quinoa with feta, et cetera

ingredients (serves 2-4):
1 cup quinoa (pronouced keen-wah)
2 cups chicken broth
feta goat cheese, crumbled
handful of white button mushrooms, cut in fourths
2 handfuls of peas
(do you like my measurements? :))

cook quinoa in rice cooker with chicken broth (takes about 30 minutes). meanwhile, crumble goat cheese, sauté mushrooms and cook peas. mix all together when quinoa is finished. salt to taste. yummm.

inspired by this recipe.


autumn squash & israeli couscous

ingredients (serves 2 as a main dish):
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
coarse kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
dressing ingredients:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs orange zest
juice of 1 orange
1 Tbs thawed orange juice from concentrate
2 Tbs water
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed (less is more)
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. place cubed butternut squash on a shallow baking pan. season with salt and pepper; drizzle with olive oil. roast for 35-45 minutes until tender. cool.
couscous: boil 2 cups of water in medium saucepan, add couscous, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes. remove from heat, fluff with fork. in a large bowl, combine the prepared couscous, cranberries, green onions, curry powder, basil and roasted butternut squash.
dressing directions: whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl, except the olive oil. whisk in the olive oil until blended. toss dressing with the couscous mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve at room temperature, or chill until ready to serve.

adapted from a recipe found in baltimore magazine.


mango sticky, yummy rice

this is sort of a thai dessert/dish that my sister and her husband make sometimes. and so i had to try it. and the results were amazing. ingredients (makes 4 servings):
1 1/2 cups glutinous (sweet) rice
 --- i used jasmine rice from trader joe's
1/3 cups well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk
--- i did about 1/2 cup
3 Tbs granulated sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 large ripe Manila mangoes (or 1 large ripe South American mango)

To prepare the sticky rice: (what i did) rinse jasmine rise 4-5 times in water or until water runs clear. cook in rice cooker with enough time for the rice to cool to room temperature (about 30-1 hr after cooking time).
meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring coconut milk to a slow simmer, stirring constantly (hard boiled coconut milk will curdle). Add sugar and salt; stirring until sugar is dissolved; remove from heat. Keep mixture warm. Reserve approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup coconut-milk sauce; refrigerate until cool and thicken slightly.

Just before serving, peel mangoes and then thinly slice by cutting lengthwise through flesh to the stone; discard the stone. NOTE: Peel the mangoes carefully so as not to bruise the fruit. Slice in half as close to the seed as possible, then slice each half into 1/2-in (1-cm) slices.
Serve at room temperature. Drizzle reserved coconut-milk sauce over the rice. Arrange mango slices around the rice. Garnish with edible flowers or mint if desired.
NOTE: The finished dish can be kept, covered at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Do not refrigerate or the rice will harden!


autumn apple streusel pie

i got a new pie pan!!! and made a nice autumn pie for my husband and nice friends :)
ingredients (for one 9 inch pie pan):
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 pounds cooking apples - peeled, cored and thinly sliced (i used macintosh apples)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 (15 ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts (yes, i didn't take the time to make my own crust)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup regular oats, uncooked
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 Tbs butter or margarine

Combine first 5 ingredients; set aside.
Fit pie crust into a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Spoon apple mixture into pie crust, and cover with aluminum foil.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until apples are crisp-tender.
Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and next 3 ingredients; cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Uncover pie, and sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake 30 more minutes or until browned.taken by my naomi friend.

courtesy of this lovely lady


ginger spice cookies

we ate all these cookies before we could take a photo (well and we shared some...). i borrowed the below photo from the food librarian, the lady who i got the recipe from.
ingredients (i halved this and got about a dozen):
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses



Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Mix in crystallized ginger. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat until blended. Add flour mixture and mix just until blended. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets. Spoon sugar in thick layer onto small plate. Using wet hands, form dough into 1 1/4-inch balls; roll in sugar to coat completely. Place balls on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until cracked on top but still soft to touch, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 1 minute. Carefully transfer to racks and cool. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

courtesy of this place via the food librarian


excellent end-of-summer salad

ingredients (serves 2):
2 small tomatoes
2 small cucumbers
2 hard boiled eggs
Oilve oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Lime Juice --- about 1 lime
Salt and Pepper

