Saturday, February 26, 2011

Basil-Walnut Pesto

There is such a plethora of pestos in the recipe world that I felt like I had to clarify exactly what I put into mine. Of course, basil and pine nuts is traditional...but spinach and walnuts or kale and goat cheese are now considered perfectly valid.

I have actually never made pesto before. After confessing this to a friend last week, she claimed it only takes 5 minutes! And after realizing that I did not have to dig into our savings to purchase a bag of pine nuts, I had no other barriers. So, a few days ago, I took literally 5 minutes and made pesto. (And the best part is...Ryan washed my food processor for me!)

I chose my recipe by searching on Tastespotting, which is one of my primary sources of inspiration when it comes to food combinations and presentation. I would highly recommend you browse through the listings...but make sure to bookmark your favorites! Recipes are constantly being added.

Click here for the recipe I used. The basic ingredients are basil, walnuts, olive oil, salt, and cheese. I don't believe I added the salt and Parmesan worked beautifully as the cheese.

Ryan and I loved it on crackers. I also made a hummus and pesto sandwich for the road to Guelph and it was quite tasty!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spicy Turkey Meatloaf and Nutrifact #1: Trans Fats

I am currently in a winter wasteland hundreds of miles from home.

Winter--because I have not seen the sky since I've been here due to the snow and fog.
Wasteland--because I have not seen one green thing, either.
And miles away---because I am in Guelph, Ontario.

I am not is just very dull here. I am attending a conference about fighting world hunger...which should depress me even further. I'm sure I will have some shocking facts about that to post on here after we go to the first session.

But right now, I have a different fact to tell you. I decided that I shouldn't keep all the interesting things I learn in my nutrition classes to myself! So now I'm going to post one nutrition-related fact each week.

Nutrifact #1: Trans Fats
Even if a product says it is trans fat free, it may still contain trans fats. The recommended amount of trans fats to consume per day is 0 g. Nada.
Trans fats are formed by switching a hydrogen's position on the fatty acid. This is found naturally in minimal amounts in meat and dairy. In everything else, it is synthesized. Trans fats work in your body to increase your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which can increase your risk for coronary heart disease. The highest concentrations of trans fats can be found in crisco, margarine, many snack foods, and peanut butter.
So what if you check every label and see no trans fats listed? Isn't that enough? Actually, it isn't. Companies are not required to say that their products contain trans fats unless there are 0.5 g or more per serving. So, if a product contains 0.45 g of trans fats per serving, it can be advertised as "trans-fat-free." The way that companies do this is by lowering the serving size. Take peanut butter, for example. The serving size is only 2 Tbsp. That's about that size of the tip of your thumb doubled.
Here is how you know for sure if something does not contain trans fats. Read the ingredient list. If anything is hydrogenated (even partially), it contains trans fats. It's that simple.

Now for a recipe! On Monday I made Spicy Turkey Meatloaf from a Cooking Light recipe. I have never made meatloaf before...and I believe I had only eaten it once before this. But since this recipe was spicy, made from turkey, and light, I could pretty much guess it wouldn't taste like reguar meatloaf.

And Ryan and I were pleasantly surprised! We both found it quite delicious.

For the original recipe, click here.
Here is my modified version:
Spicy Turkey Meatloaf
Makes 6 servings
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
5 mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp chopped basil
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic to pan; cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool 5 minutes.

While cooking vegetables, combine ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and nutmeg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. 

Combine mushroom mixture, breadcrumbs, and next 8 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; stir well to combine. Shape turkey mixture into a 9 x 5–inch rectangle on a broiler pan lined with foil and coated with cooking spray.

