Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Curried Chicken Salad with Spiced Garbanzo Beans

I'm into spices right now.  I came across this recipe from Gourmet, August 2008 and had to try it.  I think this dish is one of my favorites of the year.  It is wonderfully complex yet simple to make, especially when using a rotisserie chicken.  I have issues with the rotisserie chicken.  I love it for its simplicity and cost-effectiveness!  However, I cannot get the same information on how and where the chicken was raised.  I'm doing my best to be as conscious an eater as possible, but I'm not perfect.  You could always buy a chicken from a trusted source and roast it yourself!


For the Chicken Salad:
1 medium onion chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tsp ground cumin
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used Pomi brand which were very good and did not come in a can)
1 cup plain, fat-free yogurt
2 Tbsp cilantro chopped
1 rotisserie chicken, most meat coarsely shredded
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 1/2 tsp salt

For Garbanzo Beans:
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (I use dried beans, you can also use canned, just rinse them)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt

Curried Chicken Salad:
--In a large pan, sautee the onions, garlic and ginger in the olive oil over med-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes

--Add the curry, cumin and salt and sautee another couple of minutes

--Add the tomatoes and cook over med-high heat until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes

--Transfer to a bowl and add the yogurt, cilantro and chicken.  Let cool to room temperature

(When I know I'm cooking for the week, I will cook in my dutch oven so instead of transfering to a separate bowl, I can finish the dish directly in the dutch oven and store it directly in the fridge)

Spiced Garbanzo Beans:

--Heat oil in pan over med-high heat

--Add the garbanzo beans and cook for about a minute, stirring to coat in the oil

--Add the cumin, turmeric, cayenne and salt and cook, about 2 minutes, until the pan is dry

--Cool to room temperature

To serve:  Add some grapes to a bowl, the garbanzo beans and the chicken salad

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tea for Colds

In addition to my soup, I'm sipping lots of spicy good tea.  Here's one I came up with:

3 cups water
2 in piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp loose licorice root tea
1/2 organic lemon cut into quarters
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
a dash of cardamom
1 cinnamon stick broken in half

Simmer for about 10 minutes, strain and enjoy

Turkey Leftovers - Spicy Turkey Lentil Soup

I still seem to be fighting off a cold.  Nose running, achey, all the good stuff.  I wanted tomake a dish with all the healthy, immune enhacing, cold-fighting spices I could and came up with a great way to do so and use up the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  Ginger, garlic, turmeric, cayenne and curry powder wrapped up in a nice warm broth with lentils and turkey for protein sounded perfect. 

1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves minced
2 in piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 cup chopped tomatoes
8 cups water
1 cup red lentils
any leftover turkey bones
chopped turkey meat

-- In a large soup pot heat the oil, add the onions, carrots and celery with some salt and sautee about  5 minutes

--Add the garlic and ginger and sautee about 2 more minutes

--Add the curry, cumin, turmeric and cayenne and stir in about 2 minutes

--Add the chopped tomatoes and stir

--Add the 8 cups of water, the turkey bones and lentils and simmer for about 30-45 minutes.  The bones will come out, I'm just adding them here for extra flavor.  Instead of water you could use chicken or vegetable stock.  I only had chicken on hand and didn't want to mix my poultry

--Continue to taste and season as necessary.  At the end, pull out the turkey bones and add the chopped turkey meat to warm through.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Turkey Leftovers - Turkey, Cream Cheese and Cranberry Sandwiches

Turkey leftovers.  Lots of leftovers.  That's what happens when the moms decide to cook not 1, not 2, but 3 entire turkeys.  They wanted to make sure that there would be enough for leftovers.  I think they succeeded.

Luckily, I was able to enjoy my favorite post-thanksgiving turkey treat

Leftover Turkey
Cream cheese
Leftover cranberries

Make a sandwich, it's delicious.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese

My sister-in-law had her baby last week!  A beautiful, healthy little boy.  They are home safe and sound and yesterday Jason and I went over to hang out and cook some food for the evening and into the rest of the week.