Dice tomatoes, and gently salt. Cut ends of cucumbers first. Then dice cucumber, you can peel first. Dice hard boiled egg and then dress with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar (a little goes a long way), squirt of lime (or lemon), salt and pepper.

adapted from and courtesy of this lovely blogger.


a new take on quinoa (keen-wah)

if you think you can't find quinoa at a store near you, think again :) it's fairly common. maybe safeway, giant or smith's won't have it--- but trader joe's, sunflower market, wild oats or whole foods should have it. we tried quinoa before. this time it was even better!!
ingredients (serves 2):
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

4 Tbs olive oil
1/2 onion
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
10 leaves fresh basil
grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

juice of 2-3 limes
1-2 salmon fillets

add quinoa & broth to rice cooker (takes about 25-30 minutes to cook).
heat non-stick skillet over medium high heat, add the lime juice. once heated, add salmon fillet(s) and sear 2 minutes on each side.
heat another non-stick skillet over high heat and add the oil. add onions, bell peppers; saute for 1-2 minutes more; add garlic and saute until peppers become slightly limp but still bright, about one to two minutes; season with salt and pepper. remove the pan from heat; add basil and quinoa. toss until basil wilts, garnish with Parmesan cheese.
*****the salmon was really tart so we chopped it up and mixed it in with the rest of the food. mmmm

courtesy of trader joe's (and myself)


fruity salad

make some fruit salad this weekend!! it's so easy and so yummy. and good for you!!this salad has:
a couple handfuls of strawberries
2 bananas
1 pink cripps apple
1 nectarine
1 plum

all fruits go well together!! well... maybe a tomato would be funny in this salad, but in my mind the tomato fruit/vegi debate is still... a debate.


rice pilaf with vermicelli

ingredients (serves 4):
1 ounce angel-hair pasta
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2/3 cup long-grain white rice
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped (i just sprinkle some dried parsley since i didn't have any fresh :P)

Hold pasta upright in a medium bowl, and, using kitchen shears, cut into 1/2-inch lengths; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice, pasta, and remaining tablespoon oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Add parsley, and season with salt and pepper; fluff pilaf with a fork.

courtesy of martha stewart via the food librarian.


strawberry compote

compote is perfect for topping pies and cakes--- in this case, cheesecake (which to me is sort of a piecake). we bought the cheesecake from trader joe's (haha) but made the compote. my goal in the next little while is to make cheesecake from scratch... since i never have.
the compote was yummmmm and super easy. (recipe can be used with other berries too, i'm sure.)ingredients (make 2 cups):
3 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs lemon juice (i used lime juice and it was mmm mmm)
---we didn't make this much as our cheesecake wasn't too big... so we sort of halved everything.

In a non-reactive saucepan, over medium heat, combine 2 pints of the strawberries, sugar and juice. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the fruit is soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, puree the strawberries until smooth. (I'm sure a blender would work too!) Turn into a mixing bowl, and add the remaining sliced strawberries. Mix well.
courtesy of this place


better-than-pretty-much-anything cake

this cake is a definite favorite of the husband and i. it's really simple and just a whole lot of goodness.ingredients for an 8x8 pan:
1 brownie mix (if you have the means, buy it from trader joe's. mmmm)
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
squeezable caramel
1 8 oz container cool whip
3 skor bars, crushed
bake brownies according to package directions. when brownies are finished and somewhat cooled, poke holes with a knife throughout the brownies.
pour 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk all over the brownies. then squeeze about same amount of caramel over the brownies. i like to let the brownies sit for at least a few hours so it can soak up the liquid a little, but if you're in a rush, no problem.
then spread cool whip over the top of the brownies. i usually put the cool whip in the fridge in advance so it's easy to spread!! finally, add crushed skor bars to top of the cake.
serve. mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

courtesy of my sister, s. we've kind of invented new ways to do this recipe over the years. this is the best so far :)


birthday french toast

these were really good. if i do say so myself ;)
ingredients (serves 2):

