Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cool Cucumber Salad w/Sour Cream Dill Dressing | Everyday Food

Is there anything better on a hot night than a cool dinner. I love cucumbers, they have always been one of my favorite vegetables, or are they technically a fruit because they have seeds, or is it a gourd because they grow in a vine and root from the ground? I think it's technically a fruit.

Growing up my Nana used to take cucumbers and slice them thin and then splash a little vinegar on them and sprinkle them with salt and we'd eat tons of them like that. So cool and refreshing. I saw this recipe in the latest issue of Everyday Food, and it looked so light and refreshing, I knew I had to try it. One thing I will say about this recipe is that it needs to be eaten almost immediately and left overs cannot be kept, so only make what you need, or what you will eat in one day.

1/2 c reduced fat sour cream
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
coarse salt and ground pepper

4 to 6 Kirby cucumbers, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (I used two)

1. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper, and whisk well to combine.

2. Add cucumbers, and toss to coat. Garnish with more dill, if desired. Serve or refrigerate, covered up to 4 hours.

Rating = So Damn Good

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Low Low Fat Strawberry Banana Bread

So, I had a banana that was just about to give off hoards of fruit flies, some strawberries that had lost their sheen, and a husband who apparently has a date with some swimsuit catalog photographer who won't eat any baked fattening foods right now, and is constantly walking around the house with his shirt off asking me to look at his "almost" six pack, his stance complete with muscle man flexing groaning sounds. What to do, what to do?

A while back, like in September, I made a healthy apple bread from a recipe I got out of Healthy Cooking magazine and it was great and super low fat. I decided to use that recipe as the base for this, but use the strawberries and bananas instead of the cut up apples. What I ended up with was a great bread. It was flavorful and moist and healthy, the only thing I may have changed was to use frozen cut up strawberries instead of fresh ones. I say this because the strawberries have so much moisture in them, that the next day the cake was a little soggy around the strawberries, and I was afraid that the loaf wasn't going to keep. So you know, we ate the whole bloody loaf within two days. Is it still guilt free if you eat the whole thing?

I like this recipe so much that I am thinking about making it again with banana and frozen blueberries which I think would ROCK!

2C flour
1/2C brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4C unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C sliced strawberries
1 mashed banana

Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly spray an 8 x 4 in loaf pan with non fact cooking spray. In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda/powder and cinnamon. Stir in applesauce, banana and vanilla and mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in strawberries. Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes 10 servings.

Rating = So Damn Good

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Green Chicken Curry | Everyday Food

I knew when I got the latest issue of Everyday Food this week and found this recipe among its pages that I would make it before the week was over. Another thing I now know is, I'm a pussy, or at least I have pussy lips because this recipe burned the lips off my face.

Remember the chicken enchiladas with green sauce that I made a few weeks ago and how I complained about how hot they were and that I needed to drink multiple glasses of water while I tried to eat one freaking enchilada? Well, this blows the shit out of those. As I ate it, my mouth burned and my nose ran and I just couldn't take it anymore. The thing that sucked is it tasted so good, I just couldn't handle the heat. CB had two helpings, he said he loved it, and he loved the flavor, but I knew once I saw the beads of sweat break out on his forehead that his typical third helping would never happen, it was also at this point that he abandoned his glass of wine, reached across the table and grabbed my glass of cold water and chugged it. When done he simply said, "that shits hot."

The recipe calls for 1 to 2 tablespoons of Thai green curry, I think I used closer to two tablespoons, a mistake I will not make again. The next time I make this, I will use 1 tablespoon or less in order to actually be able to ingest it. If you don't know what Thai green curry is, it's not curry powder, its a mixture of Chile peppers (hence the heat), coriander and apparently other ingredients that heighten the "hotter than the hinges of hell" properties of the paste.

Recipe: Green Chicken Curry Everyday Food June 2007 Issue
1 cup long grain white rice
1 tbsp corn starch
1 can (14.5 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp vegetable oil
12 ounces green beans stems removed (i used snow peas)
1 medium onion halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 to 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
4 roasted chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
1 can (14.5 oz) coconut milk (i used reduced fat)
1 cup torn fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (i used the zest of the lime too)
coarse salt

1. cook rice according to package instructions. meanwhile place cornstarch in a small bowl; whisk in 2 to 3 tablespoons chicken broth until smooth (reserve remaining broth). set aside.

2. heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add green beans and onion; cook tossing frequently, until they begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes.

3. add curry paste to green beans and onion in skillet. cook, stirring and scraping bottom of skillet, until paste is slightly darkened, 3 to 4 minutes. add chicken, coconut milk, cornstarch mixture, and reserved chicken broth. simmer until vegetables are tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.

4. add basil and lime juice (and zest). season with salt stir to combine; serve over rice. WITH A BIG GLASS OF WATER.

Rating = So (FUCKING HOT) Damn Good

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Roasted Red Pepper Gratin

I made this side dish for my mother's day dinner and everyone raved about it. The casserole dish was licked clean and everyone wanted more. It was the simplest dish to make and it was probably the most popular of the night, so make it damn it.

2 red bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c fresh white bread crumbs
1 garlic clove finely chopped
1 tsp drained bottled capers
8 pitted black olives roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place peppers under the broiler. Turn occasionally until they are blackened and blistered all over. Remove from heat, place in a plastic bag. Seal and let cool.

2. When cool peel the peppers. Halve and remove the seeds and cut into large strips.

3. Use olive oil to grease a small baking dish. Arrange pepper strips in the dish.

4. Scatter the remaining ingredients on top, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the bread crumbs have browned. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Rating = So God Damn Good

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sage Wrapped New Potato Skewers

I'm Irish. I love potatoes. The two go hand in hand. CB has been known to look at the table at Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, what have you, and exclaim, "how many ways can you people cook potatoes?" Well, there's home fried potatoes, scalloped potatoes, potatoes au gratin, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, I feel like the Bubba Gump of potatoes. However you never hear me say to CB, all you Italians and your pasta, how many types of pasta do you people need. See, you just don't hear that.

This is such a pretty way of presenting what can otherwise be a dull side dish. The sage does go from a very vibrant green when just picked, to an almost purple when heated through.

Recipe: Makes 5 skewers

20 tiny new potatoes, peeled
10 large sage leaves
fresh chopped parsley
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Boil potatoes until just soft enough to pierce all the way through with skewer.
2. Cool potatoes and toss with olive oil, parsley and salt and pepper
3. Place one potato on skewer, take sage leaf and pierce with skewer at the very base of the leave near stem, do not push down skewer yet, add second potato, wrap sage leaf over potato and pierce with skewer at the top of the leaf and push down onto potato, and then move the two potatoes down the skewer. Do this twice with each skewer, so each on has two sage leaves and four potatoes.
4. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for twenty minutes.

Rating = So Damn Good

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Conquering My Fear of Yeast..Cranberry Pecan Bread

I don't like working with yeast. I don't know why. I think maybe its the whole proofing stage, and the hot water, and the general term "yeast" and the possibility that my bread may never rise because I have inadequate yeast. I don't know, but I'm going to try and conquer it. I started with this recipe because it looked pretty simple, whisk, mix, knead, blap de bloo done. Let me just tell you, when I looked at the directions quickly I thought that they said to knead the dough 10 times, au contraire monfrair, it said knead the dough for ten fucking minutes. My little arms had hit lactic acid build up by minute five, kneading, kneading is hard work, and I don't care to do it again. So after endless kneading of the dough I was then instructed to fold in the raisins and pecans, which together measured about 1 1/2 cups. I couldn't get half the stuff in there, every time I added some, turned the bread over and then tried to knead it in, the raisin and pecans would fall out of the dough ball. I finally resorted to making little holes with my fingers and then pushing the pecans in one hole, and then the raisins in another and repeating that process over and over again until I thought I have "inserted" enough.

The picture above is what the dough ball looked like before I let it sit to double in size, which thank Christ it did, after all that kneading and elbow grease I probably would have just thrown it out the window if it didn't rise. After baking and getting the tell tale hollow sounding thump on the bottom that lets you know the bread is done I was disappointed in the final outcome because it was so extremely dense. Like, brick dense, like people with soft teeth should probably skip this bread kind of dense. What did I do wrong, why do all of my breads come out weighing a ton and take 75 chews to get one bite down? Can someone tell me the secret to lighter bread?

