Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25th - Shallot Bruschetta

Shallots Next Year?
I'm thinking I want to plant shallots next year in my garden.   I've got garlic growing this year and its doing great.  I'm too apprehensive to do full fledged onions, so maybe the small unassuming shallot will be my crop for 2011.  I love the taste of shallots.  They're small, but potent, and lend a great flavor to sauces and vinaigrettes. 

This recipe was very simple.  I was quite surprised.  However, I think that the caramelized shallots and cheese would make a much better topping for flat bread pizza than bruschetta rounds.  Sprinkle on a little chopped thyme?


Shallots: $1.29
Olive Oil: had
French Bread: $0.99
Cheese (Asiago): had

Total: $2.28


FAST:   About 10 minutes total.

EASY:   The difficulty lies in cutting up the shallots.

FRESH:  Yes, but could improve with a sprinkling of some fresh herbs.

OVERALL:  I like the simplicity of the recipe combined with that caramelized shallot flavor.  Again, I would maybe add a little chopped parsley or thyme for flavor and garnish.  It needs a little punch of color on the top.

This weekend we have bruleed berries (not to be confused with creme brulee).  See ya then!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24th - One Hour Shrimp Paella

You can have some of my paella..ella..ella..
Years back, when I was studying in Italy, I was able to get away for a long weekend to Barcelona.  It was an amazing adventure and I'm so glad I did it.  My mission on that trip was to eat the best paella in the city.  So I researched, found it, and it was everything I had hoped it would be.  Super friendly staff at this family owned place...just perfect.   Every time I hear the word paella now, I think of me sitting at that little table on the second floor overlooking the street and eating that wonderful combination of seafood and rice. 

What can you expect from this One Hour Shrimp Paella?  Nothing close to the real thing, but this recipe was quite tasty.   It's suprisingly good for a recipe with a title that makes it sound no better than the photo printing at Walgreen's. 

Try to track down real smoked Spanish paprika, it'll make all the difference.  I was able to find that and some saffron at Williams Sonoma.  (Trader Joe's might have it as well).  I suggest you make this sometime soon before the price of shrimp becomes astronomical due to the BP disaster in the gulf.


Olive Oil: had
Smoked Ham: $2.44
Onions: $0.89
Red Bell Pepper: $0.75
Saffron: $6.00
Paprika: $7.50
Broth: $1.00
Arborio Rice: had
Shrimp: $6.00
Green Olives: $3.09

Total: $27.67  (Ouch.  Pricey.  But I spent the majority on excellent quality saffron and paprika, which should last a while).

FAST:  Contrary to the name, the recipe does not take 1 hour.  It takes about 15 minutes to prep, 15 minutes to cook the rice, and another 6 to cook the shrimp.   So about 36 minutes total.
EASY:  Really easy.  The most difficult part is chopping everything up and peeling the shrimp.
FRESH:  Yes.  You can even make it more fresh tasting with some chopped up parsley.
OVERALL:  Not bad for a really simple and easy paella.  Yes, technically it's not paella.  Its more of a paella style risotto, but delicious none the less.  Brian weighs in on the recipe with a yum and a thumbs up.  I recommend the fresh parsley as a garnish and maybe a squeeze of fresh lemon to zing a contrast to the smokey/herby flavors of the paprika and saffron.

Tomorrow is a simple shallot bruschetta.  See ya then!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23rd - White Beans with Sage and Olive Oil

This recipe is such a disappointment after the wonderful waffles.  But alas, all is not loss.  This recipe did remind me that dried beans really aren't that hard to cook.  They may seem a bit intimidating, but can be pretty easy.

The flavor on these beans was weak and pretty blah.  My recommendation: boil the beans in plain water, saute up a garlic/sage mixture in olive oil, and add the oil mixture to the cooked drained beans.  You'll avoid the blahs and get a much better flavor on the beans.  


Dried White Beans: $1.00
Olive Oil: had
Garlic: $0.89
Sage: had (from the garden)

Total: $1.89

FAST: Not at all.  The beans need to come to a boil and soak for 1 hour.  Then, you need to boil them again in some fresh cold water for 45 minutes.  You're looking at 2 hours for beans.

