Sunday, December 8, 2013

a cocktail recipe from V

Honey-Lemon Vodka
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz orange liqueur
  • 1/2 oz honey liqueur
  • juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Pour all ingredients over a shaker 1/2 full of ice. Stir for 20 seconds. Strain into desired serving container.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chicken & Leek Stir-Fry

I made this stir-fry, then realised I picked up the cookbook it's from at a library sale a few years ago. Many other tasty-looking recipes there as well.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

my feet hurt; also my back

This has been a fantastic year for apples here in MN, and our front-yard apple tree is no exception. Not only did we get a much larger-than-average yield, the individual fruit have been enormous - some nearly grapefruit sized. We don't do much to the tree other than to thin the fruit in mid-June (and keep it more-or-less trimmed), so I hadn't planned on dealing with so many apples.

Fortunately, our neighbors and friends have been enthusiastically helping with both picking and processing. I think in another few weeks we'll be finished.

Last weekend, we harvested our first fruit with our next-door neighbors. Those apples turned into several batches of apple butter (I started them in the evening, took off the lid before I went to work, and then canned the resulting butter the following evening). I mostly followed the recipe from Not Your Mother's Slowcooker. I also put up a batch of Apple-Mango Chutney from The Joy of Pickling.

This weekend some other friends came over and helped with both picking more apples and peeling/slicing/coring (truthfully, my friend Niki liked this so much she did probably 90% of the processing).

In addition to applesauce (which I pretty much just winged - one batch was sweeter and had an orange in it; another was unsweetened; a third was lightly sweetened with honey), I also put up apple pie filling. I'm especially pleased with how it came out, and am very much looking forward to a winter of delicious apple pies. (Recipe from this Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.)

Mostly just putting this here for myself.... to make a pie using this filling:

Preheat oven to 375F. Pour a quart of the filling into a 9" pie crust. Dot with butter and put on the top crust (I love a lattice top). Seal and flute edge. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is "singing."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

just some menus

I'm still hoping for more time to write here, but for now I would settle for just keeping decent notes so that I can find recipes later (...which is the point of this blog, after all). To that end (lunches are in square brackets*):

Week of Aug 25
Su: [tomato, basil, mozzarella salad]
  grilled veggies; left-over chicken
M: [couscous salad]
T:  [out]
W: [EFM]
  pasta with red sauce
R: [soba salad with orange-sesame dressing and wakame]
  yogurt chicken; pesto potatoes
F: [leftovers]

Week of Sept 2
Su:  [tomato, basil, mozzarella salad]
  out (P & P)
M: [banana pancakes; bacon]
  hot dogs; quick pickles; roasted CSA veggies
T: pizza with mozzarella and red sauce (smitten kitchen pizza dough recipe)
W: lemon-garlic yogurt chicken; pesto potatoes (J & A)
R: challah (Rosh Hashana dinner with D & M)
F: out
[also made lime curd tart, plus added sweetened cream cheese as a base and golden raspberries]

Week of Sept 9
Su: [tomato, basil, mozzarella salad]
  grilled sausages; roasted CSA veggies
M: [leftover sausage and veggies]
  pesto pasta
T: [EFM]
W:  [out]
  yogurt-marinated "Vindaloo" chicken; rice; left-over roasted veggies
R: [leftover chicken, etc.]
F: [more leftovers]

* (an "EFM" is an "Exciting Frozen Meal")

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Made this marmalade last month; I should have looked up how much water is usually added to marmalade, but I blindly followed the "add water to cover" direction and the result is too watery. At some point I plan to remake the jam.

Had Meyer-Lemon Lentil Salad a few weeks ago - it was kind of fussy to make, but delicious.

We've mostly been eating "old favorites"-type recipes that I've already written about here on the blog. It's been a busy time for both of us, and that looks to continue for at least the next few weeks (in fact, one or both of us will be traveling from now until the very end of April). Probably not a lot of updates as a result.

