Saturday, October 31, 2009

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Happy Halloween readers!  Just a warning - some of the posts that you may read over the next week may be a little old - things I haven't gotten around to posting in a while that I've been saving for a rainy day, like my previous barbecue chicken pizza.  These old posts are due to my current lack of camera.

I went on a cleaning spree last weekend and I think I inadvertently threw away the battery for  my camera.  The good people at Best Buy should be delivering my fresh battery some time early next week.

As for Halloween, I am spending the weekend in CT - and I get to help pass out candy at the BF's house.  I'm very excited since I haven't actually had trick-or-treaters since I lived at home in high school.  No fancy dinners this weekend...though the bf and I are looking forward to our taco night this evening.  I hope everyone out there has a happy and safe Halloween - don't eat too much candy!!

And if you have candy left over, I suggest you make these cookies from Megan at Delicious Dishings!!

Faux CPK - Barbeque Chicken Pizza

When you live alone like I do...It's pretty hard to rationalize takeout. I mean - what fun is restaurant food without someone to share it with? Even I have nights that I don't feel like cooking...but that is when I rely on soup or leftovers I froze last time I cooked a big batch of something. I defrost it in the microwave, and sometimes, just eat it directly from the saucepan it was heated in. I know, its unrefined and slovenly, but when you live alone you can get away with things like this....

But I digress....
One of my favorite 'guilty pleasures' is the Barbeque Chicken Pizza from California pizza kitchen. I even like the salad of the same flavor. Something about the smokey barbeque sauce just appeals to me...I can't get enough!

I got a craving early in the week and couldn't shake it....But I also couldn't justify spending $14 on some froofie pizza pie.

I had some trader joe's pizza dough in my freezer - whole wheat. I also had 2 ears of organic corn from my CSA which I needed to eat rather quickly so they wouldn't get all gross and starchy. There were 2 leftover links of chicken sausage (garlic variety), half a red onion, and some low fat cheddar and regular parmesan cheeses in the fridge.

Since all my pizza components were already cooked and I just needed to warm them through and melt the cheese, I didn't want to end up with an unbaked crust. I defrosted the pizza dough and rolled it out. I put some cornmeal on my pizza pan and blind-baked the crust for about 7 minutes.



I then spread a very thin layer of barbeque sauce on the crust like you would marinara on a regular pizza. I then topped this with the sliced rounds of sausage, the cut corn, chopped red onion, and finally a layer of cheese.




I baked it in the oven for another 8-10 minutes, until the crust was crispy and the cheese was bubbling.

It definitely satisfied my craving for takeout...and by using the ingredients I already had in my kitchen, I saved myself $14!!! I ate the pizza for dinner, and again the next day for lunch at work.
Considering that I already have a HUGE bag of whole wheat flour, and I bake very rarely, I think I need to make some of my own pizza dough to keep in the freezer for cravings such as these. I have definitely made dough before - but I don't recall any recipe blowing me away.

Does anyone have a go-to recipe for whole-wheat pizza dough?






Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boston Organics 10/20/09

I've received my new shipment of Boston Organics this week - so I thought it might be high-time to give an update on how I used my last shipment.

I'm going to give an update on the veggies only - I usually eat my fruit as snacks

$29 2/3 vegetable
2 Bosc Pears (CA)
0.75 lbs Cortland Apples (VT)
1.5 lbs Fair Trade Bananas (Ecuador)
2 Valencia Oranges (CA)
0.75 lbs Baby Bok Choy (MA) - need to steam and freeze
1 Butternut Squash (MA) - roasted and turned into soup (post to come soon!)
1 lbs Carrots (MA) -
peeled and added to salads, munched on as snacks with lunch
1 head of Cauliflower (NY) - this was a big wild card - many thanks for the suggestions. It was a pretty big head so I made soup and a baked, cheesy, gratin like dish (posting soon)
1.5 lbs Covington Sweet Potatoes (NC) - baked into fries
1 Fair Trade Avocados (Mexico)
- I have to be honest - I don't know where this went, but its not in my fridge, so I must have eaten it. I probably put it in a salad.
1 bunch Kale (MA) - sauteed with garlic and onions and served with some broiled chicken
1 head of Red Leaf Lettuce (MA)
- aforementioned salad

10/20/09
Received:
$29 2/3 vegetable
2 Anjou Pears (WA)
0.75 lbs Empire Apples (VT)
1.5 lbs Fair Trade Bananas (Ecuador)
2 Valencia Oranges (CA)
1 Acorn Squash (MA)
1 head Cauliflower (NY)
1 head Green Leaf Lettuce (MA)
1 bunch Kale (MA)
1.5 lbs Potatoes (MA)
1 lbs Red Beets (MA)
1 lbs Red Onions (MA)
0.75 lbs Zucchini (FL)


Now I need some tips - I don't go through oranges super quickly - and other than just eating them straight up - I'm at a loss. I did cook some greens with oranges once, and it was delicious. Any other creative ideas for using oranges in recipes?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brussel Sprouts

Brussels sprouts tend to be a very polarizing vegetable. People either love'em or loath them....I've never actually heard someone say "they're OK."