EASY:  If you can boil water, you can do this recipe.

FRESH:  The flavor of the garlic and fresh sage is lost when you boil the poop out of it.  In fact, the flavor gets so subtle you almost miss it.

OVERALL:  Not great.  Definitely making the garlic-sage oil mixture next time and drizzling it just before service.  Otherwise, skip this recipe.

Tomorrow is Paella!  See ya then.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22nd - Waffles with Frizzled Ham and Maple Mustard Cream

Waffles you say?
Gosh darn, I did!  Breakfast for dinner is becoming really really popular in the Chicago-land area.  You can find all sorts of savory waffles/pancakes and egg dishes on dinner menus throughout the city.   I think folks like the comfort breakfast foods provide.  Plus, they take well to interpretations.  This, my dear friends, is an absolute treat that you MUST try.  Brian is putting this recipe in his top 10 favorite recipes of all time!  That's a big honor from such an oldster!  (Ha ha, kidding!)

Seriously, ditch the Eggos and either make waffle batter from scratch or buy the Malted Mix from Williams-Sonoma (that's what I used).  This recipe deserves the best waffle you can get!  The maple-mustard cream is like gooey heaven and the pieces of ham thrown in put you over the edge!  It all works fabulously together to make a memorable dinner that'll make your guests think twice before poo-pooing your crazy ideas!!


Butter: had
Ham: $2.57
Heavy Whipping Cream: $1.99
Maple Syrup: $6.00 (I got the real stuff)
Dijon Mustard: $1.00
Green Onions: $0.53
Waffles: used the Malted Mix from Williams-Sonoma which I had in the pantry

Total: $12.09


FAST:  The recipe takes about 20 minutes including prep time, sauce cooking time, and waffle making time.

EASY:  Super easy.  You just saute the ham for 5 minutes, then add all the rest of the sauce ingredients and let simmer for 3 minutes.  The hardest part for me was making the waffles.

FRESH:  The green onions add the fresh zing to the sauce.  Make sure to have some extra for garnish!

OVERALL:  LOVE THIS RECIPE!!  LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS RECIPE!!  I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the best recipe so far this year from this crazy (time consuming) project.  The ham-maple-mustard cream is so delicious.  Who would have thought maple and mustard would go so well together?  Now, in order for this to work, you CANNOT use Mrs. Butterworths.  You need to spring for the real maple syrup (it is pretty expensive though).  It will not taste the same.  I just tried it and it does not taste the same!!   Please, do me a favor and have waffles for dinner.  The kids will love it and your dinner guests will freak!

I don't know if anything will ever top the awesomeness of this recipe, but we've got white beans tomorrow.  I'm thinking it'll be a let down.  We'll see ya tomorrow and find out!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 19th & 20th - Heath Bar Brownies

Brownie Goodness...
I go ape for brownies.  Absolutely love them.  Especially when they are fudgy (and not cakelike).  Yumm..  I could eat a whole pan by myself.  This is a delicious twist on the, dare I say it, ho-humness of brownies.   Although, I'll stick with ho-hum any time. 

I found Heath bits at my local grocery store.  They were with the chocolate chips.  I decided to go with those rather than trying to crush up candy bars.  It was a tad more expensive, but worth the convenience.

Butter: $1.99
Chocolate: had (compliments of Callebaut, where I took a chocolate class)
Flour: had
Salt: had
Baking Soda: had
Sugar: had
Eggs: $0.89
Vanilla: had
Walnuts: had
Heath Bits: $3.19

TOTAL: $6.07


FAST:  These brownies took about 55 minutes overall.  Fifteen minutes for prep, 30 minutes for baking, and ten minutes for the brownies to cool down enough for me to eat.

EASY:  The part about beating the eggs with the sugar to get them really fluffy and then fold in the dry ingredients was probably the most difficult part.

FRESH:  Meh, you can call these brownies delicious, but you really can't call them fresh tasting.  Now a fresh take on the classic brownie, they are!

