Monday, December 17, 2012

Beef Tenderloin Sliders

So first of all, I have to apologize for the lack of posting lately. Between the technical issues with my pictures, and starting a new job, it's been kind of crazy. But I promise, no more lapses!

Anyway, onto the delicious recipe. It's the holiday season and time for holiday parties! Brett and I decided to have a pre-holiday party party and have a few people over to have some dinner before going out. But I was struggling with trying to figure out what to prepare for dinner.

Turkey? No, way too ornate. Ham? Nah, not in the mood. Brett suggested pizza but I didn't feel like preparing something that took so much time in the kitchen. 

So I sat down nestled in with my new Bon Appetit magazine on my Kindle and waited for inspiration. And I found it. A beef tenderloin with horseradish cream. But I didn't feel like just serving beef. Because then I'd have to figure out side dishes, and also this was a crowd I didn't particularly know well. 

One of the things that I think is Brett's favorite thing to eat are sliders. Sliders with anything on it. And I figured well, beef is good on sandwiches, no? And then I thought well, beef tenderloin sliders sounds fancy and also low key! A perfect combo. 

One thing I have to note though is that beef tenderloin is STAGGERINGLY expensive. Like woah expensive. I don't buy beef tenderloin ever, so I wasn't quite prepared. BUT the 3 lbs of beef tenderloin, when made into sliders, lasts for DAYS. We had it for dinner on Sunday and dinner Monday as well. So while it is expensive, it can span many meals and make it FAR more economical. 

Also, it's delicious. This preparation makes melt in your mouth beef tenderloin and the cream serves as a really fabulous condiment. I also added some arugula to give it a peppery veggie crunch. 

If you're serving a crowd this holiday season I highly recommend making these. They were a huge hit and really easy to do. Plus you don't need to worry about the beef staying warm, because the tenderloin is just as good on sliders cold as warm! So I hope you enjoy!! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sausage and Mushroom Calzones

When I was in college, I worked for a couple years at this bar on campus. Okay, not a bar on campus, the only bar on campus. And while it was a fun bar to go to (once you were 21...for real, there was a list of students who were 21 and you had to be on it to get in - small school) the highlight for many people was the food.

Now you could get any type of bar food. Pizzas, buffalo chicken fingers (OHMYGODSOGOODIWANTNOW), and one of the better highlights, the calzones. Now calzones are funny to me. Sauceless pizza pockets. It's like a fancy Italian hot pocket. These calzones though were ENORMOUS. Like, only if I was super drunk could I eat the whole thing big (don't judge). But having a hot calzone and dipping the slices into marinara sauce brings me straight back to Kenyon.

So this weekend I decided to replicate the calzone goodness. But I decided to make them a bit more reasonably sized. I had intended for them to be "mini" but they're more like "reasonable for 1 person" size. Unless, of course, you're my husband and eat 1 and a half. I also made them more "healthy" - aka chicken and turkey sausage rather than full fat delicious pork sausage.

Turns out with the help of Whole Foods pizza dough (for real peeps, this stuff is awesome and unlike frozen dough requires very little foresight or planning) these suckers are easy. If you're an overachiever, you can make your own pizza dough. Truth be told if I had thought of this recipe more than an hour before I planned to start cooking, I would have made my own. But I am a terrible terrible planner.

You can use this recipe to stuff whatever you want into the calzones. I had planned on making some sweet ones with apple, cinnamon, sugar and marscarpone. But I was too full after we had our first round of calzones. So I'll have to figure out what to do with all that marscarpone.... Maybe it can be incorporated into a Thanksgiving desert hah!

So enjoy these calzones. These would be an awesome family night dinner, as you can pick and choose what to put in the 'zones.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Shrimp Rolls

Sometimes when I make food for football weekends, it's about this time of year that the food selection become monotonous. Chili, wings, repeat. So this weekend I decided that mix it up. No chili, I say! Nay! We shall have something different!

However, I was also in a lazy mood. Heavy cooking all day long for a noon Michigan game? Uh no. So I poked through my freezer and fridge and thought about what I could make with the ingredients that I have already. 

And then I came across the shrimp. I had bought frozen pre-cooked shrimp a while ago and hadn't used them yet. Then it came to me. Why not make shrimp rolls, like lobster rolls? I've made lobster rolls plenty of times, and have always seen shrimp rolls on menus, but hadn't eaten them that much. But I figured hey, how different from lobster rolls can they be?

Well the adventure in shrimp rolls was a success. Brett declared that he liked these better than any of the lobster rolls I've made. It's a simple mix of mayo, greek yogurt, chives, celery, shrimp and some spices. And made into little mini rolls but cutting the hot dog buns in half, it's a perfect grab and go dish to serve to the masses. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sweet and Smoky Bison Chili

So we're deep into fall football season, yet in DC it hasn't gone much below 60 degrees. But when I realized that 12 people would be at my house for college football Saturday, I thought well, guess it's time to pull out the chili! Chili always reminds me of the fall, cold autumn nights, and college football. Or football in general.

There are many ways to make chili. Some believe it should never have beans. Some like it spicy. Some like it sweet. Some like it with ground beef, while others like turkey or sausage.

Well this chili has a little bit of everything for everyone. Although I will say that if you don't like heat, I wouldn't try this. It's not super spicy by any means but if you don't like a somewhat spicy chili, then I'd suggest making the chili I make in my chili half smokes recipe. Just omit the half smokes.

This chili combines bison meat, cannelli beans, kidney beans, guajillo peppers, and a bunch of other surprises to make a rich and deep chili. It does require a bit of cooking time to really get all the flavors going, but that's how it goes with all good chilis.

I recommend serving this with some good cornbread (I made some but failed to take pictures....will do next time) and shredded cheese. Oh, and beer. And football. If you are into those things, like our household.

Shrimp and Grits

So this week we went to Charleston, SC to see my beautiful cousin and her now husband get married. They've been dating for a long time and live in DC, so I've had a chance to get to know them well as a couple and as people over past years.

We arrive to the house we were staying, just outside Charleston on the Isle of Palms. Coincidentally, I've been here many times. Brett's family does a family reunion on Isle of Palms every year. I highly recommend going if you have the chance!

Anyway, back to the whole story. So we arrive at the house and there is this big beautiful welcome basket waiting for us. And inside? Three big ol bag of grits.

