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Monday, October 24, 2011

herbed-feta complex carbohydrates

Oh, man.  You know what goes great with sweet potatoes or acorn squash?  A little butter, a little brown sugar or maple syrup, and FETA.  I discovered this today while working with my mom.  I stopped for lunch and was rooting through her refrigerator to find something palatable when I discovered left-over baked sweet potatoes and a container of Trader Joe's feta crumbles with Mediterranean herbs sitting next to them.  It was a divine appointment.  I made mine in the microwave and they were still fantastic, which tells me they'll be even better fresh.

For one serving of microwave leftovers, use:
- 1 baked sweet potato or half a baked acorn squash
- 1 Tbsp butter
- roughly 1.5 - 2 Tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
- approx 1/3 cup Mediterranean-herbed Feta crumbles
- salt to taste

Heat potato thoroughly in microwave, mash potato, add butter and brown sugar and stir.  Add feta crumbles and stir.  OR, bake sweet potatoes in oven at 400 degrees F for approx 45 mins - 1 hr, mash with fork, and stir in goodies.

To bake using acorn squash, slice squash in half and scoop out seeds, fill cavity with brown sugar, butter, and feta, and bake at 350 degrees F for approx 45 mins.  Add pecans halves as needed to cavity :)  Salt to taste.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

OMG YUM iced coffee

Click here for the most perfect iced coffee recipe that exists to my knowledge.  So, so... so good.  And cost-effective.  The Pioneer Woman is my hero.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lime Broccoli

Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables.  It's so simple and good.  My latest development in the world of broccoli is a classic treatment of it, with a simple summery twist.

For this recipe, you will need:
- 1-2 heads of broccoli
- roughly 1 Tbsp butter (or more to taste)
- juice of half a lime (2 quarters, squeezed over at the end)
- salt and pepper to taste

Steam broccoli per usual.

(I like to put maybe an inch or two of water in a big stew pot or dutch oven, trim the heads, and throw in for 2-4 mins after water is boiling... stir broccoli to make sure all parts at least touch the hot water.  Cover with lid after adding broccoli to water and remove as soon as broccoli is bright green.  Veggies should be tender but still crisp.  Remove from heat, strain water, put back into pot and cover with lid for 5 mins to finish steaming)

After broccoli has finished steaming in pot, add butter and stir til melted.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Then squeeze lime wedges evenly over vegetables.  Yum.

Variation:  Add chopped cilantro at any point for yet another summery twist.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mascato Mahi Mahi

This simple, yet delicious entree is perfect for summer... it doesn't require too much energy (both in terms of planning or heating up the kitchen).  Served warm or cold, this sweet fish is easily complemented with a salad (try the Bread Co Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella salad from September 2010 of this blog) and some freshly-slain watermelon.

For this recipe, you will need:
- 8 oz Mahi Mahi
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- roughly 1/4 c. Moscato white wine (I used Barefoot brand... it was on sale at Schnucks)
- 1-2 tsp fresh parsley
- salt to taste

Make sure fish is completely thawed.  Heat olive oil in pan on med-low heat, remove fish from packaging and place in skillet to sautee.  Add wine to pan, shake parsley and salt gently over fish.  Allow to sautee for roughly 5-7 minutes or until white all the way through.  Remove from pan and serve.

Alternatives:  Marinate fish for 2-4 hours beforehand in oil and moscato.  Cook fish in marinade as described above.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Baked Pears (or tomatoes) and Feta

People have been eating fruit and cheese together since... well, since whenever.  A long time, let's just say.  This recipe began with Halley, who taught me to make her mom's famously simple tomatoes with feta... except that one night after a long day of teaching, there were simply no tomatoes to be had in the house.  But there WERE a couple of pears leftover from a trip to the farmer's market a week earlier with our old college roommate, Christine.  Substitute tomato for pear and voila... a new recipe.  Both recipes are amazingly simple to make, if you've got about half an hour or so to wait for them to bake.  They are also the perfect serving size for 1 or 2 people... or multiply for like 50 :)

For a single serving of this recipe, you will need:
- 1 ripe pear or tomato
- roughly half a cup of crumbled feta cheese (I like the kind that comes with Mediterranean herbs mixed in)
- approx 1/2 T olive oil

For baked pears, slice the pear in half (longitude-wise).  Spoon out the middle seed area so that there's a handy little hole in the center.  The more you spoon out, the more room for feta :)  Fill the center with feta and place pear halves in a small baking dish.  Drizzle olive oil over the feta-topped area.  Bake for 25-30 mins @ 350 degrees F.

