Thursday, March 31, 2011

HELP! and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I eat old fashioned oatmeal almost every day for breakfast. Topped with nuts, fruit and maple syrup it is a relatively healthy and satisfying meal. Usually I buy the GIANT cannister - since its cheaper in the long run, and I often use oats as a substitute for breadcrumbs or to make granola. Oats are a total staple in my pantry.

So imagine my HORROR when I groggily opened a fresh cannister the other morning and was met with teeny tiny oat flakes....I could tell just by looking at them. I had purchased QUICK oats instead.

 Old Fashioned Oats
 Quick Oats

See how tiny the flakes are??

Although I knew I didn't like the texture of quick oats, and they never keep me full I went through the motions and made my hot oatmeal.  It was the consistency of library paste and had the breakfast staying power of an eskimo pie. 

I surely wouldn't be able to make it through this can of oats by making my usual oatmeal breakfast.

I had to do something to start to hack away at my supply so I made these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

 They were delicious and satisfied my chocolate chip craving, so I'll definitely be making a few more batches, but,  how else can I use up my quick-oat surplus??

I have about 2 lbs of quick oats to use up.

Please leave links!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Chicken Sausage

When I lived alone, I could easily make a meal out of some roasted Brussels sprouts and a small piece of chicken or fish....Heck, I'd be happy with just the sprouts!

But in the interest of pleasant cohabitation, I know that this is no longer an acceptable dinner unless Rafe has a class. You see, Rafe is *gasp* one of the few people I know who doesn't LOVE Brussels sprouts. He will tolerate them, but they're not his favorite, and a solitary bowl of Brussels would not satisfy his dinnertime appetite.

Pantry staples to the rescue!
Using some ingredients we already had, I was able to create a hearty and filling dinner using Brussels sprouts as my inspiration.

First, I put a big pot of water on to boil for pasta, and prepped my ingredients: slicing Brussels into thin shreds, chopping onion and garlic, and slicing sausages.

Then I moved to caramelizing the onion in a generous pat of butter. Toward the end of cooking I added the clove of garlic.  Once the aromatics were done cooking, I added two chopped chicken sausages to the pan to brown.

Once the sausage was browned, I added the chopped Brussels, a little lemon zest, and about a half cup of chicken stock for moisture. I tossed the mixture with some pipette - which I highly encourage you to try - its a rather fun shape!

Topped with Parmesan cheese this was a delicious and hearty pasta supper. The onions provided sweetness, while the lemon zest provided some juicy acid. The sprouts were both sweet and bitter but still retained a little crunch. 

Rafe even had seconds....Brussels sprouts and all.

Do you ever 'hide' food from your dining companions when you know they aren't fans?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creamless Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

I don't know where my love of tomato soup originates. Unlike a lot of my favorite foods (meatballs, pasta, roast chicken) my mother didn't really make tomato soup when I was a child. Occasionally she would make veggie soups with tomato bases, but never the traditional cream of tomato soup from the iconic can - you know the one.

It must be something that I ate at a friends house when I was older, or something I discovered on my own - but by the time I was in college, tomato soup and grilled cheese was on regular rotation in my dinner menus.

Then I got a little older, a little wiser? and decided that condensed soup from a can probably wasn't the best thing I could be eating. I'd occasionally splurge on some whole foods organic type, but I've always wanted to try my hand at a homemade tomato soup.

I love a tomato soup that is lightened just a little with cream - but recently I've had a little, ahem, issue with dairy like milk and cream (thankfully cheddar cheese is A-Ok) so I went with a creamless recipe.  Lest you think I made my soup creamless due to calorie concerns, please note the delicious gruyere and cheddar grilled cheese that accompanies my little crock of soup. It was griddled in a cast iron skillet in some butter. So there.

The bread was homemade too. So, the only way this could be more of a slow food experience is if I had grown the tomatoes and made my own cheese. The recipe for the soup can be found here. It is from Cooks Illustrated, so the directions are clearer and more concise than I could have given you. I recommend you give it a try if you're a fan of that iconic can.