OVERALL:   Love these brownies.  Absolutely love them.  The fact that you sprinkle the Heath bits on them when they just come out of the oven...shear genius!  Although, I did put some in the batter.  Also, I had a handful of pecans leftover in the freezer and threw those in as well.  Yumm!  I haven't met a brownie I didn't like (unless it had raisins in it!).   These are a must try!

Well folks, we've got waffles for Tuesday.  Yes, that's what I said...waffles!  See ya then!

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18th - Classic Shaken Margarita

Cocktail Time!!!!
I'm not a huge fan of tequila (there was an episode back in my younger days), so I shy away from the margarita.  This recipe actually was pretty easy, but really really strong.  If you like tequila, you'll love this!


Limes: $1.00
Tequila: Had
Cointreau:  Had
Salt:  Had

Total: $1.00


FAST:  It only took about 5 minutes to concoct this drink (which doubles as a relief tonic from pesky children).

EASY:  Easier than trying to get a full time job (believe me, I know!)

FRESH:  The fresh squeezed lime juice makes all the difference.

OVERALL:  This drink was too strong for me.  I know, you're shocked and horrified.  But, I had to dilute it with some flat club soda and some sweet sour mix.   The tequila taste was too strong and I kept throwing up in my mouth and tasting that awful bile taste.    The sweet sour mix mellowed it out, but I'm going to skip this recipe for the future.

We've got brownies for the weekend!  See ya then!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 17th - Grilled Chicken with Olive Puree

Backed Up...
If you've been checking my blog, you'll have noticed that the Thurs and Fri recipes haven't been posted.  Let me assure you that I've made the recipes, but I've been so busy I haven't had time to blog them.   I've been working on projects for the school.  So, here they are, backdated and posted.


Kalamata Olives: $2.19
Olive Oil: Had
Chicken:  $2.88
Rosemary: Had (from garden)

TOTAL: $5.07


FAST:  The chicken has to marinate for 3 hours or overnight.  (I recommend it otherwise you won't get any flavor into the chicken.)  So this is one recipe you should probably do one day ahead of time.

EASY:  The puree is super easy since you're using a food processor.  Then it's just slab it under the skin of the chicken, marinate, and grill.

FRESH:  The rosemary gives it that punch of freshness.

OVERALL:  This recipe was a little boring.  I didn't care for it and Brian thought it was good.  It would go really well with a gravy of some sort.  Maybe a Sauce Maltaise?  That's a hollandaise sauce that uses orange zest and juice (typically blood oranges).  The orange, rosemary, and olives would be really good together.

Okay, I need a laugh.  Here's my favorite lady, Amy Sedairs, stickin' it to Martha.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16th - Sugar Snap Peas with Toasted Sesame Seeds

Ugh.  What a boring recipe.  Literally I got a bag of snap peas that steam in the bag, microwaved it, added sesame oil and sesame seeds and bang...that's it.   Know what it tastes like?  Snap peas with sesame oil and sesame seeds.


Snap Peas: $2.19
Sesame Oil: had
Sesame Seeds: had

Total: $2.19

FAST:  Took me 4 minutes to nuke the peas in the bag and 30 seconds to add the sesame oil and sesame seeds (which I toasted while the microwave was going).

EASY:'s the microwave.

FRESH:  Surprisingly the steam in the bag frozen snap peas actually tasted fresh (and good).

OVERALL:  Not feeling like being Martha Stewart in the kitchen?  This recipe is for you.  Nice and easy and BORING!  YAWN.  It's sleepy time.  Wake me up when we get a good recipe cause tomorrow's is even more boring!

See ya then!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15th - Bell Pepper, Red Onion, and Goat Cheese Pizza with Fresh Thyme

Grey Skies Are Gonna Clear Up...
Well, I'm feeling 100% better today.  The cough is now subsiding and I'm able to sleep at night.  Yeesh, that was a little rough going.   So, today I bring to you a nice pizza recipe.  Usually, I'm not a fan of the bell pepper (especially green), but this was actually pretty good.