Spread ketchup mixture evenly over top of meat loaf; bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Info
1 serving (6 servings total)
Calories: 214
Fat: 8.3 g (Sat 3.2 g)
Sodium: about 500 mg
Carbohydrates: 16 g (Fiber 0.8 g, Sugar 9.7 g)
Protein: 17 g

The slices broke when I was serving it, so this is a lot less than one serving! Just to clarify.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Blueberry Lemon Curd Tarts

Lemon Curd is my topping of choice for scones and biscuits. And last week, I found a recipe for Lemon Curd on Tartelette that did not use butter! The other times I have made curd, the recipes I used called for gobs of butter. Now that I found this one, I will have no reason not to make it as often as I can!

You can click on the link above for the curd recipe. I used vanilla, even though she didn't. It softened the pertness just a bit.

Tartelette made mini tarts out of I decided to try the same!

Blueberry Lemon Curd Tarts
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 package blueberries
1 batch Lemon Curd

Using a biscuit cutter, cut circles out of the pie crust and fit into a mini muffin pan. Bake at 400 for about 7-8 minutes. Meanwhile, make the curd and wash the blueberries.

Once the crusts are done, remove from pan and fill each with about 1/2 Tbsp of curd. Top with 3 blueberries each. Enjoy!

I think these are best cold. And I'm sure they would be better with homemade pie crust...but the ready-made stuff is good in a pinch or for a quick delicious dessert!

Calories per tart: 72

Friday, February 18, 2011

Penne with Garlic White Wine Reduction

Berries are finally back! And boy am I taking advantage of it. Strawberries are covered in chocolate, blackberries stud our salads, and blueberries top lemon curd tarts (post to come soon!).

Yesterday I was in the mood to make up my own recipe. I've made enough reduction sauces that I have an idea of the basic process. I also had some grape tomatoes in the refrigerator and decided to try out a technique I had found in the cookbook Nigella Express a while ago called...
Moonblush Tomatoes
Preheat oven to 450. Cut 10 oz grape or cherry tomatoes in half and place cut side up in a baking dish. Drizzle over olive oil. Sprinkle over 1/4 tsp sugar, 1 tsp thyme, and kosher salt. Once oven is preheated, place inside and immediately turn off. Leave in oven overnight or all day without opening. (When I opened the oven at the end of the day, they weren't quite roasted enough so I turned it back up to 400 for a while and they finished up nicely in a few minutes.)

That night, the first thing I started was the sauce, because I knew it would have to simmer for a while.

Garlic White Wine Reduction
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp butter

Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, being careful not to burn. Add wine and bring to a low simmer. Reduce to about 1/2 cup, about 10-15 minutes. Add lemon juice, and let simmer for about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for about 10 minutes. Whisk in butter.

Penne with Garlic White Wine Reduction, Mushrooms, Bacon, and Moonblush Tomatoes
1/2 lb penne rigate
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
4 slices cooked bacon
1 batch Garlic White Wine Sauce
1/2 batch Moonblush Tomatoes
fresh basil
kosher salt

Bring water to a boil. Sprinkle in salt and add pasta. Cook according to package directions.

At the same time, heat oil in pan. Add sliced mushrooms and saute for about 7-10 minutes. Sprinkle over salt.

Chop bacon and add to mushrooms. Add to sauce once finished.

Once pasta has finished cooking, drain and add to pan containing sauce, mushrooms, and bacon. Mix in about half batch Moonblush Tomatoes. Sprinkle freshly torn basil on top and serve!

Although I know that is technically an Italian dish, I had a recipe for Szechuan Green Beans calling my name. So I made that too. Click here for the recipe.

Just so you know...Ryan and I both thought this was the tastiest meal of the month.

And here are the beautiful flowers Ryan got me for Valentine's that have graced our table for the past few days!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coconut Chicken Fingers

Coconut. Hated by some, loved by others.

I personally like it in small amounts...preferably cooked. So this recipe from Cooking Light stood out to me as I sat writing my grocery list earlier this week.  Mostly because I didn't need to add anything to the list!