So obviously, I decided to cook with them. And I mean, we were in low country, so obviously I had to make shrimp and grits! Now, I've never made shrimp and grits before. Yeah, yeah, I'm not a northerner at heart.

I searched the internet for inspiration because yeah, that's what I do. And I came across this recipe for Crook's Corner Shrimp and Grits. I made some modifications. Used skim milk rather than half and half. And I used all cheddar rather than the parm and cheddar. But basically the same recipe. And I will say it is absolutely amazing. The whole family chowed it down.

So if you're in the mood for low country cooking, shrimp and grits done this way is great. (Note: if you're looking at the portions when I'm cooking and thinking, this looks more than mine, it's because I doubled the recipe for all of the guests.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Asian Marinated Tofu Salad

There are just some times where a good salad is the best meal. It's not that I don't love a good burger or fried foods because believe me, I do. But a hearty salad can make my tum feel so good. 

So as I sat with my block of tofu (yes, sit, we're friends) I was trying to figure out what I wanted to marinate the tofu in. I decided a good Asian-style marinade would be a good option. Fish sauce, soy sauce, pepper, a bit of honey, rice wine vinegar and grapeseed oil combined not only makes for a good marinade, but it doubles as the start to the salad dressing. 

With the tofu I paired some creamy goat cheese, crispy apples, and crunchy cucumber. This is an excellent and light salad. 

Moules Marinière

Mussels. They are so incredibly delicious. And easy! I've always love all sorts of shellfish, but mussels hold a place in my heart. They are meatier than clams and cheaper as well. You can get a big ol bag of mussels at the store usually for about $5-6. And they're incredibly malleable.

I've cooked mine with fennel, broth, curries, you name it. But I strongly think that this is the best kind of mussels. Butter, clam juice, wine, garlic, shallots, thyme, cornichons....yum. The broth cooks a bit longer to infuse all of the flavors together.

Mussels make for a great party meal. They're great to share out of a big bowl and bread serves as an excellent sponge to scoop up all the tasty broth. This is an easy meal and a wonderful treat.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bison Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are one of those things that remind you of childhood, for better or for worse. Mom's dinners, cafeterias, school lunches....all harken back to the days of sloppy joes.

Which leads us to tonight's dinner. As I sat at my desk wondering what I should do with the bison meat in my fridge, I started going through a list of meals in my head that would usually use ground beef. Tacos? Nah. I don't have any taco fillings. Meatballs? Nah, I've already done it. Meat sauce? Nah, not feeling pasta.

Thinking.

Thinking.

thinking.....

Hm. What about sloppy joes? I pitch it to Brett. He likes it. Sloppy joes it is.

So how can I make it updated? Throw in some sriracha? Yeah, yeah that sounds good. And maybe some cajun mustard? Sure! Why not. And then topped with some sweet pepper relish, this updated version of sloppy joes is unbelievably good. And it took under 20 minutes to make. Saweeet!

So embrace your inner dinner child and have sloppy joes tonight!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Curry Lentil Soup

Mmmm lentils. Lentil soup is such an amazing go-to recipe. Quick and easy (aka under an hour), it's a filling and great vegetarian soup. You can really throw whatever you want in there - all kinds of curry pastes, curry powders, etc. - and chances are that it will come out yummers all the time.

I've mentioned this before, but lentils are also super healthy for you. They're a great little protein-packed food. And red lentils are perfect for soups. I do warn, do not try to use green or french lentils with this recipe. They won't break down as easily and you may be disappointed with the results. So stick to red! 

This soup is filling but light. It really deceives you in that it's flavorful, but it won't leave a lump in your stomach. I served this with some avocado slices which I highly recommend. Because let's be honest, when is it ever a bad idea to add avo? Yeah, that's what I thought. 


Creamy Artichoke Dip

FOOOTBALL! It's football season again and I couldn't be happier. For me, football is all about the party. The party, you ask? Yes, the party.

To me, football isn't just about the sport. Yes, I know a lot about football and I like watching both the NFL and college (go Browns and go Michigan!) but what I love is getting together with lots of friends, both at our house and at bars, and celebrating together. Does it matter if we are all cheering for the same team? No, not necessarily. But it's about eating good food, drinking cheap beer, and screaming loudly at the TV.

So this weekend marked the first time Brett was back in town for football season. A couple of friends came over to watch the Michigan v. UMass game. Truth be told, it was a complete blowout. We won by 50 points. But it was still an excuse to have people over. I sipped on micheladas and ate artichoke dip. Yum, right?

This recipe actually comes from my mother. When I first moved to DC I was invited to bring a dish for a potluck and was assigned an appetizer. Now, having just graduated from college I was pretty cooking inept. I was used to having people cook for me. And I was faced with preparing something other than easy mac. So I asked my mom for an easy but delicious recipe and this is what she sent to me.

Since then, I have made this countless times. And it is always gobbled up. Like, lick the bowl clean kind of gobble up. And as you'll see it is super easy to make.

But if you want to bring a dish that will have everyone worshiping you and begging for more, this, my friends, is what you bring.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pan Seared Scallops with Roasted Tomatoes, Leeks and Creamy Polenta

Is there anything better than scallops? They're such a perfect food. Sweet and plump and so meaty, scallops probably come to a close three-way tie for my favorite seafood, alongside soft shelled crabs and lobster. So when I was going along the aisles for inspiration in the store for a dinner recipe, I spied the scallops and my first thought was yyyesss...but....

See, Brett was at the time at the Democratic National Convention. So I was cooking dinner for a good friend, and for myself. So while I usually know exactly what Brett will want, when cooking for others I often question myself. But I saw some great, plump, organic scallops and I thought well - hope my friend likes scallops! Turns out, yay he does!

I paired these buttery pan-seared scallops with oven roasted tomatoes, sautéed leeks mixed with spinach and served over a feta infused polenta. The combination was amazing. The scallops were meaty and well seasoned, the tomatoes served as a good charred base, the leeks and spinach added sweetness, and the polenta added a good creamy and filling base. This is a really impressive looking dinner and while it takes about 1.5 hours, it's SO worth it. So enjoy!

Strawberry Mango Smoothie

Smooooothies! I guess I am already getting nostalgic, even though I haven't hit the end of summer, I am still kind of craving the days for needed to grab a cool drink.

(Actually.

To be honest.

I'm so ready for fall.)

