Thursday, December 29, 2011

Curried Split Pea Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

This post should be called "What I got for Christmas". Will gave me "Super Natural Cooking Everyday" by Heidi Swanson and my friend Michelle gave me this awesome cookbook stand that has a clear shield to protect the book from splatter. I had never seen one of these before, but it is a great kitchen tool, and definitely saves my cookbooks from the mess.

Will and I are both feeling a little under the weather after all of the holiday madness so I thought a soup would be perfect for dinner, especially one with a little kick to it. I was searching through my new cookbook for some inspiration, and to view the beautiful pictures in the cookbook. I really need to practice my photography skills. I first came across the recipe for Roasted Chickpeas and bookmarked those, thinking I would make them at a later time. Then I saw the soup and I thought they would be a perfect accompaniment.

Curried Split Pea Soup
Inspired by "Green Lentil Soup" in "Super Natural Cooking Everyday"

1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups split peas
4 cups broth (I used chicken because it was all I had, but vegetable or water will also work)
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
Salt to taste

1) Heat oil and butter in dutch oven, then add spices and let heat, about 1-2 minutes

2) Add split peas and broth and cover, cook until peas are cooked through, about 40 minutes (it really varies)
3) In food processor or with immersion blender puree split pea mixture until desired consistency, return to dutch oven

4) Add coconut milk and heat through

5) Serve with roasted chickpeas on top and enjoy!

Roasted Chickpeas
Adapted from "Super Natural Cooking Everyday"

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and dried
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp paprika (the recipe in the book calls for 3 types of paprika, but we only had one)
1/2 tsp sea salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp rosemary

1) Preheat oven to 425 F with rack in top third of oven
2) Make sure chickpeas are dry and then place them on baking sheet in 1 layer

3) Roast in oven for 10 minutes, then shake pan and roast for 8 minutes
4) Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients in bowl

5) Toss sauce over chickpeas and then return to oven for 4 mintues
6) Eat as they are or pair them with a main or side and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in St. Louis

We just got back from St. Louis where we spent my birthday and Christmas with Will's family. It was a great time spent with friends and family, and of course food. It was like a marathon of food consumption. There was a mixture of delicious homemade meals filled with desserts brought from neighbors. We visited restaurants and I did a little research to find a few that I wanted to try while we were in St. Louis. We were staying in Webster Groves, a small town just outside of the city of St. Louis. We were lucky to have so many great places that had recently moved into the neighborhood.

For lunch one day we tried Milagro, a modern Mexican restaurant that served street tacos and some of the most delicious enchiladas I have ever eaten. They were the Pork Enchiladas Verdes. The salsa verde served on top of these enchiladas had an amazing tangy flavor which reminded me of some of the spicy, acidic sauces I've had at Indian restaurants. Amazing! The street tacos are delicious soft corn tortillas filled to the brim with slow cooked pork and beef. Delicious. Also, the salsa that comes with the chips and salsa is pretty awesome. A must try if you're in St. Louis.

For my birthday dinner I had to try one of St. Louis' newest restaurants, and voted one of their best: The Block. They are a restaurant/butcher shop known for their house-butchered meats and seasonal menu. We showed up early to sample what their bar had to offer. The drinks are fun and fresh. Will had to try the house made Eggnog infused with Bacon, served with a slice of candied bacon. Seriously delicious. They also give you a little popcorn to enjoy with your drink while you wait. Yum. I started my meal with a Roasted Beet Salad. If beet salad is on the menu you better bet that I'm going to order it. It came with a slice of toast topped off with goat cheese and my only complaint was that I wanted a whole loaf of that bread and goat cheese. Will had the special pear salad, that would have been my other choice. If only they had combined the two and I would have been in heaven. And then the main meal arrived. I ordered the White Wine Braised Pork. Delicious, tender shoulder of pork served atop mashed potatoes with a rich gravy and roasted turnip and apples. Oh yeah. Talk about a perfect winter meal. Will had the Pork Chop with sweet potato and bacon hash and braised greens. It was smokey and a bite full of every component was a delicious bite. I can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mom's Pot Roast

I finally was able to make my mom's pot roast and have it turn out tender and delicious! I've made it twice before and what a disaster. It was always dry and nothing like the pot roasts I remember eating when I was growing up. I learned what I was doing wrong. I needed a large roasting pan with a lid. That was the secret to it. So make sure you get a lid to trap in all the lovely juices and keep the roast tender and juicy. I made sure to add lots of vegetables and spices to add to the flavor of the roast. Yum! This dish is perfect for the chilly months ahead. It can also be made in the crockpot and will be ready for you by the time you get home from work. Who can ask for more?