Olive oil: had
Red Onion: $0.79
Garlic: had
Red Bell Pepper: $0.89
Yellow Bell Pepper: $0.69
Crushed Red Pepper: had
Pizza Crust: had (see note)
Goat Cheese: $3.99
Thyme: had (from my garden)

TOTAL: $6.36

So a while back (April 27th to be exact), I had to make calzones and I decided to buy a pizza crust mix.  Well luckily it came with 2 packages in the box and I kept the other package just in case I'd need to make pizza again.  Viola!  Another pizza recipe.  So that's what I used.


FAST:  Well, it's not the quickest.  For now, we're going to ignore the pizza crust I made. (Once it's mixed up, you have to let it sit, covered, for an hour to rise.)  The onions had to saute on low for at least 30 minutes.  Then you add the peppers and saute for another 5.  Then, you assemble your pizza and let it cook for 12.  The prep took me about 10 minutes.  So, all together, you're looking at 57 - 60 minutes to make pizza even with a fully baked shell.   Not so quick compared to the other recipes.

EASY:  Yeah, somewhat.  The trick with the pizza is to make sure the onions and peppers are sliced really thin.  That can be somewhat tricky if you're not good with a knife.  Don't slice your fingers off!!  Otherwise, it's just assemble and bake.

FRESH:  I'd say.  The sweet of the onions with the bite of the bell pepper match well to the creamy, earthiness of the goat cheese and that hint of  fresh thyme.  But something felt missing...

OVERALL:   I happened to have some balsamic glaze in the fridge and drizzled some on top of the pizza.  It took that recipe from WOW to POW (bringing back a classic, Joy).   That little extra zing of balsamic really set all of the flavors off.  So, I actually liked this recipe.  I'd make it again.

Tomorrow is snooze city with some snap peas.  See ya then!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 12 & 13 - Lemon and Anise Sugar Twists

It's Sunday!
Feeling somewhat better today.  Went with Brian and Nikki to see Sex and the City 2.  My review is...meh.  Didn't care for it so much, but it got me out of the house for 2 1/2 hours which I needed.  I've been cooped up in there since Thursday Night.

After the movie we came back to the house and had a Thanksgiving in June meal.  I made a free range turkey that I've had in the freezer for a while.  Thawed it out on Friday and brined it on Saturday.  Turned out excellent.  Brian made the stuffing, sweet potatoes, and green beans.  Yumm! 
So for this blog entry I've got a guest taster, Nikki!


Puff Pastry: $3.19
Egg and Milk: Had
Sugar: had
Lemon Peel: had
Aniseed: $2.99

TOTAL: $6.18

So I finally found anise seed at a grocery store I haven't been to yet.  And I found a butt load of it for $2.99.  Yeah for me!  I've got anise seed for the next 2 years.


FAST:  You need to dethaw your puff pastry for at least 40 minutes.  The assembly took less than 5 minutes and they bake for about 20 (16 in my oven).  So, I would say they were pretty quick.
EASY:  Yeah, just make sure you don't let your puff pastry thaw too much on the counter, otherwise it'll be impossible to work with. 

FRESH: I would say the anise seed and the lemon zest give it a somewhat fresh taste.  It's much better than using fake anise extract.

OVERALL:   I thought they were okay.  They needed more sugar in my opinion.  They would be a great garnish for a bigger dessert of some sort.  Maybe ice cream or sorbet?  They'd be a nice addition to an after-dinner cookie tray with coffee.  Nikki gives it a 6 out of 10 and Brian says "that's fair". 

Next week we've got some pretty simple dishes.  We'll see ya then!

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 11th - Cantaloupe Mint Cooler

Well, my last two days of bed rest here in the homestead have helped a bit.  I don't feel as congested, but still have the cough.  Hopefully I can shake that in the next day or so.  You'd think by the look of the drink in the picture above that I was making myself some kind of crazy home remedy.  Although it packs a vodka punch, it didn't cure my cough.   I can attest that it tastes much better than it looks (I think I over blended)!


