Monday, September 29, 2008

Cilantro Salad/Tabouli

1 c. bulgur
2 c. boiling water
¼ onion
2 medium tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro chopped
¼ c. lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
Salt, pepper
Put bulgur in boil and cover with boiling water. Stir and cover bowl. Let stand about ½ hour or until water absorbed. Add remaining ingredients and refrigerate for about an hour or moor until cool.
I owe this recipe to my cousin. I was a tabouli purist. Then one time I went to visit her and she had put corn and carrots in her tabouli. How odd, I thought. It was so good. From then on I got much more experimental with what I added to my bulgur. However, I realized the other day… I always used parsley. Why… why not cilantro. I have to say, if you like cilantro…and I do, try it. You will wonder why you didn’t before.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Greek Yogurt and Potato Salad

Okay, I must admit I am behind the 8 ball with this. I have been hearing people rave about it for a long while now. I finally took the plunge and got some… Greek yogurt. Honestly, I don’t know what makes it so different. I understand that is it strained, but I have stained regular yogurt before for recipes, and it did not have the same effect at all. Greek yogurt is dense and creamy, to me it has the consistency of a soft ice cream in your mouth without the cold. It tastes like a mix between sour cream and cream fraiche.The first time I had it I put some bananas and a touch of honey in. Oh my gosh, it was sooo good. Yesterday I used it to make potato salad. I was trying to pair the calories down but not loose the flavor. I was trying to see if 2% Greek yogurt would do it for me. I used one container of the 2% Greek yogurt, 3 tbs mayo (just in case…) and 4 tbs Dijon mustard. I thought it was fabulous. It was creamy like a sour cream based potato salad. The key was… what would my Dad think? My Dad isn’t a fan of healthy cooking, unless a dish is just naturally healthy. He would rather take the eat less/enjoy more approach than cut flavor. So I wanted to see if he could detect the impostor. One thing I love (and at moments dread) is my fathers complete inability to hold his tongue. If he doesn’t like it, you WILL know. Generally in the form of, “What the hell did you do to that dish!?” Gee Dad, tell me how you really feel. I am happy to report nothing was said… which from Dad is good.
So here is what I did:

8 medium potatoes cubed and boiled until just, tender
2 stalks of celery
½ bunch of chives (more or less to taste)
1 7oz container of 2% Greek yogurt
3 tbs mayo ( I think you could more than safely omit this, but maybe substitute 1 tsp lemon a pinch of lemon zest)
4 TBS good quality Dijon mustard (like this)
2tbs vinegar
Pinch of of sugar
3 chicken bullion cubes

Chop celery and put in a large bowl with vinegar and pinch of sugar. Add potatoes to pot and cover with water.  I heavily season my water because…well it will season the potatoes which I think produces a much better potato salad. Go crazy. Put herbs, bay leaves, whatever. I also put bullion in the water. Boil potatoes (putting them in cold water will allow them to cook more evenly) Once the potatoes are ready, drain immediately put in the bowl and toss. Then let sit for about 10-15 minutes and let it cool off. Add chives. In bowl mix, yogurt, mustard and mayo. Toss on salad. Season to taste. Let cool.
Potatoes ,as do most starches, will keep absorbing the dressing. So you may want to either hold about a ¼ in reserve until right before you serve or, another trick is to put a tablespoon of milk in and toss to moisten it up.
Clearly you can add more things to the potato salad. You may like sweet relish or eggs in there. Go for it. Also other, non traditional seasoning could be great like curry (my favorite) or thyme or rosemary.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Filet and Truffle Oil

Without a doubt, I love truffle. I however, have relegated it to a fish, cream sauce, white meat application. I honestly don’t know what prompted this expansion of my truffle repertoire, however, filets will never be the same. We got some filets from the butcher. In and of themselves they are to die for. Honestly, if you like filets you get at the supermarket, try the Bon Air Butcher. I have no words. We had grilled asparagus and potatoes with a mix of paprika, cumin and seasoned salt as sides. Mmmmm. I have to say, if you have never tried truffle (and I have never cooked with the real thing) go get some truffle oil from Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table. You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Shrimp and Feta

Okay… eventually I did have to stop drinking and start cooking again! Tonight we are having filets form Bon Air butcher. I am excited!!!! Keep you posted.