Last week's menu:

Su: fancy-pants steaks; mashed potatoes with crispy leeks; salad with blue-cheese dressing
M: pasta with marinara
T: soup-swap soup (Beef with Barley, it was excellent!) and bread
W: pizza with caramelized onions, rosemary, and local camembert-style cheese
R: take-out
F: roasted sweet potatoes & cauliflower
Sa: roasted chicken with carrots, parsnips, and rutabaga

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bacony PB Cookies

Made following this recipe from the brown-eyed baker; substituting bacon drippings for the shortening gives them a subtle bacony flavor.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Steakhouse Dinner at Home

So full. This may be the most decadent meal we've ever made just for the two of us. We did split a single (large) steak, so we had a (very small) nod toward prudence.

* salad with blue cheese dressing (I used 1/2 C milk, 1/4 C yogurt, and 1 Tbsp buttermilk powder)
* sous-vide style steak
* crispy-leek mashed potatoes (1 leek, fried in generous vegetable oil with generous amount of salt until crispy, mashed into 2 steamed potatoes with a small nob of butter and some fresh-ground black pepper)
* peanut butter and bacon cookies (recipe forthcoming from V)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Menu Week of Feb 10

Su: pizza w/ Italian sausage & roasted red peppers
M: pasta w/ marinara sauce
T: roasted sweet potatoes & sauteed kale
W: out
R: V-Day dinner at Blackbird
F: gnocchi w/ sage butter sauce; salad

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Leftovers! Menu, Week of Jan 27

Su: left-over lemony lentil soup; bread
M: pasta with red sauce (made Sunday)
T: Beef Rogan Josh; Naan (made by frying peach-sized lumps of bread dough in ghee, 2-3 min per side)
W: Mexican Corn Chowder
R: omelet with left-over wild-mushroom ravioli filling (...still need to write up the original recipe)
F & Sa: out

Monday, February 4, 2013

Esther Ann's Beef Stew

Some of my earliest food memories are of eating this stew at my grandmother's house, and it was one of the first meat dishes I made on my own. Today there are a number of ways I could fancy it up, but it's too precious of a memory for that. For those without fond childhood memories to preserve, you might try switching in your favorite stew spices (marjoram, perhaps?) and browning the beef before starting the stew.

Esther Ann's Beef Stew

  • 2 lbs stew meat (Grandma uses top round), cut into large chunks, perhaps 2-3"
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into 2" segments
  • 2 medium onions, cut in lengths
  • 4 carrots, cut into 4 pieces 
  • 1 C tomato juice
  • 1/3 C quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into large chunks
Preheat oven to 300F.

Combine beef, celery, onions, and carrots in casserole dish. In a small bowl, combine tomato juice, tapioca, and seasonings. Pour over meat and veggies, stirring to cover.

Cover and bake for about 2 1/2 hours. Remove the cover and add the potatoes. Bake for another hour, uncovered, or until potatoes are very soft.

Can also be made in the crockpot by combining all ingredients and cooking on low for 8 hours.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lemon Lentil Soup

This is another recipe from the Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood. (OMG - while I was looking up the series link, I came across a link to a mini-cookbook for them! Cannot wait to try. Ahem. Anyway...) I'm enjoying the series, but I'm also having a great time with the recipes Greenwood includes. This soup was no exception - easy to make, and very tasty. I did make a few minimal changes, because I can't seem to resist doing that, but it hews pretty close to the original.

Lemon Lentil Soup
adapted from Devil's Food by Kerry Greenwood

  • 2 cups brown lentils
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium–large onions, peeled and chopped
  • bunch of silverbeet (I learned a new word from this recipe: silverbeet is also known as chard), trimmed and finely sliced.
  • juice of 2 large lemons
  • ~ 2 C vegetable stock
  • salt and whole black peppercorns

Soak the lentils overnight or, if time presses or you forgot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil, cover and turn off the heat and leave for an hour. Drain, cover with fresh water (this reduces the flatulence quotient), bring to a boil in a soup pot and simmer until tender (which won’t be long, don’t overcook them) — maybe five minutes. Keep tasting.

Meanwhile, cover the base of a heavy sauce pan with olive oil. When hot, throw in the onions, stir, and cook until golden.