6 slices bread
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
we added some strawberries!! mmmm

Beat together egg, milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or skillet over medium-high flame.
Dunk each slice of bread in egg mixture, soaking both sides. Place in pan, and cook on both sides until golden. Serve hot.

courtesy of this place


cafe rio pork salad?

well there is a mexican (tex-mex) restaurant in utah... it started in utah... and it's good. really good. they, the people at cafe rio make the most amazing pulled pork. i quite enjoy it in their pork salad. delish.
ours turned out well. keep in mind--- it's not the same thing. but it's a nice "fix" for those of us who cannot enjoy the real thing on a regular basis.
anyhow. enjoy. ingredients for pork:
5 lbs pork loin
18 oz coca-cola classic
1 cup sugar
1 can (7 oz) chipotle chiles in abodo
1 tsp ground mustard, dry (heaping)
1 tsp garlic, minced

directions for pork:
we slow cooked the pork (2.68 lbs) in water for about 6 hours. we shredded it (very easy) and then put it in the marinade over night. then we slow cooked it a little longer (about 3 hours) and added a lot of salt.
Remove Chilies from the can of adobo sauce. Rinse chilies and can with the coke to get all the sauce. You are using the sauce and not the chilies for this recipe. Discard Chilies or save for another recipe. Put all ingredients except pork in the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour over pork in crock pot. Cook on low for 7-9 hours until it pulls apart easily. After cooking, shred with forks.
recipe found here courtesy of a google search :)

ingredients for dressing:
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
3 tomatillos (remove papery skin), rough chop
1 cup mayo
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup (or more) cilantro, rough chop
3 cloves garlic
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp green Tabasco sauce
juice from 1 lime

directions for dressing:
Dump everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate in air-tight container (or your entire fridge will smell like garlic and cilantro).

courtesy of this blog. you can also find directions for the chip strips and pico de gallo at the same blog.


patriotic cakelets aka colosseum cakelets

this recipe calls for a special cakelet pan, close to something like this. but you can always use a muffin tin or something similar (the recipe will probably just make more than 12).
happy fourth of july!ingredients (makes 12):
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
16 Tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cups sour cream
plain or chocolate whipped cream or lemon curd for serving
fresh berries for serving

have all ingredients at room temperature.
preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. lightly grease and flour the pan; tap out excess flour.
in a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. set aside.
in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition until just blended.
remove the bowl from the mixer. sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and stir until just incorporated.
stir in the sour cream, then sprinkle with the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
scoop a heaping 1/3 cup batter into each "well" of the prepared pan. tap the pan on the counter top to even out the batter. bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes. transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.

serve with whipped cream or lemon curd and fresh berries.

courtesy of the recipe that came with the cakelet pan (williams-sonoma).


color tip :)

in order to add a little color to shrimp pad thai...

add some limes for squeezing and some oranges for eating! mmmm


shrimp alfredo pasta

ingredients (serves 2):
1/2 lb fusili (or any medium sized pasta: penne, farfalle, etc)
a bit of butter
handful of button mushrooms, cut into eighths or fourths
8 oz alfredo sauce (for me it was 1/2 the jar)
handful of [precooked] shrimp, each cut in half so they're still fat, not long
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
parmesan cheese (for garnish)

bring a pot of water to a boil, add pasta, cook as directed. on medium heat, add butter to a skillet, then mushrooms and sauté until almost finished. reduce heat to medium low and add alfredo, cook until warm. lastly add the shrimp until warm (you don't want the shrimp warming the whole time or else everything will be extra shrimpy).
add the sauce to the pasta. then add basil, mix throughout. last add the parmesan and any leftover basil for a garnish.