I am in the former category as I absolutely love Brussels. The BF is in the latter category - and as such, I do not make them when he is coming for dinner. Brussels are part of my super secret single behavior - because I will center an entire dinner around their presence.

For some reason they haven't been at my grocery store lately. If you follow my twitter posts you will see that I've tried to pick them up at the store only to have my heart shattered when all Brussels are out of stock. Luckily, and unlike one of my other favorites - canned pumpkin - Brussels are a bit easier to track down. I found some the very next week in my local Shaw's.

My favorite way to cook Brussels sprouts is to roast them - and I encourage you to try them this way even if you don't think you like them. They get crispy and golden brown on the outside.

I started by trimming up the sprouts:


I trimmed the stems, then cut them in half and put them on a baking sheet. I drizzled the sheet with about a tablespoon of olive oil then added salt, pepper and garlic powder. I baked them in the oven for about 20-25 mins, tossing occasionally.



I plated them with a few shavings of Parmesan...And I've got to admit - I did have something else with dinner besides a heaping plate of roasted Brussels...but with a huge plate of roasted Brussels as my focus...I can't for the life of me remember what accompanied them!

I love the way the outer leaves get crunchy/crispy when they are baked. They're like semi-healthy chips!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wine Braised Beef Brisket

Another weekend in CT....And another opportunity to take advantage of a full kitchen. The cold air again encouraged me to cook something rich and hearty. My laziness encouraged me to cook a large volume of food so I could have leftovers all week, and leave some with the bf and his mom. I figure since I pretty much live there on the weekends I should earn my keep. I choose to do this in the form of delicious eats.

After I dropped Rafe at the library and picked up all my ingredients at the grocery store I stopped in at the booze mart. This particular wine shop was recommended by Lee, Rafe's mom. West Side Wines and Spirits is a small wine shop on Raymond Rd in West Hartford....it has a TON of wine, and for this time that I went in I can say they also have a helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable staff.

I wanted a recommendation for a wine. I know I like red, but beyond that I don't know much about what flavors go with what, or what to cook with. I always have a couple brands in my back pocket but I wanted to try something new. I told the eager staff member about what I was planning on making, and that I was looking for a delicious red that would reduce well, but also wouldn't be too expensive, and I would be inclined to drink the remaining wine with my dinner.

He suggested a Malbec (i love malbec) and lo and behold....it was only $7.99. I was skeptical that it would be any good...but I'm also cheap and this weekend state-to-state travel has forced me into a budget. So I bought it.

I loved it.
I don't remember what it's called - but I took the bottle's photo while I was cooking - because I knew I would forget. This is the wine. If you like deep, smooth, red wine then give it a shot. At $7.99 I was thrilled.

It was the perfect wine for the brisket recipe below....feel free to sub in your favorite red wine. I put this recipe together after reading several recipes for beef brisket and pot roast.

Wine Braised Beef Brisket
3-4lb beef brisket (visible fat trimmed)
3 onions
5 cloves garlic
80z baby bella mushrooms
2 stalks celery
6 carrots
salt
pepper
smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups red wine
4 cups beef broth
canola oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Heat 2 tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Season the brisket liberally with salt, and pepper, and dust with smoked paprika. Once the oil is hot, place the brisket in the hot pot to sear. Five minutes for the first side, about 3 minutes for the second side. Make sure it develops a crust before you flip it! Once both sides are browned, remove the brisket from the pan and rest on a large plate.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of grease from the pan. Add sliced onions and celery to pan, reduce heat to medium. Cook until onions are caramelized, stirring frequently. This takes a while...be patient. Once the onions are beginning to soften, add the mushrooms. Once onions and mushrooms are soft and golden, add garlic and tomato paste. Stir until the tomato paste begins to stick to the bottom of the pot and brown.
Add the red wine to the pot and deglaze the pan by scraping up all the burnt bits from searing the meat, cooking the onions, and the tomato paste. Bring wine to a boil and cook for 5 minutes to remove the bite of the alcohol.

Add the 4 cups of beef broth to the pot. Add the seared brisket back to the pot, making sure that it is covered by some onions and broth mixture. Add a little water - up to one cup, if the brisket is not covered by liquid.
Add carrots to the pot on top of the beef. Preheat the oven to 325. Cover the pot with a heatproof lid, and place pot in oven for 3-3 1/2 hours.
Cook until meat is tender, checking periodically to make sure meat is covered by water.
Once meat is tender, remove from pan and tent with aluminum foil. Bring the braising liquid to a boil and reduce until thick. Slice the brisket against the grain and pour the braising liquid over itServe with mashed potatoes and noodles. I was lucky enough to have Rafe make his famous garlic mashed....

