Friday, February 27, 2009

Caramelized Chili Basa Filet

Our local market advertised a sale on basa swai this week, a fish I had never heard of but was interested in trying. I did some research and found out that basa is a Vietnamese white fish, similar to catfish. The market was carrying farm raised filets so we picked up 2 of them yesterday.

Since I'm still new to fish, I like to add a lot of flavor to almost hide the fact that I'm eating fish. I found this recipe for Caramelized Chili Basa Filets and it sounded interesting, especially since we love garlic and all things spicy. I didn't have sweet chili sauce, so instead of using both garlic and sweet chili sauce, I used some spicy chili garlic sauce.


  • 2 basa filets
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce (original recipe called for 2 tsp minced garlic and 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce)


  • Line broiling pan or cookie sheet with foil.
  • Sprinkle pan with lemon juice and salt
  • Place fish on pan, and spread chili garlic sauce evenly over fish
  • Place under broiler on low for about 6-7 minutes.

Our sauce didn't exactly caramelize, but if we left it in any longer the fish would have dried out.

This fish was so delicate and flaky -

Although the sauce was just a bit much (too heavy) for a light fish, the flavors in the sauce gave the fish a good punch! We started dinner with a spinach salad, and enjoyed the fish with some roasted broccoli - a healthy and delicious dinner.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spinach Salad

Several weeks ago our friend Jeff made us this
Grilled Ciabbata Bread Salad. It was absolutely delicious and I can't wait to make it again, but it was cold and windy last night so I didn't feel like grilling the bread! Also, we were having my friend Lary's mac n'cheese so I didn't think we'd need bread in our salad!

I took a few ideas from Jeff's salad (inspired by a Bobby Flay recipe, see original post) and whipped together this simple, healthy, and delicious salad.

  • 1 sm red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 c good olive oil
  • 2-3 c fresh spinach
  • 1 c chopped tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar, approximately 3 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese


  • Place sliced onions and cilantro in a bowl with the olive oil. Let sit in the fridge while you prepare the other ingredients, or for 30 minutes.
  • When ready to eat, mix spinach and tomatoes with the onion mixture.
  • Add balsamic vinegar, and add more oil if needed. Toss well.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and oregano.
  • Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese.

As I said before when Jeff made his salad, I didn't expect cilantro to work in this type of salad, but it really does! It's adds a nice, fresh flavor. This salad was very light and refreshing, but full of flavor.

The Most Sinful Mac n'Cheese

Last night my friends, Lary and Stacey, came over so we could spend some time together before Stacey moves back to California. I'm so sad about that, but very happy for Stacey.

Lary is famous for making the best comfort food, so I was excited to try his mac-n-cheese. He did not disappoint!!

His recipe is adapted from Guy Fieri's recipe for
Mac Daddy Mac n'Cheese.

Lary's Best Ever Mac n'Cheese


  • 2 shallots - chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound bacon - diced, cooked and reserve 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon thyme (dried or fresh)
  • 8 ounces pepper jack cheese – shredded
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
  • 16 ounces of Velveeta cheese – cubed
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni – cooked
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley (dried or fresh)


  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • In a stockpot add olive oil and chopped shallots, cook over low heat until clear
  • Add garlic and stir for 1 minute until golden brown
  • Add 1 tablespoon of reserved bacon fat and stir for an additional 1 minute
  • Add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir for an additional 1 minute
  • Whisk in heavy cream and thyme and reduce by 1 third
  • Stir in cheeses until melted, creamy and thickened.
  • Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
  • Add crumbled bacon for 1 minute
  • Remove from heat and stir into pasta
  • Let pasta sit and stir every few minutes until cheese becomes stiff and pasty
  • Place in a 9”x12” casserole dish
  • Mix together Panko, parsley and butter and crumble on top of Mac n'Cheese
  • Bake covered until bubbling (approximately 45 minutes)
  • Once Mac n'Cheese is bubbling, uncover and place under broiler until topping becomes browned and crisp

I don't even think I have the words to describe how good this was! Creamy, rich, smoky from the bacon, crunchy from the panko, just YUM! We each had 2 servings, and then enjoyed a little more the next morning.