mmm zalsa

"zalsa" is kind of an inside joke because for some reason my father-in-law always calls salsa, "zalsa." it's always good for a laugh :)
my husband looooves this salsa and he is picky when it comes to salsa. he says it has a lot of flavor (and i agree). and it's not too spicy--- but has just the right amount of kick :)ingredients:
-1/2 small jalepeno chili or 1/2 chipotle chile in adobo sauce (remove seeds and mince finely) You can buy the chipotle chili canned and keep extras on hand in the fridge instead of having to remember to buy the jalepeno pepper each time.
-1/4 small red onion, peeled and root end removed, chopped
-1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-pinch ground black pepper
-2 teaspoons juice from 1 lime
-2 small ripe tomatoes (about 3/4 lb), each cored and cut into eighths, or one 14 oz can diced tomatoes drained

Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes in food processor until minced, about 5 one second pulses, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Add tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped, about two 1 second pulses. Enjoy!

courtesy of my brooke friend! (thanks)


apricot & pine nut rice pilaf

i helped make this for my gma's 90th birthday celebration dinner... and even though we made a huge batch and it maybe didn't turn out perfectly... i knew i wanted to try the recipe again. it's really good. mmmmm
ingredients (serves 4):
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 onion chopped fine
2 cups rice (i used jasmine)
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup apricots, dried and cut small

brown pine nuts in butter and remove from pan. saute onion in remaining butter and add rice when onions are soft. saute for 1 to 2 minutes. add broth and cook on low heat for 10 minutes (sometimes a little more), covered. add pine nuts and apricots and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring as necessary.

courtesy of my sister, k--- via her foody friend.


a basil tip

i learned a little tip while we were in italy...

and maybe everyone else knows this but me... but i thought it was cool :)

when you pick the leaves from your basil plant, pick the smaller leaves at the top of the plant. like so:
it helps with the growing process :)

happy summer!! click here, here, here, esp here and here for some good fresh [mediterranean style] basil recipes!


quick [yummy] waffles

i'm back!!! sorry for the long absence.

recently we got a new waffle maker. new as in: our first waffle maker. i was pretty excited. it's small and round--- so this recipe is for that sort of waffle maker. just so you know :)

ingredients (makes 6-8 waffles):
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 Tbs vanilla (optional)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
2 tsp sugar
i also added a handful of frozen triple berries from costco. mmmmm

beat eggs in a bowl until thick. beat milk, melted butter and vanilla into eggs. in a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. sift into egg mixture, and mix well. bake as directed.

finished product with fried egg. nice breakfast.

courtesy of the oster manual that comes with the waffle maker :)


basic vinaigrette



1/4 cup vinegar, or fresh lemon juice (i used balsamic vinegar, mmm)
1 tsp Dijon mustard (i used reg. mustard)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp sugar (optional)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

combine vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and sugar if using, in a small jar; shake to blend. add oil, and shake again until emulsified.

courtesy of martha stewart


coconut shrimp soup

ummm totally amazing soup. it's even good for a nice spring or summer day (at medium temp).

and it was easy. i heart easy when my house & kitchen are in shambles.
ingredients (serves 4):
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 grated fresh ginger (or 3-4 fingerfuls of the already grated kind)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 pound (6 to 8 medium) carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (i only had baby carrots so i just chopped them up as best i could)
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
3 cups water
1 Tbs cornstarch (+2 Tbs water)
4 ounces angel-hair pasta
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (i added extra... yumm)
Coarse salt
4 scallions, thinly sliced (or green spring onions)

1. Heat oil in a large (3-quart) saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, coconut milk, and 3 cups water. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until smooth; add to pot. Bring to a boil.