Recipe: makes one loaf
2 3/4 c lour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
scant 1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. sift flour and salt into a bowl, cut in the butter with a knife, then stir in the yeast.
2. gradually add 3/4 cup tepid water to the flour mixture, stirring with a spoon at first, then gathering the dough together with your hands.
3. turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
4. knead the raisins and walnuts into the dough until they are evenly distributed. shape into a rough oval, place on lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap. let rise in warm place for 1-2 hours, until doubled in bulk. preheat oven to 425F.
5. uncover the loaf and bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 375 and bake for 20-25 more minutes.
6. transfer to a wire rack, brush with melted butter and cover with a dish towel. cool before slicing.

Rating = Damn Good

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Garbanzo Been Salad

Last night I went for my normal nightly run. Except this one wasn't normal at all, for me at least, my legs felt like cinder blocks were tied to them, like my sneakers had been cast out of concrete, every step seemed to take twice as long. It was terrible. This very rarely happens to me. Every once in a while distance runners just have bad runs, it's part of the process, but having a bad run never gets any easier to take. Every bad run leads to a myriad of psychological whats and whys. Why do my legs hurt, why am I two minutes behind pace, why do my joints ache? Anyway, it was hot, about 81 degrees when I left the house at 6:00, I don't think it was the heat, I was just having "a bad run." As I was heading into the last few miles of my run, obviously in a bad mood, I felt something wet fall on my hand; my first thought was, great a bird just shit on me, but then, in another few feet I felt another drop on my leg. Knowing that it was not a possibility that a bird was following me down the street and shitting on me I realized that it was sprinkling. There are few things better than a sun shower when it is hot and humid outside. As I ran down the street enjoying the sprinkles, I looked up and to the right and noticed a wonderful rainbow. Few things can cause people to just stop, look to the heavens and smile like a rainbow. As I ran past walkers and bikers going in the opposite direction, we all alerted each other to the rainbow, not wanting anyone to miss its beauty. From that point on I had a little more pep in my step, and a smile on my face, thankful that even though my run was terrible, I didn't stop, which meant that I didn't miss the rainbow.

Garbanzo Bean Salad
2 15oz can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
3 tbs white wine vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
1 jar roasted red peppers drained and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1 inch pieces.
1 jar artichoke hearts drained and chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley coarsely chopped
1 bunch fresh mint coarsely chopped
1/4 red onion finely chopped
3 oz low fat feta crumbled
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients together. The tastes better if the ingredient sit over night and the flavors meld, but can be enjoyed right away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

White Ruffy en Papillote with Tri-Colored Peppers

We had CB's mother, aunt and cousin up from Rhode Island on Sunday for Mother's Day. My main complaint, well, no not my main complaint about his mother, but one of my complaints about his mother is that she doesn't cook anything healthy. CB and I have been together for over 6 years and I can't remember a healthy meal being cooked by her. So, for mother's day I thought I would lead by example and serve a heart healthy meal. I decided to cook white fish in parchment paper with peppers, artichokes, garlic, fresh rosemary, etc. It was wonderful, light delicious, HEALTHY!

I was not sure exactly how to make the parchment pockets for the fish, so I watched a video on the web which explained it all. Here is also a link to step by step instructions on how to make the packets.

Recipe: Preheat oven 400 degrees

  • 5 white fish fillets seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides

  • 1 small onion cut into half moons divided

  • 1 red bell pepper cut into strips divided

  • 1 green bell pepper cut into strips divided

  • 1 orange bell pepper cut into strips divided

  • 1 small jar artichoke hearts in oil divided

  • 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced and divided

  • 1 lemon cut into thin rounds divided

  • salt and pepper

Make parchment hearts as directed (above), divide ingredients among hearts, laying ingredients on top and bottom of fish top with a drizzle of olive oil. Seal according to direction.