Here's the recipe, straight from Cooking Light (possibly my favorite magazine, which I receive every month, compliments of my brother- and sister-in-law!)
Coconut Chicken Fingers
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 cup rice flour (I just used the regular stuff)
1 cup whole buttermilk (once again, milk+lemon juice)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
3 tbsps canola oil
Sweet chile sauce (the recipe says this is optional, but I say it is NOT. This made the meal.)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Combine buttermilk and egg in a shallow dish, stirring well. Place coconut in a shallow dish.

Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess. Dip chicken in egg mixture. Dredge in coconut.

Here they are...ready for the pan! That is my favorite knife (Wusthof) in the foreground. Wusthof Classic 11-Piece Block Set

Next, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add chicken. Cook 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown. Serve with chile sauce.

The recipe says it yields 6 servings. Well...Ryan and I had it for dinner...then he polished off the rest for lunch. So...I'd say it depends on what you eat with it and how hungry you are!

Here's the nutritional info if you get 6 servings out of it:
Calories: 298
Fat: 12.7 g
Protein: 28.7
Carbohydrates: 15.9 g
Sodium: 318 mg

If I were you, I wouldn't bother making this recipe without this sauce. Just saying.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pre-Valentine's Dinner

Happy Valentine's Day! On Sunday I made a special dinner for Ryan and thought I would share some of the delicious recipes I found.

Crackers topped with feta, sun dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and basil
Balsamic Glazed Steak
Hasselback Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes

First, we were both hungry by the time I started I got my creative juices flowing and made up these appetizers!

You will need:
Bite-size crackers (I used wheat thins and rosemary pepper crackers)
Feta or goat cheese
1-2 sun dried tomatoes
High quality balsamic vinegar (the syrupy stuff)
Dried or fresh basil

Form a ball from about 1/2 tsp cheese and press onto cracker. Repeat until you have as many crackers as you want. Cut tomato into very small pieces and place carefully on top of cheese. Put one drip of vinegar on each cracker. Sprinkle basil over. (I made this with Feta and dried basil, but I think it would be a lot more tasty with goat cheese and fresh basil, personally.) The thick, high quality vinegar is key to this combination. I received my bottle from my dad, to whom I am very grateful!

While I was making these, I had a balsamic reduction on the stove for the marinade. For the recipe, click here.

I didn't use the exact cut of meat the recipe called for. It still tasted delicious, but it could have been a little more tender. I think I left it on there a minute or two too long. Ah well. I am learning. Meat has long been a mystery for me.

During this time, I had the sweet potatoes in the oven. I had made Hasselback Potatoes one summer long ago when I was making dinners themed on various countries' typical meals. So when I saw this recipe with sweet potatoes (whose qualities far exceed those of regular old potatoes, in my opinion), I knew I had to try it.

My favorite part of this recipe was the Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette. Click here for the directions for slicing and cooking the potatoes, and here is my version of the vinaigrette:

Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine
Salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, mustard, and thyme together. Stream in olive oil while whisking. Salt to taste. Divide among potatoes. (This made enough for both of our potatoes with some leftover to dress a few salads.)

Here are the tubers, right out of the oven. Ryan called these "armadillo potatoes," and rightfully so.

Next on the menu was Balsamic Roasted Asparagus. I guess I had a bit of a balsamic theme going that night, but it resulted in a collection of dishes that suited each other.

Recipe adapted from Heather Cristo.
1 lb asparagus, with bottoms trimmed
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Parmesan cheese

Because this recipe has so few ingredients, try to use the best that you can. This is why I went for the nicer salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400. Place washed and trimmed asparagus in a 9x13 baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and grind over pepper. Toss to coat.

Cook for about 8 minutes, until browned on the outside. Grate over parmesan. (Or shave if you have the tool to do this and it is good quality parmesan)

I used some of the reserved marinade (removed BEFORE marinating the meat in it!) to drizzle over it as well.

