Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Corn Chowder

The hubby and I really enjoyed this soup. As a bonus, it's pretty filling and light - even with the use of bacon!

Corn Chowder
Recipe courtesy of
The Kitchen Sink

  • 4 ounces of bacon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium or homemade)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels shaved from the cob and one shaved cob reserved
  • Greek yogurt, for garnish
  • snipped chives, for garnish

Fry the bacon in the bottom of a large soup pot, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Drain the bacon drippings from the pot, but do not wipe out the pot. Return the pot to the stove, turn the heat up to medium high and heat the olive oil in the pot. Add the onion, celery and herbs (through the black pepper). Stir to coat the vegetables with the oil and herbs and cook until the onions have become translucent and soft (several minutes). Add the potatoes and cook for five minutes, until the potatoes have begun to soften. Turn the heat down to low and sprinkle the flour over the vegetables. Stir and cook for several minutes.

Add the chicken stock and water. Crumble the bacon and add all but 1 tablespoon to the soup. Next, stir in the corn kernels. Finally, add the reserved, shaved cob of corn to the soup (which will help flavor and thicken the broth). Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Before serving, remove the shaved corn cob and taste the soup for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Serve the soup with a dollop of Greek yogurt, snipped chives and the reserved crumbled bacon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My first meme!

This is a week of firsts!

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results
5) added by other memers: italicize ones you'd like to try

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (I call them Doughboys!)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Hmm...I guess I haven't really eaten a lot of these things,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

sushi, sushi, sushi!! (My First Blogging Event!)

I'm so excited to be participating in my first blogging event! After making maki rolls three times in 1 week, I didn't really have any excuses for not entering Joelen's Makin' Maki Sushi Event!

Anyway, here's how it all started...

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting some new friends who live in our town. Better yet, one of these new friends, Masako, is awesome at making sushi! She was kind enough to have a few of us over to her place for a sushi and spring roll lunch. I've attempted to make maki (sushi rolls) before, but it was great to get some tips from someone with more experience.

Here's a shot of the supplies:

For the salmon sushi, we layered cooked sushi rice on a half sheet of nori with cream cheese and slices of smoked salmon. The key to rolling the sushi is to use a rolling mat, and to make sure you aim the first roll for the middle, and then squeeze tight before continuing to roll. Here's me with a successful roll (my second try).

We also made some rolls with eel that Masako got at the Asian market.
In addition to sushi, Masako showed us how to make fried spring rolls. These were delicious!

Spring Rolls
Recipe courtesy Masako

  • ground pork
  • cooked shrimp
  • bean sprouts
  • rice noodles (softened in hot water)
  • sliced mushrooms
  • carrots, chopped
  • scallions, chopped
  • egg roll wrappers
  • oil for frying
  • water for wrapping

Start by heating a skillet at medium high heat. Brown the pork, then add the mushrooms, carrots, and scallions. Once the mushrooms and carrots have started to soften, add bean sprouts, shrimp, and noodles. Mix and cook ingredients until softened and heated through.

Lay an egg roll wrapper on a clean, dry surface. Place a couple spoonfuls of the mixture onto the center of the wrapper. Fold one corner in toward the center, fold in the side corners, and roll until closed (pictures would have helped here, sorry!). Dab the last corner with some water to make it stick. Repeat until you've used up all the mixture.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Fry spring rolls until golden brown (about 1 minute on each side). Place on a paper towel to drain. Enjoy!

OK, so after making sushi with Masako, I was feeling motivated and have made sushi two more times since!! Once with my sisters (not pictured) and another time for the hubby. This time I decided to make california rolls.

  • sushi rolling mat
  • nori (seaweed wrappers)
  • sushi rice
  • rice wine vinegar (about 1/4 cup? I didn't measure)
  • avocado, sliced
  • cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin sticks
  • crabstick
  • soy sauce for dipping


Prepare sushi rice as directed on bag (I made about 3 cups of rice for 5 california rolls). Let the rice cool to room temperature and mix in rice wine vinegar. Lay a sheet of nori on your rolling mat. Wet your hands with some water (to prevent sticking), and grab a handful of rice. Spread the rice on the nori, covering about half the sheet. Lay one line of sliced avocado, crabstick, and cucumber across. Roll your sushi, making sure to press tightly as you go. Repeat with your next nori sheet!

