noodles and with veggies}

One year ago:  Roasting Vegetables

Beef with Gravy and Buttered Noodles

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint button mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1 pound stew meat
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
4 oz dried pasta
2 tablespoons butter
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet.
  2. Add mushrooms and sear until browned on one side; remove from pan and place in crockpot.
  3. Add onions and garlic to hot pan; sear until golden brown; remove from pan and place in crockpot.
  4. Carefully add wine and beef broth to hot pan to deglaze.  Use a wooden spoon and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add liquid, meat, pepper, and bay leaf to crockpot.
  6. Turn crockpot to low and cook for 6-8 hours.
  7. Remove as much liquid as possible from the crockpot; reserve.
  8. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan; add flour and make a roux.
  9. Add liquid from crockpot and simmer until thickened; add back to crockpot.
  10. Meanwhile, cook pasta (how to cook pasta here).
  11. When pasta has been drained, place it in a bowl and add butter.
  12. Stir butter and pasta until butter is melted.
  13. Serve beef and sauce over the buttered pasta.
I might make this again someday with the addition of sour cream (1 cup)--not that I need much of an excuse to make gravy, and if I don't forget AGAIN! 

Have you ever made something but stopped right in the middle because it was that good already?  Please share so I don't feel too bad!  (Not really possible since I made fabulous gravy and ate it too!)

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