Place on baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Enjoy

Rating = So Damn Good

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Take 2 of these and call me in the morning...Pomegranate Martini

I have a friend who always says, "martinis are like tits, one is not enough, three is too much, but two, two is just right." Ah sage advice I say. Anyway, this was my dinner last night, now, I'm not condoning a liquid diet, or a diet made up of only alcohol, but at least I chose a antioxidant rich mixer to go with my vodka.
Why you ask, did I have two martinis for dinner? Well, because I fell. I fell going home. Not like a little trip, this was a full on yard sale. I was running for the train and I tripped on a safety strip (that's irony for you). I was running to catch the blue line and right as I got to the train I felt the top of my sandal catch on something, but there was so much momentum behind me that I just couldn't recover, and I fell, ass over tea kettle. I had two bags in my hand which went flying, my sunglasses which were on my head, skipped across the brick waiting area, my business card case which holds my T-pass clanked on the ground. I was a spectacle indeed. I didn't realize how bad the fall was until the man who saw it all happen yelled "Oh My God" as he ran toward my rescue, it was at this point that everyone from the packed train got off to help pick up my scattered articles, some nice man handed me my sunglasses, another my bag, another literally picked me up and righted me on my feet. The conductor of the train even came off and walked me into the train, as a nice man made me take his seat. There was much asking, "are you ok?" "yes I'm fine, thanks" in reply. As I sat on the train and assessed my injuries, I counted three cuts on my hand, and two banged up knees. The problem with being a marathon runner is we have absolutely no fat around our joints, we are all sharp angles where the bones meet. I could feel that I had banged the bone on the outside of my right knee, and the inside of my left. I sat on the train and pondered the most important question, could I still get my run in? I decided to go to the gym and run on the treadmill, this way of something started to feel weird I could just jump off and not be stranded 5 miles from home. So I went to the gym, the run was fine, a little creaky but fine nonetheless. When I got home my stomach was a little upset; I don't know about you, but whenever I bang a bone, or get a bad bruise, my stomach gets all blah and I lose my appetite. So I wasn't hungry, but my legs hurt and my hand was all scratchy and that hurt too, so I decided a little bit of grandma's cough syrup was just the thing to take the edge off. I was right, it was great.

Pomegranate Martini
You have to chill the glass first, it just makes it so much better, then dip the edge of the glass in colored sugar to make it all purty.

  • 3 ounces vodka (I used Belvedere)
    1 ounce pomegranate syrup
  • 3 ounces white cranberry juice (I just used what I had in the refrigerator)

Mix in cocktail shaker, pour into chilled glass. Enjoy. Repeat.

Rating = So Damn Good

When I got up this morning, my hand was fine, my right knee was a little red, but my left knee, is purple. Nice big Barney colored bruise. I'm sexy. On my way to work this morning I saw this window display and it made me laugh, becuase this is how my body feels this morning.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Reduced Fat | Chocolate Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

A little while ago I bought these chips at the super market. Chocolate Raspberry Chips. Freaking Yum. Now I realize that the raspberry flavor is completely manufactured and has not one iota of natural flavoring, but they still rocked! I envisioned making biscotti with these, but last night I was in the mood for chocolate chip cookies, and not to completely abandon the whole "healthy baking" request of CB, I decided to replace half of the butter with equal parts applesauce to reduce the fat. I was a little leery of doing this thinking that the cookies wouldn't spread correctly, or just generally wouldn't take the correct shape, but that was all for not, because they behaved just great in the oven and came out ooey and cakey and good.

I cribbed this recipe from one I found on All Recipes posted by a woman named Kathy Brandt. Her recipe didn't reduce the amount of butter, but I liked how simple it was, so went with her recipe with minor additions and reductions.

1/2 C butter softened

1/2 C applesauce
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
2 C flour
2/3 C cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 C chocolate raspberry chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or just until set. Cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Despite reducing the fat by half these cookies were surprisingly rich and chewy, something that I thought would have been comprimised by cutting the butter by half; but it wasn't. I will definitely be experimenting more with applesauce as a subsititute for butter.

Rating = So Damn Good

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hola Hola...I'm back Y'all

Hi Everyone. I realized this morning that I never uploaded last Tuesday's post explaining that I would be gone for a few days and not be able to post. Sorry about that. I threw the post up there this morning anyway in case you wanted to read it, it explains why I wasn't going to be able to post until today.

