Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grilled London Broil with Three-Garlic Risotto

My day in the kitchen started at 11 AM this morning when Jon whipped up a fantastic marinade for our London broil while I was doing some other preparations. We served the London broil with a new creation of mine, three-garlic risotto, and sauteed spinach.


Ingredients (amounts are approximate)

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric

We let the London Broil marinate in the fridge for about 7 hours. Jon is so good at coming up with ideas for marinades - we loved this one!! He grilled the London broil for about 18 minutes. It was medium-well to well on the edges (for me) and medium in the center (for him).


Three-Garlic Risotto

I love making risotto and have tried a bunch of variations from my Parmesan-garlic risotto and spinach-shiitake risotto to cauliflower-leek risotto. Tonight I decided to use the different flavors of garlic...


  • 5 cloves raw garlic, chopped
  • 8 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion or 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups chicken broth, warmed
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • A few pinches of dry or fresh parsley
  • Optional: 1 tsp white truffle oil


  • Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium/medium-low heat; add 1/2 of the raw garlic. Toast the garlic being careful not to burn it. Remove it from the oil. This is what it looks like:

  • Add the rest of the raw garlic and the onions to the oil. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the butter and rice; stir for 1 minute.
  • Add the white wine and stir until it is absorbed.
  • Add the chicken broth 1 ladle-full at a time, letting it fully absorb before adding more. This process takes about 17 minutes.
  • Before the final ladle of broth, add the roasted garlic.
  • When your final ladle of broth is halfway absorbed, add the cheese. This is my trick for making the risotto creamy.
  • Finally, add the parsley and truffle oil. Serve immediately; top with the toasted garlic.

I love the different flavors of the toasted, roasted, and sauteed garlic. The toasted garlic infuses the oil, and adds a nice crunch and flavor when you use it as a garnish. The roasted garlic is sweet, but the sauteed garlic keeps the risotto from becoming too sweet. I'll definitely make this one again.


And of course, the wine...

A few years ago we had a housewarming party, and someone brought us a bottle of 2002 Ridge Lytton Springs. I wish I knew who brought it for us so we could thank them for introducing us to it!! We fell in love with this wine but were only able to find it to buy one time. Ever since, we have searched for it, but since it is a 2002, it's almost impossible to find. Finally, last week, Jon found six bottles at a store about 2 hours from here. He was headed up that way for a poker game last week, so he stopped by the store and bought the last six bottles.

We both agree that this is one of the best, if not the best, red wine we've ever had. This bottle proves that you don't need to spend a ton of money for amazing wine - it was $35 a bottle. It is 75% zinfandel, 20% petite syrah, and 5% carignane. It is full, but not heavy; flavorful without being too oaky or woody. It's just about the perfect wine. I hope we can make these last 5 bottles last... luckily we hid them in the basement so we aren't tempted to open them too soon!

Broccoli Mascarpone Soup

I am always looking for new soup recipes, and when I came across
this recipe on Epicurious, I knew I had to try it. Below is how I made the soup (just a few small variations from the original..)


  • 2 large heads of broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup asiago cheese (not in original recipe)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (not in original recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (original recipe called for 1/4 tsp)


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat; add shallots and saute for 3 minutes
  • Add garlic and broccoli; saute 1 minute
  • Add chicken broth; bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly.

  • Puree the soup using a handheld immersion blender or by transferring batches to a blender and then returning to the pot.
  • Whisk in the mascarpone cheese, asiago cheese, and cayenne pepper.
  • This soup can be made ahead of time, up to a day before serving. To reheat, heat on medium being careful not to boil the soup. Garnish with mascarpone and asiago.

I think this is my new favorite soup! It was so easy but it tasted like a very complex soup that had cooked all day. I love the heat the cayenne added - not spice, but a good heat. I would definitely recommend this soup!

A healthy snack... Hummus

I love Sundays when I have time to prep a bunch of food for the week. One of my favorite healthy snacks is hummus. I like it with raw veggies, tortilla chips, or triscuits. Here is my recipe -


  • 2 cans garbanzo beans (chic peas)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Directions - I usually make this in two batches because it is easier to get the creamy consistency I like when I have more room in my food processor

  • Rinse the beans then put them in a bowl of cold water. After 10 minutes or so, run your hands through them to remove the clear-shells from the beans. This step isn't necessary but it helps with the creamy consistency. Drain the beans before starting the hummus.
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor; blend until creamy
  • Chill before serving

Easy!! Many hummus recipes call for tahini or sesame oil, but I'm not a big fan of the flavor. Instead, I like the mixture of raw and roasted garlic with the garbanzo beans. Here is another variation on this recipe.

Chicken Salad

Chicken salad... I am all about plain chicken salad. Nothing fancy, no raisins or grapes, and especially no nuts. I make my chicken salad with a bit of mayonnaise, onions, celery, and green peppers.

