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Archive for April, 2010

When It Gets Really Busy…

…I find I don’t have nearly enough time in my kitchen. April? It’s my second busiest month at work. August is the worst, but April? It’s pretty darned rotten, too.

I just finished up two weeks with work days ranging from 12 – 18 hours. I’m pretty beat to the core.

However, life manages to toss me a nugget of happiness in the form of a day off work tomorrow. Hello, vacation day. I’m going to love you more than your mom loves you. Truly.

The weather doesn’t intend to cooperate this weekend, so it appears that instead of planting tomorrow, I’ll be grocery shopping and putting together a neat little care package for my sister’s final week of finals in college. It also means I’m going to have a bit of time to come up with a really rockin’ set of recipes that I can start sharing again.

Even if you’re not excited, I am. I miss this here blog when I’m away. I miss the smell of paprika on my fingers. I miss the grime I have to wash off my cutting board. Heck, I even miss the pain that is finding natural light to photograph with in my kitchen. Now that’s saying something.

I guess what I’m trying to say in a roundabout way is that I apologize for being a bit MIA. I really am going to get back on track.

In the meantime, I think I should recommend something to occupy your time. If you haven’t heard of it, let alone seen it, I think you should feast your eyes upon Spaced. Glorious British comedy is what you’ll be getting. And I hope you’ll fall in love during the first episode, just like I did.

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I wish I could take full credit for the idea behind this crispy little number. Alas, I’m unable to. After visiting a local pizza place and sampling their “house” salad, I was inspired to combine similar ingredients at home. With that, my favorite salad was created.

When I say favorite, I mean favorite.

As in favorite ever.

Ever, ever.

Jess’s Favorite Salad
Serves 4
Points 5

1 bag washed mixed greens
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette

Place greens in a bowl. Add dried cranberries and pine nuts. Toss with dressing.

Transfer salad evenly onto plates. Top each with 1 oz crumbled goat cheese.

I’ve also found that a light berry balsamic works well, too. The added sweetness of a berry balsamic adds another layer to the flavors. If you feel adventurous, give it a try.

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I have one thing to say about my knock-off of First Watch’s Eggs Benedict Florentine. They made me happy.

Florentine-Style Eggs Benedict
Serves 4
Points 5 for the eggs without Hollandaise

4 light multigrain English muffins
8 eggs
1 clove garlic, minced
10-ounce bag spinach
10-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
Salt & pepper to taste

For Hollandaise sauce:
Serves 6
Points: 4

3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup butter
Dash of hot pepper sauce

Heat skillet over medium heat. Coat skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Add garlic to the skillet and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms release their moisture. Add spinach the skillet in bunches, allowing each to begin wilting before adding the next handful. Allow to cook until moisture re-absorbs. Cover and set aside to keep warm.

Toast English muffins in the toaster. Meanwhile poach the eggs with your preferred amount of salt and pepper.

To make the Hollandaise sauce, put egg yolks, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce in blender. Blend briefly. Warm the butter in the microwave for approximately one minute, until melted and hot. Turn the blender on high, and slowly add the hot butter to the egg yolk mixture. It will thicken quickly.

To assemble the eggs benedict, place two muffin halves on a plate. Top with spinach and mushroom mixture. Place egg on top of spinach and drizzle with Hollandaise sauce. Top entire muffin with fresh diced tomato.

Shannon is a much bigger fan of Hollandaise than I am. I barely added any to my eggs, and they were still delicious. For the Hollandaise lover in your life, though, this easy recipe is a sure thing. They’ll make quite a few contented “mmm” sound in the process. That’s a good thing!

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Happy Anniversary

Today marks my one-year anniversary with Mr. Shannon. I’d like to say that we have something romantic planned, but, alas, we don’t. I’m working until at least 11pm tonight – something along the lines of a 16-hour day.  It’s one of my big program days of the year at work. So instead of settling into a romantic day, we’re settling into a day when we most likely will not see one another.

It’s a good thing that we have other days, days when we make Joy the Baker’s Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits in heart shapes, to make up for unfortunate tricks of the universe on one-year anniversaries.

Happy Anniversary, Shannon. You’re my favorite taste tester, and the person I enjoy cooking for the most. Thanks for not thinking I’m crazy when I’m up to my elbows in flour or have bits of cookie dough in my hair. Thanks for loving me even when I’m having a meltdown over a poorly executed lattice on a pie. And thanks for always being my best cheerleader. You make all the kitchen (mis)adventures worthwhile.

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Cucumber Sauce

I ruined a package of pork chops the other day. At some point in my preparation for a marinade, I left the whole package sitting in the sink for eight hours. By the time I found them, it was over. So what was I to do?

Make falafel and cucumber sauce, obviously.

Cucumber Sauce
Serves 4
Points 0

6 ounces fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 small cucumber, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon dried dill
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Use atop falafel-stuffed pitas, on toasted pita chips, or as a light salad dressing for a crispy Mediterranean-inspired salad.

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Mmmm, Butter

That is all.

Enjoy your Sunday. It’s turning out to be a gorgeous one here.

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Apple & Carrot Slaw

Two words. Gorgeous. Tasty.

Try it soon. It’s so worth it.

Apple & Carrot Slaw
Serves 6
Points 2

2 medium apples, sliced into matchsticks
2 cups carrots, shredded
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a super-tiny pinch of salt

In a medium bowl combine apples, carrots, craisins and raisins. I used one Gala Apple and one Golden Delicious Apple, but feel free to use whatever combination of apples strikes your fancy.

In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil and honey. Pour over apple mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a tiny, tiny bit of salt. Toss to coat.

You can eat this slaw right out of the bowl after you’re done mixing it, but I would recommend chilling it for at least 30 minutes. Not only does it cool the slaw (which is my favorite way to eat slaw), but it also gives the dried fruit a bit of time to plump in the dressing mixture.

Go make this now, please. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

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