BUT any time of the year is good for smoothies! And this one is super easy and super delicious. It's a great snack, breakfast, lunch, whatever. Don't make it the meal for your whole day but it's good! Also I added in flax seed.

For those of you who aren't familiar, flax seed has been dubbed as powerful plant foods on the planet. And according to WedMD there’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, anddiabetes. Even if you have picky "NO SUPERFOOD" eaters, I honestly can attest that no one will be able to differentiate between the flax seed and seeds that come from strawberries. Tell em it's strawberry seeeeeds!


Monday, September 3, 2012

White Wine Braised Chicken with Figs

I've always been slightly obsessed with figs. One of the only cookies that we could eat when I was a kid was fig newtons. We weren't a big sweets household. But the taste of figs always reminds me of being a kid.

While I eat a lot of fig spread, but I rarely actually cook with figs. They have a relatively short growing season so I rarely see whole figs in the grocery store. But I knew that Whole Foods was selling them now, so I decided to incorporate figs with a recipe.

This recipe slow braises chicken in white wine and chicken broth, cooked long with onions and shallots, and finally combined with the figs. And to top it all off, a creamy goat cheese polenta serves as the anchor for the recipe. You could easily substitute the polenta with mashed potatoes or pasta, but the creaminess of the polenta goes really well with the dish. The recipe serves 4-6 people.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tomato, Roasted Zucchini and Nectarine Salad

Sometimes I am faced with the fact that I have a huge amount of vegetables and fruits and I have purchased with little plan as to what to cook. Tonight I faced that fact.

When I see so many beautiful fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, all I can do is purchase them. So tonight I faced a bowl full of produce. Brett is out of town, which means usually I eat vegetarian. So a basket full of produce isn't a bad thing! But what do you do with tomatoes, zucchinis, and nectarines? Well, let me tell you...you make this salad. 

Now I know that a lot of my recipes I preface as SO AWESOME! But this really is. It was one of those moments where I bite into my dish and say DAMN THIS IS GOOOD! It's a combo of fresh ingredients and an interesting red wine vinegar vinaigrette. I promise that this makes an amazing first course or main course. Eat this and you will not be disappointed. Cross my heart, hope to die. Well not really die. It's a saying, you know? Anyway enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes and Sausage

Tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes! How I love thee. I really think that the best part of the summer is consuming massive amounts of the fruit/vegetable (yeah, I know it's a fruit, but it always seems like sort of a vegetable to me). And you know what is my favorite prep for them? Roasting them. 

Now some people insist on slicing them in half and roasting them open faced. I say NO. I say roast them whole! Trap in the juices! I love nothing more than biting into a roasted cherry tomato. It's like the wholesome version of a Gushers fruit snack. God I also loved those as a kid. Juicy inside. 

Anyway, so in addition to picking up two whole containers of little orange tomatoes, we also picked up some delicious looking buffalo sausages at the farmers market. Usually I cook them sausages on a grill or stovetop, but today I threw them into the oven to roast. The only other thing I threw in was a bunch of basil, a drizzle of olive oil, a touch of red wine vinegar and some salt and pepper to taste. 

To finish off the meal, we also had some delicious crusty bread and a hunk of awesome cheese. I highly recommend eating this dish with those as well!

Roasted Peaches with Herbs and Reduced Balsamic

I love this time of year. Peaches and tomatoes and the like are full of flavors and juicy. And this morning, even though it was in the pouring rain, we headed out to the farmers market to pick up some produce. It's why I love Sundays. Dupont farmers market is the best. It's such a great farmers market and it is a close walk from our abode.

However, what was I not planning on? A downpour. It poured rain as we wandered from tent to tent, avoiding the waterfall-like pour off from the tents. Truth be told, I love rain when it's 70+ degrees outside. And it's a welcome break from the awful humidity that we've had for months. But, all of the sprinting from tent to tent did bruise my peaches a bit. They looked uh a little lumpy.

But no worries! Peaches be bruised, that be okay. I wanted to try out a concept I had heard about yesterday. Roasting nectarines. But my peaches were bruised and I didn't want to waste them. So I roasted peaches! Topped with reduced balsamic and tossed with herbs, the flavors worked out amazingly. I actually think that this would be amazing on vanilla ice cream. Even as a side dish, this works out great.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Feta, Spinach and Sausage Crustless Quiche

My favorite meal, perpetually, is brunch. It's the best of both worlds, breakfast and lunch. And in DC, brunch is hugely popular. There are a ton of awesome places here that are delicious.

But waiting for weekends? Not good enough for me. I want to have brunch all the time! So I decided to make a brunch for dinner meal.

One of my favorite things to eat? Quiche. Eggs, cheese, fillins and crust? Awesome. But one thing I do not know how to do? Make a quiche crust. But my desire for quiche was insatiable. How would I get myself a quiche, homemade, and in my belly? Why, by doing a crustless quiche!

I took some of the ingredients I had in the house and decided to make a spinach, feta and spinach crustless quiche. I used 2% milk, although I think that next time I will use cream and whole milk. I think it may help the custard fill out a bit. But it's an ongoing experiment.

Actually, I should say it's a warm up. Because know what happens soon? Oh that's right folks, college football season. And know what that means? Brunch every Saturday here. And I'd like to get some new brunch options on the plate. And I think that, even with some small changes, this is going to go over real well with the hungry crew.

Oh and know how I'm not a baker? Well. I didn't even realize that I didn't have a single round baking pan hahhhh! So behold....SQUARE QUICHE!

(Note to self: buy a circular baking pan)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Salmon Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

I feel like after I travel a lot, my body hates me. Maybe it's because I eat as much delectable, buttery, craptastic food that I can imagine. Oh hello bacon egg and cheese on an enormous croissant, why yes you are a WONDERFUL idea at 6:00 AM at the airport! Oh, giant sandwich packed high with pastrami and dripping with fat, why yes I will consume all of you!

It's kind of like I travel away from home and I eat all the things. Everything. Everything bad, that is. So after traveling three of the last four weekends, my body is in a bit of disarray.  FEED ME GOOD THINGS! -my body.

Tonight I decided that instead of anything heavy I would go with light light light and fresh and crisp and delicious. What immediately comes to mind for me? Salad. With salmon. Noms.

This salad is simple to prepare. A basil vinaigrette dressing with only seven ingredients (well, plus S&P to taste), cherry tomatoes, apple slices, creamy decadent avocado, and poached salmon. And we all know how much I love to poach fish now. I'm telling you, it's a game changer. The salmon has never been cooked to easily in my kitchen than it has when I poach it.