Pot Roast
1 beef roast
6 large carrots
5 potatoes
3 onions
5 stalks of celery
1 can of Campbell's Golden Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup of red wine
Garlic powder, thyme, salt, and pepper to coat meat

1) Chop vegetables into large pieces and place in roasting pan (one with a lid)

2) Season the roast with salt, pepper, thyme, and granulated garlic then place in roasting pan on top of vegetables, then pour 1 can of Golden Mushroom soup on top and coat the roast. The pour red wine on top of roast

3) Place lid on roasting pan and place into 325-350 degree oven for 3 hours
4) Check for tenderness- it should fall nicely apart

5) Serve with vegetables, some bread and butter, and a glass of wine and enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Party Cookies

We had an Ugly Sweater/White Elephant Christmas party on Friday night. It was a great way to spend some time with all of our friends after the hectic week of finals and before people left to visit their families. I took this opportunity to bake up a storm. I don't think I have ever baked so much in such a short amount of time before. There were cookies covering the house with icing decorated and drying. I was so happy to know that they dried in time and that I actually finished! Below are some pictures of the results of the tasty treats. I made gingerbread, sugar cookies, and spritz cookies. It was a lot of fun and a great way to celebrate with my friends!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Organic Rosemary Bread

There is nothing like fresh baked bread from the oven. The smell of dough rising in the kitchen, being transformed into a large sticky ball of what will become a crusted piece of delicious bread. This recipe comes from "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day", and I added some rosemary for a little added flavor. I think rosemary makes the perfect addition to breads with its subtle flavor. The bread comes out of the oven with a nice crust that is neither too soft nor too crunchy. It is perfectly cooked on the inside and has a rich flavor. Goes great with butter, oil, for a sandwich, or by itself.

Organic Rosemary Bread
Adapted from  "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day"

Makes 4 loaves

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, organic, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
1 tbsp organic rosemary

Cornmeal for dusting bottom of bread

1) In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm
water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough
will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room
temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2) Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to
bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated
knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy
bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with
remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3) Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven
to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4) Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide
onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap
steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gringo Tacos

My dad always referred to tacos with hard shells as 'gringo tacos'. Soft corn tortillas were the shell for the true tacos. I grew up eating both, as well as any other Mexican-related food. Spicy foods have always been my friends. This taco recipe is borrowed from my mom. I'm not really sure if I make it the same way that she does, but I come pretty close. All those years of watching her in the kitchen have paid off. This is one of those meals that I can cook without even really thinking about it. They are simple to make and any topping can be added to them. Although I always for for shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped iceberg lettuce, and topped off with some Tapatio for an extra kick. My mom always fried her own shells. Those pre-fried ones that come in a box are perhaps the most awful tasting things in the world. Frying your own is simple, much cheaper, and way more delicious.

Gringo Tacos
For the meat:
1 lb ground beef, lean is best
1 onion, chopped
1 small can (7.75 oz) of El Pato Tomato Sauce (Mexican Hot Style)
1 tbsp cumin (or to taste)
1 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the tortilla shells:
Package of corn tortillas
Oil for frying

To assemble:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Chopped iceberg lettuce
Chopped tomatoes
Hot sauce
Anything else that you like

1) In a large skillet heat small amount of canola oil and saute the onions, then put in bowl
2) Add ground beef to skillet that had onions in it and brown with spices and salt and pepper, when browned add onions and sauce

3) Taste the cooked meat to see if more spices needed to be added
4) In a frying pan, place enough oil to fry tortillas in, once heated add a tortilla and coat with oil on both sides, as it begins to stiffen, fold the tortilla in half with tongs and hold in place so that it fries into the shape of a taco shell

5) When tortillas are cooked, place on paper towel lined plate

6) Stuff tortillas with ground beef and toppings and enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stained-Glass Cookies

These beautiful, festive cookies seem to be the hit thing this year. Practically all of my food magazines include a recipe for these holiday treats. Upon further Christmas cookie investigation I found many more recipes for these cookies. I wanted to make cookies for my history class on the last day so I thought I would try these out and see if they were as difficult to make as they looked. Well they are not. As long as you can make a sugar cookie and crush up some Jolly Ranchers then you are ready to go. Just make sure you add a lot of crushed candy to the center. I had a few that didn't get filled all they way. But they still looked pretty cool. These are impressive looking cookies that everyone will love. You may even want to put a hole in the top so you can hang these ornament shaped cookies on the tree for a holiday party.

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2004

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour

1) Cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs, vanilla, and salt. Add flour mixture a cup at a time until incorporated
2) Divide dough into disks and wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 2 hours
3) Save until ready to use

Stained-Glass Cookies
Adapted from Everyday Food, December 2011

Basic sugar cookie dough, ready to use
Jolly Ranchers, separated into colors

1) Place Jolly Ranchers in a plastic bag (all blue in one bag, red in another, etc.)
2) With a rolling pin, crush the candies until finely ground

3) Set aside in bowls

4) Roll out cookie dough then cut into ornament shapes, then with small cookie cutter, punch out hole in center of ornaments

5) Bake cookies in 350 F oven until set, about 8-10 minutes, then remove from oven and fill the center with crushed candies

6) Return to oven and cook until candy is melted and cookies are ready, about 3 minutes
7) Remove from oven and let cool and enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lasagna Goes-on-ya

I can't say the word lasagna without repeating goes-on-ya. We grew up saying this because my mom always did. I haven't made lasagna in a very long time, but when it gets cold outside I love to make really hearty, casserole-like meals that I can make ahead and then throw in the oven. I made the pasta for the lasagna a day ahead and this was the first time I've made pasta for a lasagna. I think it turned out pretty well. I decided to make the lasagna with some Italian Sausage and some vegetables that we had in the fridge. I even snuck in some broccoli, a favorite of mine, but something Will won't really eat. I heard no complaints about the broccoli.