6 plum tomatoes
1 Tbs minced garlic
¼ onion chopped
1 Tbs chopped oregano
1 C. white wine
Salt and pepper
1 lb shrimp
½ c. feta
½ lemon
Add the first 6 ingredients to pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile heat oven to 400. Put ½ the sauce in the bottom of a small baking dish. Add shrimp and feta, and cover with remainder of sauce. Cook for 10 minutes or until shrimp are pink. Remove from oven and squeeze lemon over. Serve.
You can serve this over rice or pasta for a meal or with bread as an appetizer.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good Wine

Nothing interesting has been happening in the kitchen much. We had new neighbors over for drinks and munchies but nothing new and amazing to report. Just a little goat cheese topped with sun dried tomatoes, and caramelized onions, baked about 10 minutes. I did however have a great new wine. So I am sharing that with you. My husband found it at World Market. He reports that it was only 9-10 bucks a bottle. It was really good….or was it the company….

It was a Cabernet and is called Foodies. Try it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Okay, I have to totally admit I am pilfering here. I was checking out River City Food and Wine and I saw something I had to try. Pear-kissed Martini. Oh, it sounded good, but I am sucker for pear. So today at the store (the food lion off of Forest Hill! No I am not joking…go in if you haven’t been there recently, it is a whole new world of gourmet and specialty??!!) I looked for the pear nectar the recipe calls for. Sadly no pear nectar to be found. However, I saw the guava nectar and it called to me. So inspired by the pear-kissed martini and in the mood for a good cocktail I forged ahead. I have to say this is really good. It is dangerous though, it has a really tropical taste (but not super sweet) and doesn’t give away the alcohol that is really in it. Enjoy!
3oz vodka
3oz guava nectar
1 ½ oz triple sec
½ oz roses lime

Shake well with ice and serve. I would garnish (if you do) with a lime twist.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beef Satay Lo Mien

Okay this is t three-parter but is easy… trust me! Plus if you do a larger cut of meat like the london broil you will have that left over for another meal… so it is a two-fer! If you don’t love the spice you can leave off the Sriacha sauce in the sauce.

MeatLondon Broil or other cut of beef
Fish sauce
Garlic Chili Sauce

Lo Mien
1 package of lo mien
1 cup of broccoli (just floret, small pieces)
3 carrots
½ sweet onion or 1 bunch of green onion

6 TBS peanut butter (or ¼ c plus 2 tablespoon, I just hate to dirty two thing!)
1 c. cilantro
Juice of two limes or about 3 tablespoons
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tbs water
2 tsp sriracha hot sauce

How much garlic, salt and fish sauce depends on the size of the cut you decide on. (I used about 2 lb cut of london broil. I used 3 TBS of minced garlic. 3 TBS fish sauce, 2 tsp salt. ) I put the meat in a bag and put the fish sauce, garlic and salt and let is sit for about an hour. Make sure the meat is coated fist. While meat is setting, heat oven to 350. Bake meat for 30 minutes. Pull out and coat the top with a thin layer for the garlic chili sauce (if you don’t have it skip it and just keep cooking meat for another 15 minutes of so). Once coated put under the broiler for 7-10 minutes. Let set.
Cook lo mien noodles to package instructions. Drain and cool. Add broccoli (chop to small florets) onion and carrot. Toss.
Add all the sauce ingredients to food processor or bender (or you can hand stir) and process. Do not add the sauce until right before you are ready to serve or the lo mien dries out.
Plate lo mien (once sauce is added) top with 4-5 pieces of thinly sliced beef. Enjoy…

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pasta Ceviche

Okay this really isn’t ceviche... at all, but it was the best way I could describe the flavor of the dish. I used crab and scallop pieces but shrimp and a whitefish would be really good too. I have to confess this was ENTIRELY my husband idea, I just was the short order cook here. It was soooo wonderfully good. Just a hint of spice, sweet from the seafood, and a little tart from the lime. Whooo-hoo!! Now you know one little reason I love my husband so much!!