My sister-in-law is gluten-free and most of the time, especially when you cook a lot at home, a gluten-free diet can be adhered to without feeling like you are missing out!  However, when it comes to hearty comfort food, staying gluten-free is sometimes difficult.  She wanted something warm and filling, so Jason and I decided to adapt Tyler Florence's recipe for the Ultimate Mac and Cheese into a gluten-free, turkey bacon substituted version.  He called for just one type of cheese, but we ended up with a mix of four! 

And it was delicious.  The cheese blend was outstanding and the pea, onion, turkey bacon topping made the dish.  For those of you who eat pork, I might go with real bacon, but the substitution worked out great!  We made a giant double batch (2-3qt baking dishes worth), ate some last night, took some left overs home for us and left more than an entire pan for the new parents! 

A couple of notes,
1)  We bought the pre-shredded cheese from whole foods.  It is the only place I have ever seen shredded fondu cheese.  Feel free to subsitute whatever cheeses you would like.
2)  I like Ancient Grains Quinoa pasta.  It comes in a light blue box and can be found at Whole Foods, Dill Pickle Co-op and even stores like Strack and VanTil. 
3)  Bear in mind this makes 2 - 3qt. baking dishes of deliciousness.  I would recommend cutting the recipe in half or even in 1/4th.  It is very rich and a little bit goes along way.  One dish full of this is probably going to give 12 servings. 

2 pounds gluten free elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
4 cups shredded fondu cheese (gruyere and swiss)
4 cups shredded mild cheddar
6 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup rice flour
8 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 gallon 2% milk
1/2 cup chopped parsley
6 slices turkey bacon thinly sliced (substitute pork bacon if you like!)
1 onion diced
1/2 bag frozen peas
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves minced
salt and pepper

--Preheat over to 400

--Bring water to a boil (we had to use two pots for all of this pasta), cook pasta as recommended and drain.  I find with gluten-free pastas you want to make sure they are quite al dente or they can fall apart.  This brand I use seems to hold up quite well.

--Mix all of the cheeses together in a large bowl (if you are using only 1 type of cheese you do not need to worry about this step)

--In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat (you will be adding all of the milk and most of the cheese to this pan so make sure that it is large enough)

--Add the rice flour and cornstarch and whisk until the mixture begins to darken (you are essentially making a gluten-free roux)

--Add the milk and continue whisking until everything is dissolved and the sauce begins to thicken slightly

--Add 7 1/2 - 8 cups of the mixed cheeses to the pot and continue whisking until it becomes a lovely cheesey sauce.  Reserve the last 2 - 2 1/2 cups cheese for sprinkling at the end.

--Stir the chopped parsley into the cheese sauce and season with salt and pepper. 

--Fill both of the baking dishes about part way with pasta.  Begin spooning the cheese sauce over the pasta and mixing as you go.

--Continue adding pasta and sauce to the baking dishes until they are full.

--Sprinkle the leftover shredded cheese over the baking dishes

--Bake the pasta for about 30 minutes.  With two batches we had a dish on the top rack and one on the bottom.  Toward the end we switched them so that both were able to get nice and browned on the top.  Let sit to cool for a few minutes

--Meanwhile, sautee the turkey bacon in a pan

--Once crispy, remove, add a little oil to the pan and begin sauteeing the diced onion and garlic.  Strip the leaves off the thyme sprigs and add.  (turkey bacon doesn't give off any fat, if you are using real bacon you should not have to add any oil, in fact, you may want to pour off some of the bacon fat before adding the onion)

--Add a couple of cups of the thawed green peas to the onion sautee and mix until heated through.

--Once the onions are softened, return the bacon to the pan and remove from the heat.

--Serve a dollop of the macaroni and cheese sprinkled with some of the onion, bacon, pea mixture.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


It spontaneously turned into Bistro Night at our house yesterday evening.  Braised chicken with carrots, onions and fennel and roasted fingerling potatoes served as the main course with a Pinot Gris.  The starter was my first attempt at homemade french onion soup.  I love french onion soup and am frankly surprised I have never tried it before.  The results were very good.  In retrospect there were a few changes I would have made and I have included them here.  One thing to bear in mind is that this recipe does take about an hour and a half to prepare.  My onions weren't browning and I just had to let them go for over an hour.