Thanks, Lary!!

Chicken Tenders - Honey Mustard and Buffalo

I love having chicken tenders with mac n cheese. There's just something comforting about it. My favorite flavor is buffalo, like in these Buffalo Chicken Bites.

I also wanted to make a second flavor and used this recipe for Honey Mustard Chicken that I found in Joelen's blog.

Buffalo Chicken Tenders
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into tenders
  • 1/2 c Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
  • 1/2 c Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c regular breadcrumbs
  • Spices: a few dashes each of cayenne, garlic powder, and chili powder
  • Cooking spray

Mix the breadcrumbs and spices. Dip the chicken in the sauce and then coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake on 375 for 10-12 minutes, flipping once, and turning on the broiler at the end. Serve with blue cheese dipping sauce (I bought a jar of Marie's Light Blue Cheese Dressing).

Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders (inspired by Joelen, see link above for original recipe)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp coarse ground Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 c Panko breadcrumbs mixed with 1/2 c regular breadcrumbs and a dash of garlic powder

Dip the chicken in the honey mustard mixture and then coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake on 375 for 10-12 minutes, flipping once, and turning on the broiler at the end.

Serve with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.

The honey mustard chicken is on the left, buffalo on the right.

I love how the chicken really didn't even need a dipping sauce. All of the flavor was already in there. And can this get any easier? These would also make a great appetizer.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Spinach

I love caramelized onions, so when I saw this recipe for Pappardele with Caramelized Onions and Parmesan in the blog Cook Like a Champion, I had to bookmark it. The original recipe comes from Everyday Food.

I made this the other night with a few slight changes. I added spinach, and had to use fettucine since I couldn't find pappardele anywhere - weird, right?


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 package (8.8 ounces) pappardele pasta or 8 ounces fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • Added: 1 bag fresh baby spinach
  • Next time will add: 1/4 c dry white wine


  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and cook, without stirring, until onions have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Uncover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes more. When bottom of skillet darkens, add a few tablespoons water, and scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon (you may need to do this 2 or 3 times).
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When onions have about 10 minutes left to cook, add pasta to water in pot, and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and return to pot. I didn't return the pasta to the pot...see below
  • I didn't do this: Add onions and butter to pasta in pot; season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Instead, I added spinach to the onion pan, and then added the pasta and pasta water. There was some great flavor in the pan from caramelizing the onions, so I wanted to make use of that by mixing the dish in the onion pan. Next time I think I'd deglaze the pan with white wine before adding the spinach and pasta.
  • Gradually add enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta. Serve pasta topped with Parmesan.

My only mistake was that I pulled out my julienne slicer instead of my vegetable slicer, so I had thin strips of Parmesan. They tasted the same, but weren't as pretty as the slices of Parm in the original picture.

This was good. Very sweet, but good.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Southwestern Chicken Salad

Lately I have been making a lot of chicken salad. Because I only like to use onions, peppers, and celery in the mixture (no raisins or nuts in my chicken salad!), I add flavor by seasoning my chicken before cooking it.

It's obvious that I love Mexican and Southwestern flavors, so it's only appropriate that I make a Southwestern chicken salad.


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed (or use other parts of the chicken if you like them)
  • Spices: chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 sm onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • For serving: cilantro and tomatoes


  • Coat chicken with spices - from most to least, I used chili powder, cumin, coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, salt, and cayenne. I don't know the amounts, but the chicken was completely spice coated when I was done.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add chicken and cook until done, about 5 min per side. The color of the chicken after being cooked is so beautiful from the spices!
  • Let cool, and then finely chop the chicken.
  • Mix with peppers, onion, and mayonnaise. Chill.
  • When ready to serve, top with some cilantro and tomatoes. I would have mixed the cilantro in with the salad, but I think it is too strong of a flavor to sit in the salad for 2-3 days. Also, it would probably wilt after being in the mayonnaise.