So why am I posting? I like how I cook my chicken for the salad.

I only use boneless chicken breasts, and before cooking, I coat them with salt, pepper, a touch of thyme, celery salt, and onion powder. I cook the chicken on high heat so it gets crispy and golden brown. Sometimes I shred it, but today I chopped it into tiny pieces. I have leftover rye bread from breakfast that will make a great sandwich.

Back to the kitchen - time to start my hummus and then I'll be making broccoli-mascarpone soup. The London broil we're having for dinner is marinating in one of Jon's creations and I'll be making risotto to go with it. I love days like this where I can spend the day in the kitchen prepping for the week. More posts to come!

Spinach and Tomato Frittata

Last night we went out to celebrate both Stacey and Jenny's birthdays. Mexican and margaritas!! Of course when we got back Stacey and I drank wine for a few hours, so I wanted to make a hearty breakfast for us this morning.

I've never made a frittata before, but my parents raved about the one my sister made for them last weekend so I decided to give it a shot.

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 c milk
  • Dash each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach (fresh would be great, but I was saving that for our dinner tonight)
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 small shallot, chopped
  • Shredded cheese - I used some fontina, parmesan, and asiago


  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  • Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a frying pan; add shallots; add tomatoes and spinach. Saute for about 2-3 minutes.
  • In the meantime, beat eggs in a bowl. Add milk and continue to whisk. Add spices.
  • Transfer egg mixture to a casserole dish that has been coated with non-stick spray. Add veggies. Add cheese (I used fontina and parmesan in the frittata). Mix together and bake for about 15 minutes.
  • 15 minutes into cooking, I topped the frittata with asiago cheese and continued to cook it for 5 minutes.

Stacey and I enjoyed the frittata with some bacon and toasted Jewish rye bread. I like how easy it was to put together, and also that it was a different way to enjoy eggs. There are so many options for things to add depending on the season or occasion - broccoli, different meats, peppers, etc. I'll definitely make this one again, especially for overnight guests!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Kitchen

Jon and I moved into our home almost four years ago - I can't believe it has been that long! We have done so much work that I don't think the original owners would recognize this place.

When we moved in, almost every room was pink, including the kitchen. Pink cabinets, pink counters, pink tile back splash, and pink walls. They even had a pink kitchen table... We immediately changed the walls which helped, but only a bit. Finally, about a year after living with the kitchen while we did other projects, we decided to remodel the kitchen.

Here is a picture of the kitchen just before the remodel:

When we remodeled we had gray Formica counter tops put in - I don't know why we made that decision - but just last week we had granite counter tops installed. Jon also put in a new faucet and garbage disposal after the install as well as a new dishwasher a few months ago (he's so good!).
Here are some pictures of where I spend so much time cooking and creating everything you see in this blog. Just one thing left to do - change the fridge from white to black.

Eventually we'll move to a larger home and I already have a huge wish list for our next kitchen. But for now I love this room in our first home together, and that makes cooking even more enjoyable for me than it already is.

Baked Rigatoni with Prosciutto and Broccoli

I love anything with cheese, and the cheesier, the better. Tonight I wanted to make a simple baked pasta, but I'm not a huge fan of red sauce, so I made my own bechamel for the pasta.



  • 3/4 stick of butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • Cheese (amounts are approximates): 3/4 cup asiago, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/3 cup fontina
  • Dash of nutmeg


  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 4 slices prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 large head broccoli, chopped into florets

Directions (first two steps are done while I'm starting the sauce, step 3 below)

  • Boil water, cook pasta til still slightly firm, drain
  • Heat oven to 375; put broccoli in a baking dish and toss with just a touch of olive oil; roast for 6 minutes
  • In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter.
  • Add garlic and shallots, saute for 2-3 minutes
  • Add flour slowly and whisk until you have a nice roux
  • Slowly add milk and cream, whisking the entire time
  • Bring to a simmer and then add cheeses. Whisk until creamy.
  • Add a dash of nutmeg
  • Pour the pasta into a baking dish. Add broccoli and prosciutto. Add sauce and mix until all of the pasta is coated. Top with a few pinches of asiago cheese. Bake covered on 375 for 20 minutes; bake uncovered for 5 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

I LOVED this and so did my friend Stacey who was over for the night. I never eat seconds and I enjoyed two and a half plates of this...

I'm thinking of other variations of this dish - spinach and artichoke or broccoli and red bell pepper come to mind.

There is no reason to use jarred alfredo or cream sauces when it is so easy to make your own, and much more delicious!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Asian Marinated Beef with Vegetable Lo Mein

My dad loves Chinese food but unfortunately there aren't any good restaurants in our area. Chinatown in Philadelphia has great food, but it's a bit far to travel to satisfy a craving. So when I asked my parents to come over for dinner today, my mom suggested I make Chinese food.

