Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I promise to post about our Thanksgiving extravaganza soon, but tonight, my sicky-poo soup. I've had a fever for the past few days, along with a lovely fever blister on my lip, (which means a lot of mouth flapping and chewing is no fun,) plus a mighty sore throat and a bit of a sniffle. So now that I'm home and my test is taken- a few days of R&R is just what the nursing student ordered. I made a vat o' veggie soup and have about 30 hours of television to watch. This soup is fast, easy, and has 100% of your vitamins A & C. The red pepper opens your sinuses and the garlic helps promote good digestion. All in all, an ideal sicky-poo meal.

1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 t hot red pepper flakes
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 C chicken or veggie broth
1 can white beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
1 small bag frozen green beans
1 small bag frozen sweet corn
healthy dashes of sea salt and cracked pepper

In a large soup pot, swirl a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Heat to medium-high heat and add onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, carrots, and celery. Sautee for about 10 minutes, then add broth, beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Once it reaches a simmer, reduce the heat and stir in frozen corn and beans. Heat to serving temperature. Per serving: 220 calories, 5.5g fat (0g sat), 7g pro, 7g fiber. Makes 6 hefty bowls.

Grab your tissues and your remote!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Jamie & Krysten's Thanksgiving Feast

There will be pictures and recipes tomorrow, but for now.... the menu:

First off, we're not having turkey. Brad is marinating and smoking a large slab of beef brisket... maybe nontraditional, but YUM~ Anyway, no one ever accused either Jamie or Krysten of being conventional, now did they, hmmm?

Krysten's friend Stephanie is bringing the relish tray, and she promised a trip to the olive store; the mere thought thrills me to the core.

The goods: stuffed mushrooms, cornbread-n-biscuit stuffing (even though it's technically "dressing" since we are not putting it in a bird; how Southern are we?), fried okra, creamed corn, garlicky green beans, roasted cauliflower, homemade cranberry sauce, and for dessert: pumpkin cheesecake, pecan pralines, and buttermilk chess pie.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I know, I know; I haven't updated for months. I'm terrible. I still want to write about my food in Seattle - specifically the 4 Tom Douglas restaurants I went to, thanks to a tip from Orangette. I'll get around to it, I promise. But first, it's finally autumn in the great state of Texas, and I am consumed by soup frenzy. You guys know how much I love soup anyway... but for some reason, I love it especially in autumn. I made 3-bean chili a couple of weeks ago in the slow-cooker and it was great, but this week I made an outstanding white bean & bacon soup - warm and colorful and it just tastes like fall.

4 strips bacon
(or, 4 strips turkey bacon + 1 T olive oil)
1 C white or yellow onions, cut in crescents
(or pearl onions: to peel, boil for 2 minutes, immerse in ice water, chop off one end and the onion will slide easily from its skin)
2 C carrots (about 4 large), peeled and cut into rough 2" pieces
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz. cans Great Northern beans, drained
(or another white bean like navy or cannallini)
2 C chicken broth
2 C kale, chard, or other leafy green
salt & pepper to taste

Fry bacon in Dutch oven (if using turkey bacon, heat olive oil first) using medium high heat. When it is very crispy, remove it and set aside. Put the carrots into the bacon grease (aka turkey bacon flavored oil here at Chalet J) and sautee for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes more. Add the beans and broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Chop the bacon while the soup is simmering. Using a potato masher or slotted spoon, gently mash the beans to thicken the soup a little, but not all the way. After about 10 minutes, add the kale and bacon into the soup and cook just until the kale is wilted. Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Serves 4.

Each serving: 273 kcal, 5g fat (.5 saturated), 16g protein, 13g fiber.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Authentic Wisconsin Fish Boil

Greetings from Appleton, Wisconsin. (If you've never heard of it, it's about 30 miles southwest of Green Bay.) Now, I love fish. But boiled fish? That just sounds heinous. But when in Rome, you know? So T. and I headed north up the peninsula and after visiting some antique shops, a winery, and a dairy, hit the Old Mill Supper Club for an authentic Door County Fish Boil. Basically, it's a huge pot of salt water heated over a kerosene burner. They lower a big basket of red potatoes, white onions, and carrots into the water for about a half an hour, then put another basket of white fish down on top of that one for 7-8 minutes. The fish was caught just a few hours previously in the Sturgeon Bay. They add a bottle of lemon juice toward the end and then carry the baskets full of steaming fish and veggies inside, where they serve you right out of the basket with sourdough bread and a vat of melted butter. Add some cold beer and homemade cherry pie and voila! dinner. And quite a tasty one at that.

The fish was light, flaky, buttery, and the freshest I think I've ever had. By the time we got done....

My only regret was that we were too full to try the "original hashbrown sandwich" when we passed the Countryside Restaurant on the way home.

Friday, August 11, 2006

the vodka gimlet

No one knows the exact origin of the gimlet. Many ascribe it to Naval Officer Thomas Gimlette, but no written credit has actually been given to him. Rumor has it that while at sea, the sailors added lime juice to their liquor to ward off scurvy. In 1928 D.B. Wesson said a gimlet was "gin, a spot of lime, and soda." In 1953 Raymond Chandler gave the description: "a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else" in his novel The Long Goodbye. Today most bartenders mix it more to a 4 parts gin (or vodka, if specified~ the early 90's led to an influx of vodka over gin preferences) to 1 part lime. Some use fresh lime juice and simple syrup, some use sweetened lime juice, some add a splash of soda.