I served the salad on a roll my mom picked up when we were at Costco the other day. They are multi grain rolls and according to a fellow Costco shopper, only have 1 point each in the Weight Watchers System.

This was so delicious, and so much more exciting than plain old chicken salad!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Beef Barbacoa for Tacos

I have only been to Chipotle Mexican Grill twice, but both times ordered the Beef Barbacoa Tacos - once soft, once hard. I loved the flavor of the meat and was surprised to find something so good at a fast food restaurant.

The other night Jon cooked
Beef Negimaki using flank steak, so we had some uncooked flank steak left over. I planned on making tacos tonight so decided that I had to try to make beef that tasted like Chipotle's Beef Barbacoa.

After googling, I found this copycat recipe for Beef Barbacoa. I used the recipe for the marinade only, and cooked it on the stove instead of in the slow cooker. Also, I had about 1/3 lb meat, not the 1.5 lbs that the recipe called for so I adjusted the amounts accordingly, as noted below.


  • 1/3 lb flank steak; the beef we had leftover was pounded thin
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Dash red wine
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • 1/3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/3 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 seeded and sliced jalapeno (the recipe for 1.5 lbs meat also used 1 jalapeno..I could have actually used more!)
  • 2 Tbs. cilantro
  • 1/3 large onion,thickly sliced
  • Dash each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • For cooking: 8 oz beef broth and 2 tbsp crushed tomatoes

Directions (these are my own directions; for slow cooker directions, see the original post)

  • Mix all marinade ingredients and marinate the beef overnight.
  • When ready to cook, remove the beef from the marinade
  • Heat olive oil in a deep saute pan or Dutch oven
  • Add beef to pan and cook about 2 minutes on each side, until browned.
  • Add marinade to pan and bring to a boil; let simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Cooking time will be longer for more meat.
  • Remove meat from pan and shred.
  • Drain marinade, pressing on solids, and return liquid portion of the drained marinade to the pan with the beef broth and tomatoes. Discard the solids from the drained marinade.
  • Return shredded beef to the pan and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

I can't believe how much this beef tasted like Chipotle's beef, but even better, and nowhere near as salty. I also think Chipotle uses a chipotle pepper in their marinade, but I didn't miss the flavor.

I served the meat in hard taco shells, but think soft corn tortillas would work well as they wouldn't get as soggy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sweet and Spicy: Chile-Glazed Chicken

I have been doing a lot of cooking lately, so felt like making something easy tonight.

I have had this recipe for New Mexico Chile-Glazed Chicken with Hominy Polenta in my Epicurious Recipe box for a while. However, I couldn't find hominy anywhere. And, after reading the recipe, the sauce wasn't used as a glaze so I decided to make the sauce and change the rest of the recipe.

For a side I heated a can of pinto beans in sauce. I know, that's not like me at all!! The only canned things I use are beans for chili or soups, chicken broth, and tomatoes. Jon walked into the kitchen and screamed in shock and horror that I was cooking something from a can! We are all allowed a break every now and then, right? Surprisingly, we loved the beans and finished off the entire can.
Chile-Glazed Chicken - Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 4 chiles: I used 3 Anaheims and 1 Serrano, seeded and roughly chopped. The original recipe calls for 4 New Mexico chiles, but after some research, found that Anaheims plus one hotter pepper make a good substitute
  • 3/4 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (my addition)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter (butter is optional)


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Put chicken broth and chopped chiles in a pot. Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and add honey, balsamic vinegar, cumin, and chili powder. Puree. I then returned the sauce to the pot and kept it warm over low heat.
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Cook for 4 minutes on each side.
  • Spoon some of the sauce onto each breast and brush out evenly.
  • Transfer the pan of chicken to the oven, and let cook for about 8 minutes.
  • Serve with more sauce, if desired.