I promise you, it will be a hit.

Also you know who is very happy to have me back home? This little bebe.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Spaghetti with Spicy Buffalo Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs. Comfort food at its best. I still crave spaghetti like I did when I was young. Big huge heaps of starch, gobs of tomatoes, huge savory meatballs. Om nom nom. 

I used to buy meatballs and canned tomato sauce. But now I'm all about making my meatballs and sauce. It's a little bit more work, but really, not that much more. And it gives me to freedom to play with my balls. Yup, you heard me, I play with my balls. 

This time around, we had some ground bison meat in the fridge and so I decided that they would work well for the balls. I used some of the basics, bread soaked in milk, oregano etc. But I also decided to throw in a secret little ingredient. Sriracha. And let me tell you, it worked out fantastically. It gives the meatballs a bit of a kick, but nothing too overwhelming. And if you don't want the spicy? Easy omission. Just leave it out and they'll still be as delectable as usual. 

For the sauce, I stuck with the basics. Onions, garlic, mushrooms, basil, tomatoes, etc. This was a quick cook sauce, although I usually prefer to let the sauce simmer for a couple hours to marry the flavors better. But, we had someone coming over for dinner and it was a week day. Worked out just fine. 
I've also decided to try something out when recommending recipes. We're big wine drinkers in our house. No, we don't let Cody drink, but Brett and I enjoy wine. So I'll let you know what pairs well with the dinner, if we have wine. Not every post will have wine, because we don't drink every night. 

In this case, the dinner was paired with a 2005 Ruffino Chianti and a 2001 Aglieta Brunello di Montalcino. 

Second caveat, we did not buy these wine. No, we didn't steal them. We have a very dear friend who is a total wine connoisseur. He collects wine, knows more about every vintage and varietal than I will ever know. And at least once a month Brett and I have dinner with him. The arrangement is I cook, he brings wine. It's a pretty awesome arrangement. Our dinners are also always really fun. 

Anywho, off to the recipe!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

White Chocolate Covered Strawberries

So earlier this week we hosted people over at our house for the Olympics opening ceremony. And I had all the intentions in the world to make white chocolate dipped strawberries. But then came the six pizzas. And the champagne cocktails. And soon, I had completely forgotten about the massive amount of strawberries in the fridge and the white chocolate chips sitting beside them. 

Now, I couldn't let the strawberries go to waste. I didn't want them to rot. And I mean, chocolate! A friend of ours was coming over for dinner and he has a huge sweet tooth. So I knew he would help to consume loads of the chocolate covered strawberries. 

I don't know why I don't dip more things in strawberries. It's easy to do and delicious to eat. These make an easy and quick dessert. And we ate every single last one of them. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zucchini Ricotta Puffs

So, in case you hadn't heard, this girl got to go to the White House. I know, I'm so baller. Don't be jealous. I know I made some awesome sangria, but I had also mentioned that I had made an appetizer. Well don't fret...I'm going to tell you...that this is that appetizer. I know CELEBRATE Y'ALL!

Just kidding. To be honest, we had a dinner reservation for 8:45 that night, and I knew that all of us would get hungryyy. So I wanted everyone to leave with bellies [slightly] full. And how would I do that? Well, thanks for asking. I would do that by creating a puffed goodness!

Truth be told, I was originally looking for pastry dough. Yes, I know. I can create my own pastry dough. Don't judge. I didn't want to. I wanted something I could roll out. And sadly, when I went to Whole Foods, there was no refrigerated pastry dough. Well screw you too Whole Foods.

But, I was and am resourceful. I looked at the variety of refrigerated dough and contemplated......

And then I thought yes, why yes, of COURSE crescent rolls would work.

Flaky and delish, crescent rolls could be a quick fill in for pastry dough.

And then we were on.

Or so I thought.

So the day before I had bought this beautiful heavy cream from a local place. Being new to creating cheese I thought well of COURSE heavy cream can be made by itself to make ricotta. Let me let you in on a little secret. It don't. It don't at all. In fact, don't use heavy cream and think THIS WILL BE GREAT RICOTTA! Because it won't. Stick to my other recipe for ricotta. Use whole milk.

So on a second batch of ricotta, and crescent rolls, this was still a successful recipe. I hope that you enjoy!

Stone Fruit and Raspberry Sangria

So. A very exciting thing happened this weekend. I got to go to....THE WEST WING! Like real life, lookin in at the Oval Offices, sneakin outside the Situation Room. It was my real life SQUEEEEE. I'm a total political nerd.

So of course, what did I want to do? Make an appetizer and a sangria. Because I mean, why the hell not? My friends Melissa and Anne Marie were coming over to meet up with Brett and me to head on over to the White House. And I had previously come upon a recipe for a stone fruit sangria from Bon Appetit. I decided that given the bountiful amounts of stone fruits, it looked like a good idea.

I made some adjustments - if you so care to do so, look at their recipe and mine - but it was a total hit. And I promise, when I was in the White House, I was neither drunk nor disruptive. USA ALL THE WAY!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Tajine Spiced Braised Lamb

Is there anything better than braised meats? No. The answer is NO. Okay maybe there are SOME better things, but really, fall off the bone succulent meat is a delicious treat. One of my favorite meats to braise and cook sloooowly are lamb shanks. There really is no quick way to cook them either. But the low and slow method really brings out the flavor. 

Lamb has a wonderful almost earthy flavor. The shanks can be cooked in anything. Really braised meats can be braised in anything. But this recipe pairs tajine spices, red wine, garlic, thyme, and tomato. Cooked over the course of 8-10 hours, it's a perfect meal to make when you're off at work. Or they can be made in the morning for a weekend late night meal. 

AND as it is sweltering hot outside, this recipe requires very little over the stove cooking. So there's that. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Garlic Basil Soft Shell Crabs

Every year growing up, my mom would make me my favorite meal for my birthday. And since I was about 15, that was always soft shell crab. There's something very carnal about consuming an entire thing.... And it's a lot easier than taking apart crabs, which is something I also enjoy doing. 

So when a friend asked me to prepare soft shell crabs for a dinner party, I relished the opportunity. Soft shell crabs are easy to prepare, and extremely quick to execute. These just have a simple preparation.  Dredged in whole wheat flour with some extra spices thrown in, cooked in my garlic basil compound butter, and finished with a lemon based butter sauce with capers, the flavors work really well. Hope you get a chance to make these! They will impress anyone. 