However you make it, a gimlet is one of those perfect cocktails that transcends time, fashion, and mood. Although shaken and strained into a martini glass, a gimlet makes a simply beautiful cocktail, here at Chalet J it is most often just 2 shots vodka and 1/2 shot Rose's over ice, in a classic rocks glass. It's a slick drink, almost oily (with vodka, anyway; I know nothing the properties of gin except that it tastes like pine needles *shudder*), clear with a hint of chartreuse... it just tastes classy. You can close your eyes, and almost see the a dark wood bar, almost smell the faint aroma of cigar smoke, almost hear the piano softly tinkling.


making do with what you have

I am a huge fan of comfort food. Sometimes you just need it. I don't know why, but for the last couple of days, I've been thinking nonstop about fried chicken. Now, I have never in my life made fried chicken. But I've been up since 7 and running around all day, and I've been so damn healthy for the last 3 weeks, by the time I got home at 6pm, all I could think about was fried chicken! Anyway, earlier this week, I mostly finished a container of black pepper cashews from Whole Foods. There were a lot of little cashew bits left among the salt and pepper in the bottom, and I had set them aside thinking I could use them in something later on. I had briefly thought about breading a chicken breast in them, but by the time I finished trimming all the skin and fat off the piece I had thawed, there were only three little strip-sized pieces. Struck with a brilliant notion, I chopped the peppered cashews finely with my Ulu, and added a couple of tablespoons of flour, a tablespoon of cornmeal, and salt. I brushed the chicken strips with egg, tossed them in the mixture, and pan fried them in olive oil. Seriously... what's better than chicken strips?? They were hot, crispy, crunchy, savory, and just PERFECT for a Friday night on the couch. I gobbled them up with broccoli and lemon, a vodka gimlet, and The March of the Penguins.

Ohmigah, these penguins are soooooo cute I kinda feel bad for just devouring one of their fellow fowls. But... I guess it's a good thing chickens aren't as cute as penguins, because my belly is really happy right now.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

asian soup

I've decided to veer my blog in another direction. I'd love to be able to write like Molly or take photographs like Chanelle, but truthfully, my talents lie in creative, nutritious meals for the foodie on a budget. I don't actually make all that many fancy or gourment meals - but I cook a lot and I use food that people keep in their pantries, and I think there's a definite niche of (somewhat lazy) foodies out there interested in learning more about losing a few lbs (or maintaining a healthy weight). Although I definitely indulge, and frequently, there's absolutely no reason one should have to sacrifice taste for health. So I'll be adding nutritional information to my recipes whenever I can.

(PS> I've lost almost 5 lbs this month and I feel great!)

You guys know how much I love soup. Soup is also one of the best ways to fill your tummy without using up a lot of your daily caloric intake, and one of the easiest things to throw together. I always keep Pacific broth on hand - usually chicken and onion. I devised this particular soup out of necessity- one of those "making do with what you have" sort of meals, but now it's one of my favorites.

2 C chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yam or sweet potato
1/2 C mushrooms (preferable shiitake)
1/2 C white onion, cut into crescents
1/2 C frozen, shelled soybeans
1 tsp sesame oil
1 green onion stalk, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
toasted sesame seeds to garnish

Wash & puncture your yam, wrap it in foil, and bake. By the way, a yam and a sweet potato are not the same vegetable - in fact, they are not even in the same family of vegetables. They come from different continents and have very different nutritional components. Generally speaking, a yam will have about 30-50% more calories than a sweet potato of comparable size, but the vitamins and minerals also far outweigh the sweet potato. Both are great sources of Vitamins A & C, beta carotene, and dietary fiber (what makes you feel full). Take out the potato when it is done but before it gets too soft. While it is cooling, sautee mushrooms and white onions in garlic and sesame oil. Cube the sweet potato (you can peel it for looks but discarding ths skin will lose about half of its beneficial fiber and many vitamins). Once the mushrooms and onions are done, add your chicken broth, sweet potato, and frozen soy beans, and heat to serving temperature. You will need to salt to taste during this step. Garnish with green onion, sesame seeds, and black pepper. Serves 1 person (2 bowls - that's just how I roll).

Calories: 450, fat: 10g (less than 2g saturated), protein: 21g, fiber: 14g. This dish contains 4 of your 5-7 FDA-recommended daily servings of vegetables.

Monday, August 07, 2006

at long last....

I promised Molly over at Orangette that I would make these weeks ago. Many, many people turn their noses up at the thought of pickled green beans, but I think they're wonderful - fresh, crunchy, summery, vinegar-y, and the perfect garnish for a homemade bloody mary.

First of all, you have to have the old fashioned Mason jars. They just don't look right in anything else. I used a big one today because that's all I had unused, but I prefer the smaller size so you can stand the beans upright before they start curling. Regardless, you have to trim your beans so they fit exactly in the jar, just to the bottom of the threaded part. I know some people prefer to flash boil the beans first, but I like mine super-crunchy, so I start with them raw. Pack trimmed beans in the jar tightly with a few crescents of white onion, 10-12 fresh dill sprigs, a couple of garlic cloves (either sliced or minced, depending on your visual preference,) and some very coarsely ground black pepper.

On the stove, heat regular white vinegar (about 5-6% acidity) to a rolling boil. Pour boiling vinegar over beans to top and cap immediately. You'll have to use a towel or oven mitt to tighten the lid, but the heat should seal the ring. It will pop back open when you re-open the jar for the first time.

Let cool on the counter, then transfer to refrigerator for a couple of days for maximum flavor. Serve on their own or as a garnish. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nutrition 101

OK, I'm finally learning something in my nutrition class. And since my goal is to lose 10 lbs, I'm going to spend the next few days looking very closely at my usual diet, and how to cut 500kcal (what we commonly refer to as calories) a day, which is what one has to do to lose 1 lb/week... so the idea is, adding exercise, can lose more than 1 lb/week..

