Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Star Of Breakfast

The best gifts show someone how much you love, not how much you spend.
Love is in the details.

Merry Christmas!

The Star of Breakfast:
Using cookie cutter, cut star shape out of center of bread. Toast the cut out star. Place bread slice into a well buttered skillet on medium heat. Once one side is golden, flip over toast and crack egg into center of star. Cover and cook until egg white is firm. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with toasted star.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

5 Minute Fritter

Today I was in the mood for a little gluttony, a little soul comforting goodness that would cure me of my winter blues. This 5 minute fritter fit the bill. I peeled, cored and sliced one small fuji apple, yielding 4 perfect rings. A quick dip in a light batter and into the oil they dropped. Almost as quickly as they went in, they began to turn a gorgeous golden brown. A minute or two on each side was all they required to achieve that crispy fried exterior. The batter puffed like a pillow surrounding the apple and the fruit inside was warm and juicy. The taste was somewhere between a donut and an apple dumpling, two of my childhood favorites. With each bite, that warm feeling of nostalgia poured over me. Topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, these sinful little devils were the perfect dose of guilty pleasure I was looking for. Oh, sweet sweet joy!

Fritter Batter:
1/2 C flour
1/2 C almond milk
2 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP butter - melted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg

In a mixing bowl, beat egg. Mix in milk and butter. Add sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour and stir to create batter. Peel, core and slice apple into rings. Dip each apple ring into batter and then drop into hot canola oil. Fry until golden brown on each side... about 2 minutes each side. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Baking Confession...

I would love to say that I bake everything from scratch, but that is not even remotely true. Scratch baking intimidates me. I am a person who likes to "wing it" in the kitchen and that does not fly in the world of edible chemistry. Baking requires discipline. Measuring is important, recipes are important, exact temperatures are important. If something is off by even half a teaspoon, the whole thing could flop. I personally can not succeed within those parameters, therefore, I cheat. When I get the urge to bake, I bust out the store bought pie crusts, the puff pastry sheets, or a boxed cake mix and improvise from there. At least I know my limitations. My favorite example of how to church up a cheap store bought item is this twist on Jiffy cornbread. With a few simple additions, the inexpensive boxed mix is transformed into a spicy, delicious treat. Imagine this tasty little number snuggled up next to a steaming bowl of chili on a cold winter's day. We can't all be professional chefs, but we all gotta eat.

Spicy Cheddar Corn Muffins:

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 C half and half (box calls for milk, I used half and half)
1/4 C diced red pepper
1/4 C diced poblano pepper
1/2 C grated sharp cheddar
1/2 C white sweet corn
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix contents of box with 1 egg and the half and half. Add in all the peppers, corn, pepper flakes and cheese and mix thoroughly. Scoop into greased muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pass the Time, Please...

I woke up Sunday morning with those flittery butterflies in my stomach. Like a kid on Christmas day, I was too excited to sleep in. After eight long weeks, my husband was finally coming home. Unfortunately, I needed to kill several hours before I could start my journey to the airport to pick him up. After a leisurely breakfast with friends, which included countless cups of coffee, I was jacked up on caffeine and anticipation. The countdown was ticking away but at a painfully slow pace. This signaled the time to break out the pots and pans, rummage through the fridge, and get sucked into some culinary zen. Not only would the time fly, but I would be left with something delicious... a win-win situation. Raiding the refrigerator, I found parmesan, gruyere, and mozzarella as well as a jar of homemade arugula pesto. With the addition of some whole wheat pasta, mac and cheese was the obvious choice. I quickly got a pot of salted water going on the burner and started shredding cheese. Once the noodles were tender and the cheese sauce was finished, I mixed the two together, swirled in the arugula pesto and topped it with chopped almonds. While this tasty mixture was baking to a nice golden brown, I washed the remaining dishes, set a plate out for my lunch, and made one last time check. After enjoying my creation and taking a few quick snaps with the camera, it was, indeed, time to go. I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Onion and Apple Soup