Break pasta in half; add to pot. Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until pasta is al dente and carrots are just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Add shrimp; stir until opaque, about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat, and stir in lime juice; season with salt. Ladle into serving bowls, and garnish with scallions.

courtesy of martha stewart via the food librarian


cupcake shoutout

my favoritest little cupcake shop is called georgetown cupcake. (yes, most of you know that)
i just call it cupcake.

and my favorite food blogger is visiting DC and gave cupcake a little shoutout!!

i commented on the food librarian's blog and said,
"I live in DC... and there are several cupcake shops in the area (but not on every corner). I'm really happy you tried Georgetown though because it is BY FAR the best :)"

then food librarian wrote back and said,
"emily, thanks for visiting my blog. i'm so glad i went to the right cupcake shop in DC!!! i'm also lucky to get great weather too!"

i felt so special :) visit the food librarian for great cooking but mostly baking ideas. i get a lot of my recipes from her and i'm never dissapointed :)

*sigh* i love cupcake.


i still love food

i've been really busy.

we're moving. and life is crazy. and we leave on a long vacation in two weeks. ahhh!!!

so. i am still cooking just--- nothing new lately.

but there are still some really good recipes to choose from!!


caprese salad

baby roma tomatoes
mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

slice tomatoes and mozzarella and arrange on a plate with basil leaves. drizzle olive oil and vinegar over the top. add salt to taste.

mmmmmm. one of my favorites :)


slow cooker chicken stew

ingredients (serves 4):
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 chicken, 3 to 4 lb., cut into 8 serving pieces
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 bacon slices, chopped
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz. white button mushrooms, quartered
1 lb. red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups white wine

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat evenly.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm half of the olive oil until just smoking. Add half of the chicken and brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken. Add the bacon, onion, mushrooms, potatoes, garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and stock to the slow cooker and stir to combine.

Remove the sauté pan from the heat, pour the wine into the pan and return to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the wine to the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 5 hours according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Spoon the stew into bowls and serve immediately.

courtesy of williams-sonoma


risotto w/ chicken, peas and crispy prosciutto

yummmmmingredients (serves 4):
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
3/4 Tbs butter
3 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
12 oz boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
6 slices prosciutto
3 Tbs finely shredded fresh sage

1. place stock and the water in pot; bring to a boil. reduce heat; simmer, covered.
2. heat butter and half of the oil in a large pot; cook onion, stirring until soft. add rice; stir rice. add wine; cook, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated.
3. stir in 1 cup simmering stock mixture, one cup at a time, stirring until absorbed after each addition. total cooking time should be about 35 minutes or until rice is tender.
4. in a large skillet, heat remaining oil; cook chicken, stirring until cooked through. add garlic; stir until fragrant. stir chicken mixture and peas into risotto.
5. cook prosciutto in same skillet until crisp; drain on paper towels then break into chunks. stir sage and half of prosciutto into risotto; sprinkle remaining prosciutto over individual risotto servings.

courtesy of best-ever recipes


mint choco cupcake w/ mint buttercream frosting

we (of course) used the georgetown cupcake recipe for the cupcakes. plus a little mint extract.

then we used a recipe from williams-sonoma for the buttercream frosting. and we added about 5-6 droplets of mint extract. and a little food coloring. to me, mint is supposed to be green :)

we were trying to imitate the mint chocolate cupcakes from georgetown they sell on sundays and thursdays, only.

get the cupcake recipe here. add a drop or two of mint extract.

ingredients for quick buttercream frosting (makes 4 cups):
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 1/2 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
Food colorings (optional)
5-6 droplets of peppermint extract

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, the 4 1/2 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. Tint with food coloring as desired. (add a little milk for fluffier frosting--- and whip a little longer.)

mmmmmm. anything with the words, "butter" and "cream" in the same vicinity. my favorite.


roasted potatoes with garlic cloves

sorry for the dark photo--- we ate outside (and it was after dark). but we love these potatoes. we have for a long time. they are really yummy!ingredients (serves about 4):
6 large wavy potatoes, such as yukon gold
1 head garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled
1 bunch rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
2. bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. blanch in the boiling water for 2 minutes, drain.
3. put the potatoes on a baking sheet and toss with garlic, rosemary and olive oil. season with salt and pepper and spread out on the baking sheet. bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. serve hot.