I think the most important thing to do here is start measuring my portion sizes. Americans eat riDONKulous portion sizes. I figured out my BMI (loosely, 22.9, which is still in the healthy range of 18.5-24.9), and based on that, calculated that on a sedentary day, I should take in only about 1200+kcal. (When I work out, it's only about 1600.) That's not a lot. I also calculated that I can have between 20-70g fat (no more than 20g saturated), 46g protein, 200-300g carbohydrates, and 25g fiber.

For breakfast, I actually measured my cereal, milk, and blackberries - for a grand total of 300kcal, 7.5g fat (.5g saturated). For lunch I made my favorite salad, which I make all the time, all the time, and measured everything and looked everything up, and it turns out? My favorite healthy salad has over 500kcal and 38g fat!!!!!!!!!! Whoa. WHOA.

This is exactly the kind of stuff I need to know in order to accomplish my goals. If anyone would like me to work up their specs for them, please let me know; I need the practice. I'll just be over here making vitamin flashcards for my final next week. :)

Monday, July 24, 2006

comfort food for non-superheroes

I feel bad even posting this on my cooking blog, being as I don't actually make a single part of it... but sometimes, you just don't feel like cooking. Sometimes you're just too busy, too tired, too lazy, or just plain too hungry to go 7 rounds in the kitchen, no matter how much you love to cook.

1 can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (w/ basil, garlic, & oregano)
1 can organic cream of tomato soup
1 tsp dried basil
salt/pepper to taste (and I am ALL about the black pepper with tomatoes)
1-2 oz of good pecorino romano cheese

I didn't take a photograph because I have red dishes, and well, what's a picture of tomato soup in red dishes? but honestly, this is one of my favorite meals. It's beautiful, fragrant, and filling, and sometimes all a superhero needs is to take off her cape, put her feet up, and enjoy a lovely, steaming bowl of hearty tomatoes, sweet basil, sharp cheese, and black pepper.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's a Monday Two-fer!!!

I am making dinner for myself- a lovely piece of fresh wild sockeye salmon, cooked in the usual way, which will be paired with zucchini and squash matchsticks in a lovely wine-mustard-tarragon sauce, which I made up myself. I'm driving to Austin tomorrow, but working with my Dallas crew, so I'm making cookies to take to them. And also, I'm drinking wine. It's from Argentina and I'm quite fond of it. :)

wine-mustard-tarragon sauce:
a dollop of olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fancy whole-grain mustard
a liberal dash of white wine (+ more for the chef)
a liberal dash of broth (I used onion tonight but you could use chicken or vegetable)
1 tsp+ flour
1 TBSP tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
salt & pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat the oil and sautee the garlic and tarragon. Add the broth and flour to make a roux. Stir in the mustard and wine and reduce. Add more wine or broth if it gets too thick, more flour if it gets too thin.

In a larger skillet, lightly sautee the zucchini and squash matchsticks to al dente. Add the sauce to the vegetables and serve with a dusting of parmesan and fresh cracked pepper.

And nooooow, for the cookies!!! (Especially since I know Krysten and Chanelle are just scrolling through to the dessert.)

I got this recipe from an old boss of mine when I worked at the Komen Foundation, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to share it, but I tweaked it more than once to get it to its current state of perfection, so this is the new and updated ... better version. Seriously, they're so good. I feel like Phoebe- I can't make them all that much because it's just not fair to the other cookies:

Oatmeal-Cranberry-Pistachio Cookies
2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
2 large eggs
2 t vanilla
2 T milk (I use 1/2 & 1/2)
2 C rolled oats
2 C flour
1 t baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 t cinnamon... maybe a pinch more
1 C dried cranberries, halved (make sure you get really good quality, no-sugar-added, fresh & dried, if possible, none of that pre-bagged Craisin crap)
1 C roasted, unsalted pistachios, shelled & chopped

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Gradually beat in eggs, vanilla, and milk. In another bowl, combine oats, flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add to butter mixture a little at a time & stir in just until mixed. Add the pistachios and cranberries, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or at least 2 hours).

Heat oven to 325-350. Drop by spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet (I have always used my 2 T coffee scoop to make the perfectly sized and shaped cookie). I find it helpful to put the remaining dough back in the refrigerator while each batch is baking. Bake 12-14 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Eat while warm, with a Baileys on the rocks. Cheers!

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Tonight I made my favorite soup. It's Greek and it's kind of like chicken and rice and kind of like egg drop and it also has lemon, my favorite ingredient in any dish, ever.

Avgolemano Soup, serves 2
1 large chicken breast, trimmed of fat and cubed
3 C chicken stock
1 small yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 C (dry) long-grain rice
1 egg
1/8-1/4 C fresh-squeezed lemon juice (MUST be fresh-squeezed! My first trial had Whole Foods 100% not-from-concentrate jarred lemon juice and it was most definitely not the same)
a few sprigs of oregano
a few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a swirl of olive oil in a pot. Add the onion, garlic, and oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Once the onions begin to get translucent, add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken breast and poach for 20-30 minutes. Strain and put broth back on stove. Add rice and cook until done (I used brown rice and it takes longer than white). Meanwhile whisk together egg and lemon juice. Once the rice is done, strain again, and s-l-o-w-l-y pour the hot soup into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Add back in chicken/rice/onions/etc, garnish with flat leaf parsley, and serve with a dry, lemony white wine.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


OK, seriously, y'all, I am SO FAT! This job is killing me. I'm only 5'1"... I can't just freely gain 5 lbs. without it making a serious change in how my clothes fit. And right now I have an extra 8-10. Ugh. My entire problem is willpower: I eat well at home because I only keep healthy food in my house. But give me an option between a chicken breast and a hamburger? Well, I'm going to choose the hamburger everytime. Hello, there are french fries!!

