Thursday, July 29, 2010

burgers for book club

obviously this isn't my photo - the pictures i took didn't turn out as i had hoped.
(photo credit -

last night, megg and i hosted book club at our house to celebrate finishing the third book in the millennium trilogy - the girl who kicked the hornets nest.  (if you haven't read these books yet, go do it now.) the books are set in sweden and talk a lot about coffee, pickled herring, and frozen pizzas. in the past, when we met to discuss the first and second books, we tried to make food that went along with the theme of the book. this time we opted for a different scenario - summer sliders. i made three different kinds of mini burgers to suit everyone's tastes:
  1. greek style burgers with feta aioli
  2. turkey burgers with bacon and cheddar
  3. bbq chicken burgers with coleslaw

the recipes for each of these was pretty simple. you can click on the link above for the greek burger recipe from cooking light. i followed the recipe exactly except i didn't add the roasted red peppers.  here's what to do for the other two:

turkey burgers with bacon and cheddar:
in a small skillet, brown about 6 slices of turkey bacon with evoo (or else it will stick) until it's really crispy. combine cooked bacon with 1 pound of ground turkey, 3-4 tablespoons worcestershire sauce, a dash of garlic and onion powder and s&p. form into mini burgers (should get between 8 and 10) and grill for about 2-3 minutes per side. top with slice of cheddar cheese and serve on mini bun with light mayo.

bbq chicken burgers with coleslaw:
season 3 chicken breasts with s&p and spread your favorite bbq sauce all over it. grill for about 5-7 minutes per side. before taking off the grill, top chicken with monterrey jack cheese and let it melt. cut each chicken breast into thirds, top with prepared coleslaw and serve on a mini bun. if you want - you can add more bbq sauce to the chicken once it's done cooking, but i slathered it enough before i cooked it.

everyone had their own personal favorites, but i really enjoyed the greek sliders.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

scalloped tomato casserole with cape cod chopped salad

when i first mentioned to the girls that i would be making a tomato casserole for dinner, i received 3 stink faces staring back at me. no one seemed to thrilled at the idea, but i told them to just trust me and go with it. the recipe is from ina garten and i knew she wouldn't let me down (she is the barefoot contessa after all). by the end of dinner, the girls were proclaiming that this meal was one of the best things i've ever made. i know i say that everything is good (because it is) but this was seriously good. it was the perfect summer dish to highlight the seasonality of fresh tomatoes. i served it with a simple cape cod chopped salad - also from ina. the only changes i made were to swap turkey bacon for regular bacon, swap blue cheese for crumbled goat cheese, swap toasted walnuts for candied pecans and add diced avocado.

my picture didn't turn out as well as i would have hoped, but one of my favorite bloggers, smitten kitchen, also made this dish. check out her masterpiece.

3 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a french boule (we found an asiago cheese boule)
16 plum tomatoes, cut 1/2-inch dice (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned basil leaves
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

preheat the oven to 350 degrees. heat 3 tablespoons of evoo in a large saute pan over medium heat. add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the evoo. cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.

meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar and s&p in a large bowl. when the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. off the heat, stir in the basil.

pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. sprinkle evenly with the parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of evoo. bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly.

Friday, July 23, 2010

chili lime tilapia with avocado, corn & pepper salad

last night i made this simple dish for the roommates - it was my twist on a rachael ray recipe where she deep fried fish fillets. i decided to make it a little healthier by searing it in the pan and adding a fresh corn avocado salsa on top. i know the ingredient list looks long - but you probably already have a lot of the things in your pantry.

ingredients for fish:
4 tilapia fish fillets
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
Zest of two limes

ingredients for corn avocado salsa:
3 ears of fresh corn
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons diced fresh cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
zest of one lime
juice of two limes

directions for fish:
in a small bowl, mix together flour, spices, lime zest and s&p. drizzle each fillet with evoo and dredge in flour mixture. add evoo to skillet (enough to coat entire bottom of pan) and cook fillet on each side about 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillet.  serve immediately with salsa.

directions for corn avocado salsa: 
preheat outdoor grill to medium heat. in a small bowl mix together 1/4 cup evoo, chili powder, cumin and s&p. coat evoo mixture over corn with brush and then wrap in tin foil. place corn on grill and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping every so often. meanwhile, mix together another 1/4 cup evoo with cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, zest of limes and s&p. slowly whisk in lime juice, making a vinaigrette.  if it tastes too much like lime, add 1 tablespoon of evoo at a time until it's a good balance of juice and oil. when corn has finished cooking, cut kernels off cob and mix together with avocado and bell pepper. toss with lime vinaigrette and season with more s&p if needed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

philly chicken cheesesteak

i added "philly" to the title of this recipe because according to someone who knows his philly cheesesteaks - my version was just as good. i hate to toot my own horn, but they were pretty damn tasty. the cream sauce i made in the pan (using flour + chicken stock) made you feel like you were having something really bad for you but it wasn't.

1 pound chicken, cut into thin slices
half yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 slices provolone cheese
4 sub rolls

heat skillet over medium high heat on stove. add evoo, onions, bell peppers and s&p. saute for about 5 to 7 minutes until onions start to turn translucent. remove from pan and set aside in a bowl. add chicken, garlic powder and s&p to pan and cook about 7 minutes. return onions and bell peppers to pan and add flour. cook about 3 minutes until the flour is fully incorporated. add chicken stock and cook until sauce begins to form. preheat oven to broil. fill sub rolls with chicken mixture and top with provolone cheese and put on baking sheet. broil for about 3 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. serve immediately with salt & vinegar potatoes for the perfect weeknight dinner.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

salt & vinegar potatoes

i got this recipe from heidi over at as many of you know, i have a serious addiction to chips and knew i needed to make these asap. they were absolutely delicious and tasted exactly like the fried version without being too tangy. confirmation that the recipe was a success came when scotty taste tested and said "you know what these taste like? those salt and vinegar chips." duhhhh. silly daddy. chips are for kids. these are potatoes.

2 cups white vinegar
1 pound yukon gold potatoes, cut in thin slices
kosher salt

place potato slices in medium saucepan. pour vinegar over potatoes, making sure all of them are covered completely. bring to boil and then reduce heat, cooking for about 5 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. remove from heat and let them sit in vinegar for about 30 minutes. drain well and liberally season with evoo, kosher salt and pepper.  heat grill to medium high heat. grill potatoes about 5 minutes per side, until they get some nice grill marks. serve immediately.

Monday, July 19, 2010

this week in the kitchen

it's all about the sides this week.  as i began my usual routine of looking for recipes for this week's meal plan, i kept stumbling across the most amazing vegetable dishes.  the main courses are meant to be simple in order to highlight the little guys.  here's what we got:
  • scalloped tomatoes with croutons casserole served with a simple salad
  • chicken philly cheesesteaks with salt and vinegar potatoes
  • lime marinated fish with corn, tomato & avocado salad

Friday, July 16, 2010

cheers to you

but one more thing to my sis.

you're the little sister and i'm the big sister and for me, it never feels like that.  you take care of me in a way that makes me feel so special and so lucky to call you all my own.  you are there for me when i don't even realize that i need help and you make me want to shoot for the stars and never give up.  you remind me what true friendship is all about and how privileged we are not only to be sisters but best friends.  it's pretty darn amazing.

i know i talked to you many times yesterday and said i hope all your birthday wishes come true.  i've got a little secret for you - this is where it all starts happening.  something about 25 is so scary yet so pivotal - all wrapped into one year.  it's gonna be a good one for you.  and i'm right by your side, cheering you on all the way.  love you so.

M to the I to the A

that's me.

it's no secret that i've been hiding for the past few weeks, errr month(s)...and it's embarrassing.  but it's time for me to take a little step away from the blog for a bit.  i surely didn't want to admit it but i gotta get down to business and refocus on what i want the the next few weeks, months, and further on into time to be about.  not much of an exit speech, but an honest one.  hope to come back with lots of sharing to do.  xxoo, sis

ta ta for now

Sunday, July 11, 2010

happy birthday us

as some of you may know, because sis said so celebrated our first birthday last week. we can't believe that one year ago we started our little project and it has lasted this long.  thanks so much to all of our readers and your support. stay tuned because we have great things in store for year # 2. love to love ya.

grilled eggplant paninis with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella

i don't really have anything to say about these delights, except - just trust me. go home right now and fire up your grill to make the sandwiches. there is nothing better than a spicy grilled eggplant paired with gooey warm mozzarella cheese and garlic bread.