When the onions are ready, throw in the chard, turn the heat to high, and mix the onions and chard together. Cover tightly, turn the heat down to medium, and cook until the stems are tender. Add the lentils and enough stock to come barely to the top of the mixture. Add the lemon juice and about 20 peppercorns, coarsely cracked. Add salt to taste and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Mexican" Corn Chowder

Like the other recipes from this cookbook, I've been making this soup since college. V specifically requested this the other day (when I had to look up how to make garlic bread.....). The only problem is that we do all of our grocery shopping at a co-op these days, and the one we go to here in MN doesn't stock creamed corn, so this requires an extra trip. On the other hand, since we only visit regular groceries infrequently, when we go it's a bit like the stories about visitors from the USSR - it is completely stunning to see the huge variety on the shelves, and we go a bit wild buying things we "can't" normally get. Very fun. (My secret vice? all kinds of baked beans. The organic ones simply do not compare.)

Mexican Corn Chowder
adapted from Help! My Apartment Has A Kitchen
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp Wondra
  • 2 15-oz cans creamed corn
  • 1 4-oz can green chilies, drained
  • 4 C milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • tortilla chips for serving
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook until mostly softened (5-7 min). Add the cumin and flour and stir constantly until they're absorbed into the vegetable mixture. Add corn, chilies, milk, and salt & pepper and stir thoroughly.

Cook, uncovered, at a simmer until the soup thickens (about 8-10 min). Stir in the cheese and cook for a few more minutes, until the soup is hot but not boiling. Serve.
makes a light meal for 4

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Menu, Week of Jan 20

Su: Salmon, Fennel, & Potato Bake; Apple Cake (...there was lettuce for salad, but I utterly forgot about it)
M: Pasta Fazool (mostly cooked on Sunday); bread
T: Cider-Cooked Pork Chops; baked potatoes
W: left-over veggies from Sunday, mixed with some canned tomatoes and cooked with eggs
R: Eleanor's Bean Casserole
F: bread & roasted garlic
Sa: roasted sweet potatoes & brussels sprouts

Sunday, January 27, 2013

we're trying to eat a bit more fish these days...

Eating more fish (salmon, specifically) was a NY's resolution of mine many years ago. I did it (whatever "it" was - I think it was probably 4x/month or similar). I'd read something about how salmon was supposed to be good for your heart, which is why we did it (heart disease runs in my family like wow). But the unexpected benefit was that, after a few months, I had dramatically fewer migraines, and the ones I did have didn't seem to last as long. This is all completely anecdotal, obviously, but for me the correlation was pretty clear. However, it turns out that, try as I might, I'm still not a huge fan of fish. These days I take fish oil tablets (which I still would swear are helping keep my migraines at bay) and we've only kept a few recipes from that long-ago period of frequent fish eating.

This recipe is one of the ones I remembered really liking, though we haven't had it in years, so I requested Victor make it the other night. One thing to note - we both forgot that the recipe as originally written (I got it from an article in Health magazine) doesn't really allow enough cooking time for the potatoes. I think it would make sense to do one of the following: slice the potatoes VERY thinly (with a mandoline), braise them in the first step by adding some chicken broth and covering the pan with foil, or pre-cook the potatoes slightly by microwaving or steaming them.

That said, with some extra time in the oven, this was delicious. We ate the salmon the first night, but had a lot of veggies/potatoes left, so they became part of dinner another night, mixed with some tomato puree and cooked with a few eggs on top.

Salmon with Potatoes, Onions, and Fennel
(adapted from Health Magazine, June 2001)

  • ~ 1 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • fennel bulb, trimmed, bulb halved and sliced (about 2 C)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh)
  • 2 Tbsp drained capers
  • 4 5-oz salmon fillets
  • 4 Tbsp crumbled feta
  • 3 Tbsp seasoned dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C vermouth, dry white wine, or broth
Preheat oven to 400F. Spray an 11x7 baking dish with cooking spray and arrange potato slices over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; bake 10 min (or more - see headnote).

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine onion, fennel, sugar, and thyme. Toss to combine. When you take the potatoes out of the oven, pour this mixture on top. Sprinkle with capers. Bake until potatoes are softened and fennel tastes nearly done (at least 15 min).

Meanwhile, combine feta, bread crumbs, and vermouth or broth. Toss gently to combine. When the veggies are done, put the salmon, skin-side down,  atop them. Spread cheese mixture over fish and vegetables. Bake another 20 minutes, or until salmon is done to your liking.
serves 4

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cider-Cooked Pork Chops

This recipe is one of the original "orange binder" recipes. I typed it up out of a now-forgotten magazine, put the title in a funky font, and printed it out for the binder (because that's how I roll). When we got pork chops from the meat CSA this month, it was the obvious thing to do with them. I love the combination of the tangy-ness and sweetness and the green onions. The green onions make it, IMO.