Sooo, I have a week and a half at home, and I'm going to see if I can't flush out (so to speak) some of these excess lbs. before I leave again. My focus this week will be soup and fresh produce. Last night I had french onion soup (with a dusting of parmesan, because honestly, who can eat dinner without cheese?), and replaced my evening glass of wine with a cup of chamomile tea. This morning I had two soy lattes (unsweetened soy milk) and currently I'm chowing on a bowl of watermelon and blueberries, with a tablespoon of lime juice and a teaspoon of wildflower honey. Yum! My dinner will more-than-likely be a zucchini and onion egg-white fritta, or maybe tomato soup. If I can get done with my schoolwork, I also intend to do some yoga. Go me, go!!

Please send good thoughts. Our dress code at work just changed from uniform to business casual, and I haven't worn my "work clothes" in well over a year. I doubt most of it still fits me!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

long time no cook

I know I haven't posted much lately, but I've been on the road, thus eating out exclusively. I'll be home at the end of the month and plan on cooking a lot, but for now, I'll tide you over with one of the best appetizers I've ever experienced- a tiny trio of bisques, in onion, carrot, and celery. They were so cute! And delicious! (As, by the way, am I.) I love soup anyway, but these tiny explosive tastes of smoky onion, hearty carrot, and delicate celery was a fantastic combination, and a lovely lead-in to my filet mignon (medium-rare) with spinach and homemade macaroni and cheese. Oh, and a lovely tiramisu. Is it any wonder I am happiest when eating??

Yum. Sorry the picture is poor; I took it with my phone. For size reference, those 3 spoons are of the demitasse variety:

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

one-dish extravaganza

I am normally not a fan of the casserole. It's so 1970s dinner party and anyway, I don't like it when everything has one taste. But I had this tuna steak I had cooked previously (Arizona, just pretend it's chicken!) and didn't really know what to do with it, so a cursory search of my fridge and pantry revealed I could make a healthy dish with a mediterranean flair. One has to be extra creative when one does not have a microwave.

I had cooked the tuna (rare) in sesame oil, garlic, and a smidge of dill last week. I dolloped a bit of oil in the bottom of the dish, threw the fish in, and surrounded it with Roma tomatoes, 1015 onions, kalamata olives, and fresh green beans. The robust tomatoes and fresh, crisp beans were a wonderful complement to the sweet onions and salty olives. I heaped everything in separate piles as to keep the flavors somewhat intact, covered with foil, and heated at 350 until bubbly. Paired with a crisp glass of dry white and Season 2.0 of Battlestar Galactica! Brilliant.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Ripped from the headlines... from Chanelle, from SweetNicks- I proudly (er, not-so-proudly) present... the fridge at Chalet J:

First... the door, ie: the staples. As you can see, I always have onhand:

minced garlic
whole-grain mustard
yellow mustard
sun-dried tomatoes
homemade marinara
salsa verde
mayo (ick, only for tuna salad/chicken salad)
some foreign sauce
Soy Vey!
chicken stock
soy milk
glass jar where I pour my leftover coffee every morning so I always have iced coffee on hand
and of COURSE, an open bottle of wine

Next... pretty much any time you look in the refrigerator here, you'll find cheese and olives. Lots and lots of cheese and olives. At first glance one can see feta, mozzarella, smoked cheddar with carmelised onions, gouda, some weird foreign assortment of wedges, kalamatas, green Queens, and a container of olive tapenade. There's probably a wedge of romano back there, and maybe an old hunk of stilton. Oh look! Hummus!!

Aaand, the produce, of course. Even when I'm only home for 4 days, I buy produce. Always in excess. In the drawer, I have mixed greens, celery, green beans, a lemon (the one I use for my evening twist), mushrooms, and an onion:

And on the counter- tomatoes, zucchini, lemons, pears, apples, and a lone yam:

And of course... for a single gal who travels for a living... the freezer. The place she throws things she knows she won't get to for a few weeks:

soy beans (in and out of the shell)
Italian sausage
steaks (cut in half and frozen as to cook for one)
an ice gel mask (for the morning after the rum, ha!)
and during the summer, always a bowl of frozen grapes

Chanelle, don't make me go into the pantry!!!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Comfort Food

I had a pretty shitty single gal night last night. I don't expect that many of my readers identify with dating at 29, so I'm not even going to go into the details, except to tell you that when I finally pulled myself from bed at 3:30pm, I really needed pasta. (To be honest, I really needed macaroni & cheese, but that wasn't happening without a trip to the store, which wasn't happening in my current physical and emotional state.)

As usual, my cooking is on a what-I-have-on-hand basis, so I took this recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini, and tweaked it to fit my pantry.

1 T olive oil
1 serving pasta
1 C hot chicken stock
1 small zucchini, matchsticked
1/8 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C grated cheese

(For some ungodly reason, I am out of parmesan - I went to the store on Friday but it's such a staple for me I didn't know I was out- instead, I used my new favorite cheese in the world, from Wensleydale- smoked cheddar with carmelised onions. It wasn't easy to grate but it melted well and the sweet, smoky flavor mingled with my dish nicely.)