It starts with that annoying tickle in the back of your throat. Next, it's the sniffles and fatigue. Before you know it, you have a full blown cold and you're down for the count. Welcome to the story of my weekend. I've been on a steady rotation of hot soup, hot tea, and hot showers and have spent the majority of the last two days curled up on the couch under a blanket. Today around 3pm, I finally mustered enough energy to drag myself into the kitchen and start a big batch of vegetable stock... throwing everything from ginger to jalapenos into the pot. The aroma of onions, garlic, peppercorns and herbs permeated the house as well as my sinuses. As I looked aimlessly around the kitchen, I noticed that my counter was littered with apples and onions, which happen to be my favorite flavor combo of the week, so I started slicing. I caramelized the pair in a skillet with a healthy dollop of butter. Once they were sufficiently softened and sweet, I added them to the stock which I thickened with flour and almond milk. Hearty enough to accommodate a crusty slice of toast and a thick chunk of Gruyere, this soup was exactly what the doctor ordered. I think there was also a glass of red wine on that order, let me check my prescription....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Gold

This candy is super simple to make and absolutely addictive to eat. Originally introduced to me as a Christmas treat with red and green M&Ms, a slight switch of color has instantly transformed it into an All Hallows Eve classic. Dubbed "Halloween Gold" by one of my neighbors, it's as easy as spooning a dollop of melted chocolate onto a bite-sized pretzel and dropping an M&M on top. Once the chocolate has cooled, it's ready to be packed up and handed out to the special little goblins and ghouls in your life. There's nothing better than free gold, so share the wealth!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Finding Brussels....

What a long, strange, culinary trip it's been. Two years ago, I absolutely hated tomatoes. Now, they are a staple of my diet and each year my garden is packed with several varieties. Today marks another unexpected milestone as I officially apologize to the brussel sprout. I have always labeled them as foul little creatures that I would never enjoy. Well, guess who's eating their words... yep, it's me. Come to find out, they are actually quite tasty and definitely deserve a second chance if you have previously written them off of your menu. My favorite recipe, so far, is a quick saute with maple syrup, olive oil, and red pepper flakes served over sweet potato mash and finished with crispy fried onions. This combo creates a perfect balance between sweet and salty with just a hint of heat. I can't imagine what's around the next culinary corner, I can only assume it is more humble pie. That's right... I'm lookin' at you, red beets.

Sweet Potato Mash (serves 2)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 C almond milk

Boil sweet potato until fork tender. Drain potatoes. Using hand blender, whip potatoes with almond milk until smooth... adjust milk quantity to achieve desired consistency.

Brussel Sprouts (serves 2)
2 dozen brussel sprouts, washed and sliced in half
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/2 tsp salt

Toss sprouts in a bowl with 1 Tbsp of oil, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, and 2 Tbsp o.j. to coat. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in nonstick skillet on medium. Toss sprouts into warm skillet with salt and red pepper flake and cover for 5 to 6 minutes until the brussel sprouts have a crispy golden color, stirring once or twice.

Crispy Fried Onions (serves 2)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
3/4 C flour
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
pinch salt

Mix flour with 1 tsp each of salt and pepper and toss in onions to coat. Heat 2 Tbsp canola oil in stainless steel skillet over medium high heat. Drop in coated onions and let brown. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Pulled" Squash and Apple Slaw

Today's recipe was lovingly created for a dear friend and recent convert to the vegetarian lifestyle. In casual conversation, she mentioned that the thing she misses most about eating meat is barbecue sauce. Sure, she could easily slather it on vegetables or pour it over pasta but I wanted to give her something she could really sink her teeth into, something composed with layers of flavor. The first thing that came to mind was a barbecue sandwich (a nostalgic nod to a particular late night in Seaside when we rode our bikes to get pulled pork and cheese grits). I used roasted spaghetti squash as the vehicle for the sauce and an apple coleslaw to dress the sandwich. Toasted slider buns housed the tangy mixture and added an extra level of crunch. The apple slaw was vinegar based and packed full of flavor from the addition of green onions, red pepper flakes, and dijon mustard. Sweet and crunchy, and wonderfully sloppy, this sandwich did not disappoint. Now, can someone get me some cheese grits?.....