At first taste, the sauce was very sweet, but then the heat crept in at the end. We normally don't like sweet sauces or foods, but this sauce had just the right balance of sweetness and heat. We both loved it. Quick and easy, too.

Beef Negimaki - Cooked by Jon

We don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day other than exchanging cards...the goofiest and sappiest ones we can find. But since we normally stay in and cook on Saturday nights anyway, we decided to do something special. Correction, Jon decided to do something special - he was in the mood to cook and up for a challenge!

We were brainstorming when I remembered a dish that Jon loves to order in Japanese restaurants, Beef Negimaki, a beef and green onion dish that looks like sushi rolls. There aren't too many recipes out there, so I chose this one from the Epicurious web site for Japanese Beef and Scallion Rolls.


  • 12 small scallions, trimmed to 6 inch lengths
  • 1 lb piece of flank steak
  • 1/4 c sake
  • 1/4 c mirin
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Equipment: meat pounder; kitchen string


Jon followed the recipe, but did make a few modifications for how the meat was to be cut/layered/rolled. His way worked perfectly, and we both think it was easier than the directions in the original recipe. Below is how he did it.

  • Prepare scallions: Blanch scallions in a pot of boiling salted water for 45 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Transfer scallions to a paper towel to drain and pat dry.
  • Prepare beef: Jon cut the flank steak into three thinner pieces, like this:

  • Then he pounded each piece to 1/6 inch thick - pound the beef between pieces of oiled plastic wrap.

  • Once pounded, he cut each piece across the grain into two pieces, so we now had a total of six 4-6 inch square pieces (we used 4 of them).
  • Place 3 scallions on the end of one piece of beef, and roll with the grain. Secure with kitchen twine.

  • Once all pieces of steak have been rolled, put them in the fridge while you make the marinade. The steak can be rolled up to 4 hours in advance.
  • Make the marinade: Stir together sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar.
  • Marinate the beef in the fridge for 15 minutes.

  • Heat a heavy skillet over high heat until hot, 1-2 minutes. Add oil, swirling to coat the bottom.
  • Lift rolls from the marinade, let excess drip off, and pat dry (Jon didn't pat them dry - he wanted the marinade left on the beef to caramelize), reserving the marinade.
  • Add rolls to the pan and cook, turning with tongs, until all sides are browned, about 5-6 min for medium rare. He then transferred the pan to a 375 oven for another 6 min or so, but this isn't necessary if you like your beef medium rare. Remove pan from oven and transfer rolls to a cutting board.

  • Place pan the beef cooked in over medium heat on the stove. Add marinade and bring to a boil until slightly syrupy, about 2 minutes.
  • Cut off strings and slice rolls crosswise into sushi-sized rolls. Serve with the sauce.

OH. MY. GOD. I expected these beef rolls to be good and was excited to eat them. But I wasn't prepared for just HOW good they were!! I swear they were better than the beef negimaki Jon has ordered in restaurants. The rolls stayed together perfectly and took on the flavor of the scallions, and the sauce was perfectly sweet and syrupy. I don't know how many times during dinner I said "mmmm, good job Jon!!"

Jon said that he will make them again, but has a few notes:

- He will definitely follow his instructions for cutting, not the instructions in the original recipe.

- He would have tied the rolls in three spots each, instead of just near each end, to keep the middle together a bit better (but still, none of them fell apart with only 2 ties.

- He would have cooked them a bit longer in the pan to allow them to brown more and for the marinade left on the meat to caramelize a bit more.

- He also doesn't think he would blanch the scallions as they were a touch soggy for his taste - he prefers them to be firmer and thinks cooking inside the meat would have given them just the right amount of softness and mellowness.

Sides: white rice, roasted veggies (broccoli, red/green/orange pepper, yellow onion, tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes).

Even with the cutting and pounding, this recipe didn't take that much time. The hardest part was figuring out the best way to cut the meat, but now that he has done it successfully one time, it will be much easier next time (there will be a next time!).