Heat olive oil in saucepan. Add garlic and onions, and cook for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Add in dry pasta and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until the pasta has a nice coating of oil on it. Add in a cup of hot stock, cover and reduce heat. After about 5 minutes, throw in zucchini and continue to simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. I threw in the grated cheddar at the end and served immediately, with fresh cracked pepper.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I am not especially fond of raspberries; they are a little too sweet and soft for me. I prefer the dark, tangy wildness of the blackberry, and I intend to make both these recipes with the latter. But for Krysten, who I know adores raspberries, I yanked these two out of The American Way on my cross-country flight today. Literally. I hope the next person didn't want that page.

First, a cocktail, natch: The Berry Sour.

6 raspberries
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. raspberry vodka
3/4 oz. vodka
club soda

Muddle raspberries, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a mixing glass. (Note to self: must get muddler before mojito season is over. Oooh, 2nd note to self: speaking of mojitos, this cocktail should be garnished with mint.) Fill glass with ice and vodkas (vodkas plural... *snort*) and shake. Strain into a Collins glass, add fresh ice, top with club soda, and stir. Garnish with aforementioned mint sprig.

Next, a dessert: Baked Ricotta with Raspberry Coulis.

1 pint ricotta
1 pint fresh raspberries
1/4 C water
2 T Grand Marnier
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375. Oil the inside of a 9" pie plate or quiche dish. Shape the ricotta into a low, flat mound so its edges don't quite extend to the sides of the pan. Bake from 40 minutes up to an hour and 20 minutes -- long enough that the top begins to turn golden brown and the ricotta is firm enough to come free when lifted with a spatula. (Note: low-fat ricotta will need to be cooked longer. But why on earth would someone use low-fat ricotta?) Place the raspberries and water in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Crush the softening berries with a potato masher. To get a seedless sauce, place the berries in a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Gather the edges of the cloth to make a ball, and squeeze to express as much juice as possible; return juice to saucepan. Add the liqueur and lemon zest and simmer another 5 minutes. The coulis can either be poured over the top of the baked ricotta mound in a decorative spiral or lattice pattern (Chanelle's feelers just went up -- remember those decorative pastry leaves??), or just spoon the coulis over each wedge-shaped serving of ricotta (my probable route).

Krys, it reminded me of that Orgasmic Cherry-Amaretto Sauce we made... did I ever post that???

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Friday Night dinner and a movie:

I almost hate to give away my olive tapenade recipe, because of the rave reviews it gets when I take it to parties. Everyone thinks I'm a culinary goddess, and it's really so easy I think of it as my little secret weapon. But it's just too good to hoard.

First, you will need a really good food processor. Now, I feel about my Cuisinart the way other foodies feel about their Kitchenaids, that is to say, it's among the things I would take with me if my apartment was burning down, so if you don't have one, I suggest you go the Cuisinart route. This is the one I have, and I love it, but I gotta say that if someone wanted to get my this bebe one for my impending 30th, I would be ecstatic.

Olives. Mmmmm, olives. I love olives. They're firm and juicy and salty and oily and all the good things the world of food presents. The texture of the black ones is a little mealy for me, although but sometimes I use them for my tapenade or my puttanesca. This time, however, I went to Central Market and they have an olive bar. Hello!!! I got a large container (a pint, maybe?) of pimento-stuffed Spanish queens and a smaller container (about a cup) of pitted Kalamatas.

1 large jar or container of green olives, pitted and drained
1 small jar or container of black or kalamata olives, pitted and drained
2 T capers
3 garlic cloves, minced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
tiny squeeze of anchovy paste (optional)
fresh cracked pepper

Pulse in your processor until the consistency is even, then s-l-o-w-l-y drizzle in extra-virgin olive oil while the blades are running. Probably about 1/4 C, but it will depend on how oily your olives are. You can also throw in some fresh herbs (basil and/or oregano) at the last minute. I serve with feta on top; you could also use some flaked parmesan or romano. Eat with crackers.

NEXT: pizza. What's better for a night on the couch than pizza?? Now, I think I've mentioned before, I'm violently allergic to yeast, so pizza crust is somewhat of a trial for me. However, I've perfected my yeast-free version- it's the right texture, if a little bland, and is a perfect vehicle for the toppings of my choosing.

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/4 C corn meal
1-2 T salt
1/2 t baking powder
couple of pinches of dried oregano
1 1/2 C +/- of cold (but not ice) water
drizzle of olive oil

Mix all the dry ingredients and add the water a little at a time. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball naturally. Roll it out on the counter to about the size of your pizza stone (and don't even THINK of making homemade pizza without a pizza stone). Scatter some cornmeal on your stone and transfer the crust. I brush it with a little bit of olive oil, but don't use too much or it will get soggy. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.

THEN... add your toppings. I always keep homemade sauce in my freezer (onions, roasted garlic, basil, and oregano) and that can go on at room temperature. This pizza is sweet Italian sausage (cooked and drained), mushrooms, and basil- but I like to use baby spinach, onions, fresh tomatoes, olives, or whatever other veggies I happen to have lying around. Top with medallions of fresh buffalo mozzarella (not shredded) and cook for another 15 minutes. Voila! The perfect Friday night dinner!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Everybody's doing it...

...so why can't I??

Modified from Krysten, modified from Matt, according to the ingredients I had to work with at the time, in the very few moments I had to spare:

Summer Jimica Salad:
1 C of jimaca, sliced
coupla handfuls of grape tomatoes, halved
handful of cilantro, loosely chopped
'bout 1/2C coarsely chopped onions, 1015s, natch

2 T white vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 T lime juice

I just tossed everything together and put a dollop of prepared salsa verde on top. If I wasn't so lazy I would have thrown in some rinsed black beans and corn for color, but as is, it turned out tart and summery and crispy and perfect!

