Thursday, July 29, 2010

Recipe #51: Roast Beef with Peppers, Onions, and Potatoes

I feel kind of foolish for being excited about a simple roast beef, but I always like trying something new.  Be sure to not over-cook this one- it should be medium rare in the middle- because it dries out quickly.  It was excellent, and I bet the leftovers will be great.


5 mixed red and yellow bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch-wide strips (I used 2 red, 2 yellow, and 1 green)
2 red onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch wedges (I only used 1 because I couldn't fit 2)
3/4 lb new white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces (I used baby red potatoes)
5 garlic cloves, 3 left whole, 2 cut into 6 slivers each (I used more...)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2.5 lbs eye-of-round beef roast
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme (I also added some fresh thyme on top)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place peppers, onions, potatoes, and whole garlic cloves on a large rimmed baking sheet.  (I used a casserole dish instead).  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat.

Using a paring knife, make 12 small slits in top and sides of roast; insert garlic slivers.  Move vegetables to sides of baking sheet.  Place beef in center, and rub with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme; rub mixture over beef.  (I just sprinkled it all on...)

Transfer to oven; roast, tossing vegetables occasionally, until tender and an instant-read thermometer registers 130 degrees F for medium-rare, 40-50 minutes.  Let meat stand 10 minutes, covered loosely with aluminum foil.  Cut half the meat into very thin slices; serve with vegetables.

I found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks (below).  I love it because every recipe has a picture.  Sometimes I pick a recipe to try just because the picture looks great.

Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast: 250 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Any Time of Day (Everyday Food (Clarkson Potter))

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recipe #50: Button Mushrooms with Thyme, Rosemary, and Basil

I made this with recipe #49.  These will definitely be on my list of common sides that I'll be making from now on.... quite an amazing flavor combination!


2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
15 large button mushrooms (I used more small ones), halved
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil or oregano (I used dried)
1/4 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper


In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter.  Add the mushrooms, cut side down.  Do not crowd the pan.  Cook the mushrooms, undisturbed, until browned, 1-2 minutes.  Add the shallot, thyme, and rosemary and cook until the shallot softens, about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle the basil over the mushrooms and add the chicken broth.  Quickly stir and toss the mushrooms and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve.

Recipe #49: Trout with Classic Butter Sauce

I made this recipe with recipe #50.  I love how they shared some of the ingredients, like thyme and shallots.  I was very happy with this combination.

Both recipes come from the following cookbook, which is one of my top 3 favorites:

The Wine and Food Lover's Diet: 28 Days of Delicious Weight Loss


2 trout, sole, or flounder fillets
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.  Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and lay them on a plate.  Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the oil.  When the mixture is hot, add the fish and cook until light to medium brown on the first side, 2-3 minutes.  Turn and cook until light brown on the other side and the fish is opaque throughout, 4-5 minutes.  Sprinkle the thyme over the fillets.  Transfer to warmed plates and put in the oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the shallot, vinegar, and wine.  Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced to about 1 tablespoon, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter, 1 or 2 cubes at a time.  Adjust the heat if necessary so the butter melts but does not overheat and separate.  Strain the sauce into a small bowl and whisk in the 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.  Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.

Remove the fillets from the oven, spoon some of the sauce around and on top of the fillets, and serve.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recipe #48: Steamed Asian Dumplings

I love asian dumplings and pot stickers, so naturally I was excited to receive a bamboo steamer from my friend for my birthday... right away I knew that's what I'd use it for!

This isn't a very photogenic recipe, but it tastes fantastic. I liked using my steamer- I didn't even have to clean it because I lined it with parchment paper first.


Palm-ful of finely chopped chives, or dried chives
1/2 lb deveined, peeled shrimp, chopped into small pieces
1/4 lb ground pork
16 wonton wrappers
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp rice wine (I used regular wine)
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
Dash of pepper
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp corn starch


In a bowl, mix the chives, pork, and shrimp well. In another bowl, add the ginger, wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, sugar, and corn starch and mix well. Add the mixture to the pork mixture and combine well.

When using the wonton wrappers, be sure to cover them with a damp paper towel to keep them from drying out while you work on each dumpling. Also, cover the finished dumplings in their tray before you start steaming so they also don't dry out.

Prepare a bowl of water which will be used as "glue" for sealing the dumplings. First, wet your fingers and run it along the edges of the wonton wrapper. Next, spoon about 1 tsp of filling into the middle of the wrapper. pinch 3 of the corners together and roll the dumpling into the fourth corner and seal. Set on the steamer and repeat for the rest. I recommend lining the steamer with parchment paper.

All wrapped and ready for steaming....

