September 30, 2011

what are your favorites?

i am thinking of adding a list on the sidebar of user favorites for easy access. which recipes would you like me to include?

September 29, 2011

clam chowder

i fused a recipe that i got from my mother-in-law with a recipe i found at i did a little bit of research before i made it and i found a lot of recipes that called for adding a splash of red wine vinegar at the end. i just ran out so i didn't add any. while this soup was great as-is (my husband told me to write it down exactly and not change a thing), i thought it would be interesting to try the red wine vinegar next time. i'll make a note to let you know what i conclude.

this made just the perfect amount for my family of five--there weren't any leftovers.


4 green onions, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 and 1/2 baked potato, cubed
2 slices bacon, crumbled
2 6oz cans clams, juices reserved
4 C milk
1 stick butter
3/4 C flour
2 cubes chicken granules or 2 t chicken base
1/4 t white pepper
1/2 t salt
1 generous pinch thyme
1 bay leaf


melt butter over medium high heat. add onions, celery, carrots, white pepper and thyme and saute 2-3 minutes. add clam juice and heat to a simmer. add bay leaf and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. increase the heat back to medium-high and slowly stir in flour. once a thick paste has formed, slowly whisk in cold milk, stirring constantly. next, add the chicken base, potatoes, bacon and salt. stir and heat until thickened and not quite bubbly. add clams and take off heat. cover and let stand 5 minutes to let the clams warm. serve with freshly ground pepper.

September 19, 2011


this is one of my very favorite things to eat. but it has to be my way or it doesn't quite cut it. i realize that sounds snooty, but it's taken me a few long years to tweak it and now it's just the way i like it. here's the way i do it:

ingredients and instructions

14 manicotti shells, cooked per package instructions, drained and rinsed


2 full bulbs roasted garlic--instructions for roasting here.
1 1/2 T olive oil
2 1/2 lbs canned whole tomatoes, chunked (i like mine bigger than diced)
1 T oregano
1 T basil
1 t thyme
pinch rosemary
2 heaping tablespoons sugar

bring first three ingredients to a boil. lower to a simmer, add remaining ingredients and let simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours.


2 lbs ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 C (or more) fresh parsley or spinach
salt and pepper to taste
1 C grated romano or parmesan
1 - 1 1/2 C shredded mozzarella

whip together the ricotta and eggs until well blended. stir in remaining ingredients


fill a large baking dish with 1/2 C sauce; fill manicotti shells with cheese filling (i use a cake decorating tool and it works great); place shells into the baking dish, drizzle with desired amount of sauce (leave some to add after it has baked), sprinkle with 1/4 C each of romano/parmesan and mozzarella and bake @ 425 for 20 min or until the cheese starts to brown.

September 14, 2011

little tricks

as i was cooking today i realized that much of what distinguishes good food from even better food is just a knowledge of a few little tricks. i made a list of some of the tricks i've learned so far (most of which i'm sure you've already heard, but i'm still learning). i would love to hear some of yours if you have a moment.

add an almost undetectable amount of horseradish to mashed potatoes
*sprinkle vegetables with sea salt while sauteing or roasting
*blanch new potatoes (or other root vegetables) for five minutes before roasting--they will retain moisture that way
*splash green beans with lemon juice or vinegar after steaming
*when baking, having eggs at room temperature really makes a big difference
*mayonnaise is the secret to a moist cake or sweet bread
*always handle dough as little as humanly possible

alton brown's beef stew

it's not every day that my cooking gets called "exquisite" so i thought i'd make sure this one got recorded right away. i faithfully followed alton brown's every direction. i wasn't sure what english-cut short ribs were, so i just consulted with the butcher and we both decided on a short rib option that ended up working really well. my meat ended up producing more fat than liquid, so i had to add a little bit of stock to the potatoes and onions near the end so they wouldn't boil dry.



In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and dried herbs. Set aside.

Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt. Place a large griddle over medium-high heat and once a drop of water bounces off, sear the meat until browned on all sides. Once browned, remove the meat to the bowl with the paste and toss to coat. Transfer to a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil and seal tightly. Place the package into a metal pan and put into a cold oven on the middle rack. Set the oven to 250 degrees F and cook for 4 hours.

Remove the meat from the oven and carefully poke a hole in the pack while holding it over a heatproof container. Drain the liquid into the container and place it into the refrigerator to cool enough so that the fat separates from the rest of the liquid, approximately 1 hour. After 1 hour, transfer the liquid to the freezer and keep there until the fat cap has solidified, approximately 1 hour. Allow the ribs to sit at room temperature while the liquid is cooling or if serving the next day, place in the refrigerator until ready to finish.