(these pictures were for 14 crabs, but the recipe is for 4)

Marinated Eggplant and Cucumber Salad

I love eggplant. It's such a great vegetable. It's like a little sponge. You can roast it, grill it, saute it. Wonderful vegetable. And plentiful at this time of year.

I was contemplating a good side dish to bring to a BBQ that could sit out for a while and could be made ahead. This clearly leaves a lot of options on the table. But, as I said, I love eggplant. So I wanted to make a new dish that had eggplant as the main ingredient.

So, as I always do, it was off to search the interwebz for inspiration. That is when I came across Smitten Kitchen's marinated eggplant with capers and mint. I'm sure you're thinking well that sounds like a weird combo. But I was intrigued.

I wanted to throw my own touches in. For one, I've been loving the combo of cilantro and mint. And Cucumbers add crunch and texture and always seems to add a bit of coolness. And it worked out really well. It's a great side dish that held up well for several hours. A great cookout dish!

Garlic Basil Compound Butter

Compound butter is one of those things that always confounded me. I thought that it would require, I don't know, churning butter. While I'm all about making my own things, churning butter isn't one I quite have room for in my tiny kitchen. But, turns out, compound butter simply means let butter come to a room temp and mix things in it. Then put it back in the fridge, let it all meld together, and boom. Compound butter.

So I decided to make my own compound butter to go with a soft shell crab dish. I paired garlic with basil and decided that it would be a perfect complement to the dish. But you could use this with anything. It would be good with fish, chicken, or even just as a spread on bread. You can change what you make with the butter.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peaches and Tomato Summer Salad

I have a very big chef-crush on Johnny Monis. His style of cooking is one I'd love to emulate. Fresh, unique, and ingenious, I have enjoyed both Komi and Little Serow immensely. I also think it's a real damn shame that he hasn't been given a James Beard award, because he deserves it.

But enough about that. About what I was getting to, the food. A while ago, a good friend of ours gave Brett two recipes printed out from the Wall Street Journal that were Johnny Monis's recipes. One of those was a Tomato and Peaches Salad with Corn and Feta. It looked easy and beautiful. So when our friend, same friend, decided to throw a BBQ, he asked if I could make this as a side dish and I happily obliged.

This recipe is simple in nature. And can probably only be best made around this time of year. This is peak peaches and tomato time, and the fruits are ripe and juicy. I picked up a whole slew of them at Whole Foods and they looked gorgeous. I did want to pick them up at a farmer's market, but most of the markets (or the best ones) are open on Saturday and Sunday, leaving me not enough time especially if the peaches needed to soften.

I did change only one thing from the original recipe. I used panko for toasting and it worked out well.

But back to the food again, this is an easy recipe that uses the best and fresh ingredients. If you're looking for a good summer side salad and one that is easy to whip together and will impress guests? This is your salad.

Thanks to Johnny Monis and the WSJ for sharing the recipe! I double the recipe, but I am posting the recipe which will serve about four people.

Recipe adopted from the Wall Street Journal Tomato and Peaches Salad with Corn and Feta


Ricotta

I've always been enamored with the idea of making my own cheese. But I always viewed it as an impossible task; I thought it was like baking in that it required precision and skill. Turns out, not so much. It was much simpler than I thought, and absolutely worth the effort.

Creamier and less chalky than store bought ricotta, I would have eaten the whole pile of it, if I could. I mean physically I could. But I'd be pretty grossed out by it.  Grossed out by myself. So instead, I shared it with friends! We went to a BBQ and I used this as an appetizer paired with prosciutto, basil, honey and rye bread squares. But you can pair this with whatever you would like, whether it's fresh grilled vegetables, fresh tomatoes, or use in lasagna.

I encourage anyone who sees this, thinks "I can't make cheese" to think again.  While this isn't the "traditional" ricotta (traditional is made from the whey from making other cheeses), and could really be considered a "farmer's cheese," it is delicious.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Poached Arctic Char and Spicy Tahini Cucumber Avocado Salad

Poaching. What a beautiful method for cooking fish. I've only recently really started playing with poaching salmon and the like, but I have to say it may be my favorite method of cooking fish. No threat of dry fish, obscenely easy to clean up, and almost fool-proof, it's really an underused method in my house. No more!

So with poaching on the mind, I headed to the grocery store intent on salmon. However, when I arrived I discovered I either had the choice of farmed salmon (ick, no thanks) or paying $25/lb for wild caught salmon. Cringing at the thought of paying that much for salmon, I scoped out other options. Then I saw the arctic char. Now, I've never, ever made arctic char. But the fillet looked similar to salmon. And it was $10 cheaper per pound than the wild salmon. So, I decided to gamble on the arctic char. And I'm glad that I did. A bit "fishier" than salmon, it's like a mix between trout and salmon. And it poached beautifully.

In addition to my desire for fish, I really wanted an avocado salad. So I figured pairing creamy avocado with crunchy cucumbers and topping it all off with a spicy tahini based dressing would do the trick. And do indeed. The salad kept well for days (good for leftovers) and was filling while making me think "I done picked some healthy recipe."

If you have leftovers (and who doesn't love leftovers), I'd say that having the char cold, rather than reheating, it an excellent options. Cold poached char is delicious.


I just wanted to share this picture of the wine I used. Because I thought it was hilarious.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lentils and Beef Stuffed Peppers

So occasionally, Brett does the shopping. He'll ask me for basic parameters, and I'll send him off with orders on what to get. This time, he asked what he should get for vegetables. I told him, well, whatever looks good.  Apparently....bell peppers looked good.

Unpacking the groceries I found myself starting at a good six bell peppers. And I had kinda made a bunch of recipes for side dishes last week with bell peppers. So, how to incorporate a big ol bunch of bell peppers into a main dish? Ding ding, if you thought stuffed bell peppers, you're right.

Historically, stuffed bell peppers includes rice and meats and other vegetables. But I wasn't feeling rice.  Instead, I decided to use the rest of my green french lentils. And it worked out very well. Lighter and less "ugh I'm so freakin stuffed" feeling, the lentils stuffed peppers worked out amazingly.Took about an hour and fifteen minutes and it worked out amazingly. So enjoy the filling (but not MY STOMACH EXPLODES) peppers and this can be altered to whatever you would like to put in.