Cider-Cooked Pork Chops
original source lost...

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 boneless pork chops (1.25 lb or so)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced
  • 1 C apple cider, the tarter the better
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3-4 scallions, cut into 2-inch segments, green parts only
Mix salt and pepper together; use 1/4 tsp of that mixture to season both sides of the chops. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops and brown well on both sides; remove from pan (they'll finish cooking in a bit).

Add remaining oil and apples slices to skillet. Cook, stirring once in a while, until browned (about 3 min). Stir in cider, mustard, honey, and the rest of the salt and pepper. Add chops, snugging them down in the liquid. Bring to a simmer and keep simmering for 3 min, covered. Add the scallions and simmer for another 3 min or so, until the chops are done to your liking.
serves 4 as a main dish

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Menu, Week of Jan 13

Sunday: Slow-Cooker Stuffed Greens; salad
Monday: Sweet-and-Sour Rice Bowl (I loved the combination of veggies in the stir-fry, but this recipe turned out to be incredibly bland; we rescued it with large amounts of SoyVey)
Tuesday: bread, roasted garlic, salad
Wednesday: lentil soup and more bread (need to type this recipe up)
Thursday: pizza
Friday: out

Muffin Season (belated)

I know, it's technically been "muffin season" for quite some time. I got a little derailed this year, but I'm catching up. I woke up this morning thinking about a muffin with dates and pecans; when I got downstairs and looked at the pantry, I decided they'd be great in a spiced sweet-potato batter. This is what I came up with, aided by the always-fabulous King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.

Sweet Potato Muffins with Pecans and Dates
adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
  • 8 oz (2 C) whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • fresh nutmeg, grated to yield about 1/4 tsp
  • 3 oz (3/4 C) chopped pecans, toasted lightly
  • 4 1/2 oz (3/4 C) chopped dates
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 7 1/2 oz (1 C) brown sugar (any kind; I actually used muscovado)
  • 1 3/4 oz (1/4 C) cane sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 9 1/2 oz (1 C) pureed sweet potato (mine was canned)
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease every other well in two 12-muffin tins.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Mix in the pecans and dates. Cream together until fluffy the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, then the vanilla and sweet potato. Add the dry ingredient mixture, stirring until evenly moistened.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins (I used two pans so the muffins would rise more evenly). Bake 20-24 minutes, until a tester inserted into a muffin comes out cleanly.
yield: about a dozen muffins

Monday, January 14, 2013

Slow-Cooker Stuffed Greens

Even though he was sick, V still managed to put this together while I was out running errands. We both loved it, though I think the next time we make it I'll just use cabbage - I missed its flavor here.

Italian Sausage Stuffed Greens
adapted from here

  • 4-6 large greens leaves (Swiss chard, kale, or collards)
  • 1 lb. of ground Italian sausage
  • Handful of breadcrumbs
  • Small handful of Parmesan
  • ½ onion, shredded
  • ½ zucchini or carrot, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • Tomato Juice or V8
  • Fresh Herbs, chopped

Wash greens and make an inverted “V” in the base of the leaf to remove the steam. Combine the sausage, breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion, zucchini (or carrot), egg, and tomato paste. Divide mixture and using the greens, roll into “burritos”. Place in crockpot and cover with tomato juice or V8 and fresh herbs. Cook on high for 1 hour and low for 3 hours.
Serves 4

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Eye of the Storm, Mid-Flu Season 2012-13

We were actually both well for almost the entire week, but Victor finally succumbed Saturday morning. In between our illnesses, though, we got some tasty food in.

Su: Zuni Chicken; Roasted Carrots; Vanilla Bean Pudding
M: Mushroom Ravioli & Sweet Potato-Sage Ravioli in broth (still need to write up these recipes); Dark & Stormy Sorbet
T: Chipotle Red-Bean Chile
W: out
R: "Snacker" Pizza (ended up being topped with an eccentric mix of turkey "snack sticks" and a single smoked-mozzarella stick)
F: left-overs
Sa: Quince-Rosemary Glazed Ham; Braised Leeks & Potatoes; Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts; Pear Sorbet

Saturday, January 12, 2013

company's coming.... not

We'd planned to have this meal with friends, but were utterly thwarted by this year's intense flu season. First our friends' little girl got sick; even if that hadn't derailed our plans, V woke up this morning with a sore throat and a fever. Sharing this meal would have meant also sharing some nasty germs - so not a gift we want to give our friends. But the ingredients were ready to go, and I felt fine, so I went ahead and we had a very fancy dinner for the two of us.

