Archive for February, 2010


Buffalo Chicken Pizza

February 28, 2010

So I swear that I had posted this back at the beginning….but it seems I am remiss.  Sorry!  I make pizza pretty regularly, and this one is a standard of mine at this point.  It’s a spinoff of a Rachael Ray version.  I promise to show you how to make homemade pizza dough at some point soon, but till then, just use your favorite dough!  I really like whole wheat pizza, so that was my base.

You will need…

  • 1 pizza dough
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T margarine
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/4 lb chicken tenders or breast (about 1 small breast, 4-6 tenders)
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 small bunch scallions, sliced lengthwise like hay
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Shredded cheddar/jack cheese
  • Shredded mozzarella or Italian blend
  • Salt and pepper
  • Coarse ground cornmeal (opt)

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 425.  You want it to sit at that temperature for at least 10 minutes before you start on your pizza.
  2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or a pizza tin.  If you have some, sprinkle coarse ground cornmeal on the pan.  It will make your crust extra crispy.  Spread your dough out on the pan until it’s about 1/2 an inch thick.  Lightly coat top with about 1 T olive oil.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges are just starting to crisp up/
  4. Meanwhile, chop the chicken into small bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Cook in a medium skillet with some non-stick cooking spray until cooked through and lightly browned.
  5. In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the tomato sauce and hot sauce (to taste – sounds odd but it’s that something special that will make your sauce stand out).  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
  6. Spoon enough sauce onto the chicken to coat it.
  7. On your crust, spread some sauce.  Sprinkle with the chicken, celery and blue cheese crumbles.
  8. Top with the shredded cheeses and then finish with the scallions.
  9. Bake another 10 minutes or so until the cheese is just starting to brown and the edges of the crust are crispy.
  10. I like to transfer the pizza to a brown paper bag on a cutting board.  The paper wicks away extra moisture as the pizza cools slightly.
  11. Enjoy!


Parsley Falafel

February 26, 2010

I am a big fan of falafel and have been known to use the Near East “create-your-own” box from the grocery store.  I figured why not try them totally on my own?  I added a bunch of parsley to the mix, because I like how it tastes, but you could leave it out or even substitute fresh mint!  These freeze really well either before or after baking, and then are a great healthy protein snack!

You will need:

  • 1 can (19 oz) garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas!)
  • 1/3 c shredded carrot
  • 2 T flour
  • 3 T tahini
  • 1 T water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 t ground cumin (heaping)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 – 2 T olive oil, as needed

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
  3. Blend them together with the carrot, flour, tahini, water, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, parsley, and lemon juice.  I used a blender, but you could roughly mix it all by hand with a fork.
  4. Add olive oil as needed to smooth it out.  You don’t want it to be too pureed, so eyeball it till it meets your preferences.
  5. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Shape mixture into patties about the size of a silver dollar.  It should make about 12 patties.
  6. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes on each side, until it’s golden and cooked through!
  7. Serve with pita, tomato, lettuce and tahini sauce (blended Greek yogurt, tahini and lemon juice).
  8. Yumm!

Poppy’s Fresh Spinach Soup

February 24, 2010

It’s become a Valentine’s tradition — me in NYC with Ms. Poppy.  There is usually an adventure or two and lots of entertainment for all involved!  This year was no exception. One night Poppy made this amazing soup.  With the spinach, tomatoes and pepper, it reminded me a bit of the sauce for saag paneer.  It was DELICIOUS and I would have kept eating it forever.  Luckily she typed up a recipe for me to give you all!  There’s a little bit of heat from the pepper, but it’s not overwhelming.  If you want to keep it vegetarian, just use vegetable stock instead of chicken.  Try it; you won’t regret it!

You will need…

  • 2 leeks or 1 medium onion, chopped (rinse leeks well)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small serrano or jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 4 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1  can (14.5 oz) crushed or diced tomatoes
  • approx. 10 oz. fresh spinach, picked over and stemmed
  • ½ c half and half, or to taste

Then you…

  1. Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add leek (or onion) and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened but not brown.
  3. Add minced serrano and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Add stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Add tomatoes, with juice, and return just to a boil.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add spinach and, using a wooden spoon or tongs, gradually work it down into the hot liquid.
  8. Continue until all the leaves have wilted but are still bright green. Do not overcook.
  9. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth (careful with those hot liquids!).
  10. Return the soup to the pot or a serving bowl and stir in half and half.

NOTE:  If you prefer, you could probably substitute Greek yogurt for the half and half.  Also, as before, you wouldn’t want to freeze this soup with the half and half already mixed in.  It’ll turn gross in the freezer!


Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding

February 22, 2010

Awhile back, a friend asked for a bread pudding recipe.  This dulce de leche variation was one of the winners of the related poll!  It may not be the most photogenic, but it was delicious.  So tasty in fact, that I might have microwaved some for breakfast….

It is based on a recipe from Epicurious that caught my eye a few months back.  I made my own dulce de leche, but you could use store bought if you didn’t want to take the time!