"Pulled" Squash:
1 spaghetti squash
1/2 C water
bbq sauce

Slice squash in half, lengthwise, and place in a shallow baking pan filled with 1/2 C water. Cover with foil and place in 425 degree oven for 35 minutes or until soft. Using a fork, scrape the inside of the squash into a bowl and coat with bbq sauce.

*Apple Slaw:
1 head of green cabbage
1 TBSP salt
3 tart apples
3 scallions
1/2 C cider vinegar
4 TBSP olive oil
1/2 C raw sugar
1 TBSP dijon mustard
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Remove core from cabbage. Shred cabbage into a colander and sprinkle with salt, let sit for 1 hour. Rinse and dry cabbage. Slice apples and scallions and toss together in a bowl with cabbage. In a sauce pan, combine vinegar, oil, mustard, pepper flakes, and sugar and whisk until incorporated. Pour warm liquid over cabbage mixture. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

*original slaw recipe found here, tweaked to use olive oil and less of it, as well as more red pepper flake, more scallion, and more apple.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fruit of My Labor

While today's lunch was a delightful one, it did involve deseeding individual grapes and was, therefore, rather tedious in it's preparation. I'll be honest - it tried my patience at first, but I had a freshly charged ipod, some time on my hands, and a big bowl of Concords and Niagaras. Armed with a super sharp paring knife, I forged ahead. It became quite therapeutic, actually, focusing on one tiny task with such diligence. After each grape was carefully sliced, I coaxed the seeds out of the fruit using the tip of the knife... a tricky maneuver, indeed, but the payoff was well worth the effort. I roasted the grapes with leeks, olive oil, and salt and served them on a bed of quinoa, topped with crumbles of goat cheese. Obviously, it would have been easier to use seedless grapes, but the result would have lacked the deep, rich flavor. In this case, the juice was definitely worth the squeeze.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Green Tomato Soup

Friday morning I woke up to find that the previous night's storm had not only blown off a few shingles, it had also trashed the remaining plants in my garden. It was officially time to prepare the beds for a long winter's nap. I pulled the wind blown stakes out of the ground and sorted them for storage. I trimmed the last of the oregano, thinned out the rainbow chard, and loaded the composter full of fresh garden shrapnel. Snuggled between a thick patch of arugula and a meandering cucumber vine, I found several rogue tomato plants, hiding their unripened fruit. Recipe research ensued. I found everything from fried green tomatoes to green tomato cake, but one idea kept coming to mind - green tomato soup. I read a few recipes to gather the basics and then I hit the kitchen. The result was a deliciously sweet and spicy soup topped with crunchy parmesan croutons (a subtle nod to the grilled cheese, if you will). It was the perfect remedy for my fall garden blues. Had it not been for the damaging storm, I would have missed these little green beauties and subsequently missed out on green tomato goodness. I guess everything does happen for a reason...

Green Tomato Soup
4 C chopped green tomatoes
3 fuji apples, peeled and chopped
1 small yellow onion
1 jalapeno - DESEEDED
1 yellow bell pepper
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flake
1/4 tsp cumin
almond milk

Warm olive oil in a saucepan and add garlic and onion. Saute on medium heat until onions are soft, taking care not to burn garlic. Add tomatoes, apples, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and red pepper flake, adjust to taste. Cover with half water, half almond milk and simmer until apples are soft. Puree mixture and run through a sieve to remove large pieces. Take the pieces left in the sieve and return them to the food processor. Pulse again until smooth. Add half of that mixture back into the strained soup. Simmer. Using a slurry of almond milk and whole wheat flour, thicken the soup to desired consistency. Top with croutons and parmesan cheese...broil to melt cheese.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sweet Gnocchi Lullaby