Cantaloupe: $1.29
Sugar: had
Vodka: had
Limes: $1.00
Mint: had (from my garden)

TOTAL: $2.29


FAST: It took me about 5 minutes to cut up the melon and squeeze the lime juice.  Then, you just blend everything in a blender which didn't take more than 30 seconds!  Super Fast!

EASY:  Cutting up the melon was the hardest part of this whole recipe.  Just zip zap the rest in the blender.

FRESH:  Mmm..nothing like ripe cantaloupe and fresh mint with a smack of vodka.  DEE-LISH!

OVERALL:   I haven't met a drink I didn't like.  Well, except for Campari.  This was really nice and refreshing.  Perfect for hot summer days.  I suppose you could use any kind of fresh fruit or melon.  I happened to have lemon vodka, but I suppose a raspberry or blueberry flavored vodka would work well too!  Brian gives this a thumbs up.  He says that it would also be good sans the alcohol.

Alrighty, we've got some puff pastry twists for the weekend.  See ya then!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 10th - Soft Tacos with Sausage and Feta

It Continues...
Yuck.  Still not feeling great.  Nyquil is my nightcap of choice now.  Good news, these tacos came together pretty quick, which was good because I was hungry and tired when I came home from teaching all day!


Olive Oil: had
Italian Sausage: $3.08
Red Onion: $0.74
Cumin: had
Corn Tortillas: $0.99
Feta Cheese: $2.19
Cilantro: had (from Tuesday's recipe)
Romaine lettuce: had (from Tuesday's recipe)

TOTAL: $7.00

FAST:  It took about 15 minutes to cook the sausage and another 5 minutes to chop up the rest of the ingredients.  So, about 20 minutes for these tacos.

EASY:  Nothing to it.  Fry up some sausage with some onions and cumin.  Then, it's basically a build your own taco bar.

FRESH:  The feta was a great touch to the fennel/cumin taste of the Italian sausage.  The fresh cilantro also perked up the entire dish.

OVERALL:  This was a really quick, easy recipe.  I would add some fresh tomatoes and maybe a little diced avocado as well to this.  Top with some sour cream?

Tomorrow is cocktail time.  Very simple and hopefully delicious.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9th - Green Onion Biscuits

Still Enfermo
Well folks, I'm still sick.  I actually think I'm worse than yesterday.  But, I was able to whip these biscuits up no problem because the recipe was so simple.  I just wish it wasn't so hot out.  Because the oven was on, I ended up opening the doors and shutting off the A/C.  Normally, I would cool myself off with a chilled gin martini.  But, being sick and medicated, I've got to stick to water.  BOO!!

You'll love this recipe.  They're so good.  I skipped the part about brushing with melted butter because I wanted to get the true taste of these biscuits.  Also, I ended up using a good amount of flour on the table when kneading/turning the dough (as instructed in the recipe).  Just make sure to have the extra flour handy so you're not playing Edward Dough Hands and making a mess of your kitchen trying to get to it (from experience). 


Flour: had
Baking Powder: had
Salt & Pepper: had
Whipping Cream: $2.99
Green Onion: $1.00

Total: $3.99

FAST: These biscuits took me about 7 minutes to prep (including green onion chopping time).  They baked about 15 minutes in my oven (because it runs too hot).  So about 22 - 25 minutes for some really good biscuits.

EASY:  OMG, YES!  The hardest part was waiting for them to cool down enough to eat! 

FRESH:  The green onion does it here.  Make sure you put in a touch more pepper than it calls for.  It helps to make the green onion flavor pop!

OVERALL:  Love these!!  I'm keeping this recipe for the next time company comes over.  Simple and easy, they'll think you slaved all day to make these.  I would love to put some cooked bacon bits into the dough.  Nah, I'll just keep them they way they are.  

Tomorrow we've got some interesting tacos.  See ya then!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8th - Turkey Chopped Salad with Spicy Avocado Dressing

I Hate Being Sick
Being sick, especially when the weather is warm out, sucks.  I have a bad chest cold/sinus infection and I've been medicating myself up for the past few days.  So, you'll pardon me if these blog posts are a little shorter than normal and more straight to the point.  I've been sleeping a lot more than usual.