On a side note: before I left last week, I threw a ziploc bag containing a damp paper towel and freshly washed cilantro into the freezer, because I was going to be gone. I got it out today not knowing what to expect, but lo and behold, it retained its color and taste! I hate wasting food, so I'm glad to know that it'll keep if need be. Bonus: it was SO EASY to chop!

Monday, May 01, 2006

my new obsession

I know I'm always damn-the-man-save-the-empire about Starbucks-- and I stick to my crappy over-priced coffee opinion-- but sometimes when I'm traveling, I have slim to zero choices in the non-starbucks coffee genre, and since I'd rather pull my eyeballs out that go without, meet my new obsession:




Monday, April 24, 2006


So, I learn something new everyday. For a girl that grew up in Texas and has had her share of salsa verde, I had never made anything with tomatillos before. I really thought they were just spicy green tomatoes.

And that is exactly what they look like, but they have husks on them! I had no idea! And once you cut them open, they don't look like tomatoes at all, but more like an eggplant.

They were firm on the outside and dense and seedy on the inside and the flavor was perfectly spicy and tart, and I made a lovely salsa with 1015s, quartered cherry tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro, and I dressed it in lime juice and a tiny bit of olive oil:

Then I sauteed diced chicken in olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder, and put the chicken, a generous amount of the salsa, and some shredded jack cheese into a simple salad of romaine, radiccio, and radishes. No dressing needed. The flavor was brilliant.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

They're here!!!

A word about 1015s... GO GET THEM NOW! They're only available from mid-April until about mid-June. 1015 onions were developed by an A&M horticulture professor in the early 1980s and are by far Texas' leading vegetable crop, upwards of $100 million a year. These onions are known by chefs the world over for their crisp texture and mild, sweet flavor, and of course, since they're from Texas, they grow up to the size of a grapefruit and can weigh as much as a pound!! In 1983, Texas held a "name the onion" contest for their new million-dollar baby and the winner was something like "The Texas Supersweet"-- but no one has ever called them anything but the "1015"- so named because the crop is planted on October 15th.

Seriously y'all. You can eat it like an apple. Also, they are huge and predominately single-centered, so they make fantastic onion rings.

Texas Sweet Onion Salsa:
2 C chopped 1015 SuperSweet Onion
2 C diced fresh peaches
1 to 2 T finely minced, seeded serrano or jalapeno (I don't like the taste of peppers but I like the kick, so I just use the seeds out of a jalapeno... I know, weird)
5 T chopped fresh cilantro
3 T tequila
2 t grated lime peel
2 T fresh lime juice
1/4 t ground cumin (optional)

I've also made this salsa with halved green grapes instead of peaches, and mint instead of cumin. Be creative! Serve with tortilla chips and chicken and beef skewers (marinate in lime juice, olive oil, & chili powder and grill). YUM!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Back to the Basics: Puttanesca

[poot-tah-NEHS-kah] The name puttanesca is a derivation of puttana, which in Italian means "whore." According to one story, the name purportedly comes from the fact that the intense fragrance of this sauce was like a siren's call to the men who visited such "ladies of pleasure." Another story just states that as prostitutes rarely had time to cook, this was their standard throw-all-the-left-overs-in-a-sauce meal.

Either way, puttanesca is a staple at Chalet J, as I almost always have the ingredients on hand even if it's grocery day. I whipped up this one at Krysten's last week:

This one involved what was left over in her fridge, which was fettucine noodles, grape tomatoes, spinach, red onion, green olives, garlic, and tomato sauce, and it was really good, but here at my house I usually make it a little something like this:

Throw a couple of swirls of olive oil in your skillet. Set your stove to medium high heat. After the oil gets hot you can back it down to medium. Throw in a couple of cloves of garlic and about a half of a white or yellow onion, chopped. Stir occasionally, until onions start to get translucent. If I have mushrooms I will add them at this point and cook them until almost done as well. I cheat with this dish and add a can of mostly-drained Del Monte Diced Stewed Tomatoes (I always keep the kind with basil and oregano; they're delicious, cheap, and time-saving, and the only thing in there that I wouldn't add myself is a little corn syrup). If you want to use your own stewed tomatoes, I would stir in fresh basil and oregano right before serving. Once that gets bubbling, I add a small can of plain tomato sauce, a small can of sliced black olives, drained, and about twice that many green olives (I always have olives; if I have Queens I will slice them as well; if they're the tiny ones I will either halve them or leave them whole). Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer while you cook your pasta. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with freshly grated parmesan or another hard cheese, and some fresh basil, torn or chiffoned (roll up a few leaves into a cylinder and cut into thin ribbons).

There are obviously many variations on a basic puttanesca; I've been known to add celery, carrot shreds, whole garlic cloves, a squeeze of anchovy paste, pearl onions, Italian sausage (cooked and drained), capers, kale, and many other ingredients. My parents ruin it with add in green peppers. If it gets too thick, add more sauce, a bit of chicken broth, or dry white wine; too watery, add a bit of tomato paste. Enjoy!

the salad!

So, I made this salad from Orangette today. It's not quite as pretty as hers, but it is tasty!! I added lemon juice to the vinaigerette, of course.

1 endive, sliced on the diagonal
1/4 head raddichio, chopped
3 radishes, sliced in thin rounds
handful of cilantro, leaves only
1/2 small avocado, diced
1/4 C crumbled feta
freshly cracked black pepper

1 T whole-grain mustard
3 T red wine vinegar
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t salt
olive oil, to taste

Mix up the first 4 ingredients and then stream the olive oil in very slowly, whisking contiuously until it reaches the desired consistency. YUM! Thanks Orangette!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Jam? Good. Custard? Gooood. Meat?? GOOOOOOD."