As a stylist, I spend countless hours perusing blogs, magazines, and any other eye candy I can get my hands on in order to feed the creative machine. Today, as I drank my coffee and sought inspiration, I stumbled upon a recipe for butternut gnocchi on The recipe sounded good but I wanted something different than the brown butter sauce they were suggesting. Unsure if I was actually going to follow through with this recipe plan, I headed out to the store to see what I could find. I decided to pick up a variety of fall ingredients which included honeycrisp apples, fresh sage, and a butternut squash. With the intermittent rain and a dreary gray sky, it was the perfect day to get caught up in a culinary escapade so I began my gnocchi production. After rolling and cutting these delicate little pillows, I tossed them in a pot of salted, boiling water and waited for them to pop up to the top. After being scooped out of the water, they landed on a lined baking sheet where they awaited their second act. Opting to forgo the original bon appetit brown butter sauce, I began formulating my own plan to accompany the sweet squash. While the gnocchi sat patiently on the parchment, I chopped a fresh honeycrisp apple and a small red onion that I then sauteed in a skillet with some butter that had been steeping with garlic and sage. Once the onion and apple had softened, in went the gnocchi. A few minutes later the gnocchi had a crispy golden shell. They were sufficiently coated in the sweet and savory mixture and were ready to be devoured. I happily obliged, which lead to the need for a nap. Wake me when it's spring again....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dessert For Breakfast

Chickpea flour is my latest muse in the kitchen. Originally purchased for some experimental pasta making, it has turned out to be a versatile, go-to ingredient. One of my favorite recipes, so far, is eggless chocolate french toast. To be perfectly honest, it's a dessert disguised as a breakfast item. A nod to those who believe "life is uncertain, eat your dessert first", it is a delicious mixture of french toast texture and brownie decadence. A pinch of cardamom in the recipe adds a unique taste and the warm strawberry drizzle takes it over the top. Go ahead... eat your dessert first. I won't judge.

French Toast Batter:
1/2 C chickpea flour
1/2 C cocoa powder
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C almond milk or water
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
pinch of cardamom
sliced bread of your choice ( I used nine grain for a hearty taste )

In a bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients to create the batter. Heat oiled griddle or skillet to medium. Coat bread slices in batter. Cook slices until crispy on each side. Drizzle with warm strawberry jam.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Peachy Keen

There's nothing like a sweet, juicy peach on a lazy summer afternoon. If it's not dripping down your face as you devour it, start over. Wonderful as a ripe peach may be, the perfect sidecar is a healthy dose of fresh ginger. Throw in some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom and an ideal flavor combination is created. Using a muffin tin, I enclosed this tasty mixture in a flaky pie crust and created individual peach pastries... curing the long standing problem of a deflated slice of pie that has unfortunately lost it's filling to a previous cut. No one should have to endure an imbalanced crust to filling ratio! Buttery and sweet with a hint of spice, these tiny treats were gone almost as quickly as they were created...ephemeral like the days of summer.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer Satisfaction

Oh the spoils of summer... fresh juicy tomatoes, tender zucchini, and rows of spicy arugula abound. It's a short lived treat here in Michigan, so I am savoring every second of it. Call me crazy, but I am not interested in canning or saving these tasty little morsels for the dreary winter months, despite the abundance. Indulging now in the backyard harvest serves to build my anticipation over the winter. I need that proverbial carrot. That being said, I do grow more than I can eat and as a way of dealing with the overflow, I share. Not only does this feed my friends, it feeds my soul and nothing is more satisfying than that.

Zucchini Tomato Stack
Slice 1 zucchini and 1 tomato. Brush zucchini slices with oil (I used roasted garlic oil) and roast on a baking sheet about 5-7 minutes at 450 degrees. Sprinkle tomato slices with sea salt and layer with roasted zucchini in a stack on top of vidalia onion dressing. Finish with fresh arugula leaves.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sweet Corn Granita

From carefully selecting each ear to shucking, prepping and consuming it, the entire process of eating sweet corn is a sentimental experience for me. It immediately transports me to the summers of my childhood. I can easily imagine the precise sound of the husk as it's torn away from the cob and recollect the feeling of the silky threads clinging to my fingers as I shucked ear after ear. Despite this undying passion, a steaming ear of corn has not sounded the least bit appetizing this summer due to the "hotter than Hades" temperatures we've been experiencing. To satisfy my corn craving while refreshing my wilted disposition, I decided to make a sweet corn granita, layered with vanilla pudding. Imagine the sweetness of summer corn, laced with cinnamon, orange, and vanilla. Mmm mmm mmm....... delightful. Creamy pudding plus sweet icy goodness equals one happy blogger.