Also, I know a lot of recipes for stuffed peppers recommend either boiling or prebaking the peppers. In my opinion, this extra step is completely inappropriate. If you are baking the filling and peppers for 40+ minutes, it will already get completely soft.

So back to the conclusion (and recipe) this is delicious!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Roast Chickens with Pistachio Salsa, Peppers, and Corn

We have a summer calendar dominated by weddings. So this means going on various forms of travel across the country. Lots of travel means lots of time to distract myself with books and pretty magazines. And I'm okay with that. Really I feel like I haven't had that much time to just read for fun anyway, so this break gives me an excuse to do so.

Our latest wedding was in New York City. I have a lot of friends and family who live there, so I never mind the trip. From DC it takes about 4 hours by bus, so the rides away meant plenty of time for doing some reading. I have previously extolled the virtues of Bon Appétit's Kindle app, but I never seem to have time to read it. So it was nice to be able to catch up on about 3 months worth of issues. In one of the issues, I came across an herbed chicken recipe that sounded like it could be make a good dinner. Plus, the pictures were gorgeous. And pretty pictures makes EVERYTHING look better! I tried to make mine look as good, but yeah, I guess I have to admit I'm not quite BA level photography hah.

Paired with quick sweet sautéed peppers, fresh crunch corn and a pistachio salsa, it sounded like an interesting combination. Additionally, I still seek to master the art of roasting a chicken. I've done pretty good attempts before, but the crispy skin part eluded me. I have to say, following this recipe (although forgot the whole garlic part for the marinade, but meh it's all good) produced crispy skin and extremely tender and juicy chicken. I will absolutely replicate the chicken again. When I had removed the chicken the chicken from the oven, I tore off a piece of the skin, ran into the other room and excitedly gave it to Brett. I had done it! Look! Crispy! I don't know if he was really as excited about it as I was, but remarked that it was good and turned his attention back to his iPad. Maybe I should just give it next time to little buddy, I know he would have licked his chomps and begged for more.

I will note that while I LOVED the chicken and the peppers, I wasn't a huge huge fan of the pistachio salsa. But I'm not a huge nuts fan in the first place. I know, I know, that's sacrilege. But it's just me. HOWEVER, I'll also note that Brett did really like the salsa. And he loves him some pistachios. I think omitting the salsa wouldn't have really detracted all that much either. Although it sure is pretty. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the recipe and thanks to BA for the recipe!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Zucchini Fritters

It's summer squash time!  A few days ago, one of my lovely coworkers gifted me with two huge zucchinis.  I had been telling him that if he ever had any extra vegetables that he and his wife couldn't cook, I could happily take them off of his hands.  And then I got zucchinis!! Win! Now, I've cooked with zucchini before, but never ones this large.  So I decided it may be a good idea to turn them into fritters.

Fritters are a simple concept.  Vegetables chopped or grated finely, combined with egg, panko and spices and made into pancakes.  Pan fried in good oil, they're relatively healthy.

So after doing some research, I decided to try my hand at zucchini fritters.  Now zucchinis are a funny vegetable.  They are pretty easy to cook with, but they are full of water.

In order to make them into fritters, you really need to let the vegetable drain after being grated, or just attempt to squeeze the water out of them.  This is essentially what I did.  Push on the grated bits long enough to squeeze out the excess water.  If you don't, you risk the chance that they'll be too soggy to really crisp up.  I mean, it's not the end of the world, but it's worth having them be crispy...crispy is, after all, delicious.  It's really the only labor intensive part of the fritter process.

Also, when I was first looking up recipes, I couldn't figure out for the life of me if you needed to grate the whole zucchini skin and all.  Well, even though I didn't get an answer online, I decided to grate the entire thing.  Except for the ends, of course.  I'd recommend doing that as well.

The result of my fritters experiment was A+.  Brett loved them and told me so about ten times during the course of the meal.  I think that this would also be an excellent way to get vegetable haters to eat veggies.  Kids, or kid-like adults alike, will eat these up.  I also had them for leftovers the next day and they stayed pretty darn good.

I paired mine with some simple pan grilled chicken, fresh avocado and lime wedges.  Made for a healthy and easy meal.  The chicken was just coated in chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper.  Nothin too fance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chicken Tacos with Quick Pickled Onions and Avocado Crema

So, I know I've said it before, but man do I love tacos.  And I think that the rest of DC must agree with me because there has been an EXPLOSION of taco shops.  Everything from Asian-style tacos, to traditional shops.  I squealed with delight when I saw that near me, there was a new taqueria opening up.  Yeah, I'm irrational.  But so are people who don't love tacos.  Just take my word for it.

Back to the DC area tacos. Some of my favorites, in case you're ever here:

Pica Taco (2 locations, Florida & 14th NW and Columbia & Harvard NW) - This place is legit.  Traditional tacos that have never failed me.  And when questioned by others who say, Jenn, you don't know real tacos.  Well fine, but my friend Melissa who has lived in both Texas and California says they make her homesick.  SO TAKE THAT.  I'd recommend the barbacoa and fish tacos.  Plus, they have forever made me love radishes as a topping on tacos.  Why did I never do this before?

El Centro DF (14th and S NW) - Richard Sandoval, a prominent Latin American chef/restauranteur who has several other fabulous spots, opened this place not too long ago.  And their tacos rock.  The fish tacos here are really fantastic.  Crsipy, but moist, with an excellent sauce.  And as an excellent pair, I'd recommend their take on a Mexican mojito, which is made with a spicy tequila rather than rum.  It's definitely a more upscale place, but still has a great vibe.  They also have an excellent happy hour up on the roofdeck, which includes their guacamole, which in my opinion is the best in DC.

Far East Taco Grill (It's a truck, you gotta find it) - I would be remiss if I omitted perhaps my favorite food truck.  Far East Taco Grill does a riff on Korean tacos, including an array of toppings, meats (or tofu) and sauces.  You can choose from kimchi to sauteed onions, pork or tofu...there are endless combinations.  And for 3 tacos for $8 it's a steal.  Because believe me, you will be more full than you can imagine.

So, as an homage (maybe?) to all the lovely tacos, I decided to make some tacos.  As a nod to Asian tacos, I used sriracha and as a nod to Pica, I used radishes, which make the most awesome crunch in tacos.  Rather than the classic guacamole, I made some quick avocado crema, which is simply Greek yogurt, avocado, a touch of white vinegar and honey and boom.  You got yourself some SAUCE.