I hope everyone had a delicious Valentine's Day - we certainly did!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chicken Stir Fry

Stir fry is not only a quick and easy meal, it's a great way to get a lot of veggies into one dish. It is s also very versatile and can be done with chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, tofu, a variety of other proteins, or it can be a vegetarian meal. This recipe is my own creation.

Marinate the Chicken
I marinated the chicken all day in the following mixture. Note, amounts are approximate.
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1/3 c chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • Splash of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger


  • Marinated chicken, removed from marinade
  • 2 tbsp oil; I used olive oil but peanut oil would work well if you like that flavor.
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Chopped veggies - anything you like! I used red pepper, green pepper, orange pepper, broccoli, water chestnuts, and sprouts. Other ingredients I like to use include snow peas or sugar snap peas, mini corn, and bamboo shoots.
  • Splash of cooking sherry
  • 3/4 c chicken broth mixed with approximately 2 tbsp soy sauce


  • Heat a large saute pan or wok. Add 1 tbsp oil.
  • Add chicken - be careful, the pan is hot and since the chicken is wet from the marinade it is going to make a lot of noise and grease splatters!
  • Cook chicken until done - approximately 5-6 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan.
  • Add the remaining oil to the pan.
  • Add onions and garlic, saute 2-3 minutes.
  • Deglaze pan with a splash of cooking sherry - scrape up all of the brown bits.
  • Add veggies, saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth mixture, stir.
  • Return chicken to the pan and let simmer for a few minutes.
  • Serve over rice or noodles. I served our stir fry over some thick rice sticks that my dad picked up for us in Philadelphia's Chinatown.

This dish cooks up in 20-25 minutes. The chicken was so flavorful from marinating all day, and I loved the brightness the ginger brought to the marinade.

Leftover Potatoes become Potato Pancakes

When planning my meals each week, I try to buy ingredients that can be used in a few different meals. I bought a bag of peppers earlier in the week and used them to make Tofu Cacciatore, and am using the rest of the peppers in tonight's Chicken Stir Fry. Or if I buy fresh herbs, I try to plan meals throughout the week to use them up. Last night I made Garlic Smashed Potatoes, and this morning I used the leftover potatoes for potato pancakes.

I made this up as I went along -
  • Leftover potatoes; I had about 1.5 cups
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 small onion, grated
  • Olive oil


  • Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  • Mix potatoes, egg, salt, pepper, and onion.
  • Scoop out one spoon full and form it into a patty. Add to the hot pan. Continue until you have used up all of the potatoes, or until you don't have any more space in the pan - whichever comes first.
  • Cook the pancakes approximately 5-6 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

To complete my meal, I made 2 eggs over hard and a serving of sauteed spinach.

Later I felt like a snack, so I had one of the smaller pancakes and topped it with some leftover sauce from last nights Mushroom-Blue Cheese Sauce that I made to go with filet mignon. THAT was a good snack!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Filet Mignon with a Mushroom-Blue Cheese Sauce

Jon was traveling earlier this week, so I wanted to make him a nice steak dinner when he returned. I found this recipe for Steak Tenderloin in a Mushroom and Blue Cheese sauce in Kevin's blog, Closet Cooking. Looks delicious, doesn't it?

I had planned on following the recipe and cooking the steaks on the stove. But then it was almost 70 degrees today so Jon suggested grilling. I seasoned the steaks with salt and pepper before grilling. I still made the sauce, and even though I didn't have the brown bits and juices from the steak to scrape up, it was delicious.

Below is only the sauce recipe. For the full recipe including pan-cooking the steaks, see Kevin's post.