3 ears of corn, steamed
1/3 C brown sugar simple syrup*
3 Tbsp almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon
prepared vanilla pudding
orange zest

*Brown sugar simple syrup:
Mix 1/2 C brown sugar with 1 C water and simmer until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Cool before using.

After steaming the corn, cut all kernels off the cob and pulse in food processor. Place the pureed kernels in a sieve over a bowl and press through with a spatula to separate out the solids. 3 ears of corn should yield about 1 C of smooth corn puree. (This is a tedious but worthwhile step.) Combine simple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and almond milk with the smooth corn puree and pour into a chilled glass container and place in freezer. Scrape the mixture every 20 minutes with a fork until there is no more liquid in the granita. Spoon granita over vanilla pudding and top with orange zest. Enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Stop and Eat the Couscous

The past two weeks have slipped by in a blur of travel, work, travel, work. I am only just now catching up with my life outside of the office. Somewhere between Boston and Seattle, I concocted this quirky little salad, which was a happy accident of what I could find in the kitchen. (My pantry has been neglected, along with my blog.) The melange of couscous, cherry tomatoes, black beans, green onions, cucumbers, and pineapple, was quite tasty and extremely refreshing. Packed in a mason jar, it traveled beautifully to the beach. I sat quietly and enjoyed my strange medley as I caught my breath and soaked up the solitude... if only for a minute. It's good to be home.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father Knows Best

Today's dish was inspired by my father, who sent me a recipe a few months ago for a sweet potato hash. It involved sweet corn, black beans, bell peppers, onions, sliced avocado, cilantro, and sour cream... all things I love, except for the sweet potato. I initially blew it off as a recipe I would never try, despite the fact that he assured me I would like it. My only prior experience with sweet potatoes was the mushy thanksgiving side dish, complete with baby marshmallows and a year's supply of brown sugar. When I finally tried the recipe, my opinion on sweet potatoes changed instantly. I immediately incorporated the bright orange monster into my weekly menu and started experimenting with different spices and cooking methods. I quickly realized that sweet potatoes pair perfectly with the spicy flavors I adore, and can easily be incorporated into more recipes than I ever imagined. Today's adaptation was a throw back to the original inspiration dish and was a saute of chick peas, cherry tomatoes, garlic scapes, green onions, cilantro, and avocado. Seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, and red pepper flake this sweet potato hash was absolutely delicious. Served on a bed of quinoa, it's easily my new favorite meal... looks like father does know best.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Delicately Indulgent

I have been anxiously awaiting a harvest in my garden. After a slow start, things are now ramping up and the mesclun lettuce has finally arrived. A wonderful mix of spicy and bitter, these greens are a salad lover's dream. Their crisp texture and bright flavor make them amazing on their own, but today I embellished them by filling individual leaves with a mixture of crumbled goat cheese and tangy currant jam. The combination of crisp, cold lettuce with the sweet and savory filling was absolutely indulgent. Who knew a delicate little lettuce could be so naughty?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bananas for Ice Cream

I love ice cream. I also like fitting into my clothes. Since large amounts of heavy cream and sugar have an adverse effect on my waistline, I began a search for a healthier alternative that would satiate my ice cream desires. I tried several different faux ice creams but they all were icy and lacked that creamy texture I was craving. Then I stumbled across a vegan ice cream recipe that involved 2 ingredients - frozen bananas and almond milk. I was intrigued but skeptical. No ice cream machine needed. No sugar needed. How on earth this was going to be good? To my surprise, it was simply delicious. It was as easy as slicing bananas, freezing them on a cookie sheet, and then pulsing them in the food processor with a splash of almond milk. Granted, you have to like the taste of banana, but with a little creativity the flavor can be adjusted to suit your taste buds. My favorite addition was a swirl of whipped peanut butter. The possibilities are endless... go bananas!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cheers to Freedom

Sunburn...check. Wet dog... check. Sand in my shoes...check. Yep, summer has arrived! (After a long weekend of rain, I was wondering if I would ever see that large fiery ball in the sky.) With a frosty drink in my hand and the warm glow of the sun on my face, it was hard to think of anything other than the blissful zen I was enjoying, but my mind wandered. The soft fluttering sound of the flags dancing in the breeze turned my thoughts to the soldiers, the fallen heros, and the families left without their loved ones today. So here's a toast and a huge thank you those who provide my freedom - May you never forget that we love you. Your courage is astounding.