Place the steamer on a pan of boiling water. Make sure the water doesn't touch the dumplings.

I put about an inch or less of water in the pan, and they steamed away...

Steam for 12 minutes. Once the dumplings are cooked, they should look translucent.

I served them with soy sauce. Nick ate a whole bunch- success!

Ok they don't look that pretty, but they're very flavorful...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recipe #47: Crock Pot Ribs

I really love this recipe, and I make these often. It's so easy! I love the alternative to bbq ribs- these have a whole different kind of flavor.


Slab of ribs, your choice (pork, or beef short ribs), sliced apart
Black pepper, to taste
Dried thyme, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
1 can french onion soup
1 bottle of dark beer (I always use Guinness)


Season the cut-apart ribs with the dried seasonings and place in a crock pot. In a bowl, mix the beer and soup, then pour over the ribs. Cook on low for 8 hours.

They fall right off the bone- check out how clean these are!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Recipe #46: Healthy Lasagna

Just because something is healthy doesn't mean it has to sacrifice on flavor! This is a fantastic recipe that uses ground turkey in place of ground beef and multi-grain noodles instead of the regular ones. The nutmeg adds a whole new dimension to the flavor. My in-laws approved of this one!

Here's the recipe as I found it online after searching for "healthy lasagna"...


* Vegetable-oil cooking spray (I used olive oil spray instead- it's healthier)
* 1/2 cup chopped onion (I used more like a cup. I like onion!)
* 1 pound ground turkey breast
* 3 cups tomato sauce
* 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning (or 1 tsp each dried basil, parsley, and oregano)
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (I used a cup- I love mushrooms!)
* 6 cups chopped fresh spinach
* 2 cups fat-free ricotta
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1 package whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 8 oz, or 9 noodles)
* 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella


Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a medium-sized nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Sauté onion for 2 minutes, then add turkey and cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomato sauce, all seasonings and mushrooms and simmer 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat. In a bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, and nutmeg. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Coat a 9" x 13" baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange 1/3 lasagna noodles (3 noodles) on the bottom of the pan. Spread a layer of ricotta mixture, then turkey mixture, then 1/3 mozzarella. Repeat layers, ending with mozzarella. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese bubbles. Cool at least 5 minutes before cutting.

310 calories per serving, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 31 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 33 g protein

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Kitchen

Here's where the food magic happens. I have a decent sized kitchen for being in an apartment, but I'm starting to run out of room.

I have reorganized some since taking these pictures, but it's close enough. I have a dehydrator that I need to make some more jerky with! I do hate our refrigerator- it's either too warm, or freezes anything not in the front... and it definitely could be bigger.

Bamboo cutting boards- Nick likes these- our knife set from our wedding shower... and a painting covering up the breaker door.... the much-used coffee pot... thank god for storage above the cabinets. Since these pictures have been taken, there's even more stuff up there.

Here are my cook books.... I have a couple more now. I love the Wine and Food Lover's Diet and Sandra Lee cookbooks- I use them often. The maroon binder on the far right is a bunch of recipes that my best friend Carlie put together for me a long time ago... there's a great one for chicken broccoli alfredo in there...

I can't wait to have a nice kitchen some day when we get a house. More room, maybe an island to work on, and a bigger fridge! But for now, this works well enough for me.

Recipe #45: Dave's Carrot Cake

A friend gave me this great recipe for carrot cake, which I followed exactly except for putting lemon in the frosting. It turned out perfect, which is a feat for me since I seem to screw up baking sweets 9 out of 10 times. That's probably good for my health though!


1 lb mini carrots
Baking oil spray
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2.5 c white sugar
1 c canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c applesauce
1 c chopped walnuts
2 c flour
Rind of 1 orange, chopped, without the white pith
8 oz whipped cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp lemon extract


Boil 1 lb of mini carrots for 20 mins, or until very soft. Chop into small pieces.

Heat oven to 350 F. oil and lightly flour 9X13 pan. In a large bowl combine 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp baking powder, half a tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, mix it up. Add 1 cup white sugar, mix, 1 cup canola oil,1 tsp vanilla extract mix. Add 2 eggs, half cup applesauce, mix. Add half to 1 cup chopped walnuts, the boiled carrots and 1 cup flour, mix. Add another cup flour, mix. Add the peel of 1 orange, without the white pith, chopped up. Bake for 40 to 50 mins.

8 oz cream cheese (whipped preferred), softened, and half a stick of butter, softened, microwaved into liquid is fine. Add 1 tsp lemon extract, mix. Add 1 and a half cups white sugar, mix well. Spread on top when cake is cooled.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Recipe #44: Ham and Mushroom Quiche

This recipe is slightly modified because I was looking for something to make for lunch with ingredients I already had, but it's still very close to the original. This made for a great lunch, but it would be a nice breakfast or dinner as well.