Avocado: $0.59
Lime: $0.19
Chili-garlic Sauce: $2.99
Chicken: $3.05
Jicama: $0.89
Red Onion: $0.84
Red Pepper: $1.02
Cilantro: $0.33
Romaine Lettuce: $2.99

Total: $12.89

I decided to substitute out chicken for the turkey.  I found a great deal on boneless, skinless chicken thighs so I just rubbed them with the BBQ rub I had in the pantry and sauteed them.  Perfect and tasty.

FAST: The chicken took about 15 minutes to cook.  The dressing took 2 minutes to make (because you put everything in a food processor).  The salad took only 15 minutes to put together (this included prep time for all the veggies).  Overall, 30 to 35 minutes.  I'm sure it would be even quicker if you used already cooked turkey (like the recipe calls for).

EASY:  The dressing is really simple since you're using a food processor.  The prep of the veggies isn't too difficult except for the jicama.  That took a little bit longer.  Patience grasshopper!

FRESH:   You're darn tootin'.  Its a salad for gosh sakes!

OVERALL:  This was a really good salad.  I ended up squeezing a bit more lime juice onto my salad as it seemed like it needed it.  Otherwise, the dressing was a nice combination of creaminess and zing.  The BBQ rub on the chicken worked great and the jicama and red pepper were a nice touch of crunch.  I really liked this recipe.  I think I would actually make it again, but add a bit more lime juice to the dressing or maybe even add some cilantro to the food processor.

Tomorrow we've got biscuits!  See ya then!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 5 & 6 - Amaretto Chocolate Pudding

My chef friend Tommy is having a party tonight, so I thought I would make something a little different for it:

It's the best of both worlds.  Meatloaf and cupcakes!!!  Delicious!
The meatloaf recipe is from America's Test Kitchen which is actually really good.  The mashed potatoes are homemade (no recipe really).  Let's hope they go!


Milk: $2.99
Pudding Mix: $1.29
Chocolate Chips: $2.29
Amaretto: had
Whipping Cream: $1.99
Sugar: had

Total: $8.56

FAST:  The pudding took about 15 minutes to make.  It then had to chill for at least an hour.

EASY:  As long as you follow the instructions on the box mix, you'll be okay.   It's really not that hard.

FRESH:  Adding berries as a garnish to the pudding will make the recipe taste much fresher.  Otherwise, it's pretty much just chocolate pudding.  Not really fresh.

OVERALL:  I didn't care for this recipe at all.  It just tasted like chocolate pudding with some alcohol in it.  You might as well save some time and get the jello instant pudding mix and throw in some amaretto in the end.  This definitely needs some strawberries to go with it. 

Okay.  Next week looks like some fun recipes.  See ya then!

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4th - Honeydew and Prosciutto with Greens and Mint Vinaigrette

Ugh.  I screwed up.  I somehow put cantaloupe on my shopping list instead of honeydew.  And of course, at the grocery store, I thought that it should have been a honeydew, but picked up cantaloupe instead.  So, this recipe is going to have a major substitution.  Also, I couldn't find anise seeds (I'll talk about that later) so I substituted out a very tiny drop of anise extract.

Speaking of class, the field trips went fine (sorry I was so short yesterday).  Nothing major to report.  Just did a huge amount of walking and was beat from that and the constant wrangling of students.  We visited a bunch of cool bakeries in the Chicago area, but I didn't grab my camera!  Ugh.  Some really tasty things, though.   If you're in the Chicago area I recommend Bittersweet, Bleeding Heart Bakery, and Twisted Sister.  Three very different bakeries with some very different pastries!

Speaking of class...again, this morning I was lucky enough to attend a "Summer Pastry" class at the Callebaut Chocolate Institute downtown.   Mmmm just think mangoes and white chocolate and strawberries and dark chocolate goodies!   It was great.  Learned a lot of info.  I'll post pictures once they e-mail them to me (again, forgot the camera).