Menu: Quince-Rosemary Glazed Ham; Braised Leeks & Potatoes; Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts; Pear Sorbet

For the ham, I baked a 4 lb. boneless smoked ham for 2 hours at 350F, basting every 20-30 minutes with quince-rosemary jelly (a homemade gift). Probably could have cooked it a bit less, but I was trying to time things with the leek-and-potato braise.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

literary muffins

This recipe originates from a mystery novel by Kerry Greenwood. The main character is a baker; her apprentice comes up with the idea of making a "plum pudding" muffin. It sounded fantastic when she described it and I was thrilled to discover that Greenwood included the actual recipe at the end of the book. It's been a few weeks since I finished Earthly Delights, but I only got around to making the muffins this weekend. They were easy and tasty and I will definitely be making them again.

Plum Pudding Muffins
  • 2 C AP flour (I believe you could substitute white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour as well)
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C chopped dried fruit (I used a combination of candied lemon rind, golden raisins, and raisins)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 C milk (I used skim)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbsp rum (or brandy)
Heat oven to 300F. Spray muffin tins with oil (or my favorite, oil-and-flour baking spray). Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour through allspice) and wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir. Pour batter into prepared tins. Bake for about 15-20 min, until they smell cooked and are lightly browned on top.

yield: about 12 muffins

Saturday, January 5, 2013


The last week has pretty much disappeared in a haze of Nyquil for me - I did manage to go to work for 2/3 of the work-days last week, but I'm lucky they like me there because I wasn't good for much. And I collapsed when I got home both days. So we ate a lot of leftovers and delivery; Victor also whipped up several of his go-to dishes (fried rice and omelets). Before I got sick, I did manage to make one meal, though. It's quickly become one of my favorites, mostly because (assuming you've pre-made the dough), it comes together in a snap and requires pretty minimal ingredients.

Margarita Pizza
from the wonderful new Smitten Kitchen cookbook

  • ~ 1/2 C strained and pureed tomatoes (I literally strain them to get excess liquid out so it doesn't make the pizza soggy, though I'm not sure that's what she intended)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • few drops red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 3/4 lb ball pizza dough (recipe follows, or use your own favorite)
  • 4-5 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • some basil leaves, torn or chopped (or use fresh oregano)
Heat your oven as high as it goes (ours goes up to 550F, which works wonderfully). Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet (9x13) or a medium-sized pizza pan with cornmeal or spray with that cooking-spray-plus-flour stuff I'm so fond of.

Blend the tomatoes and seasonings together. Stretch the dough to cover your baking sheet/pizza pan - no worries about holes or whatever, you can always pinch them together. Spread the mostly-flat dough with tomato sauce, sprinkle with basil leaves, and arrange the cheese slices to more-or-less cover your pizza. Bake for 7-11 minutes (in my oven, it always takes the full cooking time). The cheese should be very bubbly and even a little blistered.

serves 2 generously

"Leisurely" Pizza Dough
also from the new Smitten Kitchen book; she has a "rushed" pizza dough, too, but I've never made it; instead, I make a double batch of this one and freeze the second half. The day before I want to make pizza, I move it to the fridge and then proceed with the recipe as written. The book also has directions for hand-kneading the dough.

  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 C (190 g) AP flour (or a combination of AP and whole-wheat flour - I generally do about 50/50)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 
  • little bit of olive oil
Combine water and yeast in the mixer bowl; let stand for a few minutes if that's a thing your yeast needs. Add the flour and salt and mix with the dough hook until you have a craggy mass. Reduce the speed to low and let it bang around for about 5 minutes, until it is a smooth and cohesive ball. Take the dough out and coat it with a little olive oil; then put it back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24.

When you're ready to use it, remove from the fridge and allow to double in a warm spot (I put mine on top of the kitchen radiator).
makes about 3/4 pizza dough, enough for a medium pizza