Olive oil spray
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I used regular seasoned breadcrumbs)
4 oz lean deli ham, torn/cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 cup)
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms (I used baby portobellos)
1 cup sliced red onion (I used white onion)
2 large eggs
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat bottom and sides of a 6-inch shallow pie plate or casserole dish with olive oil spray. Sprinkle bread crumbs over bottom and sides of plate, rolling the plate to make sure the sides are covered. Gently shake the plate to evenly distribute excess crumbs across the bottom.

Place the ham, mushrooms, and onion in the pie plate. In a small bowl, lightly beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites with a fork. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into the prepared pie plate. Press the ingredients under the eggs with a fork. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Recipe #43: Beef and Spinach Stir Fry (Wok)

I believe this is my favorite wok recipe so far. I modified it a little bit from my stir fry cookbook.


1lb rump or sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
1/4c sweet chilli sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or dried, to taste)
1 tablespoon sherry (or chicken broth)
oil, for cooking (I used canola)
1 large onion, cut into wedges
8oz spinach leaves, shredded


1. Combine chilli sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sherry in a bowl and set aside.
2. Heat the wok until very hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat the side. Stir-fry the meat in batches over high heat until well browned, adding more oil when necessary. Remove from the wok and set aside.
3. Reheat the wok, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and stir-fry the onion wedges for 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Return the meat to the wok, and add the sauce mixture. I also added black pepper.
4. Just before serving, toss the spinach through the beef mixture until the spinach is just wilted. Serve immediately. (I served mine on brown and wild rice).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Recipe #42: Southwest Chicken Salad

Healthy, hearty, and easy! After Nick's reaction (an enthusiastic "MMM!!" after his first bite), I know I'll be making this one again... (My only change was using sour cream instead of yogurt because I didn't have any of the yogurt...)

2 cups chopped or sliced cooked skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup black beans, drained
1/2 cup sweet corn, drained if canned or thawed if frozen
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1 tsp lime juice
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup chopped red pepper


In a bowl, blend mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice and cumin. In another bowl, combine chicken, pepper, black beans, sweet corn, red onion and tomato. Stir in dressing. Option to serve on a bed of spinach or lettuce leaves.

Serves 4.

Recipe #41: Hummus!

I LOVE hummus, and decided it was about time I made it myself. I found a great recipe on I used dried parsley because that's all I had, and added more garlic. I might add more lemon next time, but this is a great base recipe that I'll use over and over...


  • 2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley


  1. Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Recipe #40: Drunken Tuscan Pasta

This recipe is from Rachael Ray's book, Book of 10. I wanted to try something really hearty and different, and this didn't disappoint. I am still amazed at the idea of cooking pasta in wine...


  • 1 bottle Tuscan red table wine, such as Chianti (I used Pinot Noir because that's what I had at the time... and not the WHOLE bottle- I saved a glass for myself!!)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 pound dried long-cut pasta like spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 1/4lb deli-sliced pancetta (I used bacon instead because we don't like pancetta)
  • 3 portobello mushroom caps, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pinches of red pepper flakes
  • 4-5 cups chopped dark greens, choice of chard, escarole, spinach, or kale (I used spinach)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used dried spice instead)
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a handful plus more for the table


Pour the entire bottle of wine into a large pot. Add water and fill the pot up as you would to cook pasta. Bring the wine and water to a boil over high heat. When the liquids boil, add salt and the pasta and cook to al dente. Heads up: You will ladle out some cooking liquid for the pasta sauce before draining the pasta.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons EVOO, then chop and add the pancetta (or bacon). Brown the pieces until they are golden at the edges and transfer them to a power-towel-lined plate. Add the mushrooms to the EVOO in the same skillet, season with the chopped rosemary, and cook until deeply golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Push the mushrooms to the sides of the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of EVOO to the center of the skillet. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the EVOO and cook them for a minute or so, then toss the mushrooms together with the garlic. Add the greens to the pan and season them with sald, pepper, and the nutmeg. When the greens have wilted down, add a couple ladles of the pasta cooking liquid to the pan and cook for a minute to reduce.

Drain the pasta well and add it to the skillet. Add the pancetta/bacon and a handful of cheese to the pan. Toss the pasta for a minute or so to allow it to absorb the remaining liquid. Adjust the seasonings and serve with extra cheese.

NOTES: The pasta is very dark because it was cooked in red wine, and also because it was a whole grain pasta, which is darker to begin with... and healthier! Next time I'm going to use more bacon and less pasta.