Four times a year, I am a Lady Who Lunches. I get together with two friends and we spend hours engaged in chit, chat, and chow. We started out with three dates per year to celebrate our birthdays. But that left a gaping hole in our calendar from June to January. So we decided to add a Very Merry Unbirthday Brunch in the fall. In addition to being an Unbirthday get together, it’s the only one that we don’t go out for. Birthday Brunch always involves a buffet…how else could we spend hours at a table without getting the evil eye from a server? But VMUBB is a home cooked affair. Continue reading “Ladies Who Lunch”
I’m spring cleaning the recipe folders. One of the challenges to this is deciding when it’s time to say that I’m just not going to make a recipe and get rid of it. Admitting that I’m never going to get around to making something is like admitting defeat. And I don’t like to lose. So I find myself hanging on to some of these recipes out of pride more than anything else. But is that any way to live? Is it better to be bogged down by the weight of things untried because it’s easier than letting them go? I think not. So Belgian Brownies and I finally gave it a go. And in an unkind irony, we realized that we really didn’t get along so great after all. After almost four years of hanging around, biding our time, and waiting, we didn’t click. Now that we’ve gone our separate ways, there’s room in my folders so I can jump into The Sweet Life In Paris recipes without feeling like a complete jezebel.
I can’t say enough wonderful things about this Food Memory contributor. Josey has been my pal longer than I can remember. She knew me during those awkward adolescent years, and doesn’t hold it against me. Yes, I may have been a willing participant in the hijinks but SHE was the one that got us kicked out of the library. To this day, I’ll never understand how it came across that I was the bad influence.
That moment aside, we balanced each others personalities. I was loud and hasty, rash and a wee bit reckless. She was quiet and thoughtful, focused and more reserved. And we both were addicted to watching the Solid Gold Dancers. We usually did it while on the phone together so that we could accurately critique the gold lame, big hair, and Marilyn McCoo. See what I said about not holding my past against me? Not only is she forgiving like that, she’s a superb story teller with her own blog (when she gets around to writing), an excellent travel companion when you decide to throw caution to the wind and fly across the Atlantic because you need to shake things up, and she’s got a recipe for the Best Damn Pancakes I’ve Ever Eaten. I’ll let her tell you about them. Continue reading “Food Memories – Aunt Jeanie and Mom’s Pancakes”
The following originally appeared on 10/22/07 at Exit 51
To celebrate the kitchen finally being functional enough to use, I swept the dust bunnies under the sofa, cleared off the dining room table, and invited a friend over for supper. Make no mistake, the work isn’t done and the house is still all torn apart but after weeks of frozen meals and take out, I was ready to cook. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Soup’s On”
If you were to poke around in our freezer on any given day, you would most likely find a bag of salmon fillets. We tend to be a little predictable here at BAH. When we like something, we stick with it. Over time that can get a bit mundane so I’m always looking for ways to put new flavor into our favorite dishes. Our latest salmon entree was inspired by The Kitchen Witch and her take on a Men’s Health Magazine recipe. The Mistah used to get Men’s Health. Actually, someone gave him a gift subscription. Honestly, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t come with a free gift like a football phone, but if I had put my disappointment behind me and peeked between the covers, I might have discovered Salmon with Ginger Soy Butter. It may not be a football phone but then again, I bet I could get one of those on eBay along with the complete series of Time Life Home Improvement books, all for about what I spend on a bag of salmon fillets. See, it all works out in the end.
Salmon with Ginger Soy Butter
The Kitchen Witch and Men’s Health Magazine
- 4 salmon fillets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 tablespoon minced chives
- 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
Place the butter in a ramekin and melt carefully in the microwave. Add the chives, ginger, lemon juice, and soy sauce and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Dry the salmon fillets and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan or grill pan until just smoking. Add the salmon (skin side down if using a fillet with skin) and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully turn the fish over and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes.
Serve the salmon with about a tablespoon of butter sauce spooned over the top.
Saturday is when I tend to do my big cooking. By big, I mean recipes that take more time than I have on a weeknight. Monday through Friday, recipes are of the quick and easy variety. Sunday usually involves a little more time. But Saturday, Saturday is when I hunker down and spend an entire day cooking. Sometimes, I’m focused on just one recipe. Other times, there are multiple dishes going.
What kinds of things am I likely to be cooking on a Saturday? Slow roasted beef, short ribs, roast chicken, and oven pulled pork have all come out of my kitchen on a Saturday. Most recently, I dug into the pile of recipes I haven’t made in a while for Cooking Light’s Beef Bourguignon.
This was one of the first recipes I was successful with when I decided to stop eating from cans and boxes. It was a huge confidence builder to create a “fancy” meal from my apartment kitchen. And then, I don’t know why, but I filed it away as a special occasion recipe.