These tacos are really easy to put together and the whole meal can come together in less than an hour, which makes it a great weeknight meal.  You can put whatever you'd like in yours.  But this combo was pretty amazing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Italian Sausage Banh Mi

I have a real love for Asian fusion food.  I'm obsessed with Korean tacos....add kimchi with corn tacos?  HEAVEN!  I am not exaggerating when I say that when I, or one of my colleagues, see the Korean taco trucks are parked outside of my work, I will jump and get three gut stuffing tacos.  And enjoy them until I can barely move.

But it's not just tacos.  When we were in Napa a couple of months ago, one of the best, simplest and most mouthwatering dish I had was a duck banh mi sandwich at Napa's Kitchen Door at the Oxbow Market.

Bahn mi is Thai sandwich that comes in a million different variations, but includes at least three key ingredients: pork, pickled things, and bread.  But I've come across all sorts of combinations.  In particular, I found this country pâté banh mi from Food & Wine magazine.

I thought it would be great to try.  But then I was reminded by Brett that I had left out some awesome Italian sausage that I had picked up last week from the farmer's market.  So, revisions needed to be made.  While I stuck with some of the sides that F&W had outlined (the tofu spread, pickled jalapenos, cilantro) and added some more things, like sliced jicama, I substituted the pâté with homemade Italian sausage meatballs.  Oh, and nothing is complete without Sriracha.

The sandwich was great.  Brett reflected that it was worth of our favorite sandwich place in DC, SUNdeVICH.  Which...I should note is an enormous compliment, as he was just cursing me for introducing him to SUNdeVICH last week because he is so obsessed.

I promise, you'll enjoy!  And if you want to scale back on the heat, you could do pickles versus pickled jalapenos, and don't need to add the Sriracha.  Although.....it's an awesome amount of heat!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fig Stuffed and Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Thighs

So I've always had a penchant for chicken thighs.  They're one of my favorite meats to cook with.  Malleable and forgiving, chicken thighs are a really great option for easy weeknight dinners.  I also have started stuffing them really with whatever I have in my fridge.  A couple of weeks ago, I did savory, combining pesto and sundried tomatoes with feta.

Well, in this case, I had just picked up some beautiful prosciutto from the farmer's market and had recently opened up a jar of fig jam.  So...why not do sweet/salty combination?  If you want to change it up, based on what you have in the kitchen, the recipe still works.  The technique still remains the same.

I also paired this with some rainbow chard that I sautéed with some champagne finishing sauce from Williams-Sonoma that was given to me as a gift.  Chard is really an easy vegetable to cook with as well.  I don't use the stems, I usually just use the leaves.  Strip from the stems, chop up a bit and cook with some olive oil on medium heat, and you're good.  But really, any vegetable is a good match for this dish.  And I served my herb sautéed potatoes.

And for what it's worth, Brett thought these were really delicious.  And they even heated up well the next day for leftovers!

Sautéed Herb Potatoes

One thing I often wish I had was a double oven. Not because I'm some huge super baker, it's because when I'm making food, if two things need to be baked, I'm out of luck unless they magically have the same cooking temperature. I encountered this issue earlier this week when I wanted to bake chicken thighs and make potatoes. I suppose because potatoes are pretty malleable little guys, they could have gone in the oven at the much higher temp that the chicken needed, but I instead decided to sauté the potatoes.

Usually recommendations for sautéing potatoes include pre-boiling them, but I decided no.  I'd just do a straight pan frying.  Turned out pretty well.

Also I had the best herbs, courtesy of my lovely Aunt Patty.  Lavender, thyme, rosemary....I love fragrant herbs.  It just adds so much more to anything.  I also have a particular love for lavender.  It wasn't an herb I thought of typically to add to a dish, but it adds a wonderful earthy yet flowery flavor.  If you haven't cooked with lavender, I recommend doing so.  Especially with potatoes. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bison Burgers with Red Wine Glazed Onions

There are many things that I love about living in DC.  The culture, the food, the beautiful monuments....love it.  I've been here six years and don't plan on leaving any time soon.  However, living in a city has its drawbacks.

A couple of years ago, Brett and I bought a place right in the best area, between U Street and Dupont.  We live in a great building in a condo that we love.  But...I don't love the fact that I have no outdoor space.  Particularly as summer rolls its way in, I wish more than anything I had a grill or an outdoor space so I could cook and eat outdoors without resorting to begging my friends to allow me to come and use their outdoor spaces (okay okay begging may be putting it harshly), or going to an restaurant with an outdoor seating area.

But this past Memorial Day weekend, Brett and I drove up to my parents' place in Connecticut to say goodbye to my little sister who is over now in Tanzania to work with the Peace Corps for the next few years (sob, sad). My parents, unlike us, have LOTS of outdoors space aaaand a grill!  So I thought that one night, I'd give my mom, the consummate cook, a break from cooking and would prepare dinner.

I wanted to take advantage of the grill and it was a beautiful night.  So I decided to make a dinner I've made before, bison burgers. Leaner than ground beef, bison is an excellent alternative for burgers.  The only trick is that they really don't need as much cooking time as ground beef.

The red wine glazed onions are a great complement to the bison burgers.  It brings an earthiness to the sweet onions.  The process of making them is essentially like making caramelized onions, just with a reduction at the end.  They are well worth the extra time and were a big hit at the house.

I paired the burgers with leftover potato salad and coleslaw from our big BBQ before.  But serve with whatever you like best!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Curry-Dusted Scallops with Fennel Apple Broth

This past Christmas Brett gave me a Kindle Fire, and one of best parts about the little portable guy is being able to read magazines.  My favorite, other than the New Yorker, is my subscription to Bon Appetit.  At first their app was just basically reading a PDF, which was pretty not fun, but now they've upgraded to this more interactive magazine format.  It's really inexpensive, so I'd recommend anyone out there with a Fire to subscribe.

Anyway, this all leads me to stumbling upon their curry-dusted scallops with fennel apple broth.  A while ago I had taken my first dive into cooking scallops, but this was a really different recipe.  So I tested it out on some of my guinea pigs.  My aunt, who recently moved to DC, wanted to come over for dinner.  I had also never really cooked for her (other than at big family functions), so I was excited to have her over and wanted to impress.  Although..... it should be noted that my aunt is awesome, and would probably have loved if I served her cardboard.  BUT this recipe is not cardboard.  