For baked tomatoes, slice the tomato in half (latitude-wise).  Set tomato halves in small baking dish and cover tops with feta.  Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 mins.

These make the perfect accompaniment to any meal, particularly meals with Italian or Mediterranean entrees.  Bon appetit!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hot Chocolate, Whipped Cream Day

The title of this post comes from one of the songs in the My First Piano method series by Nancy and Randall Faber.  The song is in 3/4 time and is designed to reinforce the concept of a "tie."  It also has an adorable picture of a girl and her dog drinking hot chocolate together in front of a winter scene.  Yes, these are the types of things I relate to... and believe it or not, I love it.

Unfortunately when my youngest student got to this song, she informed me very decidedly that she doesn't like hot chocolate... and even worse, she doesn't like peppermint.  To which I said:  What's NOT TO LIKE??  Anyway, we recently had a breakthrough on this topic after I put special Coldstone hot chocolate in my student's Christmas goody bags... apparently she likes THAT hot chocolate but none other.  My personal feeling is that whatever she's been drinking just hasn't been chocolatey enough.

Which brings me to the main point of this post:  if you're gonna make hot chocolate, don't just half-ass it.  Do it right.  Because then you end up with adorable 7-yr-olds who somehow don't like hot chocolate.  Below, please find the Katie Smith / Megan Wehrle / found off the back of the Hershey's baking chocolate box recipe for hot chocolate, tweaked of course to perfection by yours truly.

The secret to good hot chocolate is to put just as much cocoa in as you do sugar... maybe even err on the side of more cocoa than sugar.  So the ratio is 1:1, no matter what measurement you're using... maybe even 1:1.3, where the larger amount is always cocoa.

For instance, for 1 cup of hot chocolate, you would follow the rough guidelines below:
- 2 T sugar
- 2 T+ a little extra of cocoa... just eyeball it.  Call it a mounding heap.
- Add a dash of salt if you so desire... I never do.
Put this in a small saucepan and add just as much water as you did cocoa -- in this case, 2 T+ (or a little less than 2 and 1/2 T).

Add the water to the saucepan and whisk over medium heat til dissolved into a chocolatey syrup.  Add milk.  In the case of one serving, you would add roughly 1 - 1 and 1/2 cups of milk, maybe 2 if you need to stretch it... the hot chocolate in the pan should be dark in color once everything is disseminated.  If in doubt, use less milk.  Stir over medium heat until hot to the touch, milky swirls form on top, and steam is evident.  Do not boil.  Pour or ladle into a nearby mug.  Top with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles or shavings... that's right, olympic style.

For peppermint hot chocolate, add 1/4 tsp of peppermint oil / extract / imitation flavoring to each mug, then top with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

For Mexican hot chocolate, add roughly 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (sprinkle on top after poured in mug).  Stir and top with whipped cream.  And sprinkles if you're one of those people who needs them like a toddler needs their blankie... I am.

For naughty peppermint hot chocolate, add a shot of peppermint Schnapps to each mug, then top with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.

For 3 servings, I like to use 5 T sugar, 5 T+ of cocoa, 5 T+ water, and roughly 4 - 4 and 1/2 c milk.

From my mug to yours... cheers, friend :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

This recipe is so basic... so perfect for a January evening when it's 18 degrees outside.  If you know how to make chicken noodle soup from scratch already, you're golden... just use rice pasta instead of regular.  If you don't know how to make it, read on for a crash course in the art of homemade goodness.

For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 roasted chicken (I like to grab mine from the deli sections of grocery stores... Schnucks makes an herb-roasted chicken that's hot and ready to walk out the door -- perfect for a late evening of teaching when there's just not enough time to cook the thing yourself)
- half an onion, sliced and quartered
- roughly 1 c chopped celery
- roughly 2 c chopped carrots (I like to use baby carrots and just cut them in half)
- half a bag of frozen peas
- 3/4 - 1 lb brown rice pasta (or other gluten-free pasta)

Debone chicken... however much you'll think you'll need.  Last time I made this, I basically used all the dark meat -- legs, thighs, wings, and back -- and a little bit of breast meat.  Debone the rest and freeze.  You can also keep (freeze) the carcass to use for future chicken soups (just boil with remaining meat until bare; remove before adding pasta).  Put meat in large stewpot and fill mostly with water.  Add onion, celery, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.  This is your stock.  After stock has boiled, add pasta and cook til tender in boiling stock (you can also save time by cooking the pasta separately and then adding later after carrots).  Add carrots and cook for 10 mins.  Add peas and cook til everything is well done, soup is boiled down, and your house smells amazing (roughly 45 mins - 1 hr).  Add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve with hot chocolate and love :)