¼ red onion
2 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 c. white wine
1 red bell pepper minced
1 TBS garlic
½ lb crab
½ lb scallop
1 c. cilantro leaves
1 lime
Salt/ pepper and a pinch of red pepper

Melt butter and oil and add onion. Sautee for 3 minutes wine. Cook until reduced until about half. Add peepers and let cook 2 minutes. Meanwhile boil pasta. When pasta is done, but before your drain, add one ladle of the starchy water to the sauce mixtures (Thank you Follow The Cook !!). After you add pasta water, add garlic, crab scallop and salt and pepper. Cook for about 3-4 just until scallops are done. Remove entirely from heat. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the sauce. Plate pasta and top with fresh cilantro and…EJOY!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Okay, I tried it again. Here is the key... bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Put under the broiler for 2-3. mmmmmm

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chocolate Chili

Okay, this past week we were sick. I know summer is not exactly chili weather but when I am sick I want comfort food. My husband made this and it was good. This is a VERY meaty chili (did I tell you my husband made it?) however, you can swap about a can a chili beans per half a pound of meat.
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 medium onions
2 28 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
4 15oz cans of kidney beans
1 tsp pepper
1 TBS minced garlic (or more if you like)
3 TBS chili powder (we used hot Mexican)
2 TBS cumin
3 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS coco powder
Sautee onions for 2 minutes add beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook beef until done. In stock pot add remaining ingredients and cook for 30 minutes. Taste. One note about the soy, soy is a great way to salt a dish and add a richness at the same time. However, add a tablespoon at a time, too much and it will taste like a bad fusion dish. If you don’t have coco powder but do have a very dark chocolate add a bit of it instead. It will give a rich full flavor. Adjust seasonings to taste and preferred heat level.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Marshmallow Topped Brownie

Okay this was a success and a failure. Clearly the marshmallow is a bit overdone. I am going to write the directions the way I think it will come out better. I simply put it under the broiler for 4 minutes. It burnt a little and the chocolate wasn’t melted. I then had to put it in the oven at 350 for about 7 minutes. Instead, I would put it in the oven then finish under the broiler. Still it WAS good.
1 ramekin or other oven safe dish
Some brownies
1 piece of very dark chocolate
Raspberry Jam

Heat oven to 350. Line the bottom of the dish with some brownie. Place the piece of dark chocolate in the center. Smear about a tablespoon of jam over the chocolate. Top with marshmallows. Place in oven for 7 minutes or until the chocolate is melted. Turn on broiler. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until the marshmallow is brown.
Next I am going to make some brownies with some orange zest in the batter. Mmmmm

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cashew Butterscotch Cookie

These are my husbands favorite. When I feel like being especially nice to my HH (hot hubby), about once a year, I make these. I have to admit they are pretty durn good!

2 ¼ c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1 cup of butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 and ¼ C. butterscotch morsels
1 c. Cashew

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.. In a separate bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add egg. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in morsels and cashews. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking sheets that are un-greased.
One of the keys (thanks Sondra of this tip!!) to baking a cookie that is not hard as a rock in a day is to undercook the cookie a bit. So check the cookies in about 9 minutes and see how they look then keep a very close eye on them. They should look like they just started to brown but are still gooey. Pull them out. If you have never under-baked. Do a test batch of about 5 cookies to see.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cilantro Lime Tuna

2 tuna filets
4 TBS chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
Zest of ½ lime

Season filets heavily, just like chicken tuna takes a fair amount of seasoning. Heat oil in pan over high. Once good and hot, sear each side of tuna and reduce heat to medium low and cook to desired doneness. While cooking, chop cilantro and add the zest to it and mix. Once fish is done, top each filet with about half the cilantro and squeeze the juice of half a lime on each filet.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wild Rice Salad