The Molten Chocolate Cakes turned out very well, but I was not completely happy with them. I will not post the recipe until I've had a chance to make them again and improve upon them. However, while preparing the little ramekins with butter and cocoa, I discovered a unique sifter that was the perfect size. My tea infuser. Tea Infuser -1.5-Inch Mesh Ball Spoon

The little cakes didn't rise as much as they should have, but then again the recipe was supposed to be made in two 6 oz ramekins and I divided it into four 4 oz ramekins. But Ryan was happy, and that was all that mattered!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Garam Masala Roasted Fish with Tomato Curry Sauce

 This week has been hectic, to say the least. Thus the lack of posts. However, I still made a couple dinners and the Garam Masala Fish with Tomato Curry Sauce was especially delicious. Sadly, I had forgotten to charge Ryan's camera and so it is not documented pictorially. But I would strongly encourage you to go to this blog and make it.

You may have noticed that I like to use a lot of spices. You can find a lot of these at Indian or other international grocery stores. They come in bags that contain 5 times as much as those little bottles for half the price. That is where I like to find my garam masala, turmeric, cumin, madras curry powder, fenugreek and such.

The other dinner I made was Cooking Light's Almost Classic Pork Fried Rice (it's almost classic because it's not as unhealthy!). I think I broke the cardinal rule of making fried rice wasn't chilled. But it turned out fine and served me, a friend, and Ryan for dinner, plus another lunch for Ryan and two lunches for me. This was the perfect thing to make on a busy week.

Almost Classic Pork Fried Rice, adapted from Cooking Light
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
2 boneless pork chops, cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
any other vegetables you want to get rid of
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp peeled and minced ginger
1 can water chestnuts, rinsed, drained, and diced
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 large egg
3 tbsp white wine (use mirin if you have it)
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper
2 cups fresh bean sprouts

First, start cooking the rice if you don't already have some on hand.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and swirl to coat. Sprinkle a little salt over the pork and add to the pan. Saute for about 2 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove from pan.

Add carrots, bell peppers, and tomato to the pan and saute for about 2 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add mixture to the pork.

Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Stir in garlic and ginger. Cook for about 15 seconds, stirring constantly to avoid burning. (I turned down the heat a little at this point.) Add water chestnuts and saute until lightly browned.

Add rice, stirring well. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes, or until it begins to brown. (You don't get as much browning action if the rice has just been cooked, I found.) Stir and cook for another 2 minutes to brown. Make a well in the middle and add egg. Stir-fry for 30 seconds until soft-scrambled, stirring constantly.

Return the pork and vegetable mixture to the pan. Stir in wine and cook until absorbed. Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil. Add a little salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in bean sprouts.

It is only authentic if you eat it with chopsticks.

Nutritional Info:
Serving size: about 2 cups
Calories: 408
Fat: 12.4 g
Protein: 21 g
Carbohydrates: 49.3 g
Sodium 627 mg

P. S. We ate ours with sriracha sauce and crushed red pepper to make it spicy. I would highly recommend doing this.

Also, here are some grapes that I thought were too beautiful not to photograph.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chipotle Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

I have finally set aside my studies for the night. I was having too much fun. I mean...the muscularis externa sounds like a spell straight from a Harry Potter book. And the Crypts of Lieberkuhn sound like an adventure waiting to happen...right in our very own small intestines!

But that doesn't have anything to do with what we had for dinner tonight.

Chipotle and bacon. Two of Ryan's favorite things. Add shrimp and a dangerously fun way of cooking...and you get a delicious and entertaining supper!

Here are the little shrimps getting dressed up.

The best part of this recipe is that you literally light it on fire. While the shrimp is cooking, you make the sauce, pour in some whiskey, then light it! We were practically begging our smoke alarm to go off by making this. It did not fail us.

The shrimps are safely cooking in a separate pan.

The last step is grating lime zest into the sauce. I will have to wax eloquent about zest some other time...but it is magical.

For the recipe, click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chappatis and Anniversaries

Engagement anniversary, to be exact! A year ago, on February 6th, Ryan proposed...and now we've been married exactly six months!

Happy times.