Using a sharp knife, slice the roll into 6-8 pieces. Dip in soy sauce and enjoy!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pesto Penne

After our trip to Tanglewood I had some extra pesto and mozzarella to do something with, so I whipped up this super-simple pasta dish. First, I cooked some whole-wheat penne. Meanwhile, I sliced some cherry tomatoes in half and roasted them in the oven at 475 degrees for about 15 minutes. Last, I just mixed the pasta with the pesto, tomatoes, and diced mozzarella cheese. Done!


On Sunday, the hubby and I trekked out to Lenox, MA to visit Tanglewood, the summer home of the BSO. This was part of his anniversary gift to me, and a very nice gift it was! Since this is a cooking blog, I'll try to get through the music stuff quickly. Their program included three pieces: Suite from Iberia by Albeniz, Lalo's Cello Concerto (performed by Yo-Yo Ma!), and Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninoff. I wasn't super familiar with any of these pieces, so it was nice to hear some new things. I think if we'd been in a concert hall (I'll explain momentarily), my favorite would have been the cello concerto. In this case, my favorite ended up being the Rachmaninoff. I'm definitely going to need to get a recording.

Anyway, Tanglewood has a few different performance venues, this concert being held at the Koussevitzky Music Shed, which has a few sections of covered seating close to the stage, but then a huge lawn area in the back for people to picnic (do you see the food connection now?) and lounge while they listen to the music. The thing I love about it, is that unlike many other outdoor concerts that I have attended in the summer of jazz and rock/pop groups, people are really here to listen intently to the music and when the concert begins everyone is quiet (except for the small children who do their best to keep things under control!). It's really quite nice.

OK. On to the picnic! We wanted to keep things simple, but delicious. We started with some pesto, tomato, and mozzarella finger sandwiches. For these I just sliced up some ciabatta bread, spread a little pesto on each slice, and layered each sandwich with a slice of tomato and a slice of fresh mozzarella. Easy!

I did make my own pesto using this Cooking Light recipe. I really like this version because it's not as oily as store-bought.

Recipe courtesy
Cooking Light

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 cups packed basil leaves (about 2.5 oz)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts **I used walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Drop garlic through food chute with food processor on; process until minced. Place basil and next 4 ingredients (basil through pepper) in processor; process 10 seconds. Combine water and oil in a measuring cup. With processor on, slowly pour oil mixture through food chute, processing just until blended.

Next, we had some strawberry spinach salad (not pictured), which consisted simply of baby spinach, sliced strawberries, walnuts, salt, and pepper with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette.

After salads...and some rain in the middle of the cello concerto (which is why I cannot call it my favorite...sadly, I couldn't hear the whole second half due to the sound of the rain on our umbrella)...

...we moved on to Brie with Grape Jelly and Wheat Thins. This is honestly one of our favorite treats ever! It was of course accompanied by a nice bottle of merlot. Notice how the sun is now shining brightly. The weather was quite fickle that day.

Finally, during Rachmaninoff, we reached dessert. I wanted something chocolaty, but fairly light. I found this recipe and then simply subbed light ingredients.

Recipe courtesy of
Recipe Zaar

  • 1 180z package Oreos, crushed **I used reduced fat Oreos
  • 1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 8oz container Cool Whip **I used light
  • 1 8 oz package gummy worms **I left these out and put in some sliced strawberries instead

Make the pudding, fold in the Cool-Whip. Place half the cookie crumbs on the bottom of a glass bowl **I used three cookies each on the bottom of individual serving dishes. Spoon in the pudding mixture and place the worms, half in, half out, on top. **I just put some strawberry slices on top. Top with the remaining cookie crumbs. Chill.