OK, so I have many things to post, including the Orgasmic Cherry-Amaretto Topping that Krysten and I created this weekend... but I've been really busy today. I will tell you that I just spent $120 at Central Market and I couldn't be happier. I bought wine and fancy mustard and anchovy paste (for caesar dressing) and cheese (feta, white stilton with apricots, basil & garlic gouda, cheddar with carmelized onions) and olives, they have an OLIVE BAR-- and produce: brussells sprouts, tomatoes, 1015 onions (yay!), tomatillos, radishes, radiccio, endives (I'm going to make this salad), romaine, avocado, apples, pears, Meyer lemons, and more! Mmmmmmm.

More to come.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Perfect Lemon Drop Martini

by Jamie & Krysten

It only took 4 tries... but we got it! (Or maybe we just think it's the perfect lemon drop martini after the first 3? Nope, this is definitely it.)

3 oz citron vodka
1 1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz triple sec

Put all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Divide into two really cool martini glasses. Watch Friends. Love life.


My mom is not a cook. I'm not sure where I got it, because that woman will only make things that involve the words "instant" and "ready-made." *holds vomit in* Anyway, that being said, before I left the house in 1994, I had only ever tasted canned pears. So there's absolutely no mystery why I thought I didn't like them.

I have since then discovered that I LOVE pears. My favorite is the sweet and juicy Green Anjou, but I also like Red Bartletts, super crisp Seckels, and dense, flavorful Boscs. Boscs have a shorter shelf life than an Anjou, but when they're good, they're good. My all-time favorite way to eat a pear is simply raw, with a hunk of good cheese and a glass of crisp white wine. Seen below, my mid-morning snack of a good Bosc and some fresh Edam:

OK, so I forewent the wine, as it's 9:30am. *weg*

I have a really good self-developed dessert made with pears, and Chanelle has inspired me to post if for you here:

4 large pears of your favorite variety, or whatever is in season
4 T brown sugar
1/4 C walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 C gorgonzola (or your favorite bleu) cheese, crumbled
about 4-6 oz. good port

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. It's easiest if you have a corer, but you can do it yourself with a long, thin, sturdy knife. Remove each core while keeping the pear intact (including the bottom). Nestle the pears in a square baking dish so they fit snugly and don't fall over. I use an 8x8 Pyrex which works if you have fairly big pears. If not, put them in indivual ramekins in the dish. Stuff each core cavity with thin layers of brown sugar, gorgonzola, and toasted walnuts. Fill up the cavity with port. Bake about 20 minutes or so, until the pears collapse in on themselves. Serve immediately.

Sorry there are no pictures, but this is an incredibly rich and beautiful dessert, and is actually very healthy! It's full of vitamins A and C, fiber, and calcium. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

guilty pleasure

Call me gross... but this is a breakfast of champions.

Cold, leftover take-out dumplings. Mmmmmmmm....

Friday, April 07, 2006

back to the basics: chapter 1

Back to the Basics, for my Tom, who loves salmon but only knows how to cook 2 things: jack and squat. :) He doesn't even own any pots and pans, but I'm going to get him on the right track. This is the easiest thing in the world to cook.

Tom, go to the store and get yourself a nice filet of fresh salmon. Make sure the flesh is firm and pink and doesn't smell too fishy.

I would say to use olive oil, since everyone keeps that in his pantry, but since you probably don't, I say go ahead and get yourself some sesame oil. It's got a great, intense flavor that goes really well with the fish.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a glass baking dish and pour a little oil in the bottom, just about a tablespoon. Tilt the dish around until the bottom is coated well so the fish doesn't stick. Lay the fish skin side down. Lightly prick the salmon with a fork, and drizzle just a little more oil on top. Add a teaspoon of minced garlic (also a staple, but it keeps well, so just buy a jar).

Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the top and then leave the lemon in the dish with the salmon. Add pepper and cook about 20-30 minutes, or however well you like it done. It should be able to flake easily with a fork.

Once it's almost done, drizzle a little honey on the top and pop it back in the oven on broil for about 2-3 minutes. It'll make a nice little crust on top.

I throw a few sesame seeds on top for crunch (and flair!) and serve as is, or with sauteed mushrooms and a caesar salad:

I can't wait to hear all about it! XOXOX

It's true...

... I make the best tuna salad in the world. Ask Sandy. Or Evan. Now, I know my Arizona girls (who make up roughly half my reader base) don't like fish... I KNOW! You can substitute 12 oz. chicken (cooked and diced).

This recipe is a staple in my house, plus, I really enjoy making it because I find all the chopping and dicing soothing. Weird? Quite possibly. But I turn on some tunes, sing really loudly, and choppity-chop-chop until I forget whatever's bothering me. That's right- you get recipes and pop-psychology all in one here at Dine Well!

So, my entries and pictures will never be as witty and awesome as Chanelle's... but I'll give it a whirl!

First, take 12 oz. of chunk white tuna packed in water and drain well. (Or, use chicken! Geez.) Next, chop 1/4 of a large white onion. This part is really fun for me because I get to use my Ulu knife:

After the onion, chop 1/2 a large apple:

Eat the other half of the apple while you're chopping. Decide you can't eat an apple without cheese and pause to slice a little havarti. Now, I used a Fuji apple because that's what I had, but it looks prettier if you use a Red Delicious. Next, chop 3-4 stalks of celery, to your preference. I like mine really crunchy so I use a lot! As a side note, the best way to store celery is in aluminum foil, but I have found standing it up in a mug with about an inch of water (like you do with asparagus) works just as well:

Next, fresh dill! Mmmmmm, so fresh and summery! Dill is a strong flavor so you only need about a tablespoon. The leaves off one stalk should be plenty.