And I assure you if you make this - you won't be able to resist a dunk!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rafe's Breakfast Burrito

I usually handle cooking dinner. Rafe is pretty skilled in the kitchen, but I generally handle most of the planning and executing - while Rafe is more responsible for cleanup.

The meal that Rafe definitely dominates though, is Sunday breakfast. He makes a mean scrambled egg - usually with veggies mixed in....and always with some melted cheddar cheese. One morning, the weekend before we were planning on moving, we were inspired by a perfectly ripe avocado, an open jar  of salsa, and a few leftover wheat tortillas that we were eager to use.

It was so incredibly pretty that I had to take a picture. Isn't it gorgeous and colorful? Well, it was also VERY tasty and helped to fuel us through an action packed day of picking out furnishings!

Maybe I'll request this for next weekend!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our New Place!!

After moving twice within 4 months, you would think I would be a master of transition and be able to just settle my things into a new place and keep going like before....

Well, clearly that is not the case, since I have been so pre-occupied with unpacking, decorating, and making multiple trips to Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and TJMaxx that I haven't posted in a whole week! The shame!

So, if you're still reading I thought I would appeal to your voyeuristic side, and give you a little peak into the two rooms of Rafe and my new apartment that are the closest to unpacked and lived-in.

Living room... 
I love the details of this older home - all of the moldings and the mantle on our WORKING fireplace!  Also, we get a lot of sunlight - which is quite a change from my Boston studio apartment.

And my personal favorite: the pantry.
Now I finally have a home for all of my cooking magazines, cookbooks and cookware!

And a step ladder because I'm short and I need it to reach high shelves :)

We keep our dishes in the glass cabinets. The cookbooks are below, and wine and liquor to the right.....and a random butternut squash?? I am reminded that I need to cook that...

This is also where I store appliances that I don't want taking up valuable counter space, like my beloved food processor and my panini press/waffle iron/griddle.

Clearly we're still getting settled so until we get a good handle on what we need in the kitchen 'at-hand' and what we can store in the pantry things may change....but I'm just so excited to have a big space that is all our own.

Do you have a favorite room or space in your house or apartment?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Around my French Table- Gerard's Mustard Tart

This is another post-it recipe from 'Around my French Table'. I made it before Rafe and I moved, mostly because his mother had a tart pan. I had never made a tart before, and despite my minor experience with pies, I was a little nervous, and I preferred not to have to buy cookware for my first try.

Gerard's mustard tart is pretty impressive, and another vegetarian dish from the cookbook that is perfect for a meatless meal, or as a lovely side dish to a larger entree.

The crust for this was tasty, but I still need to refine my rolling skills for tart dough - or use a smaller pan, since this recipe didn't leave much for the sides. And although the dough gave me some issues, the rest of the tart was pretty easy to pull together. As always, I just did it in steps, pre-baking my tart early in the day, then preparing the custard and veggies.

The custard is pretty simple to put together - just whisk all the ingredients in a bowl - including two kinds of mustard (Michelle I'm looking at you), and pour into the pre-baked tart shell. Top the custard with the steamed carrots and leaks, along with a sprig of rosemary, and bake.

Although the tart dough situation wasn't perfect, I think my tart looks a lot like the picture in the cookbook. To me, this is a victory.
But enough about looks. I know what you really want to know.....

Using two kinds of mustard I braced myself for a strong, spicy, mustardy custard (food blogging by Dr. Seuss?). But instead I was delighted with a delicately flavored, smooth filling. The crunch of the carrots and texture in the tart shell gave a nice crisp contrast to the unctuous custard filling.

This would make a delicious appetizer or light meal served with a green salad dressed with fruity olive oil, and a sparkling wine. I would love to make this again when it is warm enough to sit on the front porch to dine al fresco with some bubbly.

Now I just need my own tart pan!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baked Eggs

We have hot water!! I am certain that it was the positive thoughts that you sent our way - Thank you!! Thank you!!

Tonight after work, I came home and practiced a little yoga, then took a long HOT shower to celebrate! 

Rafe is on spring break so he went to visit a friend in Southern CT and tonight I was on my own for dinner. Inspiration came in the form of a gift from Rafe's mom. While she was cleaning our her house (getting it ready to go on the market) she found these little gems. 