Raise your glass, people... thank a soldier. They deserve it.

Summer Sipper:
2 to 1 ratio - moscato to ginger ale
splash of mango nectar
splash of fresh orange juice
Shaken and served with ice... garnish with lemon balm and orange slice

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Inspiration in Aisle 9

Ok, I must be a dork... or perhaps I have just lived in a small town too long because the opening of a new grocery store had me tickled pink. During my reconnaissance mission, I meandered through the produce section and perused the aisles. The "international" section is where I spotted a bottle of orange blossom water. I had absolutely no idea what to do with it but I couldn't resist buying it. I knew that hauntingly sweet aroma was going to add a new twist to my culinary bag of tricks. The gears began to grind. Weening myself off a 2 week bender of bad eating, I avoided the urge to make cookies or cakes and opted, instead, for a light salad. I started with fresh strawberries, shaved carrot, and chopped romaine hearts and macerated the salad in the juice of 1 navel orange and 1/4 tsp of orange blossom water. Fifteen minutes in the fridge was all it took for these humble ingredients to incorporate into a sweet summer treat. Welcome back, inspiration... I missed you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Grazie, Miss Grassia

A dear friend has taken up residence in my guest room for the next few weeks and decided to kick off her stay by cooking me a delicious dinner. If there is one rarity in my world, it's having dinner cooked for me. This unexpected change of pace was nothing short of amazing. She tolerated my constant attacks with the camera and accommodated my ridiculous requests like "slow down the cheese grating", and "bring that bowl over to the window". The salad was crisp and flavorful with interesting tidbits like cherries and almonds, the garlic bread was a cheesy delight, and the main course was an absolute show stopper. A baked spaghetti squash was scraped into pasta-like shreds and topped with her father's homemade gravy. (I was told that "gravy" is the true Italian name for spaghetti sauce...she would know, she's a Grassia.) A true friend and a true treat... what more could a girl ask for??

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Confirmed Cuteness

The backdrop was a whirling carousel, it's cheerful music chiming away. The food was an amazing spread of festive desserts, complete with a gelato cart. The colors were bright and cheerful and the weather was surprisingly gorgeous. This was quite possibly the cutest confirmation party ever. My culinary contribution was Parisian macaroons and homemade butter cream icing for the cupcakes. With only a 20 minute window to get set up, the styling was organized chaos. Working with focused urgency, the hostess was able to create a flawless tablescape as I stood in awe. It was quintessential cuteness and a stylist's dream. Thanks for letting me participate... and cheers to your confirmation, Olivia.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Spoonful of Tradition

I was taught how to make chicken corn soup by my husband's grandmother. That being said, this recipe is dear to my heart. It's a classic Pennsylvania Dutch recipe with as many adaptations as there are people who make it. Variations can include dumplings, vegetables, or particular cuts of chicken. Despite the many versions, one standard ingredient classifies this recipe as authentic - hard boiled eggs. Before you turn your nose up, try it. I was skeptical at first, but the egg yolks actually melt into the soup and create a wonderfully creamy broth. It's a humble dish that is seasoned only with salt and cracked pepper but each bite is pure love. Every Easter I make this soup in the tradition of my in-laws. They, too, are dishing up the same meal, six hundred miles from Michigan, connecting us through the power of food. Happy Easter!