*courtesy of molto italiano: mario batali


seared salmon with cucumber salsa

another "repeat". husband loved it. the cucumber salsa is just right.
ingredients (serves 4):
-1/2 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, halved lengthwise again and thinly sliced crosswise
-1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
-1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch julienne
-2 Tbs. chopped shallot or red onion
-1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish (optional)
-1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
-1 1/2 tsp. canola oil
-1 tsp. honey
-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
-1 tsp. salt
-4 salmon fillets, each 5 oz. and about 1 inch thick
-1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
-lime wedges for garnish

In a bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, shallot and chopped cilantro and toss gently to mix. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, 1 tsp. of the canola oil, the honey, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Pour the lime juice mixture over the cucumber mixture and toss gently to mix and coat evenly. Set aside.

Sprinkle the salmon fillets on both sides with the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and the black pepper. In a large, nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1/2 tsp. canola oil. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until opaque throughout when tested with the tip of a knife, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Transfer the salmon fillets to warmed individual plates and top each with one-fourth of the salsa. Garnish the plates with the cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Serve immediately.

*courtesy of (you guessed it!) williams-sonoma


prosciutto wrapped asparagus

another big hit at easter dinner...ingredients (serves 4):
12 large asparagus spears
4 thin slices of prosciutto
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing the pan
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp paprika
1 lemon, quartered (optional)

preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. grease a baking dish large enough to hold the asparagus and set aside.

using a sharp knife, cut off the tough ends of the asparagus. peel the stalks to within about 2 inches of the tips. gather the stalks together and trim off the bottoms so all the asparagus are the same length.

fill a frying pan with just enough water to cover the asparagus when it is added. bring to a boil. add the asparagus spears, overlapping them as little as possible, and cook, uncovered, over high heat until tender but still quite firm, 3-4 minutes (the timing will depend on the thickness of the stalks). drain well. ---i have a trusty asparagus steamer pot. thanks for that, d.

divide the asparagus into 4 bundles of 3 stalks each. wrap 1 prosciutto slice around the center of each bundle. place the 4 bundles in the prepared baking dish. dot with butter, season to taste with pepper and sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan. bake for 5 minutes to brown the cheese. remove from the oven, dust with paprika, and serve hot with the lemon quarters.

*courtesy of williams-sonoma Italian favorites cookbook


lime-carrot cupcakes

we made these (again) for easter dessert.

umm. delicious.

but this time add a little cream and a little lime juice to the frosting. whip the frosting a little bit longer too and it should turn out really light and fluffy. di-vine.


baked brie

this was a big hit for easter dinner appetizer/side. yummm, cheeeese
1 frozen pastry dough, thawed (do not microwave)
1 wedge brie
about 1/4 cup brown sugar
a couple handfuls nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts--- whatever you like)
1/4-1/2 cup of chutney or some sort of fresh fruit (i used mango ginger chutney)
crackers for serving

preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
place aluminum foil on the length of a baking sheet. place pastry dough flat on the baking sheet. then add brie. pile on brown sugar, nuts and chutney (or fruit).
bring up the sides of the pastry dough and wrap and twist the brie up "like a present."
bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

"and then eat it and love it"

*courtesy of my sister, s!


bread pudding

ingredients (serves 2):
-2 cups brioche cubes (each about 1/2 inch square)--- we just used "Shepherd's bread" (a kind of white bread
-1 1/4 cups heavy cream
-1 egg
-1 egg yolk
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 10-oz. individual pie dishes and divide the brioche cubes between them. (i used one pie pan... that's all i had!)

