Monday, June 30, 2008

A taste of the Mediterranean

I've only recently begun cooking lamb. I've found it easy to work with and because Matt really likes it, I enjoy making it.

Even though the meat wasn't marinated, it was flavorful enough to be mistaken as having been marinated. Matt liked the spice coating which produced a crispy crust ... he's such a sucker for crispy!

Broiled Cumin Lamb Chops
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
8 (4-ounce) lamb loin chops, trimmed
Cooking spray

Preheat broiler. Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Brush honey evenly over both sides of lamb; sprinkle evenly with spice mixture. Arrange lamb in a single layer on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Quick and delicious snack

I was looking for a quick snack to make for Matt - this one was perfect!

Matt's review? "Yum."

Provolone and Roasted Pepper Crisps
2 pitas, sliced in half to make 4 round pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
4 slices lemon
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 cup grated provolone

Heat broiler to high. Arrange the pitas on a baking sheet, cut-side up. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil, then sprinkle with the paprika, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Place under broiler to crisp, about 2 minutes; set aside. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Add the peppers, lemon, garlic, and the remaining salt. Saute until the peppers are hot and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Spread the peppers evenly over the pita halves and sprinkle with the provolone. Return to broiler and cook until the provolone is melted, about 3 minutes. Cut into strips, if desired.

Tip: Almost any prepared vegetable from the deli counter can make a delicious substitute for the peppers. Try cured olives or marinated artichoke hearts or mushrooms.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I can count on Martha

Breakfast is probably my favorite meal. I could eat breakfast-type meals three meals per day. During the week, I don't have time to really prepare breakfast - we just grab and go. So since it is Sunday and I had the time, I decided to make something special. Matt really enjoyed these. Thanks Martha!

Blueberry Scones
Source: Martha Stewart

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling tops
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in center. Place a baking mat on a baking sheet, and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until the largest pieces are the size of peas. (I'm all for doing things the hard way if it makes it better ... but I figured this may not be one time where it would. I don't own a sifter so I threw all the dry ingredients into my food processor and pulsed a few times. Then I added the butter and pulsed until the largest pieces were pea sized. I then poured this mixture into a large mixing bowl and picked up with Martha's instructions.) Stir in blueberries and zest.

Using a fork, whisk together cream and egg in a liquid measuring cup. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, and pour in cream mixture. Stir lightly with fork just until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times to mix well.

Pat dough into a 6-inch square about 1 1/4 inches thick. Using a floured knife, cut into four 3-inch squares. Cut squares in half on the diagonal to form eight triangles. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with cream, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer scones to wire racks to cool.

Friday, June 27, 2008


For some unknown reason, I always take forever prepping the ingredients for the meals I cook. It is not unusual for me to serve dinner after 9:00 pm. This meal was no exception. While it was relatively quick and easy to make, I think I made it take longer than it needed to.

Turkey Tamale Potpie

Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained (the dish had a lot of liquid at the bottom so maybe the tomatoes should be drained ... )
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
(My grocery store only had fat-free available. Topping may have been a bit dry.)
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425°.

To prepare filling, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and turkey; cook 5 minutes or until turkey loses its pink color. Add chili powder, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, tomatoes, and beans; cook 3 minutes. Spoon turkey mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

To prepare topping, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Combine buttermilk and egg; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moist. Spread cornmeal mixture evenly over turkey mixture. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until topping is golden.

Simple Black Beans

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup water
2 (15-ounce) cans 50%-less-sodium black beans, undrained
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar, garlic, black pepper, and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and stir in vinegar.

Since I'm not eating much of the things I'm cooking, I asked Matt to give the food a review. He said that he was expecting the topping to be sweet like cornbread rather than savory like a tamale filling. Plus, the topping was a bit dry. The overall review for the Tamale Potpie was, "it's good ... there's nothing wrong with it ... but I probably wouldn't ask for it again." On the other hand, he really enjoyed the beans and said he would definitely want them again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You've gotta love dip!