The result of the recipe was a light and complex dish.  None of the ingredients overwhelm, and I think all of the pieces really work together.  I would absolutely make this again, especially as a course for a dinner party.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

One of the best dishes I've made as of late was my Bo Ssam.  But roasting a pork shoulder for five hours takes forever.  The flavors though blend so well together.  So I figured maybe I could replicate with chicken.  By dicing up the chicken small and cooking just in a simple blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar and honey, it made for a great protein filling.

The bite of the ginger, the spice of the sauce, and the earthiness of the basil all work amazingly well.  This is a slightly messy dinner, but worth the sauce all over your fingers.  One thing I have learned that is much better than the romaine that I used in the original Bo Ssam recipe is the use of Boston lettuce for lettuce wraps.  This is now an absolute favorite.  We've made this again at least a few times since I took the pictures.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Salmon with French Lentils

I'm pretty sure that lentils are my new favorite form of protein.  And salmon has always been a winner in my book.  But I'm still a bit of a newbie when it comes to preparing lentils.  However, while perusing the Food Network I came across the Barefoot Contessa and she was making....lentils!

The recipe sounded a bit weird though.  Turnip, onion with cloves, what the what?  But.  I trust Ina, I always trust Ina.  So I decided to make this recipe one night for us.  I have to say, that I don't know what kind of witchcraft this might be, but I love these lentils and these will be a staple in our house.  I served these with my kale slaw.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kale Slaw

Growing up, my mom used to make a "caesar salad dressing," which until I was older was what I thought was caesar.  In reality it's more like a caesar vinaigrette.  But its acidity is awesome.  And it makes for an awesome dressing.  So I decided to use it along with something less conventional.  Kale seems to be everywhere, and I love it steamed and sauteed, but I decided to use it raw.  Turns out, kale is just as great raw.  Shredded up and tossed in the caesar it was great, and actually even better the next day.  It definitely soaked in better and was even a bit softer (not soggy) the next day for lunch.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Beer Braised Short Ribs

So I should start out with an apology (sort of).  It's been a while since I've blogged, but that's been all the craziness that my life has been lately.  And while it's easy to put off things that we want to do, I decided that it's about time that I start putting up my food again.  Even going through the pictures of this recipe, and doing all the editing, made me happy that I picked it up again.  Looking through the food, recollecting cooking...it's therapeutic.  I think sometimes life has a way of distracting us.  But I don't want to put off doing this.  I love blogging.  And obviously, I love food.  So while I may or may not have made this uhh a month ago, I thought it was still very worthy of blogging.  And this recipe is delicious.

Short ribs are so craveable so delicious.  They do require a long cooking time, but there is nothing better than walking back into my house after a long day of work to the smell of rich fatty short ribs that have cooked for 10 hours.  

This recipe is failproof easy.  I promise.  And there are some days that I just love doing very little prep work and digging in when I get home. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

So a few months ago, we got new neighbors.  I should say as a background, that for the first almost two years here, two of our good friends lived next door.  So we were used to being pretty close with our neighbors.  They even have a dog that looks like little buddy!

Then they moved :( and some new neighbors moved in...well actually, there was another guy in between, but he was always was gone.  So we were excited when new neighbors moved in that were about our age.  After months of "let's do dinner!" promises, we finally squared away a date. 

Of course with new friends though, it's a gamble trying to figure out what they will like to eat, or not like to eat. I settled on some eggplant parmesan.  It's a good dish that lots of people like.  I've played around with different types of eggplant parmesan.  It takes a while to cook it if you sautee each piece of eggplant, and honestly it just gets too soggy.  The thing about eggplant is that it will soak up all of that oil.  Kind gross in my opinion.  I've also tried cooking it just dredged in panko and egg and just cooking it like that.  Still too soggy.  

So this time I decided to bake the eggplant dredged in panko and egg before putting it in the casserole.  The result?  Light, fluffy and extremely satisfying eggplant parm.  Everyone really loved it and I think it may be the winning recipe for eggplant parm going forward.  Also, health-wise, it's pretty good.  Win-win!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Restaurant Experience: The French Laundry

There's no way I can call this post a review.  Because to review the French Laundry....well, I am just not able to.  Not because of any unsaid barrier.  Or any secret pact that we had to sign when we got to the restaurant.  It's just...that amazing.  It met every one of my expectations.  As a background, for those of you who aren't familiar with Thomas Keller or the French Laundry, here's a bit of history.  (note: all pictures are my own, as usual, unless otherwise noted)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mussels in White Whine and Shallots

Mussels.  Delicious.  Cheap.  Easy.  Did I mention delicious?  One of my favorite things to eat in the world are mussels.  There are some places in DC that are completely delicious, like Marvin on 14th Street drooool, or Bistro du Coin on Connecticut.  And as far as shellfish go, mussels are cheap and easy to come by.

So when I saw a big ol bag at the grocery store, I nabbed them and decided that I wanted to make mussels for dinner.  I've made mussels before with all types of ingredients.  One of my favorite combos with mussels when I go out to eat is just with shallots and butter.  

But I didn't want to clog our arteries, so this wasn't as super super buttery as the restaurants would make it.  I boosted the flavor instead by adding a bit of curry powder to give it depth.  They turned out savory and yummy and the broth was sopped up with crusty bread, which serves as an excellent sponge.

Kale, White Bean and Chicken Soup

As the winter wanes on to a close, I want to use as much kale as possible.  Yes, I am aware that due to our global market, I can get kale whenever, but I think of it as a winter vegetable.  And I've been trying to get Brett to like it.

Thus far, attempts to sautee or serve it as a side may or may not have failed.  Not because the dishes were bad (I liked them) but rather because he stubbornly doesn't like it.  Same goes (heartbreakingly) for quinoa and cous-cous.  So....I decided to cook kale in a soup.  Soup for the win!

This soup was far easier to prepare because I slow cooked the chicken before.  Forgot to take pictures, but just as a general hint, slow cooking chicken breasts during the day gives you SO many options when you get home.  Whether it's putting it in soups, tacos, enchiladas, smothered in BBQ and used in BBQ sammies....options are endless. 

The result was a spicy hearty soup that was even better the next day as leftovers.  You can adjust the spiciness of it pretty easily and would be good without spice as well.