You will need…

  • 2 c whipping cream
  • 2 c brown sugar (dark will give you the classic color)
  • 1 c sweetened condensed milk

Then you…

  1. Combine whipping cream and brown sugar in a heavy medium saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and allow to reduce to about 2 cups, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in sweetened condensed milk.
  3. Cover and chill to store.


You will need…

  • 1 loaf Challah bread, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and then 1-inch cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 c whipping cream
  • 1 c fat-free half and half
  • 1 1/2 c dulce de leche
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 T liquor (dark rum, cherry, etc.)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 T sugar

Then you…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 glass baking dish.
  2. Spray bread cubes with cooking spray and spread on baking sheets.
  3. Bake 12 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally.  Allow to cool.
  4. Mix whipping cream, half and half, and dulce de leche in a heavy medium saucepan until blended and boiling. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolks together. Add liquor, vanilla and salt.
  6. Gradually whisk in the dulce de leche mixture — you want to do this slowly so you gradually heat up the egg and do not scramble them!
  7. Stir in the bread cubes.  Allow to sit for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  9. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with 2 T sugar.
  10. Bake until puffed and set, about 30-35 minutes.  It might still look moist in the center.
  11. Allow to cool 15 minutes to finish setting.
  12. Serve warm with fresh whipped cream and extra dulce de leche sauce!

Saffron Linguine with Lemon Scallops

February 20, 2010

This past Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, so you can expect a bunch of vegetarian/pescatarian recipes to pop up between now and April 4th!  Friday night, I had two great friends over to test out some saffron linguine with lemon-scented scallops.  This is inspired by a Rachel Ray show, but I modified it for the occasion!  From what I could tell, it got some pretty rave reviews! Just as a heads up, it really helps with this recipe to have everything cut up before you start.  Nothing cooks for very long and you will have three different burners in action.  It’ll make the preparation much easier!

You will need:

  • 1 lb asparagus, cut into 1.5-inch pieces
  • 1 lb whole wheat linguine
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 T olive oil, plus some extra for scallops
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1/2 c vegetable stock
  • 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes with basil
  • Pinch of saffron (about 15-20 threads)
  • 1/3 c Greek yogurt
  • 2 T margarine
  • 1 c whole wheat bread crumbs (plain or Italian style)
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 16 sea scallops or about 30 bay scallops

Then you…

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  When it comes to a boil, cool the pasta to al dente.
  2. In a large skillet, bring 1-inch of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch for 2 minutes.  Drain and reserve.
  3. In the same skillet, heat 2 T olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and shallot; saute 4-5 minutes.  Deglaze with the wine, and reduce for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the stock, tomatoes and saffron.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Stir in the yogurt and season the sauce with salt and pepper.  Heat through and remove from heat.  Mix with asparagus and pasta when done.
  5. While sauce cooks, melt margarine in a medium skillet.  Add the bread crumbs and toast them, about 5 minutes.  Add the lemon zest and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove and reserve.
  6. Wipe the medium skillet clean and return to the burner.  Drizzle scallops with olive oil. Add to the hot pan and carmelize on each side. about 3 minutes on the first and 2 on the second.  With bay scallops, cook roughly 2 minutes on each side.
  7. Serve pasta alongside with scallops topped with the lemon bread crumbs!

Hummingbird Cake

February 14, 2010

This is a cake that my sister makes a lot, and it comes via one of my great aunts.  It’s great and filled with lots of pineapple and banana.  You can make it into a 3-layer cake or one 13×9 inch tray cake.  It’s usually topped with a cream cheese frosting, but since I’m snowed in today, I made a coconut topping.  It made the cake even closer to a pastry version of a pina colada!  You can find both toppings below; pick what floats your boat and make it for someone you love 🙂

For the cake, you will need…

  • 3 c flour (I used 1 c whole wheat + 2 c all-purpose)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c chopped nuts (I used cashews and almonds that I had on hand; goes great with pecans or walnuts too!)
  • 1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 c chopped bananas (about 3 medium-sized)

For the coconut topping, you will need:

  • 2 T cream
  • 3 T butter
  • 5 T brown sugar
  • 3/4 c coconut

For the cream cheese frosting,

  • 8 ox cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 2 t vanilla

Then you…

  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Stir by hand; do not use a mixer.
  2. Add in eggs and stir until ingredients are moistened.
  3. Stir in the vanilla, nuts, pineapple and banana.
  4. Spoon batter into well-greased and floured baking pans (three 9-inch cake pans or one 13×9-inch). Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes if making cakes or 40-50 minutes if making the tray.
  5. If you want to top with the coconut topping, mix the ingredients and heat until sugar is dissolved.  Spread/sprinkle on cake about 20 minutes into the baking.
  6. Cool in pans for about 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely before frosting, if using the cream cheese frosting.
  7. For frosting:  cream the cream cheese and butter till smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.  Stir in the vanilla. Spread frosting between layer and/or on top.  Sprinkle with more nuts, if desired.  Refrigerate.

Big Boy Carbonara

February 12, 2010

This recipe hails from the kitchen of my brother and his house of boys.  Awhile back I posted their Hungry Boy Pasta.  This is another of their favorites since it tastes better in mass quantities. Plus it tastes good warm or cold.  I added in some onion and peas, because I wanted slightly more veggies to make an appearance.  Either way, it’s pretty delicious.