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion (sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon thyme (chopped) (I omitted this - Jon's not a fan)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 splash brandy
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese (crumbled)


  • Add butter and oil to a saute pan; heat over a medium flame
  • Add the onion and saute at medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes
  • Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute
  • Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 7-9 minutes
  • Add the broth and brandy and deglaze the pan and simmer until it has reduced by half (I added the brandy first, let it absorb into the mushrooms, and then added the broth)
  • Remove from heat and stir in the blue cheese and pour over the steaks.

Mmmm, mmm! The mushrooms completely took on the flavor of the blue cheese. It was such a rich and flavorful sauce, and I loved when it mixed with the potatoes, too. Yum!

Here is my plate -

I served the steaks with garlic smashed potatoes and sauteed spinach.

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

I bought new potatoes to go with our Filet with Mushroom-Blue Cheese Sauce. I had planned on roasting them, but then was craving mashed potatoes. Then I remembered that I had a new tool I wanted to use -

I purchased this double action potato masher at
The Chopping Block in Chicago when I was there for an event back in October.

I normally roast the garlic when I'm making garlic mashed potatoes, but I didn't feel like waiting for it to roast tonight so I put the garlic cloves in with the potatoes when they were cooking. This recipe is something I threw together as I went along -


  • 2 lbs new potatoes, washed and quartered (unpeeled)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 c light cream
  • Dried parsley - for color


  • Put potatoes in a pot with the garlic. Cover with water, add approximately 1 tsp salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15-18 minutes.
  • Drain water and return pan to the stove over very low heat.
  • Add butter and cream and bring to a light simmer.
  • Roughly smash the potatoes and mix in the dried parsley.
  • Adjust salt if needed.

I normally don't like the skin to be left on when making mashed potatoes, but I liked it this time, most likely because the texture was chunky so the skins didn't get in the way.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tofu Cacciatore

I love making tofu dishes when Jon isn't home. Tonight I planned on making tofu cacciatore, but then Jon got on an earlier flight home...what to do? I still made it, and just made him some shrimp on the side!

A few months ago I made
Chicken Cacciatore. Tonight's recipe is an adaptation of that recipe, minus the chicken, plus the tofu.


  • 1 package tofu, pressed and cut into cubes
  • Spices (I probably used an even amount of each): black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 c each chopped red and green pepper; I had a tiny bit of yellow pepper left too so I added it
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 14 oz can tomatoes with juice, chopped (I used a can of crushed tomatoes with basil)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • Bay leaf


  • Once tofu has been pressed and cubed, sprinkle all sides with the spices. Heat olive oil in a medium non-stick pan. Add tofu and cook on all sides until brown and crispy, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a separate large saute pan
  • Add onions, garlic, and peppers; saute 3 minutes
  • Add white wine, simmer until reduced by half
  • Add tomatoes, juice, and broth; bring to a boil
  • Add bay leaf, a touch of oregano, and a touch of dried thyme. Cover most of the way and let simmer for 30 minutes. Optional: add cooked tofu to the pan for the last 10 minutes. I would have done this if Jon wasn't home and the sauce was all for me...
  • Remove bay leave and serve tofu and sauce over pasta. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Here is how the tofu should look once browned:

I cooked up some shrimp for Jon since he doesn't each tofu. I sauteed garlic in olive oil and then added shrimp that had been tossed in paprika. I wanted to add oregano and thyme, but they aren't his favorite flavors.

The sauce has a different flavor than when cooked with chicken, but was still really good. This was a great way to prepare tofu.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recipe Redo: Beef with Bok Choy and Red Peppers

A couple of years ago I made beef with bok choy and red peppers -
here is my original recipe.

The original is good, but since then I have made it a few more times so I'm posting a revised recipe.