This brisket was perfect for a cold day served with Rafe's mashed and a salad of spinach, walnuts, onions and pears. The leftovers made for a special Tuesday night dinner as well. I judged this brisket by the same standards as the best pot roast ever, my mother's.....and forgive me mom, but i think I may have a contender that can compete with yours!






Low Fat Pumpkin Bread

Fall is in full swing...the cold temperatures, combined with the rain outside, really makes me want to bake something today when I get home from work. I'm really feeling the need for pumpkin bread, but all the recipes I'm finding online call for 4 eggs, tons of while sugar, and butter...

Does anyone have a pumpkin bread recipe that is delicious....but also not full of empty calories? I would love to use 1/2 AP and 1/2 whole wheat flour if possible.

If you have a tried and true recipe please submit it in the comments section, or email me!

thanks!
Alicia

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This week's Boston Organics 10/6

As you may know, every other Tuesday I receive a box of organic produce from Boston Organics. I am going to start documenting what I receive, and then hopefully documenting how I use each product in my box. I have been very good about using every last stem, but hopefully I can be a bit more accountable now that I have one less mouth to feed (the bf) with my bi-weekly produce delivery!


This week I received...
$29 2/3 vegetable
2 Bosc Pears (CA)
0.75 lbs Cortland Apples (VT)
1.5 lbs Fair Trade Bananas (Ecuador)
2 Valencia Oranges (CA)
0.75 lbs Baby Bok Choy (MA)
1 Butternut Squash (MA)
1 lbs Carrots (MA)
1 head of Cauliflower (NY)
1.5 lbs Covington Sweet Potatoes (NC)
1 Fair Trade Avocados (Mexico)
1 bunch Kale (MA)
1 head of Red Leaf Lettuce (MA)



I receive deliveries every other Tuesday - and I can tell you that as of right now (Thursday), I've finished the lettuce (side dish on Tuesday as well as lunch yesterday and today; and roasted one sweet potato for fries to accompany my lunch salad today). Two carrots have also been used in salads, and I ate one banana, a pear, and an apple.

I'm planning to saute the kale to go with my leftover brisket from last weekend (will post that shortly)....roast another sweet potato for lunch (fries at my desk was fun!)...and I would love to do something fun with the cauliflower...maybe a gratin? I don't buy cauliflower often, so if you have a great recipe I would love to try it! Cauliflower cookery will be slated for Monday - a rare day off for me....

So...how would you cook the cauliflower?

Oh, and shout out to Carissa over at Starving Artist ... she just signed up for Boston Organics...I want to hear what you think when you get your first delivery!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Communal Supper recipe - Mac and Cheese

I received some comments and emails asking to post the macaroni and cheese recipe from my post communal supper. It is actually a recipe from Bon Apetit and can be found online by following this link for double-dutch mac and cheese with chard.

I didn't make it - but I can attest that it is Deeeelicious.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall is Here - Chili!

It's getting to be that time of year again. There is a crispness in the air, time to put a fresh blanket on your bed at night and make the official switch from Dunkin Donuts iced coffee to hot...(this never actually takes...I still occasionally order the iced coffee in the middle of a February blizzard). And, when arriving home, nothing helps shake off the cold quite like a warm, home cooked meal........

My boyfriend has started spending quite a bit of time at the library in his 'spare' time. Studying up on all thinks lawyer-y I assume... I can't help but imagine the UConn Law Library, a huge stone edifice, as hollow and drafty. I imagine him sitting in the large quiet room....cold, damp, with a distant drip, drip, drop of a leaky faucet or roof.

In reality, the library is probably state of the art with individual climate controls, wi-fi, and personal cappuccino service...who knows....I certainly don't hang out there. I drop him off and go grocery shopping.

This Saturday, I dropped the BF off and hi-tailed it to the local supermarket for all the ingredients for a double batch of chili. These CT prices still shock and awe me - I shopped for double ingredients (the chili was a double batch - I wasn't leaving on the bus to Boston without my fair share...I brought my own tupperware) for under $20. That's incredible to me.

When I make chili I tend to follow the same basic recipe...My mom gave it to me from a friend that she works with.... but over the years, I have adapted it and made some substitutions to suit my taste....I've basically made it my own.

Here is the recipe for a double batch - When I make a double batch I like to use kidney beans and chickpeas, I really like the way the chickpeas absorb the spices in the chili. If you make a single batch, just pick one bean. We also like our chili fairly spicy, so omit the jalapenos if you like it milder

1-1.5 lbs lean ground turkey
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
3 jalapenos seeded and finely chopped
10 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2- 280z cans crushed tomatoes
1 - 16oz can kidney beans with liquid
1 - 16oz can chickpeas with liquid

Cook turkey, garlic, onion and green pepper and jalapenos in a heavy pot over medium high heat stirring frequently to break up the meat. Cook until onions are soft and meat has lost any pink color.
Add spices - chili powder through salt to the meat/onion mixture, and let the spices coat the meat and onions (1 min). Add remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer the chili for 45 mins, or longer - stirring frequently.
Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips.