Wednesday, December 29, 2010

lamb meatballs with cumin mint yogurt sauce

i came up with this recipe after having a dream one night about being in the mediterranean enjoying the fine fare. the next morning i scoured the internet looking for lamb meatball recipes. i took different ideas from each recipe and created my own version. the meatballs turned out really well - they were moist and rich with flavor. the mint, garlic and feta paired so nicely with lamb.  the cumin mint yogurt sauce gave the dish that extra oomph - creamy, yet refreshing. i served this as a dinner, but could also be a great appetizer.  make the meatballs smaller and serve with cocktail toothpicks.  

1 pound ground lamb
¼ cup breadcrumbs
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
3 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ small yellow onion, minced
6 ounces non-fat greek yogurt
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ tablespoon lemon juice
pita bread, cucumber slices, tomato slices

preheat oven to 400 degrees. combine lamb, breadcrumbs, feta cheese, 1 teaspoon mint, parsley, egg and s&p in a bowl and blend together with hands.  mix until combined, but do not over mix.  shape into equal portioned meatballs, should make about 15.  place on cookie sheet greased with non-stick cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes.

meanwhile in a small mixing bowl, combine greek yogurt, cumin, garlic powder, 2 teaspoons mint, olive oil and lemon juice.  season with s&p. refrigerate until ready to use. to assemble, place 3-4 meatballs on top of pita with cucumber and tomato slices.  dollop with yogurt sauce.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

this was me.

i was lost and now i'm found again. i'm sorry for my absence lately. i could explain my lack of posting by telling you about my trip to aruba over christmas or by telling you about the crazy week i had leading up to the vacation week, but i've never been one for excuses, so why start now.

i've been a terrible friend and i know it. but the good news is that i'm back with some fresh ideas for the blog. stay tuned, foodies. i've missed you.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

roasted squash ravioli with sage cream sauce

this is one of those comfort meals that i crave when it's cold and windy outside. {i wish it would just snow already.} the dish highlights a perfect balance between creaminess, sweetness and saltiness. pair with a simple italian salad and a glass (or 4) of wine. serves 2.

1 shallot, minced
1 garlic, minced
1 cup butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into one-inch cubes
½ cup ricotta
30 wonton wrappers
½ cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup half and half
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
2 tablespoons roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped

preheat oven to 400 degrees. in a large bowl, mix butternut squash with generous pour of evoo and s&p. working with your hands, make sure each piece is covered in oil. put the squash cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the edges have begun to brown just a bit and are fork tender. remove from oven and let cool. in a food processor, combine cooled squash, ricotta and s&p.

working one at a time, take a wonton wrapper and scoop about 1 teaspoon of squash/ricotta mixture into center. wet edges of the wonton wrapper with water using your fingers and place another wonton wrapper on top. secure all edges to make sure there are no air bubbles or holes. working quickly, repeat again for each ravioli.

bring a large pot of water to a boil. season generously with salt and cook raviolis in batches (about 3 at a time) until they rise to the top, about 4 to 5 minutes. put in a large bowl and immediately mix together with a little evoo to prevent the raviolis from sticking together.

melt butter in sauce pan over medium heat. add garlic and shallot and stir until fragrant, about 60 seconds. Add chicken stock, cream and sage. season with s&p. increase heat and boil until sauce is reduced to ½ cup, about 5 to 7 minutes.

to assemble, place raviolis on plate, drizzle with sage cream sauce and garnish with roasted pistachios.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

marinated flank steak with side of frisee, poached egg and pancetta vinaigrette

i got inspiration for this meal while i was volunteering at culinaerie during a julia childs-themed cooking class.  apparently salads with poached eggs are pretty big in french cooking. the creaminess of the warm runny egg yolk paired perfectly with the warm pancetta vinaigrette that had a acidic, tangy and salty bite to it. the steak marinade is pretty basic but stands up well to the elegance of the other ingredients. i served this as a main course, but you could definitely make smaller plates and serve as an appetizer. serves 4.

1 pound flank steak
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 poached eggs
2 bunches of frisée, torn
warm pancetta vinaigrette (recipe below)

directions for warm pancetta vinaigrette:
¼ pound pancetta, cubed
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced

cook pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat until browned. remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  reserve 2-3 tablespoons of drippings and discard the rest. add garlic to pan and cook until soft. whisk in dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar, loosening particles from skillet. remove from heat and season with s&p if needed.

directions for steak salad:
mix olive oil, worcestershire sauce, garlic, s&p in plastic bag and add steak. marinate for at least one hour, turning occasionally. remove flank steak from bag, discarding marinade. heat grill over medium high heat and cook steak about 8 to 10 minutes per side or to desired degree of doneness. cut steak diagonally across the grain into thin strips.

to assemble, place ½ bunch of torn frisée on bottom of plate.  layer steak slices on one side. top the middle of the frisée with a poached egg. garnish with ¼ of the pancetta cubes and drizzle desired amount of dressing over entire dish.

Friday, December 03, 2010

seared sea scallops with citrus fennel salad

4 radishes, thinly sliced
½ fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
¼ cup grapefruit segments, cut into mini pieces
¼ cup orange segements, cut into mini pieces
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 shallot
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
8 large scallops
2 teaspoons olive oil


in a blender, mix together orange juice, shallot, white wine vinegar, canola oil, dijon mustard and salt and pepper. combine radishes, fennel slices, jalapeno, cilantro, grapefruit and orange segments in a small bowl.  mix together with salad dressing. meanwhile, heat a small skillet with olive oil.  season scallops with salt and pepper.  sear in skillet about 2-3 minutes per side, until scallops are browned on each side. to assemble, place a half of fennel salad mixture on plate.  top with 4 scallops and drizzle with more dressing.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

polenta cakes with caramelized onions, brie and basil oil

i know it's been awhile since i last posted, but i promise i have some really great recipes coming up in the next few days/weeks.  over thanksgiving i cooked up lots of treats - including these bite-sized appetizers. they were rich, creamy and just about perfect.

4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup instant polenta
½ cup half and half
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
brie cheese, cut into 1-inch squares
basil oil (recipe below)

directions for basil oil:
combine ¼ cup basil, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 garlic clove and s&p in a food processor. blend for about 3 minutes until all the ingredients are incorporated.

directions for polenta cakes:
bring chicken stock to a boil. add polenta, stirring continuously for about 3 minutes. stir in half and half, s&p and garlic powder. pour into 13x9 greased baking dish. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hours.

meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. add onions and stir occasionally for 15 minutes. as the onions begin to caramelize and turn darker, stir more frequently, about every 60 seconds, for 10 to 15 minutes. entire process should take between 25-30 minutes. season with s&p to taste.

to assemble, cut polenta into 1 1/2 inch squares. top with slice of brie cheese and about 1 teaspoon of caramelized onions. drizzle with basil oil for garnish.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

shrimp with curry coconut milk sauce

this is the second part of the dinner i made for my family over the weekend. it's another 30-minute seafood dish that i had while volunteering at CulinAerie.  when i first saw this on the menu, i was disappointed because i absolutely hate the smell of curry. something about it makes me want to gag every time. i was pleasantly surprised that red curry paste does not smell or taste like that yellow curry powder stuff. when making this, don't forget to add the lime juice - it helps to cut the fatty/creaminess of the coconut milk.  

note: this recipe serves 2.

1/2 lb jumbo shrimp
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon red curry paste
juice of one lime
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup baby bok choy, sliced thinly
cilantro, to garnish
cooked rice, as a side

heat evoo in large saucepan over medium heat. saute onion, ginger, bok choy and garlic about 3-4 minutes, just until soft. stir in coconut milk, water, red curry paste and s&p. bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. stir in shrimp and increase heat to medium-high. cook and stir until shrimp is cooked through, about 5 minutes. add juice of lime at the last minute. serve over a bed of rice with a garnish of cilantro.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

tuna tartare on crostini

my roommate, suz and i, have recently been volunteering our time at the dc cooking school, CulinAerie. it's a pretty sweet gig. we get there early to prep for the classes, assist the customers during the class (mostly we're there to make sure their wine glasses are always full, but every once in awhile we'll get asked a question) and clean up afterwards. at the end of the night, when everyone has left and the kitchen is cleaned, all of the volunteers and the chef/instructor sit down and enjoy dinner together. the chef prepares whatever was on the menu for the class that night.

last week's class featured how to make seafood dishes in 30 minutes. i re-created part of the meal at home for my parents and brother. i definitely tried this out on the wrong crowd because i got mixed reviews - the men hated it and peg said it was good, but she didn't like it on the bread. i on the other hand, really loved it. raw tuna is definitely an acquired taste and it's not for all. however, if you dig tuna tartare this is a great recipe for you to try - it's an elegant appetizer and pretty simple to make. enjoy!

8 ounces sushi-grade tuna, cut into 1/4-inch dice (watch that video to see how to cut it into small pieces)
2 tablespoons green onions, green parts only, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 lemon, juiced
baguette, cut into slices
sesame seeds, for garnish

preheat oven to 365 degrees. place bread slices on baking sheet, drizzle liberally with evoo and cook for 7 minutes in oven. meanwhile, mix tuna, green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, lemon juice and pepper in a medium bowl. to assemble, place a heaping tablespoon of the tuna mixture on each crostini. garnish with sesame seeds. serve immediately. it is important that the tuna is not left at room temperature for more than 1 hour because you're eating it raw!

Friday, November 12, 2010

honey pecan glazed salmon

this recipe comes from a weightwatchers five-ingredient 15-minute cookbook i bought awhile ago.  you can't beat a meal that uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry and that combines salty with sweet!


1/4 cup honey
4 teaspoons finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 (6 oz) salmon fillets


preheat oven to 425 degrees. combine first three ingredients in a large zip-top bag. sprinkle fish with pepper and add to bag and seal. marinate in refrigerator at least 15 minutes (don't do it much longer than this - fish doesn't need to marinate that long or else it will start to break apart). remove fish and nuts from bag, reserving marinade. place fish on foil lined pan and top with nuts. bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork, basting fish twice with reserved marinade while baking.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

beef and barley soup

such a simple recipe for a simple gal trying to stay warm. this soup comes together in a flash - you basically put everything in the pot and let it simmer for an hour to let all of the flavors come together. the end result is the perfect low-maintenance hearty meal that tastes like it's been cooking all day.

1 pound ribeye steak, fat trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups low sodium beef stock
16 oz no-salt added tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup medium barley grains (i used quarkter brand)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
8 oz frozen mixed vegetables

heat evoo over medium high heat in a dutch oven. add meat and brown on all sides. add onion and garlic. add remaining ingredients except for the frozen vegeables. bring to boil, reduce heat to low and cover. simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. add frozen vegetables and cook for 10 minutes until vegetables and barely are tender. season with more s&p if needed.

do you feel warm yet?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

ina garten's baked fontina

$&(*^%@#!!!!!!! is the best way to describe this appetizer - it's basically an easier way to make fondue while still looking elegant.  this recipe is from ina's new cookbook (how easy is that?) that came out a few weeks ago.  foodies on the blogosphere were already going crazy over this dish and i knew i was going to have to join in on the fun. we had a girls night last weekend and i asked one of the gals (lynn) if she would mind making this. there were only four of us and we basically devoured the entire thing. enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds italian fontina, cut into 1-inch dice
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 crusty french baguette

preheat the broiler and adjust the oven rack to 5-6 inches from the heat source.

scatter the fontina cubes evenly in a 12-inch skillet or cast-iron pan.  drizzle with the olive oil. combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary, and sprinkle evenly over the cheese.  sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

place the pan under the broiler for 5-6 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, bubbling, and starting to brown.

serve family-style:  right out of the oven with crusty chunks of bread for dipping.

gooey, cheesey, deliciousness.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

fish in a flash: tilapia with tomato caper salsa

the good thing about tilapia is its mildness. you can go any direction with it - italian, indian, greek, mexican, caribbean, asian, american, etc. last night i decided to go with mexi-italian. from start to finish this meal took 15 minutes to make. i served it with a side salad of mixed greens, feta and more tomatoes. yum.

(note: this recipe only serves one, but it's just as easy to make for four people as it is for one.)

1/2 tomato, chopped with seeds removed
1/2 tablesoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, mashed into a paste (this helps to spread the garlic more evenly so you don't get a big chunk of raw's how to do it)
3/4 tablespoon evoo
1 (6-ounce) tilapia fillet
cooking spray

preheat broiler. combine tomato, parsley, capers, vinegar, garlic paste, evoo and s&p in small bowl. brush fish with more evoo and season with garlic salt and pepper. place fillet on baking sheet (greased with cooking spray) and broil for about 6 minutes until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. garnish with salsa and serve immediately.

up close and personal.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

roasted cauliflower with gremolata bread crumbs

ever find yourself looking for that perfect side dish that comes together in a flash? well, i've found it for you courtesy of food 52 via the thin chef. the herbed gremolata is a mixture of lemon zest, panko, garlic and parsley. cauliflower can be pretty bland, but this recipe adds a great punch.

2 large heads cauliflower
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup panko (japanese bread crumbs)
zest of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

preheat oven to 425 degrees. trim tough stem and core from cauliflower and discard. using a paring knife, cut cauliflower into smaller spears. place in a large bowl. add 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; toss to combine. spread cauliflower out on 2 large, rimmed baking sheets. roast until edges start to brown, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. add panko and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to coat in oil. cook, stirring constantly, until bread crumbs are golden. add lemon zest and garlic and toss until mixture is very fragrant and bread crumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes. place in a medium bowl and add parsley, stirring to combine. set aside. remove cauliflower from oven and place on serving platter. top with bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

trick-or-treat station part duex

as promised, here are the pictures of the candy station i created for last night's party/fundraiser. the event turned out to be a huge success and we were able to raise a lot of money towards such a good cause - thanks to everyone who came out and donated! if you're still interested in helping out - we're still taking online donations for this saturday's walk.

wide view.
brownie fudge bites!
closer look - these were the original cake pops (monster eye balls) that i didn't end up using. 
creepy scary eye balls (red velvet cake pops)
warning: making these may or may not cause a meltdown :)
peanut m&ms, twizzlers with gummy bears, brownies and cake pops!
autism speaks candy dish with reeses pieces
side view.
supporting the cause.

andddd the hosts! crabbies and where's waldo crew.

Friday, October 29, 2010

trick-or-treat station

this year we're staying away from the masses and hosting a halloween party/fundraising event to help raise money for the autism speaks walk on november 6th. meagan {one of the roommates and occasional guest blogger} is an early-intervention teacher for kids with autism so we're walking in the event in honor of her students (did you know that 1 in every 110 children are affected by autism every year?}

we've promised our guests kegs, a fancy cocktail served in a cauldron, and some halloween treats {here's where i come in}. i decided not to make any real food - the only things i will be serving is candy and cake. i'm dreaming of making an over-the-top candy bar/station that you see at weddings. basically it's a one-stop shop for trick-or-treaters. i'll post pictures after the event of what i come up with, but in the meantime - here's my inspiration:

if you're feeling generous, please please please donate to the cause on this website - every little bit helps. and if you're feeling thirsty, please stop by the halloween bash tomorrow night - starts at 8.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

mustard and herb roasted chicken thighs

mustard+herbs+chicken = one happy sis.

this is an extremely easy recipe that i got from the wednesday chef and it took no time to put together. i was able to pop it in the oven, do some other things around the kitchen and get a workout in - all while this bubbled away. the tangy mustard complimented the fresh herbs beautifully and the crunchy coating added a nice texture against the juicy dark meat. i only tweaked the original a little bit. here's how to do it:

8 chicken thighs, with bone and skin-on
3 teaspoons fresh, minced parsley and sage
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/3 cup panko
2 tablespoons melted butter

heat the oven to 350 degrees. rub chicken with fresh herbs, garlic and s&p - make sure to get under the skin as well. brush 1/2 tablespoon mustard over the skin side of each thigh to coat thinly. lay the legs in a shallow baking dish, leaving space between them. sprinkle evenly with the panko and drizzle evenly with the melted butter. roast for about an hour (give or take 10 minutes depending on how big your pieces are.) coating should be crisp and the meat very tender.

ps - i'm still working on my photography skills. sorry this picture looks so bad - i feel like i'm not doing it any justice. suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

breakfast for dinner: eggs in a basket with garlic bread and avocado

i decided to go out of my comfort zone of making traditional dinner meals by making breakfast instead. i recently have a new obsession with runny yolks after eating a poached egg during a cooking class at culinarie. this recipe seemed like the obvious choice to please my palate. you really can't go wrong when there is avocado, turkey bacon, a runny yolk and garlic bread to soak it all up.