Retrieve the liquid from the refrigerator and remove the fat cap that has formed on top. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the fat and reserve the rest for another time. Place the fat into a large saucier and place over medium heat. Once the fat has melted add the onion along with the remaining teaspoon of salt and stir to separate the onions into rings. Allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes along with a pinch of black pepper and stir to combine. Next, add the liquid reserved from the meat and stir. Cover tightly and decrease the heat to low so that no heat is escaping the lid. Cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Meanwhile, cut the meat away from the bone, removing the connective tissue and discarding. Once the potatoes are tender, uncover and set the meat atop the vegetables. Cover and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.

September 01, 2011

soy-marinated flank steak

this recipe gives instructions for producing a flawlessly medium-rare steak. plus the marinade is delicious and versatile. it's from everyday food magazine.

marinade is proportioned to a 2-pound steak.


1 C soy sauce
1/4 C packed brown sugar
3 T cider vinegar
1 T worcestershire sauce
2 t dijon mustard
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t pepper


marinate at least two hours, turning once. heat grill to high. lightly oil hot grates. grill steak, covered, for 6 minutes. turn, brush with remaining marinade and grill 6 minutes more, uncovered.

eggplant, tomato and fresh mozzarella salad

what a perfect end of summer treat! it's gotta be fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. got it from everyday food magazine. also, the roasted eggplant is delicious on its own--i recently discovered that sea salt is the answer to almost all vegetables. i roasted the whole thing and ate the other half for snack.


1/2 medium eggplant, thinly sliced
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes (any variety), sliced
1/4 C loosely packed fresh basil
olive oil
balsamic vinegar


brush a baking sheet with 1 T olive oil and arrange eggplant thereon. using the remaining olive oil on the brush, brush tops of the eggplant. sprinkle with sea salt (or another coarse salt) and pepper. roast @ 400 for 10-20 minutes, depending on how thick you sliced it. allow to cool to room temperature.

on a serving platter arrange the eggplant, mozzarella and tomatoes. top with basil. drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

big steak salad

(excuse the messed up formatting. argh!)

this was the perfect salad to use up the leftover steak. i found it at the mix of flavors created by the dressing, bleu cheese and candied pecans is absolutely scrumptious.

the recipe from the site calls for topping the salad with homemade onion crisps. while i like the idea of making onion crisps to go on top, i have a really hard time putting something deep-fried on top of a salad. i may look into buying them next time...although the salad was perfectly delicious without them.

*this recipe reflects the proportions i made that were perfect for the size of my family.


.5 lbs steak (flank, sirloin), grilled (medium-rare to medium)**
2 heads romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 C grape tomatoes, halved
3-4 heaping tablespoons bleu cheese, crumbed
3-4 heaping tablespoons candied pecans, chopped***
a couple handfuls of onion crisps, if using

  • 2/3 C canola oil
  • 1 1/2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 T worcestershire sauce
  • 1 heaping T soy sauce
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 T minced ginger root
  • 1/2 t salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper

**it can be marinated using the soy-marinated flank steak recipe or by doubling the dressing and using half for the marinade
***chop a handful of pecans and place in a pan over high heat. throw in a tablespoon of brown sugar. stir constantly until sugar crystalizes and adheres to the pecans. remove from the heat and separate with a spoon to let cool.

bacon cheddar potato soup

we recently got a blendtec and this soup is in their cookbook. i added the corn because i saw some corn on the cob in the store and thought it would be a tasty addition. this was so quick to prepare because i had already set some baked potatoes aside from a dinner we had earlier in the week. plus the blender even warms it up for me, leaving the mess in only one place. yippee for blendtec! (i'm sure you can make it over the stove if you're not yet converted.)


4 C hot milk
2 medium baked potatoes, cut in half
1 C shredded cheese (i used half cheddar, half jarlsberg)
1/2 C steamed onion
1/2 t dill (dried)
1/2 t rosemary (dried)
1 t salt


blend. then add 6 slices chopped bacon, two more cubed baked potatoes and 1/2 C corn cut from the cob.

monkey bread

recently some friends of mine were talking about this and i remembered having had it about ten years ago at my brother's house. so i called up my brother and he gave me the recipe. it sounds like there are a few variations on this evil deliciousness, so please let me know what you do differently!


20-24 rhodes' rolls
1 stick butter
1 C brown sugar
a few generous shakes from a butterscotch pudding packet (not instant)


arrange frozen rolls in a bundt cake pan. melt the butter and mix in the brown sugar. pour over the rolls and then add the dried butterscotch pudding. let the rolls rise. (you can speed up the process by preheating the oven to 200, then turning it off and placing the rolls inside.) once the rolls have risen to your liking, bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until oozing and golden brown. yum!