Le Creuset stoneware mini cocotte's!!

One red, and one blue. So precious!

She had purchased them a while back for a gift that she never gave - and offered them to ME! I think she felt bad about the water situation and wanted to make me feel better. 

It worked.

It is my tradition to eat eggs for dinner on the nights that Rafe is not at home - and tonight was no different, though the preparation was. I used this recipe as my guide for cooking times, etc - but adapted it with some different ingredients.

I first diced about 2 tablespoons of onion and a 1/5 cup of potato and sauteed them in a little butter. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne and cooked until the potatoes were browned and tender - like hashbrowns. 

I layered the potato mixture on the bottom of the ramekin.

Then I sliced some grape tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper.

Next came the egg, some sliced deli ham, and shredded cheddar.  I topped the cheese with a sprinkle of paprika for color. A little dab of butter went on top then I replaced the lid on the cocotte and put it in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

And yep, this is what I got - and no it did not taste as good as it looks....It was better!! With some toast and a goblet of orange juice it was a perfect and satisfying dinner. These would also be great for breakfast or brunch!

I think these cocotte's are adorable - but the size is a bit prohibitive for some things. Any suggestions what else I could use them for? They hold about 8 oz.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Taco Night!

Rafe and I have been moving into our apartment all weekend, and I'm pretty much exhausted from all the craziness! Luckily, our kitchen is all set up and I'll be ready to cook in time for dinner. The sooner we smell food coming from the kitchen, the sooner it will feel like home! (I'll share pictures as soon as we're all set-up!!)

It's no secret that Rafe and I loooove tacos, so this meal is one that we'll have to make in these first few weeks in our new place. It's a standard ground meat taco, however, instead of making use of the grocery store taco kit we instead utilized ingredients with fewer preservatives like sodium, and various un-pronouncable ingredients.

The seasoning packet was the first thing that needed a makeover, but Jen from Beantown Baker had a great recipe, which I merely tweaked with a little more cayenne because I like my heat!

I browned some ground turkey in the pan along with a diced jalapeno.  I added a hefty tablespoon of the seasoning to the meat and stirred to combine.

I hit up Whole Foods where I knew I could find some preservative-free taco shells.

I read the ingredients and confirmed that I knew and could pronounce all of them.

After I warmed the shells in the oven, we assembled our tacos. I took one for the team and made a 'tostada' with the inevitable broken shell.

Topped with cheese, lettuce, chopped tomatoes and guacomole, and paired with our favorite Pale-Ale - this was a fun and somewhat healthier taco than most.

Yep - these are going on the menu plan for this week!

We're still without hot water - so if you could think good thoughts that would make the gas company actually show up for their appointment we'd really appreciate it! (Don't worry- we've been showering at Rafe's mom's house!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Around My French Table: Basque Tortilla

We've been making a serious effort at meatless Monday's. We aren't always able to make it on the right day - but I figure as long as we have a meatless dinner once a week we're doing A-OK! I'm finding it's just a little too easy to rely on pizza or pasta on our meatless days, and I've been making an effort to shake things up. 

A few of my post-it recipes from Around My French Table fit the 'meatless' bill, and after having Meghan's Spanish Tortilla at our potluck, I thought I'd try my hand at Dorie's recipe. I started by sauteing the chopped potatoes and onions.

I mixed up nine eggs with a little salt and cayenne

And then Rafe remembered the leftover gruyere in the fridge and suggested we add it to the tortilla - right on!!

After the potatoes browned, I added the eggs and allowed them to cook in the pan a bit, then finished the tortilla in the oven.

Since this was a pretty simple dish, I decided to spice it up a bit. Meghan served her tortilla with a sriracha mayo, and I decided to do the same.

Rafe put together one of his delicious salads

And we feasted on this meatless meal. The eggs and potatoes make this hearty enough for a dinner when accompanied by salad. Of course this would also be delicious as a brunch item...The tortilla was also satisfying as my lunch the following day at work.

Oh, and if you like spice, sriracha mayo is the way to go - the kick cuts the richness of the dish perfectly, and adds a bit of tang.
 Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours

Do you ever make eggs for dinner? What is your favorite egg dish?