In the last year, I have begun making dips for parties. They're usually pretty easy and people love them! Here's one I made recently that got rave reviews.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Source: GAgirl
1 package precooked chicken (such as Perdue ShortCuts), diced
8 oz. Franks Red Hot
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup blue cheese or ranch salad dressing
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl combine: chicken, hot sauce, cream cheese, dressing and ½ of the shredded cheese. (A potato masher works well for this!)

Pour mixture into a greased baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My favorite meatballs

I am in no way Italian so when Matt asked me to make meatballs, I was nervous. Luckily Rachael Ray did not disappoint me with this recipe. They are quick, easy and delicious!

Source: Rachael Ray
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix beef, Worcestershire, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Roll meat into 1 1/2 inch medium-sized meatballs and place on nonstick cookie sheet or a cookie sheet greased with extra-virgin olive oil. Bake balls 10 to 12 minutes, until no longer pink.

Easy Tuna Casserole

Since I haven't been to the grocery store in a week, I wasn't sure what to make for dinner. Matt suggested the tuna casserole I've made a few times now. It's so easy, I feel bad serving it!

Easy Tuna Casserole

Measurements are estimated
1 package macaroni and cheese
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1 teaspoon butter
1 can tuna packed in water, drained
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in small skillet. Add onions and sweat until translucent but not browned. Meanwhile, prepare the macaroni and cheese following the package directions. Once butter, milk and cheese mix are incorporated, stir in onions, tuna, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Once cheese is melted, stir in the peas. Pour mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add to panko and stir well to coat. Sprinkle panko evenly over casserole. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 mintues until the topping is browned. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes to set up.

The cookie quest

Some of my earliest cooking memories are of learning to bake with my grandmother, Pat. It was she who taught me the importance of following recipes precisely and measuring properly when it comes to baked goods. Christmas after Christmas, she would help me create cookies a pleanty to give as gifts to my family. Now that she is gone, I regret not saving her recipes so I am on a quest to recreate some of the ones I remember making with her.

Stained Glass Window Cookies
Stained Glass Window Cookies were light bar cookies with gumdrop slices mixed in. When they were baked, the gumdrops would melt and come out looking like stained glass windows. The cookies were like blondies but without the butterscotch flavor. The flavor was more like a sugar cookie.

My Google search for "stained glass window cookies" turned up something entirely different so I tried a different search and found the following recipe.

Gumdrop Bars
source: Razzle Dazzle Recipes
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped gumdrops
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 eggs
1 tablespoon water
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together flour, gumdrops and pecans; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs and water. Add brown sugar and beat until it is just light. Beat in cinnamon and salt. Stir gumdrop mixture into the brown sugar mixture. Spread into a greased 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 pan. Bake at 375° F. until cookies are done, about 15 to 18 minutes.

For Icing: In saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon of great orange peel and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Sift in enough powdered sugar to make a thin icing and blend until smooth. Spread icing over warm cookies and cut into bars.

Now, my grandmother's cookies didn't have pecans or icing, but I'll give this recipe a try and see how close it comes.

Whirligig Cookies
Whirligig Cookies are beautiful rolled and sliced chocolate and peanut butter cookies. I remember rolling out the two kinds of dough, rolling them up together and carefully slicing them into rounds. This was a bit laborious, but yielded beautiful results.

A quick Google search produced some recipes but so far, all call for melting chocolate pieces and spreading over the dough, not a chocolate dough. So, the search continues.

Nana Cookies
Nana Cookies are a soft and spicy molasses cookie. It was my great-grandmother's recipe, hence the name. This is one recipe that I do have, however, I cannot seem to get them to come out like Grandma's. My quest here, is to get these ones right!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Good Eats Meatloaf

Tonight's dinner was one of Matt's favorite meals: Alton Brown's meatloaf recipe from Good Eats. He'd eat it once a week if I made it that often! I follow the recipe pretty much to the letter with one exception: I use 85% lean ground beef rather than the chuck/sirloin combo. It's just easier!