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until steam starts to rise, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the warm cream into the egg mixture. Divide the mixture between the prepared pie dishes and place them on a baking sheet. Bake until puffed and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

*courtesy of williams-sonoma.com


penne carbonara

so so good! reminded me of Rome... *sigh*
ingredients (serves 2):
4 strips of bacon, cut into 1" pieces or 4 oz diced pancetta
1/4 of an onion, diced
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
1/2 lb dried penne or other pasta shape
Fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste

1. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium low heat. When the fat begins to turn translucent and liquefy, add diced onions. Cook until bacon is crispy and onions are soft and browned. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
2. Bring a pot of of salted water to boil. While water is heating, whisk egg and egg yolk together in a small bowl. Add the grated cheese and whisk until cheese is coated with the eggs.
3. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to the package. When pasta is al dente, drain and return cooked pasta to the pot.
4. Pour eggs, bacon, onions, and bacon drippings over the pasta. The hot noodles will cook the eggs and make a creamy sauce, but to avoid scrambling the eggs, you will need to work quickly and stir vigorously. Stir in peas and season with salt, if necessary (the cheese and bacon are already salty, so be sure to taste first). Top with lots of freshly ground black pepper and more grated Parmesan.

*adapated from Chow.com via dcist.


chocolate soufflé

ingredients (serves 4):
1 1/2 Tbs sugar
4 Tbs butter
1 1/2 Tbs flour
7 oz dark chocolate, melted
2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. grease four 3/4 cup ramekins or soufflé dishes. sprinkle insides of dishes evenly with sugar; shake away excess. place dishes on baking sheet.
2. melt butter in medium pan, add flour; cook, stirring, about 2 minutes or until mixture thickens and bubbles. remove from heat; stir in chocolate and egg yolks. transfer to large bowl.
3. beat egg whites in small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form. gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, one Tbs at a time, beating until sugar dissolves between additions. gently fold egg white mixture into chocolate mixture in two batches.
4. divide soufflé mixture among dishes; bake, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until soufflés are puffed. (we baked them for 13 minutes in our gas oven and they were perfect!!)

*courtesy of best-ever recipes!

porterhouse steaks w/ blue cheese mashed potatoes

ingredients for steaks (serves 4):
1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs butter
2 large red onions (about 1 1/4 lbs), sliced thinly
3 Tbs brown sugar
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
4 porterhouse steaks (2 lbs)--- we got 1 t-bone and cut it in half for the two of us
1/2 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 Tbs cold butter, chopped

1. heat oil and butter in large skillet; cook onions, stirring, until onions soften. add sugar and vinegar; cook stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes or until onions caramelize. cover to keep warm.
2. make blue cheese mashed potatoes.
3. cook beef, in batches, in heated large skillet until cooked to desired degree of doneness. cover beef; let stand for 10 minutes.
4. bring wine to a boil in same skillet; boil, uncovered, until reduced by half. add stock; return to boil. whisk in cold butter, piece by piece, until sauce is smooth.
5. divide beef, onions and mashed potatoes among serving plates; drizzle with sauce.

ingredients for mashed potatoes:
2 lbs russet potatoes, chopped coarsely
3 Tbs butter, softened
3/4 cup hot milk
3 1/2 oz firm blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh chives

directions for potatoes:
boil, steam or microwave potatoes until tender, drain. mash potatoes in large bowl with butter and milk, until smooth. fold in cheese and chives. cover to keep warm.

*courtesy of "best ever recipes" (thanks s&t!!)


salt & pepper shrimp

i made a little [basmati] rice to go with this. we ended up pouring a little bit of the dipping sauce over the shrimp and rice. another big hit with the husband!!
ingredients (serves 4):

-1/4 tsp sugar
-1/4 tsp chinese five-spice powder
-salt and freshly ground pepper
-4 Tbs corn or peanut oil
-1/4 cup cornstarch (cornflour)
-1 1/2 lb shrimp, peeling and deveined
-2 Tbs ginger, minced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 red or green jalapeño chile, seeded and minced--- (i didn't have one, so i just use a few green onions!)
2 Tbs mirin (rice wine)

make the spice mixture
in a small bowl, stir together the sugar, five-spice powder, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.