ciabatta bread
eggplant, cut into slices
roasted red peppers
fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in slices
garlic clove, cut in half
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

preheat gas grill to medium heat. in a bowl mix together eggplant slices, evoo, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. grill about 4 minutes per side. meanwhile, drizzle ciabatta bread with evoo and grill for about 3-4 minutes per side. remove from grill and immediately rub with fresh garlic clove, getting bits of garlic in the nooks and crannies of the bread. to assemble the panini, spread pesto on both sides of bread. add 2-3 slices of mozzarella cheese, 2-3 strips of roasted red pepper and 2 slices of grilled eggplant. for this next step you can either use a panini maker or use the grill to finish cooking. if you choose option 2, put the sandwich back on the grill and smush down with a cast iron skillet. cook about 2 minutes per side, just until the cheese melts - you use the heavy skillet to act like a panini press and press the sandwich down.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

this week in the kitchen

i've got a lot of things going on this week and unfortunately will only have time to cook twice. sad, i know. the good news is that we bought a gas grill for our 4th of july cookout and it will be making an appearance for both meals this week. in fact, you can expect a lot of this summer's recipes to include our new steel dragon. here's what we got:
  • grilled eggplant paninis with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella
  • blackened salmon with mini artichoke-stuffed mushrooms

(photo credit -

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

spicy mexican lasagna pie

this was the third installment of last week's meal plan. it was a great way to end the hectic week and a even better beginning to a wonderful holiday weekend. this was definitely what you would classify as a "hearty" meal. the combination between the beans, cheese and beef was enough to make our bellies burst. my favorite part was the short list of ingredients - we had most of them on hand already!

6 flour tortilla
black bean spread/dip
jar of your favorite salsa (i used roasted garlic salsa from trader joes)
1 cup fresh corn
1lb ground turkey
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

preheat oven to 450 degrees. cook ground turkey in skillet with some evoo.drain fat and add taco seasoning packet. cook according to directions. stir in corn and cook just until heated through. spread equal amounts of black bean dip over each tortilla. working in layers, top each evenly with beef mixture, salsa and cheese in the bottom a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. top pie with one more tortilla cheese and sprinkle with more cheese. bake for 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese melts. top with your favorite mexican condiments - guacamole, sour cream, hot sauce, salsa!

Monday, July 05, 2010

grilled chicken and peach salad

this is one of those go-to summer salads when you're craving something light for dinner. there is no real recipe for this - i just used ingredients i thought would go well together. you can substitute any kind of fruit you like for the peaches - apricots, plums, nectarines, or tangerines. i personally loved the warm grilled peaches because they paired perfectly with the cool tangy goat cheese crumbles.

chicken breast, sliced into strips
2 peaches
goat cheese crumbles
dried cranberries
candied almonds
balsamic vinaigrette

preheat grill pan over medium high heat with evoo. season chicken strips with garlic powder and s&p. cook for about 3-4 minutes per side. remove chicken from pan and let rest. coat pan with pam and grill peaches about 4 minutes per side until they have nice grill marks. to make salad, start with a layer of spinach leaves on a plate.  top with chicken, peaches, goat cheese crumbles, dried cranberries and candied almonds. drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette to finish.

Friday, July 02, 2010

bridal bliss: the menu for the perfect marriage

last weekend, sis and i were able to cater our first big event together. granted it was one of her best friends and she's in the bridal party, but catering is catering. when sis and i were coming up with the menu, we knew we wanted pretty food to go along with the pretty bride. seriously boys - she puts brooke burke to shame.

here's what we came up:
  1. a "bruschetta bar" with three different toppings: steak and gorgonzola cheese, tomato and basil & white bean prosciutto
  2. chicken salad bites in phyllo cups
  3. slow cooked bbq sandwiches with horseradish coleslaw
  4. salmon dill orzo salad
  5. watermelon, cucumber and mint salad with goat cheese
  6. spinach, ham and cheese quiche
  7. chocolate covered strawberries
unfortunately, i wasn't able to take pictures of all the food, but the ones i did take with sis' camera were stunning.

salmon dill orzo salad

spinach, ham and cheese quiche

steak and gorgonzola bruschetta

white bean and prosciutto bruschetta