You will need:

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 3 lb pasta (I used whole wheat linguine)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c frozen peas
  • 8 eggs (or 10 if you like your pastas saucier)
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
Then you…
  1. Chop up uncooked bacon (it’s easy this way) and cook in a skillet.  Pull out the crispy bacon to let dry on a paper towel, but hang on to the fat.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta according to the label.
  3. Cook the onions in the bacon drippings and add the peas at the very end to thaw.
  4. Cracks eggs in large bowl.  Mix in cheese.  Use enough cheese to thicken the sauce to where you like it, too much and it gets clumpy.  Use more eggs for more sauce.
  5. Add some salt and a good amount of pepper to the sauce.  Yum!
  6. Strain the cooked pasta and place back in large pot.
  7. Slowly mix the eggs/cheese into the cooked pasta, stirring regularly.  The hot pasta will cook the eggs, so if you don’t mix it in slowly you’re more likely to scramble some of the egg!
  8. Add bacon bits in with sauce/pasta.
  9. Slowly stir in warm bacon fat from pan along with the onion and peas.  This keeps cooking the eggs, so try not to scramble them!
  10. Enjoy!


Poke Me Cake!

February 10, 2010

I’m all for making a cake from scratch, but sometimes I don’t want to take the time.  This starts with a box of chocolate cake mix and some store bought whipped frosting in “fluffy white” (because I like the taste of fluffy colors!), but it ends up a great treat.  I call it a poke me cake, because after it bakes you poke it and pour alcohol on it.  Then the cake absorbs your liquor of choice, you flip it out of the pan and enjoy!  Here I used kahlua but you could use rum or anything you have a fondness for from whiskey to Chambord.

You can make it as cake or cupcakes.  I actually made both, using half of the batter for cupcakes that I can freeze for later and the other half for a cake pan to be frosted and eaten ASAP.

You will need…

  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Devil’s Food)
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/3 c liquor of choice + several shots worth for the poking part
  • Chopped pecans (I sprinkled them on top of the cupcakes and mixed about 1/2 c into the cake batter)
  • 1 container frosting (I like whipped “fluffy white”)
  • Coconut flakes

Then you…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin cups with paper cups and grease your cake pan.
  2. Mix together the cake mix, egg whites, water, oil and 1/3 cup of liquor.
  3. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full, sprinkle with nuts and bake about 20 minutes.  Use the cooking times suggested on the box as your guideline.
  4. Mix in the rest of the chopped nuts and pour batter into the cake pan.  Bake about 25-30 minutes, again start with the suggested times on the box.
  5. Freeze the cupcakes for later!
  6. Allow the cake to cool slightly.  Poke the bottom of the cake (side facing up in the pan) with a fork all over.  Pour 2-3 shots of liquor over the cake.  Allow to cool completely.
  7. Remove from the pan and frost.  Sprinkle with coconut flakes.


Fire-Roasted Tomato Bisque

February 8, 2010

With Snowmageddon 2010 approaching DC/NoVA, I stocked up on lots of tasty ingredients to get myself and my friends through the weekend.  This is a simple soup to throw together, and it goes deliciously with grilled cheese.  You’ll be happier for it!  I add white wine and cream at the end, but both are optional.  Just add what you’d like…

You will need:

  • 4 T margarine
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped (I used a bunch of baby carrots)
  • 3 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • 4 c stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • Two 14.5-oz cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes (or 1 big can)
  • One 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1/4 c white wine (opt)
  • 1/4 c heavy cream (opt)
  • Salt and pepper

Then you…

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the margarine over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour over low heat and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the chicken stick, tomato paste and tomatoes.  Mix well.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. In a blender, puree the soup.  If you prefer chunky soup, skip this step.  If you fall somewhere between smooth and chunky, puree about 1/2 of the soup.
  7. Return to sauce pan.  Add white wine and heat through.  Add cream, salt and pepper to taste and heat through.
  8. Serve with crusty bread and good friends!

Chipotle Shrimp Cups

February 7, 2010


This is a quick, fun appetizer from a recent poll that is based on a Cooking Light recipe.   It’s great because you can prep it in advance and then whip them together with minimal effort, which keeps you and your friends hanging out longer.  I like that they are crispy and warm, which makes them particularly well suited to cold season parties…such as the Super Bowl or Mardi Gras.  Also, they come as little cups, so you don’t need any fancy utensils to eat them either!

You will need…

  • 36  wonton wrappers
  • 1 1/2  c (6 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1  c  chopped cooked shrimp
  • 1  c  chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers
  • 1  c  bottled chipotle salsa
  • 1/2  c  chopped scallions

Then you…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fit 1 wonton wrapper into each of 36 mini muffin cups coated with cooking spray, pressing the wrappers into sides of cups.
  3. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Keep wontons in muffin cups.
  4. Combine cheese and remaining ingredients, and spoon about 1 T cheese mixture into each wonton cup.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from muffin cups. Serve immediately.
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