I was in San Antonio, Texas! It was great, oh so warm, and completely exhausting. I was there for few days and packed a shit ton of stuff into my schedule while I was there. The first thing I did was go to the Alamo.
I was so disappointed in the Alamo mainly in part because there are signs everywhere explaining to visitors that the Alamo is sacred ground and that there should be no talking when inside to respect the holy space and to respect those who lost their lives there. This is what it should be like there, but unfortunately it was packed with schools children on field trips, that in and of itself was not the bad part, it was the fact that the teachers had the children doing a scavenger hunt at the Alamo which cause the children not to walk through silently and ponder the importance of the space, it made them frenzied and caused them to run around looking for artifacts to jot down on their check-sheets. There was no mention of respect to the place they were in. It just made me think back to last summer when I visited Pearl Harbor. No one made a sound at the memorial, it was so somber and stoic, and it made an impression on all who visited, unfortunately the Alamo does not receive the same respect.

Front Facade of the Alamo

Walk way at the Alamo

The second trip I went on was to see the other San Antonio Missions. Mission ConcepciĆ³n was the first mission I toured, and is the most well preserved original mission in San Antonio. See Below.

I also toured the San Jose Mission and the San Juan Mission. They were really interesting and offered a glimpse into Spain's most successful attempt at extending its territory northward from Mexico. These missions are the greatest concentration of Spanish Missions in North America. The missions stood as an example to the French in Louisiana that Texas was Spanish territory. If you would like more history on the Missions please click here

The next trip was to 3 wineries. Yes, who knew that Texas had wineries, but see...those are grape vines. Now, I have toured wine country and drank a lot of wine in Italy and I must say that the wines in Texas seem very immature compared to the wines in other regions of the world. I think part of this is due to the fact that the vines are new, some of them only 5 years old.

All the wined I tried seemed very basic and not very complex. That's not to say that they were not good, because they were, I just think they are a simpler wine than most people are used to.

Who knew Texas was so green and lush, huh?

Anyway, yes, I did also do work when I was there, and I did see Al Gore. He gave a wonderful and thoughtful speech, and hit on a lot of very personal issues for me and global issues too. He was quite captivating and really, honestly seemed so passionate about what he was talking about that you couldn't help but be moved by him.

Also, in Texas I saw a lot of Mariachi singers and walked the Riverwalk countless times. (See Below)

Going away is so wonderful (yes even for work) but there is nothing like coming home and sleeping in your own bed and cooking your own food which I simply can't wait to do. My refrigerator is empty and my oven is cold, but I hope to change that tonight. So glad to be back.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Definition: Moratorium
A suspension of activity
An authorized period of delay or waiting

I won't be able to post until next week - oh I know the horror, how will you ever live without my hair brained recipes for thingies! In truth, I am traveling for work, I'm very excited about this because I'm going to a conference to learn about environmentally conscious design. I realize that right now environmentalism is very in vogue, but this is not a fly by the pants thing for me. I have been interested in and exhibited environmentally sensitive behavior for a very long time now. The best part of this trip is that I will get to hear Al Gore speak about his book/film An Inconvenient Truth, and possibly have him autograph a copy for me while I'm there (I'm not about to wait in a line all day, but if it doesn't look too bad, I'll get in line).

Now I realize that Al Gore hasn't actually been the pundit on a lot of topics, a la I invented the Internet while I was Vice President and all, but on this topic, the man knows his shit, and even better he's got a lot of people talking and thinking about the impact that human behavior has on the environment and the world, and because of that I can forgive the whole Internet thing.

As is the case when I am out of the office trying to get work, my actual work in the office doesn't get done, so when I get back I'll be crazy busy trying to catch up on that stuff, so the earliest I think I can post is Monday. I'll have Internet access and all that, so if you leave me a post or an email I'll be able to get it and respond, and you know how much I love hearing from you, so please feel free to do so. Also, I'll be on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, so if you know of any really good restaurants there, pretty please let me know; we all know how well I ate in Atlanta because I didn't ask the advice of other foodie bloggers.

There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed.
~Mohandas K. Gandhi