My Aunt, god bless her, goes with her husband on these remote camping trips in Alaska. While I imagine lovely, as I have stated before, not my cup of tea. Lucky for me she brings back this great wild rice and I don‘t have to suffer a life without bathrooms to have it. The type she normally gets takes quite some time to cook. The type she brought back this time cooked in much less time. So good. This really came out good and is totally guilt free. If you don’t have the bulgur, brown rice would work. If you don’t have the wild rice, try the wild rice packages, just leave off the seasoning.
1/3 c. bulgur
1/3 c. wild rice
1 celery stalk chopped
2 TBS onion chopped
¼ large cucumber chopped
1 carrot chopped
Juice of one lime
1 TBS olive oil
Salt Pepper
1 tsp dill
Cook bulgur and rice and let cool. Combine and add celery, onion, cucumber and carrot. Mix. In a bowl combine lime, dill and oil. Mix and poor over rice. Salt and Pepper to taste. This doesn’t make a ton, so if you are making this for more than four adults or trying to use it for more than just a side, make double.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Figs Galore

Here are two more use for figs the fist was something I tried, the second is something my dad did.

Stuffed Figs wrapped in Bacon
The amounts really depend on you. These are rich and filling so I would not plan on more that 3 per person.

Some tart cheese (I used cream cheese because it was on hand, goats cheese, feta of a good soft blue would be great)

Wash figs and remove steam. Push a bit of cheese about the size of the fist joint on you little finger (how is THAT for precise!) into the fig. Wrap it in a slice of bacon (depending on the size of the figs you might be able to use half a piece of bacon). Place under broiler for 8-10 minutes or until bacon is done. Let cool a couple of minutes before serving.

Figs and Pepperoni

Again, the amounts vary on how much you want.

Sliced Figs
Line the bottom of a cookie sheet with pepperoni, place a slice of fig and top with a small piece of feta. Place under broiler for about 3-5 minutes.
Dad said the sweet of the fig was just enough to offset the spice of the pepperoni. What I wasn’t sure about was how you serve it. I know they just at it as is, which while I am sure yummy, I am not sure if it would work for a party appetizer. I am going to have to do them to see how the pepperoni sets up. Otherwise, I am sure it would be great on a cracker or bread round.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Almost Heaven

I am not weighing myself for a week at least. The tomatoes were fresh and so were the pork biscuits! And a fresh tomato on the pork tenderloin biscuit…. Forgetaboutit! While I did not make it to Lowells for a hot dog, there was a new restaurant in Hinton that overlooked the New River and had great Barbeque that I thoroughly enjoyed!
I am not an outdoorsman. A cabin on the River is really as rustic as this chick wants to go, but in West Virginia I can see why someone could overcome their fear of all things icky just for the chance to sleep underneath the stars. I never realized how many stars were in the sky really. I often say, that West Virginia is like an America I have read about but never got to grow up in. Some of the sterotypes are a bit true. It is a rural area. However, it is lovely and the people lovely too. As I watch the kids along the river, out until dusk, fishing without a grown up in sight, I think of some Norman Rockwell painting that somehow missed being painted. West Virginia is often, I feel, the greatest gift I will give to my children, not only for the beauty they will get to experience but the contrast it provides to their life here in the city. So if you ever get a chance to visit anywhere in West Virginia, but specifically anywhere along the Greenbrier River in Summers County West Virginia, do not pass up the opportunity.
That said, I made a great, and I mean great pasta recipe while we were up there. I got the idea from Rachel Ray, she calls it California pasta. I don’t think I changed much if anything other than omitting what I didn’t have (orange rind). It is super easy and really summery and fresh.
1 bunch of leeks slices and cleaned
1-1.5 cups artichoke hearts (you can use, canned, marinated or frozen, I used marinated because I had it)
1 pound pasta
1 cup flat leaf parsley
½ c Olive oil
½ c parmesan
1tsp lemon rind
1tsp lime rind
1tsp orange rind

To clean leeks slice the white part, separate and put in a bowl of water. Swish around a bit to give it a “bath.” Discard water. Sautee in a bit of oil leeks until wilted add artichoke and sauté to warm through. Meanwhile start pasta. Combine, parsley, parmesan, the zests of the lemon, lime and orange (I did not have orange so I used a bit more lemon. I didn’t measure how much zest either, I just zested one and a half lemon and one lime.) pulse. Add oil and process until smooth. Once pasta done, add leek dish and pesto to pasta and combine. Serve.
I am sure if you look at Rachel’s recipe on line I didn’t follow it to a “T” however, it was close and man it was good.