sear the shrimp
heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until very hot and add 2 Tbs of the oil. meanwhile, spread the cornstarch on a plate. quickly pat the shrimp dry and dip each shrimp into the cornstarch, coating both sides and shaking off excess. add the shrimp to the pan in a single layer and sear, turning once, just until opaque throughout, about 1 minute on each side. using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

finish the dish
return the pan to high heat and add the remaining 2 Tbs oil. add the ginger, garlic and chile (or onions) and stir-fry for about 5 seconds until fragrant. add the spice mixture and mirin, quickly return the shrimp to the pan, and stir-fry until the shrimp are coated with the spice mixture and are heated through, 15-20 seconds. serve with the dipping sauce.

ingredients for dipping sauce:
3 Tbs fresh lemon or lime juice
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs water
1/2 tsp minced cilantro (i went w/out and it was still great!)
1/4 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced

stir all together. (may be made a day in advance, covered and refrigerated; bring to room temp before serving.)

*courtesy of williams-sonoma "food made fast: asian"


risotto with prosciutto & asparagus

this dish was deli-cious. i don't have a pressure cooker, so i used a large saucepan and just cooked everything a little longer than it calls for.
my husband LOVED it. i did as well but i think he's a little harder to please sometimes :) enjoy
ingredients (serves 6):
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock, warmed
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
6 thin slices prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 lb. asparagus, cooked until tender and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Set an electric pressure cooker to “brown” according to the manufacturer’s instructions and warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir until each grain is well coated with oil and translucent with a white dot in the center, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed. Add 5 cups of the stock, cover and cook for 12 minutes according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions, remove the lid and stir the rice. Add more stock if needed so the rice is thick and creamy. Stir in the butter, the 1 cup cheese, the prosciutto, basil and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately and pass additional cheese at the table.

*courtesy of williams-sonoma


penne with stuffed tomatoes

i wanted to make pasta. and these stuffed tomatoes. so it worked out well.

ingredients (serves 2):
1/2 lb cooked penne
12 cherry tomatoes
1/4 lb fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
1/8 cup minced fresh basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

cut the top off each cherry tomato. using a small spoon, scoop out the pulp to make a hollow yet sturdy shell. drain off any juice that accumulates in the shells.
in a bowl, combine the cheese, basil, salt and pepper. mix with a fork until well blended.
using the small spoon, fill each tomato with about 1 tsp. of the cheese mixture. arrange the filled tomatoes on a platter to serve.
use the extra cheese to spread over the pasta.
kind of self-explanatory :) always add a little olive oil and salt to the pasta after it's strained.

*partially adapted from williams-sonoma


sensational strawberry scones

so. i know. i've been gone forever. sorry. i'll try my best not to let it happen again.
it's just: i had family in town. and it was too fun to pull away from.
but two nights ago my hub and i stayed up waaaay passed my bedtime to make these for the following morning. they coupled well with raspberry and/or blackberry tea.

so good.ingredients:
1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)
3 Tbs sugar (granulated)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tbs butter, in cubes, slightly softened
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk

topping: 1 Tbs sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

If using larger fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tablespoon sugar; set aside. Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough. They'll still be plenty prominent in your finished scones.

Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut in butter (you may want to use your fingers to be sure butter is evenly mixed into flour). Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once. Use spatula to gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients. Be gentle so you don't break up the berries and don't overwork the dough. Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky.

Press (pat) the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick. If any berries peek out, push them into dough. Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them (this took another 15-20 minutes in my oven, but keep a careful watch and check every 5 minutes - you do not want dry scones!). (The sprinkling of sugar over the top for the last few minutes of baking creates a simple, sparkly topping.)

*courtesy of irene by way of the food librarian


tabbouleh salad

ingredients (serves 5):
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups couscous
6 Tbs olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 diced tomato (or a couple handfuls of halved cherry tomatoes)
1/2 diced onion
1/2 diced green pepper
4 Tbs parsley
1 Tbs mint (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

mix boiling water with dry couscous. add olive oil and lemon juice. stir well. cover and let sit for 5 minutes. fluff with fork. add tomato, green pepper, onion, parsley and optional mint. refrigerate for 15 minutes. fluff with fork and serve.