Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Recipe #60: Roasted Veggie Salsa

My friend Tom has quite the productive garden, and he gave me a bunch of tomatoes that were destined for my first batch of 2010 salsa.  I found an interesting looking concoction on allrecipes.com while looking for a not-too-spicy salsa recipe.  Here it is, copied directly, with notes where I modified.  Also, I tried this while it was still warm, and it was good even then, kind of sweet from the roasted red onion and cumin.  I can't wait to try it cold tomorrow.


  • 12 roma (plum) tomatoes  (I used 8 early girls, because that's what I had)
  • 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled  (I forgot these and later added garlic powder.  Darn...)
  • 1 small onion, quartered  (Per suggestion from a site user, I used a red onion)
  • 1 jalapeno chile pepper  (I seeded this- we don't like hot)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro  (I used less- I'm not a big fan of cilantro)


  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. In a medium baking dish, place roma (plum) tomatoes, garlic, onion and jalapeno chile pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Checking often, broil 5 to 10 minutes, or until outsides of vegetables are charred.
  4. Remove vegetables from heat. Remove and discard tomato cores, jalapeno stem and garlic skins.
  5. In a food processor, coarsely chop the charred vegetables. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in cumin, salt, lime juice and cilantro. 
NOTE:  To make things MUCH easier, cut the veggies in half and core them BEFORE putting them on the broiler, so you don't have to deal with the hot insides once they're done broiling.
I also added two godfather banana peppers (the long red ones) to the mix. 
 Ready for broiling...
Prepped using my salsa maker
This makes life a bit easier

Basa and Green Beans- The Tom and Tom Dinner.

This isn't really a recipe, just a quick blog about a great new fish I tried.  It's called basa, and it's related to the catfish family.  For more details, go here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basa_fish 

All it took was a light flouring, some salt and pepper, and cooking in a large pan in melted butter for this really light fish to turn out amazing.  I'll definitely be making this again, and I look forward to trying other ways of preparing it.  Thank you to my friend Tom R. who gave me 2 filets to try- he was raving about them and thought I'd like them.  Bri's American Caribbean Seafood Market on Pearl Road has these.

As a side, I steamed up some green beans that were given to me by another friend Tom C., fresh out of his garden. I sauteed some almond slivers in butter in a pan and then mixed in the cooked green beans and added salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice.  They were great!

So, thank you to Tom and Tom who basically provided us this whole dinner!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Recipe #59: Broccoli Salad

This recipe, also from What Can I Bring? Cookbook, originally calls for broccolini.  I couldn't find it at the grocery store, so I used regular broccoli, cut up small.  This basic salad is made unique with a great crunchy topping and a really nice dressing.


2 tablespoons butter
1 package ramen noodles (any flavor)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 medium-size cloves garlic, crushed in a garlic press
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bag (8-9oz) chopped romaine lettuce or 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed and chopped, about 2.5 cups (or regular broccoli)


Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium-low heat.  Open the package of ramen noodles and remove and discard the seasoning packet.  Chop the noodles into small pieces and add them to the frying pan along with the almonds and sesame seeds.  (I smashed the noodles before opening the ramen packet- it's easier that way.)  Cook, stirring, until they turn golden brown, 3-4 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Place the vinegar, sugar, garlic, mustard, and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil a little at a time until the dressing thickens slightly.

To serve, toss the romaine with the broccoli in a large serving bowl.  Pour enough of the dressing over the salad to coat, then toss well.  Spoon the toasted ramen, almonds, and sesame seeds on top and toss again to coat.

Recipe #58: 7-Layer Bars (dessert!)

Well, I don't make desserts that often, but I found this recipe and just had to try it for a friend's get-together.  It's SO easy to make and definitely fantastic, even for someone who doesn't really have a sweet tooth, like me.  I love the coconut...

This is the cookbook I found this recipe in:

What Can I Bring? Cookbook (Cake Mix Doctor)

Just a tip:  To help with cutting the bars, first line the casserole dish with aluminum foil, with flaps hanging over the side, so after the cooling period, you can just lift the whole thing out, trim off the edges if they're stuck, and cut them without the dish being in the way.


8 tablespoons/1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (12 whole graham crackers)
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the butter in a 13x9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish and place it in the oven until the butter melts, about 10 minutes.  Remember to put the aluminum foil in FIRST, before the butter if you want to use this technique.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and swirl it to coat the bottom and sides with butter.  Spread the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the bottom of the baking dish.  First layer the chocolate chips, then the butterscotch chips, and then the nuts over the crumbs.  Pour the condensed milk over the nuts and top it with the coconut.

Bake the bars until the edges are golden brown, 25-28 minutes.  Let the bars cool for at least 40 minutes before cutting them.  Transfer the bars to a plastic storage container lined with wax paper until ready to use.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Recipe #57: Cheesey Baked Tortellini

I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner today, his last day of vacation.  He said pasta.  Then he said, something cheesy.  Then he said, something with that tortellini..... Wish granted.  Here's a great recipe that's easy, and I got to try out a new ingredient:  mascarpone cheese.  Keep in mind, this is an expensive cheese that's similar to a very soft cream cheese.  You can use actual cream cheese (alone or with some cream mixed in) or ricotta cheese instead.  You can also use dry herbs instead of fresh.

This recipe is copied directly from foodnetwork.com.  Thank you Giada De Laurentiis!