  • 1 lb sliced beef; I buy the top round strips for stir fry
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 sm onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 bunch of bok choy, chopped; bottom and top cut off and discarded
  • 1 14 oz can low sodium beef broth (or 1 package dry gravy mix mixed with 1 c water)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Hoison sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch


  • Optional: make a marinade of some Worcestershire, soy sauce, Hoison, and garlic, Marinate beef for a few hours. If you don't have time to marinate it, toss the beef with approximately 2 tbsp each of Worcestershire and soy sauce.
  • Place a large pan over medium-high heat
  • Add beef and saute until about halfway cooked.
  • Add garlic and onions, saute a few minutes.
  • Add red peppers and bok choy, saute for one minute.
  • Mix 3/4 of the can of broth with the Hoison; add to the pan and bring to a simmer. Let simmer, uncovered, for about 5-8 minutes.
  • Mix the rest of the broth with the cornstarch and pour into the pan to thicken the sauce. Let simmer for a few more minutes.
  • Serve over rice or noodles.

I like this recipe better because of the use of Hoison sauce. It's also so easy to make, and only takes 20-25 minutes.

Chopsticks from Saigon

My dad and sister recently took a trip to Vietnam (Saigon, Hue, and Hanoi) and Hong Kong. You can read about it in my dad's blog, Back to Vietnam.

My sister loves taking pictures of food and markets, and she got some great ones at a market in Saigon. But first, my reason for the post. She brought us back a a gorgeous set of chopsticks - I love them!

Now, here are some of the pictures of the market where she purchased our gift -

My dad purchased several of these bowls - aren't they beautiful?

My favorite picture -

Night Out in Philadelphia: Osteria

After a wonderful day around the city, we went to dinner at Osteria, a restaurant that has been recognized as the best new restaurant in Philadelphia. Stasia and I had been there before with a group for work, but were excited to go with Dominick and Jon.

The inside of the restaurant is just beautiful - stained concrete floors, heavy wooden farmhouse tables, a semi-open kitchen with a wood burning oven, warm lighting, high ceilings, and just a few modern touches. Even with the modern touches, mostly of lighting, you still feel like you are in a Tuscan farmhouse.

When reviewing the menu, we decided to split a pizza, and then each order our own antipasto, first course, and second course.

We chose the parma pizza - mozzarella, fontina, arugula, and prosciutto. The crust is so thin, and the ingredients were so fresh and delicious.

Next course - Antipasto.

I ordered the Mozzarella in Carrozza with Olive Oil Poached Pear Tomatoes and Capers. For being a deep fried hunk of mozzarella, it was still so light! The tomatoes were great, but I think they forgot the capers.

Stasia ordered the antipasto of the night - a tray of marinated, roasted vegetables and Parmesan cheese. The presentation was beautiful - rustic and appetizing.

Jon and Dominick both ordered the House Cured Salumi Plate. It featured four different meats, one of which was head cheese (note, not a cheese...). Again, a beautiful presentation.


I ordered the polenta pasta with a cream sauce and black truffles. This is one of the most amazing things I have ever tasted - little pasta purses stuffed with polenta! And my favorite flavor in the world, black truffles. Sorry the picture is blurry -

Stasia and Jon both ordered the Linguine with Meyer Lemon and Maryland Blue Crab. I tasted it and it was delicious. The lemon was not overpowering at all - Delicious. And I loved the little bowl it came in.
Dominick was the adventurous one and ordered the Gnocchi alla Romana with Snails, Pancetta, and Provolone Cheese. He loved it!


I am glad that Stasia and I thought ahead and realized we would probably be full by this course. We split an entree - Chicken alla Griglia with Endive, Persimmon Salad, and Walnut Pesto. I wish I had a picture to share because the presentation was so beautiful. The chicken was so tender and white, and the flavor was unbelievable.

Jon and Dominick both ordered the Rabbit Casalinga with Pancetta, Sage, Brown Butter, and Soft Polenta. It came in a round terracotta dish - this restaurant really pays attention to plating and presentation. Jon had never eaten rabbit before, but he liked it. He was surprised to see that it was just as white as chicken. Their only complaint was that there were too many small bones, and in a dark restaurant, that is a little dangerous. I even tried the rabbit - to me it tasted a bit like chicken but the consistency was more like a flaky white fish.