4 Tbsp butter
6-7 (a bit over 2 lbs) sweet vidalia onions, sliced thinly into half moons
Fresh thyme
1/4 cup sherry
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups beef broth
salt and pepper
french baguette, cut into thick slices on the diagonal
grated gruyere cheese

--In a dutch over, or other heavy pan, melt the butter over medium heat

--Lower the heat to med-low and add the onions, the leaves of 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme and salt.
--Cook the onions until they start to brown.  This took me literally over an hour.  Be patient. 

--Once they have started to brown, add the sherry and cook until the sherry has evaporated

--Add the chicken stock and beef broth and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Continue tasting and adjusting with salt and pepper as necessary

--Turn on the broiler and place 1 baguette slice per soup bowl on a baking sheet

--Broil the bread for croutons about one minute

--Ladle the soup into over-safe bowls.  Place the baguette, toasted side down in the soup.  Top with the grated gruyere and place under the broiler for just under two minutes

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Spicy Thai Soup

I was feeling a little under the weather today.  When that happens I often crave soup.  And when my throat is a little sore, and my stomach a little funny, I want spicy, delicious soup!  Usually, that's a Tom Yum.  There is no Tom Yum that compares to the soup they serve at Spoon Thai, but I figured I would try something similar that I could make at home.

So while this isn't really an authentic Tom Yum, it is an amlagamation of a few recipes I found online along with a little inspiration.


6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (ideally homemade, preferably low-sodium and organic if not)
1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, sliced into 1/2 - 1 inch chunks on the bias
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 large chunk ginger grated
2 tsp red chili sauce
1 cloved garlic crushed
zest of 1/2 a lime
juice of 1 lime
1/2 can straw mushrooms rinsed and halved
1 head baby bok choy chopped, stems and leaves separated
1 red bell pepper sliced thinly
1/2 small onion sliced very thinly
1/2 can coconut milk

**optional - tofu
--In a large stock pot bring the stock to a boil

--Add the lemon grass, fish sauce, ginger, chili sauce and garlic and reduce to a simmer until all the flavors start to meld together

--Add the mushrooms, bok choy stems, pepper and onion slices and continue to simmer

--Add the coconut milk and bok choy greens, simmering for just a few more minutes

--Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh chopped cilantro on top

**throughout the process I was constantly tasting and adjusting seasonings.  The ratios listed above are approximately what I ended up using.  You may prefer more or less of any of the ingredients.  You may also want to add a dash of sugar to combat some of the spice.

Late Harvest Greens Pasta

I recently read a wonderful book, The Season's on Henry's Farm.  Literally, it is the story of a year in the life of a small, sustainable, family farm in Central Illinois.  Appropriately, the book starts in November and gives a glimpse into the day to day workings of a small producer, the story of the family themselves and their history, recipes and incredible insight into the life cycles of vegetables and herbs.

One of the most interesting tidbits I picked up from the book had to do with greens.  In my mind, I think of most greens as a spring and early summer delight, while knowing I will see kale and some of the hardier greens throughout the summer.  What I didn't consider is that greens can continue to be grown and harvested into the late fall.  The book discussed how the late fall greens are often an overlooked culinary delight.  Because of the lateness of the season and cool weather, the flavors of the greens are even more concentrated than in the spring.  I guess it makes sense.  We know that the most flavorful wine grapes are often grown in stressed conditions to concentrate their flavors, a kind of survival of the fittest. 

With this idea in mind I came across a pasta dish using late fall greens on the website 101 Cookbooks that I had to try.  I played a bit with her original recipe and was really happy with the results.  As an added bonus I threw in some rotisserie chicken pieces for a more wholesome meal that both of us loved.  It was also a great way to use up some greens and cheese I had in the fridge. 