thick slice of bread (i used texas toast from trader joes)
1 egg
slices of avocado
garlic powder
turkey bacon


melt butter in non-stick skillet over medium heat. using a round cookie cutter, cut out a hole in the middle of the bread (we only had a heart shaped cookie cutter and it worked fine). add the slice of bread to the pan, sprinkle with garlic powder and cook until golden brown and toasty - about 3 minutes. flip bread over (season with more garlic powder) and crack egg into the open hole of the bread. season egg with s&p. cook for about 3 minutes, until egg has begun to set. flip again one more and let cook for an additional two minutes - egg will be runny and beautiful. top with avocado slices and serve with apples slices and turkey bacon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

this is why you're fat.

yes, i know we have a food crisis/epidemic going on in our country. yes, i know that the obesity rate is absurd. yes, i realize jamie oliver probably wouldn't like this post very much. but, i couldn't resist sharing this blog with you. it makes me smile. "this is why you're fat" is a compilation of some of the most over-the-top, fatty, will-probably-kill-you dishes that readers submit. it's basically food porn for any true lover of junk foods (me). some of my favorites include:

bacon wrapped chicken wings
 peanut butter, nutella and maple-bacon rice krispie treats
 bacon corn dog
 pizzatacocalzone (crisp taco, cheese sauce, and shredded cheese, wrapped in a personal sized cheese pizza and deep fried)
dorachoes (cooler ranch, taco supreme, and nacho cheese doritos covered in two pounds of taco meat, three bags of shredded cheese, jalapenos, guacamole and sour cream)
 baked potato pizza 
 deep fried reeses cups wrapped in bacon
 mashed potato rolls (cheddar cheese rolls filled with cheesy mashed potatoes)

it's interesting how all my choices had to do with fried food or bacon. yum.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

here we come, west coast.

raelynn and i are packing our bags to leave tomorrow for a long weekend in san francisco and napa valley.

we have a few stops planned - the wharf, alcatraz, the golden gate bridge, and of course the full-house house. any suggestions for our trip are always welcome.

have a great weekend everyone!

(photo credit - visualize,,,

she's a star.

one of my roommates (suzanne) recently dabbled in a little acting through her job at aol. she was asked by an editor-in-chief to star in a quick video about her obsession with silly bandz. just watch her go...she's a natural.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

newest obsession.

anyone who knows me, knows i have a serious obsession with ranch dressing. i put it on just about everything - pizza, chicken/beef/pork, tacos, chips, pretzels, potatoes, vegetables, bread - i have even put it on fish before.

i've found a new way to indulge in my favorite snack without having the guilt. simply mix a hidden valley ranch seasoning packet with 16 oz of non-fat plain greek yogurt (instead of sour cream or mayo). the best part is that you get the added health benefits of more protein and less fat. the yogurt is thick and creamy so you tastes like you're eating the real thing! 

i think i just fell in more in love with ranch.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

asian steak fajitas

i know it seems a little silly to be posting another fajitas recipe, but this one was different. this was a fusion between asian and meixcan flavors. let me explain.

denise (meagan's mom) had us over for dinner on monday night. she made grilled asian flank steak and her signature hashbrown casserole (seriously you guys must make this asap.) she sent us home with leftover steak to eat up this week. meagan and i were craving something mexican so we decided to make fajitas. i sauteed up some sweet bell peppers and onion, re-heated the beef and topped it off with our favorite extras - sour cream, monterrey jack cheese and pre-made guacamole salsa from wholly guacamole.

i was a little skeptical at first to be mixing the two cultural flavors, but it actually turned out pretty delicious. the sweetness from the asian marinade paired nicely with the creaminess of the guacamole salsa and sauteed onions and peppers. below is the recipe for the steak marinade. it's best to let it sit over night to get the maximum flavors.

1/3 cup canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup diced scallions
2 pounds flank steak

combine the marinade ingredients together in a plastic resealable bag with steak. coat well with the marinade and chill/marinate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. preheat the grill (indoor or outdoor) with high heat. take the steak out of the marinade bag and sprinkle generously on all sides with coarse s&p. grill about 5-10 minutes on each side, depending how rare/cooked you like it. meanwhile, make another batch of marinade. cook on stove over low heat while meat is cooking. 

remove steak from grill, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for at least 20 minutes. make very thin slices, against the grain, and at a slight diagonal so that the slices are wide. serve with reserved marinade.