We all split a plate of 8 assorted iced creams and gelatos. My favorite was the pistacho!

This was such a fun night of good food, good wine, and good friends. Osteria has a great thing going, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for somewhere new to go in Philadelphia.

A Day in Philadelphia's Chinatown

We spent Saturday night in Philadelphia with our friends Stasia and Dominick. We all love food - eating it, cooking it, reading about it, shopping for it - so had a great day planned in Philadelphia.

After checking in at the Ritz Carlton we went over to Chinatown. Now Philadelphia's Chinatown is not as large as the one in San Francisco, but still, for a few blocks you feel like you are in a different place.

My parents always took us there for dinner and I still love walking through the streets and having a good lunch or dinner.

On Saturday we went to one of Stasia's favorite spots, Vietnam Restaurant. I was excited to try it, especially after hearing of my dad and sister's culinary adventures on their recent trip to Vietnam and Hong Kong.

The menu at this restaurant has so much to offer, and definitely has something for everyone.

We started with drinks - Tsing Tao for me, 333 Saigon for Jon, a pomegranate martini for Stasia, and a lemongrass martini for Dominick.

I took my dad's advice and tried rice paper spring rolls for my app - rice vermicelli noodles, tofu, mint, and chives with a soy dipping sauce. So fresh, light, and delicious -

Stasia and Jon both enjoyed the pork spring rolls and Dominick had the Vietnamese ravioli - all dishes were amazing.

For lunch I ordered another tofu dish - tofu with crispy noodles.

The noodles were very crispy, but as soon as you pushed them down into the incredible brown sauce, they almost melted and were very easy to eat. I wish we had a fridge in our hotel room because this was a huge plate and I am craving the leftovers right now!!

Stasia had a vermicelli chicken dish -

Jon had a beef dish and Dominick had a bowl with all sorts of things, including Vietnamese meatballs. I was too into my dish that I didn't get pics of theirs!

After a very satisfying lunch, we walked around Chinatown and had a great time shopping for ingredients in a Chinese market. I came home with lots of noodles, mushrooms, and sauces.

We then took a walk through the Reading Terminal Market, an unbelievable farmer's market in the middle of the city, before walking back to our hotel to drop off our purchases.

On the way back to our hotel, I snapped this picture of the front of it. Isn't it beautiful? I wish I had pictures of the rotunda that makes up the lobby.

We had a great time walking around the neighborhood around the Ritz and having drinks at a neighborhood bar. Back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I have to share this picture of Philadelphia's City Hall at night as seen from our hotel room -

I have lived in or near Philadelphia my entire life and sometimes take it for granted, but this weekend it was so much fun to explore new areas and restaurants and acting like a tourist for just a bit.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dean & DeLuca Products: Pasta with Basil-Truffle Pesto

Last year my sister and I spent a day shopping in Manhattan, and at the end of the day ended up at Dean & DeLuca. I can still remember how the store smelled - like a foodie's heaven! I wanted to buy everything!!

For Christmas this year my sister bought us a few items from the store, including this pasta and pesto with truffles -

I thought the pasta was the perfect shape to hold onto all of the pesto. The label was mostly in Italian, so I didn't know which word was describing the shape of the pasta. Thoughts?

The pesto looked so interesting with a mix of basil and truffles. My sister knows of my love of truffles and even brought me home a jar of black truffles from Spain last year, so this pesto couldn't have been more perfect for me.

This couldn't have been easier - I cooked the pasta and tossed it with 2 tbsp of the pesto. Done!

Of course I had to do some cooking, so I pan cooked a chicken breast for myself (seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme, dredged in flour, cooked in a pan which I deglazed with white wine near the end and let simmer). I made garlic shrimp for Jon (sauteed 3 cloves chopped garlic, added raw shrimp, paprika, and chili powder). I rounded out the meal with some sauteed spinach.

Thanks, Stacy!! I'd love to meet you in the city for another trip to Dean & DeLuca (oh how I wish they would put one in our town!!).