Soup for Two:
4 bone-in chicken thighs
4 large red potatoes
1 can creamed corn
1 can sweet corn
3 hard boiled eggs - chopped

Place chicken thighs in a stock pot and cover with water. Boil until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Continue boiling water. Peel and cube the potatoes and place into the water. Once potatoes are fork tender, add in the corn and chopped eggs. Remove bone and skin from chicken and shred the meat. Add meat to soup and simmer all together for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Be The Phoenix

Let me be honest. Today's recipe started out as a tangerine curd pocket pie in a cornmeal crust but since the curd ended up as a scrambled mess, I thought it best to proceed with plan B - a savory chard pocket pie. I tested the crust and found that it was a success in taste, but the texture was too "cookie-like" to create a pocket. Shot down again, but not one to be defeated, I pressed on. The open-faced crust was a delicious component worth exploring, so I sauteed red onion, swiss chard, garlic and cider vinegar and perched the punchy mixture on top. Blanketed in fresh mozzarella and baked until golden brown, it turned out to be a delightful snack. It was a far cry from the sweet pastry I set out to make, but sometimes you crash and burn. Rising from the ashes... that's what it's really about.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blog, Interrupted.

Well, an unfortunate accident with an 8" Wusthof knife has landed me out of commission this week. The tip of my left index finger is hanging on for dear life so I decided to pause and let things heal up before returning to my Sunday cooking adventures. Thankfully, I had the pleasure of doing some prop shopping at Whole Foods yesterday which kept the the gears in my culinary mind grinding away. Oh, the options! Hope everyone is having a lovely spring break... check back next week when we will resume our regularly scheduled blogging.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Almond Apple Spread

Peanut butter on toast is a nostalgic snack for me. When I eat it, my mind is instantly transported back in time... (insert dreamy flashback music here) Mom is in the kitchen fixing lunches for the day, Dad is getting ready for work, and my brother and I are fighting for time in the bathroom. As I meander down the stairs and head for the door, mom hands me 2 pieces of peanut butter toast, lovingly nestled in a paper towel. As a nod to this simple childhood memory, I decided to make a nutty snack of my own. I started by roasting blanched almonds with a pinch of salt. In a skillet, I simmered shredded red apple with a hint of maple syrup and a healthy dose of cinnamon. Once the almonds were toasty and the apples were soft, into the Cuisinart they went. After a drizzle of oil and a few minutes of pulsing, a wonderfully sweet spread emerged. Slathered on a piece of warm toast, this updated throwback was everything I had hoped for. To be fair, though, nothing is as good as the memory.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Parsnip Gnocchi

Every so often I like to break out the step ladder, crawl up to the shelf above the refrigerator, randomly grab a cookbook, and read a new recipe. Today, I snatched The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and landed on the gnocchi page. That's where my culinary adventure began. Since I am not one for actually following recipes, I perused the instructions, closed the book and placed it back on the hard to reach shelf. I had gleaned the basics from the recipe and inspiration had set in. I wanted to put a spin on the traditional, so instead of using potatoes I decided on parsnips. Ok... 5 parsnips and 1 large potato to be honest. The finished gnocchi were fluffy pillows of flavor all on their own and the taste of the parsnip was intensified by some herby almond pesto and freshly grated parmesan. Parsnips, and pesto, and parmesan......Oh My!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snack Madness

March Madness is upon us. Tonight, the brackets will be announced and the frenzy of competition will ensue. We will start prognosticating at the water cooler, wearing the colors of our favorite teams, and incessantly checking the sports ticker while at work... all for the love of basketball. One common problem for fans of The Madness is fatigue. It's easy to forget to properly feed the machine when there are 60+ games to think about. Stamina is crucial for a successful tourney run and true fans must maintain their energy for couch coaching and executing all the superstitions required to ensure the "W". Here is a power packed snack to kick off Selection Sunday. Let the games begin, and may the best team (you know who you are) win.

1/2 C popped amaranth
1/2 C chopped raw almonds
1/2 C golden raisins
1/2 C pepitas
pinch of salt
1/2 C dark chocolate chips

Melt chocolate in double boiler. In a separate bowl, mix together popped amaranth, almonds, raisins, pepitas and salt . Pour melted chocolate into amaranth mixture and stir to coat all the ingredients. Drop by the spoonful onto silpat or wax paper and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Enjoy.