This recipe came together as I tried to remember how my dad used to make his, with plenty of guess work. We usually made lasagna with ground beef, but with Italian food I prefer Italian sausage and I always like to have fresh veggies. This recipe is easily adapted and can be made with what you prefer.

Pasta sheets- the recipe I used for fresh pasta makes enough for this recipe
1 lb Italian sausage
12 oz of ricotta
Shredded mozzarella (enough to sprinkle throughout layers of lasagna)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup broccoli
1 medium can of chopped tomatoes
1 large can of tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Saute onions in pan with olive oil, then add garlic and vegetables and saute until slightly soft, about 5 minutes, set aside

2) Brown sausage with oregano, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper, then add to vegetables

3) Pour in tomato sauce cook slightly, then remove from heat

4) In a large casserole dish make a layer of pasta sheets, then layer with meat and veggie sauce, add tsps of ricotta throughout, then sprinkle with mozzarella

5) Repeat this step until casserole is filled, about 4 layers

6) Place in 375 F oven and bake until heated through, about 35-45 minutes
7) Turn on broil to brown the cheese on top
8) Let cool slightly, then slice, serve, and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday Dinner Roast Chicken

There are few things that are as satisfying to eat than a roast chicken. Sometimes the simplest foods make for the best meals. I don't roast chicken very often, and usually when we have a whole chicken we throw it on the grill with a beer can. But on a cold December Sunday, roasting was the way to go. The trick is to rub butter and rosemary under the skin, as well as on top, to give the skin a delicious crispy crunch and turn it that beautiful golden brown color. I love a good piece of salty, buttery, crispy skin, it pairs wonderfully with the meat of the bird. I served this alongside roasted vegetables and smashed potatoes with pan sauces.

 Roast Chicken
3-4 lb whole chicken
2 onions quartered
1 lemon, sliced into 1/4 pieces 
2 tbsp butter
3 stalks of celery, cut in half
6 carrots, cut in half
2 sprigs of rosemary, plus extra for chopping
Salt and pepper

The preparation for this dish is simple. First, preheat oven to 450 F
1) Wash the chicken and pat dry, making sure that the skin is very dry, as well as the inside of the bird. Then sprinkle the inside with salt and pepper.
2) Slice a lemon into 1/4 inch pieces, along with a quartered onion, and 2 sprigs of rosemary and place them inside the chicken. 
3) Then, with 1 tbsp of softened butter, rub the butter under the skin along with some chopped rosemary. Do the same with the 1 tbsp of butter to the top of the skin, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4) Make a platform with the vegetables and place chicken on top

5) Roast in oven until internal temperature (check thigh meat) has reached 165 F
6) Let chicken meat rest

7) Pour juices into a pan and add 1/2 cup of white wine or chicken stock and cook until reduced, then use
sauce to pour over carved bird, mashed potatoes and vegetables and enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


When I came back from California I was sure to bring with me an Ebelskiver pan from Solvang, a Danish town where my dad lives. I grew up eating this little Danish, spherical, pancake-like treats. Ebelskivers are one of those foods that remind my of my childhood. My dad would make these on occasion or we would go out for breakfast and get them. They are kind of tricky to make, so we didn't have them very often. But I remember watching my dad make them in the kitchen, and it always being frustrating that the first batch never quite came out right. This was a problem that I had as I made them. So don't feel bad if you have to throw the first ones away or they don't look quite right, you'll get the hang of it. This was my first time making Ebelskivers from scratch. We always used a mix. But I wanted to make a batch from the new cookbook I got. The classic way to eat these is to place them on a bed of raspberry jam, then top them with a little more jam and dust them with powdered sugar. However, in the book there are many recipes, including savory snacks, for a diversity of ways of preparing this dish. I chose the classic recipe to start off with.

Classic Ebelskiver
From Ebelskivers by Kevin Crafts

1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp butter, melted

1) Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks and milk, then add to the flour mixture

2) Melt butter and add to batter
3) With an electric beater beat the egg whites until they are frothy and stiff peaks form, then slowly fold in the egg whites into the batter

4) Preheat Ebelskiver pan and add melted butter or oil

5) When pan is hot, add 2-3 tbsp of batter into each hole and let cook until bottom is browned, then carefully turn the Ebelskiver with a knitting needle or wooden skewer to rotate so other side will brown

6) When ball is formed and sides are browned remove from pan and place in oven to keep warm
7) Repeat with remaining batter
8) Add jam to  plate and place Ebelskivers on top, then add more jam and dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!