Of course, since very, very few things come out of my kitchen without cheese, grate about 1/8 C parmesan or romano, or whatever hard cheese you keep on hand. Grate it finely so it doesn't soak up too much of the moisture.

Finally, add in 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 T whole-grain mustard, a generous amount of fresh cracked pepper, and just enough mayonnaise to mix everything together well. Now, this is my least favorite part because I hate mayonnaise and all it has to offer. I have to let my tuna salad (or chicken!) sit for a few hours so the flavors can settle in and I can't taste (or smell, ew) the mayonnaise. *shudder*

After a couple of hours, serve with your favorite bread or cracker. Enjoy!!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lemon-Blackberry Goodness

I'm not sure what to call this dessert... it's supposed to be a pie, but of course I can't let any recipe BE, and I'm not a huge pie buff anyway. So I put it in ramekins like custard, but there's no dairy, so it's not really custard. Anyway, let's just call it Lemon-Blackberry Goodness... as I can never, ever get enough lemon! The blackberries are really delightful right now, but you can use raspberries, blueberries, pitted cherries, or any other berry of your choosing.

3/4 C fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 C sugar
3 eggs
2 egg whites
4+ T freshly grated lemon zest
4 T melted butter
1 C fresh blackberries

Set oven to 325. Whisk together lemon juice and sugar and set aside. With your mixer, beat eggs and egg whites together until frothy; slowly add in lemon juice mixture and beat until it turns a bright yellow color. Stir in zest and butter.

Grease 6 small ramekins and cover the bottom with berries. Fill with lemon mixture and set on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lady Mix-a-Lot

Today is the day... I cheated on Lent and bought a mixer. I wanted to make a dessert tonight and realized that when I moved into this apartment, I got rid of my old mixer (which, by the way, was a Sunbeam Mixmaster from the 50s or 60s which belonged to my grandmother). I hoped the discarding would prompt me to buy a new one more quickly... but it didn't, so I finally went today. It was very hard to not "shop" but I did a pretty good job.

I know my Arizona chefs live and die by their Kitchenaids, and I, too, was fully prepared to spend the money on the label, much like other women do with purses. However, when I got to the store, I realized that the best selling mixer in America only comes in black and white. Seriously. Now I can do red (my pots and pans) or brushed chrome (my other appliances) but I absolutely cannot do white or black.

My friend Amy told me she bought her mother a Sunbeam for Christmas (because if it's good enough for Paula, it's good enough for Anne) and it was a better deal. Begrudgingly, I looked. True story. It doesn't have the fancy attachments, but I don't need those anyway because I have my fancy food processor, but the motor is better than the Kitchenaid, it has the same whisk/paddle/hook, and does it? Yes, it comes in red and brushed chrome. To put icing on the cake (pun intended) - not only is it a full $100 cheaper than the comparable Kitchenaid model at regular price, but it was on sale. So even though I argued with Amy about wanting the Kitchenaid more than both my kidneys... I got this:

I used it tonight to make custard and I adore it. Step back, Kitchenaid! There's a new sheriff in town! (Custard to be posted in separate entry.)

Monday, April 03, 2006


So, most of you know that I never use pre-made sauces. I can't stomach the chemicals they usually contain, and don't approve of the unnecessary sugar, and generally enjoy making them on my own.

However, my Jewish friend Heidi recently introduced me to Soy Vey! Oh... mi... gah. It's the product of a Chinese girl and Jewish guy and it sort of a soy/teriyaki blend and it's just fantastic. All natural, no preservatives, and kosher... if you're into that kind of thing.

Tonight I sauteed 1/2 cup of onions and 1/2 cup of mushrooms in 1 T of sesame oil. Once the onions became transparent, I threw in a 5 oz. lean filet mignon, sliced, and after a couple of minutes on each side, added 2 T of Soy Vey! Served with a dash of sesame seeds, green beans al dente, and a glass of sauvignon blanc. Yum!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Restaurant Mania!

Dine Well also seems like an excellent place to post restaurant reviews from around the country! One of the few perks of my job. I think it's been well established that I have a gift for finding a funky restaurant with local flavor and fabulous food in pretty much any city. What better way to share my gift??

The city: Minneapolis, Minnesota
The restaurant: Azia Restaurant and Caterpillar Lounge
The cuisine: Asian Fusion "with a Minnesota Flair" (I didn't even know Minnesota had a flair!)

I was very impressed because the executive chef (whose picture I had just seen on the website when I found the restaurant) was running around, checking on tables, chatting with patrons, even delivering food! I love that.

The drinks: blackberry vodka mojitos

The appetizer: A cheese plate of sage havarti, ash sheep's milk, and stilton with mango, crackers, and green apples.

The dinner: We couldn't resist going with all appetizers because everything sounded so amazing. We had chicken "wings" in a spicy sesame sauce, crisp avocado spring rolls, and tuna carpaccio with mango-mint sauce.

The dessert: I was fiending for the Limoncello Tart, but we ended up sharing these huge white and dark chocolate covered strawberries ("tuxedos") and an Irish Red and Gold- which is a large mug of coffee with Bailey's and Frangelico, topped with a mound of real whipped cream. *thud*

We then stepped next door into the Caterpillar Lounge (love the name!) and had a couple of glasses of wine and discussed the physical aspects of heaven.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

I just got the most beautiful salad from Hilton room service:

Mixed greens in a champagne-honey vinaigrette, with cherry tomatoes, pecans, pears, and 2 kinds of cheese (brie and bleu). Which leads to me one of my all time favorite food experiences: a juicy, ripe pear with a wedge of salty cheese and an ultra-crisp white wine.

Mmmmm, can't wait until summer!