We started with some edamame to snack on. Yes, edamame is normally a Japanese appetizer, not Chinese, but it seemed to go! I boil the edamame for 3-5 minutes until tender, drain, then sprinkle with Kosher salt. To eat the edamame you scrape the pod along your teeth to remove the beans inside. So yummy and a healthy snack, too.

For dinner I made my Vegetable Lo Mein and some Asian Beef.

Asian Beef Ingredients

The amounts for the marinade are estimates since I kept putting things together until the aroma was just right.

  • Steak cut into cubes; I used top sirloin
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp cooking sherry
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic chili paste
  • 6 leaves of chopped fresh cilantro


  • Combine all of the marinade ingredients, adjusting any amounts to smell.
  • Pour over the chopped steak and marinate for several hours.
  • When ready to cook, put a few pieces of steak onto each skewer. I also added some red onion to some skewers and pineapple chunks to the others.
  • Grill for 10 minutes or so, until done.

Mmm, this marinade was great! It was a touch sweet but also savory. Marinating the sirloin made it really tender. I'd definitely use this marinade again. I think it would also work on salmon, chicken, or shrimp.

My Vegetable Lo Mein recipe can be found here. Tonight I used red and green pepper, sprouts, broccoli, water chestnuts, bamboo, green onions, and carrots.

We finished off the meal with some fortune cookies and some of my dad's amazing raspberry thumbprint cookies. I HAVE to get his recipe to post!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chicken with a Crimini Mushroom and Sage Sauce; Mashed Potatoes

I was looking for a new idea for chicken when Ally recommended
this recipe that she developed based on a recipe in Katie's blog. I decided to take things that I liked from both recipes and ended up with one of the best chicken dishes I've made in a while. I'll definitely make this one again!

Here is my variation -



  • 4 thinly sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup extra-dry vermouth
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp flour mixed with 1/4 cup water



  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the cornstarch. Shake off any excess and add to the hot pan.
  • Cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm on a covered plate; you could also put them in the oven on warm but I already had something cooking in the oven - our next house WILL have double ovens :) Do not discard all of the juices in the pan.


  • Heat olive oil in the same pan where chicken was cooked
  • Add the shallots and mushrooms; saute for a minute or two
  • Add garlic, saute
  • Add the vermouth and sage. While adding all of these ingredients, use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. At this point I put the chicken back into the pan for about 4 minutes to absorb the flavors of the sauce and to make sure it was cooked through. I then put it back into the covered dish and continued to cook the sauce.
  • As the sauce reduces, it will thicken a bit. I added just a touch of the flour-water mixture to help it along.

This sauce was so flavorful! I loved it and it was amazing poured over mashed potatoes. I can't wait to make this one for Jon, but with rice, of course...

My mashed potatoes are pretty basic, but I'll share anyway. I boiled 2 pounds of red potatoes. Once drained, I added 1 tbsp butter, about 1 tbsp of salt, and 1/2 cup of light cream (maybe more, I don't measure). I used a handheld electric mixer and whipped them to a creamy but fluffy consistency. Near the end I added a small handful of dried parsley for color.

For a veggie I made roasted asparagus. I tossed asparagus with olive oil, salt, pepper, and just a touch of garlic powder and roasted them on 375 for about 10 minutes.

I took some leftovers to my dad today for lunch - I can't wait to hear what he thinks of this meal. Of course I kept some for myself as well! Is it lunch time yet?

Friday, March 7, 2008

A good night for comfort food...

On Fridays we usually hit our favorite bar for happy hour, but this week was so crazy and tonight was rainy and cold so I decided to cook.

Fettuccine Alfredo was a definite, and I also picked up some chicken having no idea what I'd do with it. Marinated, grilled chicken would have been great, but not in the pouring rain, so I decided to do a stuffed chicken. I normally wouldn't make a cream based pasta and chicken in the same meal, but it's Friday, so who cares, right???

The chicken... I made this up as I went along.


  • 5 thinly sliced chicken breasts (when using thinly sliced breasts, each person can easily eat 2; the picture below gives a good idea of the size)
  • 3 wedges of Laughing Cow cheese
  • 1 tbsp Asiago cheese
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Dash of cayenne
  • Dash of paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Bread crumbs
  • Sprinkle each breast with some salt and pepper
  • In a small bowl, mix Laughing Cow cheese, Asiago cheese, parsley, garlic, cayenne, paprika, and just a touch of salt and pepper
  • Spread about a teaspoon of the mixture onto each breast; roll and put a toothpick through the end to hold it closed
  • Put chicken into a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle each one with bread crumbs
  • Bake on 375 for 15-20 minutes, flipping once, then turn on the broiler for 3-4 minutes.
The cheese oozed out a bit, the chicken got crispy, and they were just delicious. Yes, the cream in the chicken and the cream in the pasta was a bit much for one meal, but it seemed perfect for a cold and rainy night when I was craving comfort food.

