Category Archives: cooking

Ben Makes Me Dinner – Take 1

While I love to cook and share dishes from my kitchen, from time to time, Ben will come home, surprising me with the makings for dinner.  (Who doesn’t love that?!) A couple of weeks ago, he made some delicious bruschetta and Italian-marinated grilled chicken salad.

Bruschetta

  • Favorite fresh bread, sliced and toasted
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • Onion, chopped
  • Garlic, minced
  • Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced

Assemble the tomatoes, onion, and garlic on top of the toast. Top with a slice of parmesan. YUM!

Italian-Marinated Grilled Chicken Salad

  • Chicken Breast
  • Favorite Italian Dressing
  • Lettuce (I prefer arugula, spinach, or a mix)
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Onion, sliced

Place chicken breast and dressing in a plastic bag and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. (The longer the better.) Grill chicken until cooked (about 7 min on each side when cooked on my stove). Meanwhile, add lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and onion in a bowl. Slice chicken and add to bowl. Enjoy!

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Risotto Fritters

I love weddings. More specifically, I love appetizers at weddings. In October, my cousin Gretchen got married and had phenomenal food and appetizers at the reception. Some of my favorite appetizers were the risotto fritters: little golden brown square nuggets of cheesy rice bliss.

Using the leftover risotto from my earlier batch, Ben and I decided to make our own (slightly larger) fritters. I would recommend making them out of plain cheese risotto instead of the mushroom asparagus if you want smaller fritters. But both are delicious.

Ingredients

  • Day-old (at least) risotto
  • Bread crumbs mixed with salt & pepper
  • Oil for frying (we used canola)

Shape the risotto into the size and shape you want. We used a 1/4 measuring cup lined with plastic wrap. Coat the ball in the bread crumbs.

Fry until golden brown on each side.

Top with cream cheese or sour cream for a truly decadent treat.

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Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

I love risotto. There’s something so homey about it. It really warms the soul. A couple weeks ago, I found some nice looking asparagus and decided it was time to try my hand at risotto again. I’ve made risotto several times, but am still searching for my favorite recipe, a recipe that I whole-heartedly love. This time around I decided to add some mushrooms for a meatless wonder. It was quite yummy.

Ingredients (adapted from La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy from Accademia Italiana della Cucina)

  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 cups broth
  • 1 cup mushrooms (I used a Woodland Medley of dried mushrooms that I rehydrated)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (I used about 20 stalks)
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese

Heat approx 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and saute the onion until nearly browned. Add the mushrooms & asparagus.

Once the onion is browned, add the rice and toss to coat in oil. When the rice is translucent, add the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until the rice is al dente (“tender, but not mushy”).

It will be approximately 20 minutes. Grate cheese over the risotto and serve.

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My favorite “fancy”, crowd-pleasing cracker spread

Now at the outset, I need to credit my mother with this recipe because it is just absolutely divine. Anytime we would have guests over, she would whip up a quick batch of pesto and create a “wow”-worthy dip with another ingredient always in our kitchen: goat cheese logs.

Most days, I don’t have the time to whip up pesto, so I just grab a small container at the grocery store around the corner. But if you have time, make your own pesto for an even better version of this delicious spread.

Ingredients

  • 1 batch pesto (see below for pesto recipe)
  • 1 log of your favorite plain goat cheese, at cool room temperature
  • basil leaf, for garnish
  • favorite crackers

Press goat cheese into bottom of serving dish to make a thin layer. Spread pesto over goat cheese, completely covering the cheese. Add basil leaf in center of pesto as a garnish. Serve. Receive lots of compliments and silently thank my mother for giving you the easiest appetizer recipe ever. Enjoy!

Annie’s Mom’s Famous Pesto

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 cup walnuts (my mom uses whole walnuts)
  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 freshly grated romano cheese

Process first 3 ingredients together until moderately chopped. Add Olive Oil in drizzle while processing, then add cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until use, although I recommend using immediately.

adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

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What I love about quinoa

Quinoa has been getting a lot of love lately. And for good reason. It’s high in amino acids, protein, and fiber. Plus it’s gluten-free. I always have some quinoa in my pantry ready to pair with anything from a filling breakfast, to an elegant dinner, to use when emptying the fridge of leftovers.

It’s easy to prepare since it requires 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Bring the water to a boil, then simmer 10-15 minutes until all of the water has been soaked up and the germ separates from the seed. Use how you see fit.

Quinoa Breakfast Parfait

The slightly nutty flavor of quinoa brings a savory edge to this yummy breakfast treat.

  • Quinoa, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Your favorite fruits (blueberries & strawberries for me!)
  • a pinch of cinnamon

Combine and enjoy! Add some milk if you prefer a cereal variation.

Quinoa for Dinner

Mustard Marinated Chicken on a bed of quinoa

Quinoa with Leftovers

One of my favorite ways to enjoy leftovers is to make a batch of spaetzle (german egg noodles) and add last night’s Indian, Thai, Chinese etc. for a lovely leftover creation. In an effort to be more versatile I realized that quinoa would be a great substitute for my spaetzle.

Just cook the quinoa as listed above (or as the box indicates) and add to your favorite leftovers. I find that it works best with dishes that have a lot of sauce as the quinoa will soak it up.

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Sweet Crepes

From a Groupon class at Flip Crepes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 6 oz sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 brown eggs
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pint skim milk

Mix all solids with a whisk (I find that wire works best). Dig a well in the solids and add the eggs, butter, and vanilla. Add 2 cups of milk and begin mixing until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Add the rest of the milk and whisk well. Optional: let the batter rest for 2 hours.

Butter and heat the crepe pan. Ladle a few drops of batter into the pan if they begin to cook immediately, the pan is ready. Ladle the batter into the pan, swirling to coat the entire pan. Once the surface of the batter is no longer shiny, flip the crepe and cook until the down-side is slightly browned. Fill with your favorite filling. Repeat until all the batter is gone, being sure to butter the pan in between crepes.

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I learned how to make crepes!

For those of you who don’t know, I have 2 sisters, one of whom recently graduated from college. I’m a big fan of “activity” based gifts, so my gift to Carrie was a crepe-making class. Our grandmother loved all things French (one of the many things I inherited from her), but she especially loved making crepes. She would hand make sweet crepes every year for Christmas to serve with vanilla ice cream inside and my mother’s famous fudge sauce drizzled on top with some raspberries. I was actually lucky enough to inherit her crepe pan and recipe. But as crepes have always intimidated me, I was nervous to attempt crepes without a bit more guidance.

The crepe making class was a perfect fit for us both. Hosted by Flip Crepes, the class consisted of 12 students and 2 instructors. Over the course of 3 hours we learned how to make sweet crepe batter, actually cook crepes, as well as learn a very thorough history of crepes. It was such a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and I am now exponentially more prepared to make crepes in future!

Below are Carrie’s thoughts on the crepe experience (a pseudo-guest post)

Annie and I had such a fun time learning how to make crepes. Our grandmother used to always make us crepes and it was nice to finally learn how and to make her proud. We had a rough time starting out with all the flipping. Annie seemed to get the hang of it sooner and was making perfect circles and flipping like a pro. I did not do so well with the flipping, but i think in the end they turned out alright 🙂 We were able to add different toppings and then made our own orange topping. It was so much fun to be in a little french crepe shop with french cooks as our teachers. It was a wonderful way to spend a sunday night!

Click here for our recipe

awkwardly attempting to flip the crepe

Loosening the crepe from the pan

 

Completed crepes and the topping selections

sisters 🙂

Batter in the pan

with the flaming crepes!

Our Crepes Suzette (with Grand Marnier sauce) yum

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