I don’t know about you, but with the exception of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, I don’t have a ton of special occasions on my calendar. So what sense is there in holding on to a recipe that you don’t make? I find that I have to remind myself that it makes absolutely zero sense. So Beef Bourguignon and I got reacquainted. And we turned an ordinary Saturday into a special occasion.
Adapted from Cooking Light
BAH Tip: Although pre-cut stew meat is convenient, it’s not always the best value. I bought a boneless chuck roast and cut it down myself. It’s a little messier and a little more work to remove the fat and connective tissue, but I made the beef cubes as big as I wanted and saved a few bucks at the store.
- 2 1/4 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
- 3 slices bacon, chopped and divided
- all purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup sliced carrot
- 1 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
- 8 cups mushrooms, halved (about 1 1 /2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
Cook half of the bacon in a dutch oven over medium high heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a medium sized bowl. Add half of the cubed beef to the pan with the bacon drippings, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until well browned on all sides. Remove the browned beef from the pan, add it to the bowl with the cooked bacon, and cover to keep warm.
Repeat the process with the remaining bacon and beef cubes, sprinkling two to three teaspoons of flour over the second batch of beef after it is added to the pan. Remove beef from the pan and cover to keep warm.
Add chopped onion and carrot slices to the pan and cook for approximately 7 minutes until the onion just starts to brown. Add the tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. Stir in the red wine and beef broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add bacon, beef, 1 teaspoon salt, mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes. Uncover and cook 1 hour or until beef is tender.
If your juices have not cooked down, carefully remove beef and vegetables with a slotted spoon, place in a large bowl, and cover to keep warm. Increase heat to high and cook until the juices reduce. Taste for seasoning and add one to two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, if desired. Return beef and vegetables to the pan and serve.
Back in January, The Kitchen Witch launched a month of butt shrinking recipes to kick off the year. After all the excesses of the holidays, it’s nice to settle back into more sensible eating habits. As much as I enjoyed the homemade Berger Cookies and the Muddy Buddies, that’s not a winning diet plan. While January (and February) may have come and gone, this butt shrinking recipe is sticking around because the combination of shrimp, mango, chili, and avocado is sublime. Kitchen Witch did hers more like a lettuce wrap while The Mistah and I converted ours into entree salads. Whichever you choose, you really can’t go wrong.
Spicy Shrimp, Avocado, and Mango
Inspired by The Kitchen Witch and Bobby Flay
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 red chili
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 red bell pepper – roasted, peeled, and seeded
- 1/4 cup mango nectar
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup rice stick noodles, cooked per package directions
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 mango, sliced
- 4 to 6 whole romaine lettuce leaves
Combine olive oil, red chili, red pepper flakes, roasted red pepper, mango nectar, and lime juice in a food processor and pulse to thoroughly combine. Let the marinade sit at room temperature for at least one hour. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade. Place remaining marinade in a medium bowl.
Dry the shrimp with a paper towel. Add the shrimp to the marinade in the medium bowl. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to the directions on the package. Rinse in cold water, toss with sesame oil, and set aside.
Divide the lettuce leaves between two plates. Drape the rice noodles over the lettuce. Arrange mango and avocado slices on top of lettuce and noodles.
Heat a large nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and cook five to seven minutes, until they turn opaque and are just done.
Place shrimp on top of the mango and avocado. Drizzle with reserved marinade and enjoy.
I’ve cooked many a boneless chicken breast in my day. If I’m being honest, I’ve ruined more than I’ve gotten right. It all started in college, in a tiny campus housing apartment with an electric stovetop. Neither UMBC nor the Office of Residential Life trusted us enough to put ovens in the apartments. And for whatever reason, it never occurred to me to cook the chicken in the toaster oven before it eventually went up in flames. Continue reading “Asparagus Chicken With Creamy Dijon Sauce”
In preparation for my trip to see the parents, I’m working on a list of recipes to make while I’m there, getting the car checked out, digging out the shorts and flip flops, and figuring how many Diet Cokes it will take me to drive from Maryland to Florida. I’m also loading up the iPod with new music because every road trip deserves a soundtrack. So here’s my question, what songs should be on this mix? Old songs, new songs, whatever. I’d love to get your recommendations for my Sunshine State Playlist.
The following originally appeared on 10/18/07 at Exit 51
One, Two, Cha, Cha, Cha
I’m trying to keep a positive spin on the renovation experience. Most days it feels like two steps forward, one step back. I suppose if I were a different person, I could embrace the notion of each day being a surprise when I get home and not be so disappointed by the disruptions in progress. But I’m not. And I don’t.
I’d say the work is about 75 to 80 percent complete. So why is it that this last bit is so difficult to get through? I’ve spent weeks surrounded by destruction, construction, dust and debris. At the height of all the chaos, when the kitchen and bath were merely shells of their former selves, I had far more patience. As work progressed and the pieces started coming together in the form of floors and cabinets and appliances, the idea of being done seemed to become more elusive and out of reach…which of course, makes me want it even more.