November 26th, 2008
This week marks my entrance into Craving Ellie in my Belly - a new cooking experiment that a lot of the TWD bakers convinced me was a good idea. Ellie Kreiger’s cookbook aims to counteract the damage we all do baking with butter, eggs and white flour on Tuesdays. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
My first try was the Macaroni and Four Cheese recipe, which was chosen by Supplicious (she’ll post the recipe before Nov. 30). A word of warning: the orange hue that reminds us of the Blue Box actually comes from 20 oz. of pureed squash in Ellie’s version. Take that for what it’s worth.
The four cheese are ricotta, cheddar, Monterey jack and Parmesan, but in small enough quantities that I really felt like I had reheated the Pumpkin Pasta I’d made last week. I enjoyed both, I guess, but I was really looking forward to something comforting and cheesy for the cold nights before Thanksgiving. This was more of a vegetable dish. I think I would have liked it better if I had spent a long day at work anticipating a vegetable dinner and not a cheese-laden dinner. Ho hum.
Now, the comforting part of this dish is that it reheats well and is an excellent source of calcium, folate (to regulate sleep, appetite and mood), manganese (for digesting carbs), niacin (to draw energy from carbs), protein, selenium (to protect against heart disease and cancer), thiamin (for lots of stuff) and vitamin A (for better vision, teeth, bones and skin). It’s also a good source of fiber, iron, phosphorus (to draw energy from food) and riboflavin (to benefit red blood cells and draw energy from carbs). Finally, I can eat 2 cups for less than 400 calories. (Ellie lists all the nutritional in each recipe, which I love.) Good stuff all around, none of which applies to the Blue Box.
October 22nd, 2008
As the Dallas Morning News reports, someone is vandalizing local homes with jarred sauce.
Frisco police are investigating at least eight incidents in which jars of spaghetti sauce have been thrown at cars and homes, causing several hundred dollars worth of damage. In one incident, a jar of Great Value brand onions was thrown, along with a jar of garlic spaghetti sauce. “Maybe they were trying to make a good sauce,” Sgt. Meadors said.
Specifically, jars of spaghetti sauce - various flavors and brands, according to the police report - are breaking windows and landing on vehicles, costing owners $4,600 in damages and generally making a mess.
One poor guy has been hit twice:
Mr. Anglin said the first time, he came out to his porch and found a huge mess.
“The very next Saturday, I came outside and I looked up and noticed the sauce, and then I looked down and that’s when my child said, ‘Dad, we were hit again,’” he told KTVT-TV.
August 27th, 2008
Long, long ago I watched some TV chefs boil pasta in a mixture of water and red wine. It seemed like a good idea, but varying Internet reviews reported that the wine only changed the color of the noodles, not really the taste.
So I moved on with my life, and continued to boil my pasta in clear, salty water, and serve the average pasta with a nice glass of wine on the side.
But I read more about how jarred pasta sauces contain weird things that drive up the calorie count, and my dread of firing up the stove to brown lots of meats and make my own sauce on a hot July afternoon grew exponentially, I went back to the pasta-in-wine concept. I had a half a bottle of red wine (purchased at Lemon Creek during last summer’s annual trip to Michigan wine country) left over from the previous weekend, I figured I had nothing to lose.
If it turned out really badly, I still had enough eggs in the house for omelets. And you can put ANYTHING in an omelet.
I used this recipe for from Real Simple magazine, and after a quick trip to Whole Foods for some cheese, I was in business (I did substitute lemon pepper for lemon zest and pepper, which seemed to work just fine, and I always use whole wheat pasta).
The pasta had a savory taste without being vinegar-y, and the lemon freshened the whole thing up considerably. The Romano cheese was a nice sharp taste to round the whole thing out.
A fine summer meal.
August 18th, 2008
But if I had Olympic Fever, this would really excite me: Michael Phelps’ Record Setting Gold Medal Winning Breakfast:
(Double click to make the image bigger.)
It’s obvious to me that he’s lost his chance for an endorsement deal with Wheaties, but I’m thinking the marketing teams at the American Egg Board and Barilla Pasta are drafting proposals as we speak!
June 15th, 2008
I’m sure I found this recipe for orzo salad because I was looking for something to do with all the fresh mint that grows from my window boxes (gotta love townhouse living), but it solved so many of my food problems this weekend:
- 1) LEFTOVER FISH I enjoyed a fabulous Mexican meal Friday night with old friend who recently moved to my hometown, but I came home with half the blackened fish from fish tacos. Hot Tamales makes some of the best around, served with fresh tomato salsa, pineapple salsa, warm flour tortillas, and a HUGE portion of fresh fish. But, I’m always a little unsure of what to do with leftover fish. Microwaving it for lunch at work seems unkind to my colleagues, but the fish needs to be addressed quickly, if at all. Thus, this orzo provided the perfect bed for the fish. I split the leftover portion in two, laid it over the orzo and was quite happy with the results.
- 2) LEFTOVER VEGGIES In my refrigerator I had a few cherry tomatoes from pesto pasta I’d made earlier in the week, parts of a red onion from the Barefoot Contessa’s shrimp salad I’d tried, and some sliced black olives from something so unremarkable I can’t even remember why I opened them. So, I ignored Giada’s recommended veggies (especially the chickpeas. I love hummus, but not so much the whole bans) and used up my own mix of leftovers. It worked great!
- 3) SURPLUS FRESH HERBS I love the way my window boxes look from the outside of my house (which is for sale, by the way) and the way you get a nice scent in my kitchen with the warm summer breeze blows just right, but sometimes I feel pressure to trim them back and make use of them before they get all spindly and weird. This recipe make use of just enough herb to give my boxes a little haircut early in the season.
- 4) COOKING IN BROTH I’d read a lot about this, but never tried it. It was great! I’ll definitely do it again soon.
Also, I served it with a yummy lime spritzer. 10 Cane white rum makes everything better.
June 6th, 2008
So, only while vacationing in Hershey, PA, would I have found AND PURCHASED a bag of chocolate pasta, and only while in the perils of Hershey withdrawal would I have tried to make the Chicken Mole recipe on the back of the package. Healthy skinless, boneless breast of chicken in the chocolate-based sauce, served over chocolate pasta.
But I’m glad I did.
You can find the recipe here, and the pasta is available a lot of places, including Amazon. And actually, when you break the recipe down, there isn’t anything in there that’s whole-heartedly bad for you: no cream or butter, and only minimal sugar. No cheese. Lots of tomatoes.
The directions for the sauce weren’t great, and for that reason alone I wouldn’t call this a beginner recipe, but the outcome was pretty nice, for only 90 minutes of simmering. I’d certainly serve it over regular pasta next time – even whole wheat pasta, which seems to have become the only pasta I eat at home these days.
Much like the cooking instructions, the chocolate pasta was kind of underwhelming. I appreciated that it had a savory flavor for dinner (it also came with two dessert recipes on the package, so I was nervous), but I didn’t find it all that chocolately when I tried one to see if the noodles were ready.
Recipe: good, but don’t count on the instructions to carry you through
Noodles: stick to whole wheat