1/2 bunch kale
Equal amount arugula
2 cloves garlic peeledand sliced in half
2 shallots peeled and sliced in half
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup goat cheese
12 oz gluten free rotini (I used gluten free, feel free to substitute your favorite here)
salt and pepper
lemon juice
**optional - chicken

--Bring a large pot of salted water to boil

--Add the garlic and shallots and boil for 2-3 minutes

--Add the kale and cook for another 30 seconds

--Using a slotted spoon remove the garlic, shallots and kale and transfer to a food processor

--Add the oil and cheese and process until smooth.  Add a little bit of the pasta water if needed to thin out the sauce

--Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and set aside

--While the water is still boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente

--Drain and toss with the green sauce

**optionally, add in some chicken pieces.  We had a rotisserie chicken that we added to the dish on the second day that was delicious.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Savory Rosemary Parmesan Squares

We adapted this recipe from The Provence Cookbook.  It was written as a recipe for madeleines, but since we had no madeleine pan we tried it with a square muffin pan.  We brought them to a houswarming party and I think they were quite the hit!  Personally, I prefer the savory to the sweet, even when it comes to baked goods, so I plan on revisiting this recipe frequently.


1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbsp finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
Food Processor
12-Square muffin tin or 24 mini madeleine molds

--Preheat the oven to 425

--In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, egg and yogurt and blend thoroughly

--Add the cheese and herbs and blend

--Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling only about 1/2 way

--Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until firm and golden

--Remove from the oven and let the squares cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning them out and letting them cool further

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Savory Baking - Olive Oil and Fresh Rosemary Cake

Jason made this recipe for the first time a couple of weeks ago from Mario Batali's Babbo cookbook.  We are not traditionally bakers but this recipe has changed all of that.  I'm not much into sweets but the sweet savory nature of this cake is incredible.  Batali describes it as perfect for a late afternoon visit with a glass of vin santo.  I would agree


4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
**1/2 tsp salt - the first time we made this recipe we felt it was a little salty, we cut back to slightly less than a scant tsp the second time

Preheat the over to 325.  Butter a 10 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl crack the 4 eggs and beat with a hand mixer about 30 seconds. 

Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very foamy.

With beaters running slowely drizzle in the olive oil.

Gently fold rosemary into batter.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  With the beaters on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.

*Note - all of the above can be done with an electric mixing bowl if you have one

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Test doneness by inserting a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.

Let cake cool briefly in the pan then tip out onto a cake rack or just a plate if you don't own a rack.

This cake kept for over a week wrapped in tin foil.  We ate it for breakfast, for a snack and as a dessert with guests.  I think this will be a staple of the holiday season.

Spicy Squash and Lentil Salad

This dish is the black bean and pumpkin burrito of 2009, an instant hit.  I found this recipe on http://www.smittenkitchen.com/


1 butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed into about 1in. cubes
    **save the seeds for roasting
3/4 cup lentils
2 Tbsp plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (plus more for sprinkling if desired)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 400

Toss squash cubes with 2Tbsp oil, the cumin, paprika and salt. 

Line a baking sheet wth tin foil, arrange squash and roast for about 20 minutes.  Flip cubes and roast for another 15 minutes or so, until tender.

At the same time, soak lentils for about 10 minutes in a bowl of water and drain.

Cook lentils in boiling water until tender, but not too tender, about 30 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Combine the squash, lentils, goat cheese, vinegar and 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Beet and Potato Soup

OK, so it's been months and months since I posted.  I regret that I didn't get to document and share all the wonderful cooking we did this summer, but sometimes that's how it goes.  I aspired to live every second to the fullest this summer and enjoy the outdoors to the best of my ability, and given the gorgeous summer, sitting at my laptop just never happened.

But fall has arrived full force, and grad school, so my inside time has increased dramatically.  And with grad school comes fiscal awareness and a renewed pledge to cook all our food, as easily and simply as possible (most days), to waste as little as possible, and still enjoy delicious meals.

This soup got us through more than a week, filling in meal gaps here and there.  The gift of a peck of beets I received made this a no-brainer.


2 lbs beets - scrubbed, peeled and diced
1 lb potatoes - peeled and diced
2 shallots - chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
A few sprigs of thyme
6 cups broth (vegetable or chicken, low-sodium)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Sour Cream (optional)

Preheat over to 400

Toss the beets, potatoes, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper together

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and bake the mixture about 45 minutes, until the beets and potatoes are cooked through. 

Remove thyme and add vegetables to soup pot along with the broth and bring to a simmer.  Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until desired consistency.

Stir in vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.