My Fettuccine Alfredo recipe can be found here. I was out of butter tonight so I only used oil and I honestly couldn't tell the difference. I also used light cream cheese and light cream instead of the full versions of both. I also used fresh parsley instead of dried - makes such a big difference in my opinion!

I made sauteed spinach for our veggie - saute spinach in olive oil for 2-3 minutes until wilted. I sprinkled it with Kosher salt as it was cooking.

Happy Weekend... Finally!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

When the wife's away....

.... the husband will cook!

I shouldn't say that, Jon loves to cook and he's very good at it. He already has several of his own entries in this blog for things like filet mignon with a red wine reduction, a variety of shrimp dishes, his incredible chili, and a bunch of marinades for grilling.

When I was away this week he decided to make one of his favorite childhood meals - stuffed pork chops. And somehow he ended up being my 100th post in my blog!

Ingredients (for one)

  • 1 thick bone-in or boneless pork chop, trimmed
  • Stuffing (he used 1/2 c StoveTop)
  • 1 cup cooked egg noodles
  • 1 slice of a yellow or white onion
  • 1/4 tsp gravy master
  • Salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cook stuffing; set aside
  • Slice a pocket into the pork chop; fill generously with the stuffing.
  • Layer noodles into the bottom of a baking dish; add a couple drops of gravy master and mix with the noodles
  • Place pork chop on top of the noodles; add slice of onion on top of the chop; sprinkle chop with salt and pepper
  • Pour 1/4 cup of water into the bottom of the baking dish
  • Bake covered for 30 minutes; uncover the dish, turn the pork chop over, and bake for another 15 minutes uncovered. Cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of your pork chop.

Jon's note: if you have any extra stuffing, it's good to layer on top of the noodles or to munch on while drinking wine and waiting for dinner to be done.

Jon's second note: when his mom used to cook this dish she'd bake the pork chop on its own for 20 min, then layer the noodles in the bottom of the dish and continue cooking. His noodles got a bit crunchy cooking for so long but they were still good.

He also made roasted asparagus, something we eat every week. He tossed the asparagus with olive oil, cayenne pepper, and a nice amount of chili powder, and roasted in the oven about 8-10 minutes. Mmm, I tasted the leftovers when I got home the next day and they were great!!

Even better, Jon also cooked the night I got home from my trip, too. He made his amazing roast beef and homemade gravy, found here. I'm a lucky girl :)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Poblano-Cheddar Chicken with Vegetable Orzo

I'm always trying to think of new ideas for chicken. Last weekend I needed a little help so I asked the girls on the What's Cooking board for some suggestions. I decided to go with
this recipe from Elly's blog. Below is the original recipe with some of my own notes added in.

Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Poblano and Cheddar


  • 2 chicken breasts (I used 3)
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten (I used 2)
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne to taste


  • Preheat your broiler; broil the poblano for a couple minutes (took 12 minutes for me) turning it once the skin has blistered and blackened. After all sides of the pepper look charred, remove it from the broiler and put it in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (to sweat the skin off) and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top of it. Spray with cooking spray. (I simply used a glass baking dish and my cornmeal still got crispy)
  • When the pepper is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and dice it.
  • Slit a pocket into the chicken breasts and stuff with the diced poblano and cheddar cheese. (I used a toothpick on each to keep the pocket closed) Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Combine the cornmeal with salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne to your tastes. Dip the chicken in the egg wash and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture.
  • Place the chicken on the rack and spray the top with cooking oil (I used a baking dish instead). Bake about 20 minutes or until done, turning once in the middle of cooking.

I thought this chicken was good, but just a bit dry. I think next time I'd roll my chicken instead of making a pocket so the filling would be layered. See this recipe in my blog for instructions on rolling chicken.

Creamy Vegetable Orzo

Jon suggested orzo as our side so I came up with the following:


  • 1 cup dry orzo
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1.5 cups chopped veggies; I used red pepper, green pepper, and red onion. Anything would work.
  • 1/3 cup light cream
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese; I used cheddar to go along with the chicken.
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper


  • Heat butter in a pot; add orzo and stir until coated. Add water, bring to a boil, then cover and turn to low. Let cook for 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Don't stir it until the end.
  • When the orzo is about done, heat oil in a pan. Add veggies, salt, and pepper. Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until tender.
  • Add the veggies, cream, and cheese to the orzo. Stir.

I really liked this and want to try it again with some different veggies and different cheeses. This is a great way to have something that has a similar texture as risotto but without all the stirring.

While cooking and during dinner we enjoyed a bottle of wine that my sister brought home from Spain a few months ago. It was light tasting for a red and went really well with the spicy flavors in the chicken. Thanks Stacy!