I didn't make chappatis for dinner tonight. But I did make them a couple days ago along with Curry Fish. It was delicious...and the pictures are courtesy of Ryan this time!

I received this recipe from a dear friend, who got it from an Indian friend of her mother!

Chappati (Indian Flat Bread)
Makes about 20

2 cups Chappati flour (find this at your local Indian Market)
1 Tbsp oil or ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp salt
Water as required (I needed about 3/4 cup)
1 tsp cumin seeds (optional...but I like them a lot!)

Add salt, oil, seeds (if desired), and a little water to the flour and mix it well. Add water and mix until it comes together. Knead it till it becomes smooth. Leave it for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Divide it into equal-sized balls, coat with flour, and roll them out on a floured surface. You want to get them really thin so they'll puff up while cooking. Heat the pan or griddle over high heat. Sprinkle or spray a few drops of oil or ghee and place the chappati on it, flipping it once so both sides are roasted. (This part doesn't take very long!) Repeat spraying oil and cooking chappatis until done. Best served hot with curry. This dough also stores well in the refrigerator.

Curry Fish (adapted from Add a Little Love...which is another blog out here)
Serves 2

2 fish fillets, sliced into thin layers (I used Tilapia)
2 Tbsp flour to coat fish (I forgot this step)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pinches cayenne
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1/2 Tbsp garam masala
6 oz plain greek yogurt
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
Salt to taste
Mint to garnish

Coat thinly sliced fish with flour, add salt, and fry in hot oil, using high heat. Remove from skillet.

Mix yogurt, flour, and 1 Tbsp water in small bowl.

Prepare spices. Use same oil to cook ginger and garlic until fragrant. Add all other spices (including salt) and stir quickly for about 5 seconds. Don't burn it!

Add yogurt mixture. Add water and bring to boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add fish and cook for 5 more minutes. Garnish with mint and enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Namesake

Yesterday I wanted to make a real meal. With meat that you slice yourself as you're eating it. No more of this chunks of chicken in curry business..for Ryan's sake.

Plus, starting this blog inspired me to pull out the package of Trader Joe's pasta that had been on my shelf waiting for the perfect recipe. This was actually the first time I'd made Pappardelle. You may be surprised about that...but look for it at your average grocery store next time you go and you'll see why.

You might be wondering what that perfect recipe was! It's called Pappardelle with Mushrooms...but it really should be called Pappardelle with Goat Cheese, because that's what is amazing about it! I allow myself a little gourmet splurge every now and then, as long as I stay within our budget. And this week it was goat cheese. If I had my way, I would go without milk just to have goat cheese constantly in my refrigerator, ready to be consumed on a whim. But...I have a feeling Ryan wouldn't like that very much. He's a milk person.

The recipe is actually from Williams-Sonoma's Pasta cookbook. Fabulous recipes in there. But I tampered with it just a little. First off, whenever I'm reading over a recipe I have to automatically ignore such things as onions, shallots, and chives. Ryan abhors onions. True, the raw stuff is nasty. But those tender, caramelized little slices can be so delicious! So nowadays I only slip 'em in when company's coming.

The next thing I changed was the predominant herb in the recipe. They called for tarragon, but I happen to know I'm not a fan. So...of course I changed it to rosemary! The queen of herbs!

Don't worry. In all this excitement I didn't forget about making some meat. I whipped out my handy-dandy Best Meat Recipes cookbook by Cook's Illustrated. That book has never failed me. It has transformed many a meager cut of meat into a feast. I settled on Easy Pork Chops with Mustard Sage Sauce.

During my cooking preparations tonight, I realized that my oven actually has one good quality. Now, this oven takes forever to preheat and then never gets hot enough unless you crank it to 25 degrees higher than directed. It also makes the fire alarm go off when you open it to take something out. The electric burners are all wobbly....making it quite dangerous with hot liquids...and only three of them work. The fan also just spits out 90% of the smoke it takes in...making it nigh impossible to cook without filling our apartment with a cloud.