  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pound purchased cheese tortellini
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced smoked mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish.
Whisk the sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme in a large bowl to blend. Cook the tortellini in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat. Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top the mixture with the smoked mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses on top melt, about 30 minutes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Recipe #56: Herb and Lemon Roasted Striped Bass

Today I went to this little seafood deli-type place to obtain this coveted striped bass, which wasn't available at Giant Eagle.  I watched the guy take two whole striped bass and cut them up for me, and I was a bit fascinated.  I'm used to buying already-cut fish from the counter.  These fresh cuts made for a great dinner, and with only five ingredients, it was really simple!  This recipe is also from the August issue of Cooking Light, and was part 2 to tonight's dinner, along with recipe 55.


4 (6oz) striped bass fillets
1 lemon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (I used a little more....)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (I used more...)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a baking sheet (or aluminum foil on the sheet) with cooking spray.  Place fish on pan.  Grate lemon rind to measure 1 teaspoon (or more, like I used); juice lemon to 1 tablespoon.  Combine rind, juice oil, thyme, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; drizzle mixture over fish.  (I then squeezed a little more lemon juice over the fillets.)  Bake at 425 for 13-15 minutes. 

Recipe #55: Spicy Corn and Crab Chowder

I love the nice glossy colorful pages of a cooking magazine, and now I have a new favorite:  Cooking Light.  I just polished off a big bowl of this awesome chowder, a recipe found on page 104 of the August issue.  I LOVED this recipe- a little heat, really chunky, lots of flavor, and of course making something from scratch is always fun!


1 medium poblano chile
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (16oz) package frozen corn, thawed
1 cup half-and-half, divided
1 (8oz) russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk (I used 1%)
1 (8oz) container crab claw meat, shell pieces removed


Preheat broiler.

Place poblano on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Broil 8 minutes on each side or until blackened.  Place pepper in a small zip-lock bag; seal.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Peel and chop.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion, salt, sugar, and red pepper to pan; saute 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add corn; saute 2 minutes.  Remove 3/4 cup corn mixture from pan.  Combine 3/4 cup corn mixture and 3/4 cup half-and-half in a blender/food processor and process until smooth.  Add potato to pan; saute 1 minute.  Stir in 2 cups of water; bring to a boil.  Cook 4 minutes or until potato is almost tender.  Reduce heat to medium.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup half-and-half and flour in a small bowl, stirring until smooth.  Add flour mixture to pan.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Return corn puree to pan.  Stir in poblano, milk, and crab; bring to a simmer.  Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Serves 4.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Recipe #54: Fiesta Chicken

Here's a really quick and easy recipe that a friend gave me!  I won't even outline it, it's so simple.  Just preheat your oven to 350, and place chicken breasts or tenders in a casserole dish.  Pour salsa on top, covering evenly, and cook for 40 minutes for breasts or about 30 minutes for tenders.  I served this over rice, and I used Pace black bean and corn salsa.  I wish I would have had sour cream to put on top, but it turned out great regardless.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Recipe #53: Lemony Chickpea Stir-Fry

I love working with new ingredients!  I welcome tofu to my stove top.  My friend directed me to this recipe, which can be found (and is copied from) http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/lemony-chickpea-stirfry-recipe.html

I love the overall lemony flavor and the different textures between the zucchini, tofu, and chickpeas.  Better yet:  it's healthy!  If you don't like tofu, I bet diced cooked chicken would be good in its place.


2 tablespoon ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1 small onion or a couple shallots, sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine, if you don't want to cook up a pot of dried chickpeas)
8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 cup of chopped kale  (I used spinach instead)
2 small zucchini, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon


Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee/olive oil In a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in a big pinch of salt, the onion, and chickpeas. Saute until the chickpeas are deeply golden and crusty. Stir in the tofu and cook just until the tofu is heated through, just a minute or so. Stir in the kale and cook for one minute more. Remove everything from the skillet onto a large plate and set aside. In the same skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of ghee/olive oil, add the zucchini and saute until it starts to take on a bit of color, two or three minutes. Add the chickpea mixture back to the skillet, and remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, taste, and season with a bit more salt if needed. Turn out onto a platter and serve family style.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Recipe #52: Fried Green Tomatoes!

Fried green tomatoes just sound gross when you hear the name if you haven't had them before.  If you HAVE had them, though, you probably know better.  These things are DELICIOUS!  Forget about your diet for now... Crunchy outer coating, and a hot juicy center with a flavor only unripe tomatoes can give.  AMAZING. 

My recipe is an adaptation of one of many.  There are many different ways to make FGTs, using cornmeal, salt and pepper, different kinds of flour, etc... but this is mine and it worked well.


Green, unripe tomatoes of any kind or size, sliced thick.  Homegrown are best!
Breadcrumbs (mine were seasoned)
Vegetable oil


Mix flour and breadcrumbs on a plate and pour milk into a bowl.  Dip each slice of tomato into the milk, dredge in the flour/breadcrumb mixture, and then repeat.  Place on a plate until complete.

Heat up the oil in a pan until dropping a drop of water in makes it hiss.  Carefully place the tomatoes in the oil, and cook for about 4 minutes.  Carefully turn, making sure to not scrape the breading off.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Drain on a paper-towel lined plate and let cool a little bit.  You might have to do this in batches.