The following photographs are examples of why I portioned everything instead of having us share out of one dish. I always feel like I'm racing. In the second photo, hubby's dish is on the left and mine is on the right - about 2 minutes after we started eating...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Nice and Light

I've been trying to cook and eat healthier lately, so I was pretty excited when I saw this meal posted on Joelen's blog. I knew I had to try it right away! James and I both really enjoyed this meal and it was filling, but still pretty healthy. I did have a couple of issues however, which I think I know how to fix for next time. First, I couldn't get the breadcrumb/macadamia nut mixture to stick to the fish. I think the nuts were not crushed small enough, so next time I think I need to be more diligent about that. The other problem was that I couldn't get baby bok choy at the grocery store - only the larger variety. I think with the larger variety it's probably necessary to chop the white stems smaller than I did so that they will cook a little bit faster. Like I said, neither of these issues will be difficult to resolve the next time I try this recipe! Thanks Joelen!

Macadamia Nut Crusted Tilapia

Recipe courtesy of


  • 4 frozen tilapia fillets
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup crushed macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 panko breadcrumbs
  • salt & pepper to taste


In a small bowl, whisk eggs with water for egg wash.
In a shallow baking pan, combine the nuts, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper.
Dip each tilapia fillet in the eggwash and dredge in the nut/breadcrumb mixture until fully coated.
Plate coated fish on a plate and chill for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Place coated fish on a light greased baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Baby Bok Choy and King Oyster Mushroom Saute
Recipe courtesy of

  • 3-4 baby bok choy bunches
  • 1 1/2 cups king oyster mushrooms (or any kind of mushroom)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat large skillet or wok over high heat. Meanwhile, prep your veggies by cutting bottoms of the bok choy and rinsing any debris between the stalks. Cut off the green tops and set aside.

For the mushrooms, slice them and if you prefer, remove stems. When skillet or wok is hot, add oil to coat the bottom. Add garlic, ginger and bok choy bottoms (not the green leafy tops!). Stir until stalks are softened; then add mushrooms. Stir until mushrooms start to brown and soften.
Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and salt & pepper to taste. Stir and then add bok choy greens.
Remove from heat, add sesame oil and toss until greens wilt. **I also garnished with a few sesame seeds

Dinner Party #...I forget

Annabel and I decided to take on some good, comforting Italian-American cuisine last week. Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite Italian dishes, but it can be so heavy with all of the breading and oil that's used to fry it. I really like this eggplant dish because it doesn't have any noodles or breading at all, but it's still really delicious. I've also been wanting to try meatballs on the stove as I usually bake mine. These came out wonderfully! There's not much more to say but "yum"!

Eggplant Ricotta Bake
Recipe courtesy of John Barricelli on
Martha Stewart's Website

  • 2 large eggplants (1-1 1/4 lb each), sliced lengthwise into 3/4 inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 15oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried) **I also added some chopped fresh basil
  • 1 jar store bought marinara sauce (16 oz)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on two rimmed baking sheets. Brush lightly on both sides with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast until eggplant is tender and golden, turning halfway through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish with oil.

Lay a fourth of eggplant slices in bottom of prepared dish; spread with half of marinara sauce. Top with another fourth of eggplant; spread with half of ricotta. Repeat layers, ending with ricotta; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Italian-American Meatballs and Marinara Sauce
Recipe courtesy of
Food Network


  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, stale
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground beef chuck **I purchased a meatloaf mix, which contains all three of these
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • Quick Marinara Sauce, recipe follows

Grate the bread or pulse into crumbs in a food processor. In a small bowl toss the bread crumbs with 1/3 cup cold milk to re-hydrate.

In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pork, veal, beef, Parmesan, parsley, salt, onion, garlic, and egg and mix until combined. Season the meat mixture with pepper.
Using your hands, gently form the meat mixture into 18 slightly larger than golf ball-sized balls. (Packing the meat mixture too tightly together will result in tough meatballs). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Heat half the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. Drain the oil and wipe out the skillet, return to the heat, and repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs.

Drain and wipe out the skillet again. Return all the meatballs to the skillet and pour in the marinara sauce. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, swirling the pan occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through about 15 minutes. The cheese in the meatballs will start to melt when the meatballs are ready. Serve immediately with the Quick Marinara Sauce and spaghetti or on sandwiches. If serving with spaghetti, toss with 1/3 of the sauce.These meatballs can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for 3 days, or frozen for up to 6 weeks.

Marinara Sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 (28-ounce) cans whole, peeled, tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the herb sprigs and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes or until thickened

Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste. Serve or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

**We served this meal with spaghetti and roasted zucchini