But...when the lightbulb went out a couple months ago...we changed it with one called Natural. I didn't like it until I realized last night that it's perfect for pictures!

Here are the recipes:

Pappardelle with Goat Cheese, modified version of Williams-Sonoma's Pappardelle with Mushrooms
Makes 4 servings
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 oz bacon (which is code for "3 slices"), chopped
10 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 oz Goat cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and Pepper
1 lb Pappardelle
Fresh rosemary, minced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the bacon and saute until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have softened and released most of their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the goat cheese and stir to melt and combine. Stir in the wine and cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, add 1-2 Tbsp salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup cooking water. Add pasta to the sauce along with the rosemary. Toss. Warm briefly over low heat to blend the flavor. Add as much of the cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 422
Fat: 19.2 g
Sodium: ~200 mg
Carbohydrates: 43.9 g
Protein: 15 g

Mustard-Sage Sauce, modified version of Cook's Illustrated recipe
Makes 2 servings
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp Horseradish mustard
1 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 tsp fresh sage, minced
salt and pepper

After cooking pork chops, transfer to a platter and tent with foil. Pour juice in skillet into a small bowl. Add oil and garlic to the now-empty skillet. Cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and increase heat to high. Simmer until reduced to about 2 Tbsp, about 3 minutes. Add reserved juice. Off heat, whisk in mustard and butter until melted. Stir in sage and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over chops and serve immediately.

On a side note, I always make my chicken broth with Better than Bouillon, thanks to my mother! Now I never run out. I also only use a little over 1/2 tsp per cup, instead of the 1 tsp as directed. It's like the low-sodium version.

I also made a salad. With toppings. I've gotten into a bad habit of putting the bag of lettuce on the table with no serving utensil or anything. I'm trying to put an end to that.

Well, when my husband leaves for work and won't be back for almost 10 hours...blogging seems to lift my spirits a little more than facing my homework. But I can't put it off forever. Ciao!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

No Time Like the Present

Dear Readers,

I could have put it off forever. But here we are. Me writing. You reading.

After many months' contemplation, a little coercion from my husband, and a couple weeks of debating over a name, I am starting my very own food blog!

I chose the name Pappardella for a couple of reasons.
1) Pappardelle is my favorite pasta shape. Not that these wide noodles taste exceptionally different from other shapes. But the most exquisite and savory pasta dishes I have eaten featured Pappardelle. And so...I've developed a fondness for the name.
2) Pappardella...being singular...refers to me. My maiden name is Papp...and the ella at the end was a coincidental perk.

I had some extra time tonight since my husband, Ryan, took a little longer at work. Completely understandable as it's his third day on the job! So I made a little dinner and took what pictures I could manage with his camera.

First up. Irish Soda Bread. Partly because I wanted something quick, but mostly because I hadn't made it before. I'm all for trying new recipes!

But of course I didn't follow it exactly. I rarely do nowadays. Life is too short.

Besides, I didn't have buttermilk.

So I substituted it with milk and lemon juice and used some whole-wheat flour instead of white..and all in all it was really easy! And it turned out beautifully if I may say so myself.

Here's the recipe:

Irish Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425. Coat cookie sheet with baking spray.

Put lemon juice and milk into bowl and let sit for 2 minutes.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in most of the milk mixture. Mix well, first with wooden spoon and then with your hands. The dough should be a little soft. If necessary, add the rest of the milk.

Knead dough lightly and briefly on a floured counter. (I just gave mine a few turns in the bowl and it turned out fine.) Shape into an 8" round. Put onto cookie sheet and slash the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1/10 loaf
Calories: 194
Fat: 1.1 g
Sodium: 378 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 39.3
Protein: 7.1 g

Smear avocado and tuna atop a slice and it turns into a deliciously satisfying late-night meal.

I also made an orange mint salad with sweet reduced balsamic vinegar dressing. That didn't photograph very well in the final stages...but here are the orange slices waiting to be dressed.