Sherry wine vinegar: had
Honey: had
Anise extract: $1.99
Mint: (from garden)
Olive Oil: had
Baby Greens: (from garden)
Cantaloupe: $1.19
Prosciutto: $2.29

TOTAL: $5.47

FAST:  The whole salad, from dressing to finished plate, took under 10 minutes.  It's a real quick throw together salad, so it shouldn't take you any longer than that (unless your catching up on season finales on hulu, then it'll take you a bit longer).

EASY:  The hardest part of this recipe was cutting up the melon.  Again, need to pay attention to the recipe because it calls for sliced melon and not cubed.  DUH MARK!

FRESH:  Are ya kidding me?  Do you have to ask?  Fresh baby greens from the garden, topped with fresh mint and really ripe cantaloupe with a slightly sweetened honey anise vinaigrette.  This is the epitome of fresh and by which all other dishes should be judged!

OVERALL:  Meh.  It's okay.  I think the substitutions got in the way of this one.  I've really been trying to find anise seeds (I guess I'm not looking hard enough) for the last month because I have a great biscotti recipe that uses them.  They would add a much better texture and anise flavor to the salad than the extract would (it's a little too stong for me..even though I put in only a drop).  I actually prefer cantaloupe and the nutty/salty prosciutto together, but I can see why this recipe calls for the honeydew (because it's milder and would take on the flavor of fresh mint really well).  It's a nice change from the norm and would be a great summer starter. 

Yeehaw!  This weekend we've got us some dessert and maybe a surprise recipe or two (or maybe I'll leave those for Tuesday...I'm not sure).  See ya Sunday!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 3rd - Hunan Lamb Chops

I'm wiped out.  Took my two classes on their field trips today and I've been on the go from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  It was a beautiful day outside, but I'm going to be so sunburned tomorrow.  Need to get this done and get some sleep.


Hoisin Sauce: had
Soy Sauce: had
Dry Sherry: had
Chili oil: Had
Rice Vinegar: had
Garlic: $0.89
Green Onions: $0.33
Lamb: $7.45

TOTAL: $8.67


FAST:  The hunan sauce takes less than 5 minutes to whip up.  The lamb has to marinade in it for at least 20 minutes.  The cooking takes about another 6.  So, you can have this dish from start to finish in about 30 -35 minutes. 

EASY:   The hardest part of this recipe will be to not overcook the lamb.  I think lamb should be cooked to medium or medium rare (that's my personal opinion).  Well done lamb is like an oil spill in the gulf, it ruins everything.  NOTE: Keep an eye on your lamb!
FRESH:  Not really.  The hunan sauce is really thick and "dark" tasting.  Lots of soy sauce and hoisin which can get really syrupy and cloying.  Now, throw in a little fresh ginger to the sauce and you'll put a little more zip in the ship.
OVERALL:  The lamb I bought for this recipe was too lamby/gamey.  It killed the taste of the whole dish.   The hunan sauce would be great with either chicken or pork as well (I didn't mind that so much).  It's kind of all purpose that way.  I will be adding some fresh ginger next time and maybe some more green onion.

Sorry to make this short.  See ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2nd - Bistro Oven Fries with Parsley and Garlic

I absolutely love potatoes.  Whether boiled, baked, mashed, scalloped, au gratin, roasted, or made into a salad, I could eat nothing but potatoes!  However, I get insane when it comes to French fries.   I have an unhealthy (literally) obsession with them!!  (Yes, I love them more than Butter Pecan Ice Cream).  If I could eat nothing but French fries everyday for the rest of my life and not have any unhealthy side effects from them, I would!  When I go out to eat and order a sandwich and they come with, I usually say screw the coleslaw give me more fries.  And this, my friends, is where the fight begins.

Brian does not like French fries.  He frowns (well, scowls) every time I order them.  I get that look of "Do you really think you need to eat those?".   I put on my own scowly face that says "Yes, I think I need to eat these, now back off."  Every time we go out to eat.  It's like clockwork.  I tell him that I'm going to get fries and he tries to lay a guilt trip on me.  Every once in a while he'll win the fight and I order either a side of fruit or salad instead of fries (just to appease him).  But then the table next to me gets their food and of course their plates are loaded with fries.  I think "Man, look at what I'm missing out on.  Oh, I bet they're so good.  Stupid fruit.  Stupid salad.  Stupid fries.  Thanks for nothing Brian."

My name is Mark and I am a French fry addict.


Ingredients:Potatoes: $1.07
Canola oil: had
Parsley: (from garden)
Garlic: had

TOTAL: $1.07

FAST:  The fries took me maybe 7 minutes to cut and another 30 minutes to bake (my oven is a little wonky and I didn't follow the recipe cook time).  So you can have these fries in about 37 - 40 minutes.

EASY:  Cutting the fries so that they are all the same size can be difficult, especially if you're not very confident about your knife cutting skills.  You could buy either a mandoline or a french fry cutter (often sold in kitchen supply stores like Williams Sonoma) if you're going to make french fries often.  Otherwise, you better start practicing because they are pretty expensive.

FRESH: The parsley is actually a fresh touch to what could be ordinary fries.  I'm thinking next time maybe some rosemary.
OVERALL:  Brian says that there is no such thing as a healthy French fry.  Whether it's baked or deep fried, they're still bad for you.  I ignore that because I CANNOT live without my french fries.  It is nice to know that I can use this simple recipe to do home fries (that are at least healthier than deep fried've got to agree with that Brian).  Although they don't compare to Burger King fries, they're still good.  And the herb salt is a nice touch and can be improvised with many different flavor combinations.

Okay.  Tomorrow I make lamb.  See ya then!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1st - Grilled Salmon with Tomato Olive Salsa

Can you believe it's June already?  Gosh, where does the time go?  I'll tell you.  It goes into this blog.  It's really becoming difficult to find time to do this almost every day ("...pity, party of one..pity, party of one"), but I'm surviving.  Everytime I think of giving up this project, I get an e-mail from someone asking what's on the menu for next week or a comment from someone responding to my crazy opinions of things.  Then I'm like "Wow, someone is really reading this thing!  How sad."  (Just kidding.) But seriously, here's to all of you that keep me going.  Someone's got to keep you entertained (and make you hungry) at work!


Tomatoes: $2.07
Olive Oil: had
Kalamata Olives: $2.29
Basil: from my herb garden
Capers: had
Galic: had
Shallot $0.83
Salmon: $4.99

Total: $10.18

Doesn't it seems like I've made some version of this already.  I'm having a total deja vu moment here.  There's got to have been some sort of tomato/olive salsa with fish before.  Hold on..I'm going to check. 

The Verdict:  Yes, and no.  If you look back to January 12th there is a striped bass with Moroccan Salsa.

The salsa does have kalamata olives, but it does not have tomatoes or capers.  In fact, it's a whole other set of ingredients.  Similar concept, different take.  I knew I wasn't going crazy.  It's only June for crepes sake!


FAST: The salsa only takes about 10 minutes to make.  However, it needs to sit for at least 15 minutes for the flavors to develop (longer if possible).  The fish was really quick at 6 minutes.  So maybe 30 minutes for this meal?  If someone says Rachael Ray I'm gonna....

EASY:  How good are your salsa making skills?  That's about as hard as this recipe gets.  Unless, you get the fish stuck to your grill.  WARNING:  Make sure you wipe down your grill with some olive oil.  DOUBLE WARNING: Make sure you don't start your paper towel or rag on fire!

FRESH: Yeah.  The salsa is a great fresh kick to the salmon.  The just picked basil and kalamata olives combined with the capers is a symphony of flavors.  You know I'm going to say that this salsa will be even better in the summer with garden fresh tomatoes!

OVERALL:  A great variation of the fish and salsa recipe we've come to see twice now from Bon Appetit.  How many more will we see before the year is up?  Care to guess?  This is a great recipe to clean out your fridge and to use that home grown basil and tomatoes that you'll have an abundance of. 

Tomorrow is my favorite veggie: THE POTATO!  See ya then!