Thursday, December 15, 2011

Back in the saddle - Chicken pot pie

Sometimes taking a break is a good thing.

And a big thank you to everyone who has been understanding during this hard time (the first year anniversary of my mom's death is the same date as my birthday - and, yes, it is/has happened this month).

I will share with you today something I made a couple of weeks ago.

Chicken pot pie.
 No recipe but just lots of (hopefully) pretty pictures of food.

Homemade biscuit dough.
The filling was a simple rough with shredded (cooked) chicken, peas and spices.

And, of course, there was a serving for the dogs.

I brushed some egg wash over the dough and it went into the oven.

After 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven they looked like this:

Chicken pot pie is the embodiment of comfort food.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful (pre) holiday season.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spicy Cornish game hen

Spicy Cornish game hen.
I will have to admit I have just not been myself lately. 

Intermittent posts and the ones I have done are less then stellar.

I will tell you why.

But, wait, Gourmet Runner did a great post about what (she) people love and hate about a blog posts. You must read it - it is brilliant.

But, back to why my posts have been intermittent:

This month will mark the one year anniversary of my Mom's passing. And the unfortunate thing? The anniversary of her death is the same day as my birthday.

Yes, you read that right.

So, while I have been hyper-kinetic and running twice a day (two miles (each) while trying not to think about things) I have been cooking.

How did the Cornish game hen turn out?

Not too shabby.

I tend to over cook chicken out of a freakish fear of salmonella poisoning but that is an issue for another post...

To get back to my reference to the Gormet Runner's post:

I definitely prefer posts that are honest. 

I dislike blogs that are happy all the time and I have an equal dislike for the super dismal ones. 

I hope this one is somewhere in between. 

My sister is determined to not celebrate my birthday on my actual birthday (just for this year) and it is nice to have a big bucket of siblings that are facing the same anniversary so it is not like I am facing it alone.

On the upside - I am contemplating getting a Christmas tree and dowsing it with 20lbs of tinsel - but I fear the ensuing trip to the vet's office because my dogs just cant stop inhaling the shiny stuff off the tree:-)


Friday, December 2, 2011

Local sushi place

So I did a search on Yelp and found a sushi place near me that had good reviews.

I hate to be too judgemental because any restaurant can have an off day - but the thing that first stood out was that the avocacdo in the california roll was brown...

This is not a good sign.

And the salad was drenched in a heavy/creamy dressing that was just a bit too much.

And the biggest disappointment was the miso soup.

I love miso soup. It is salty and savory with seaweed and all things I love. 

This one tasted like they reheated the miso soup left over from last night dinner and dumped in a bunch of water - not good...

The high point was the tuna roll.

And, yes, I did take most of it home and Abby got to enjoy a couple of the tuna rolls - Connor enjoyed the cucumber rolls - he is odd like that:-)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bacon and apple pizza

It was a foggy and overcast day here today and seemed like the perfect day for pizza.

And this afternoon, bacon and apple seemed like the perfect combination.

Tomato sauce and some thinly sliced apple with  a sprinkle of shallots.  
And while I wanted bacon I knew that much fat would send my stomach over the edge so I removed most of the fat (which it turns out is 90% of the bacon in the package).

A bit of Parmesan and pepper on top and it was ready for the oven.

Hot out of the oven:

The crispy bacon was a wonderful pairing with the shallots and the sweet apple.

Night all!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tomato frittata

Tomato frittata.
These did turn out gorgeous - they were all plumped up and fluffy straight out of the oven.

I would have a picture of that if both dogs didn't suddenly decide that they had to go out RIGHT NOW!!

So, unfortunately, you get a picture of deflated frittatas.

Do take note of the adorable mini-casserole dish I picked up at Sur La Table on my Foodbuzz weekend. It is the one on the left - with the handles.

The dogs enjoyed the same frittata but with an extra bonus:

1/2 of a mini frittata with a sardine on top.

Abby was particularly excited about the fish addition - that girl does love her fish.

I enjoyed mine with a side salad tossed with Udo's oil, lemon juice, oregano, pepper and nutritional yeast.

No recipe today - but the dish is easy. Just heat up some diced tomatoes in a skillet with some olive oil. Add seasoning of your choice (mine was oregano, garlic and basil pesto). When the sauce gets thick, spoon it into the bottom of the baking dishes.

Then whisk up some eggs - add in some shaved Parmesan and salt and pepper. Pour the eggs on top and pop into a 350 degree oven for 15 - 20 minutes. 

A very easy protein packed breakfast. 

And I would skip the sardine if you are not a dog and do not have a freakish love of all things fish related:-)

Happy Tuesday all!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving and an amazing book

The star of the show - the turkey.
Sorry for the lack of posts in the last few days - family coming into town and such had me all distracted.

And the most wonderfully distracting thing was reading the galley copy of my nephew and his writing partner's combined efforts (known by the name Lex Thomas) debut young adult novel titled Quaranteen.The book is scheduled for publication on April 24, 2012 by Egmont  USA.

My nephew is also an artist - you can check out his art here.

I took the galley of the book home after Thanksgiving dinner and could not put it down.

As in, I nodded off at 4am despite my desperate attempt to fight off sleep because I just had to know what was coming next!

After two hours of sleep, I woke up and kept reading - with a great book I am just that way - can't stop reading it till I get to the end:-)

While I am reveling in a great feeling of joy for my nephew (and his writing partner's) great accomplishment - I will get back to pictures of the Thanksgiving feast:

My contribution to the appetizers: Asparagus with a creme fraiche, lemon and pesto dipping sauce and a mustard, non-fat yogurt and pepper dipping sauce.

The cheese plate

My sister's amazing bruschetta appetizer(you can find the recipe here).
My other sister set a beautiful table (yes, I have three sisters).

The other side dishes:

My contribution to the side dishes - Carrots with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts.

And the dish which is always present in any home with any Irish heritage - the mashed potatoes:

There were many other things I did not take pictures of - such as the stuffing - I get over-excited about the stuffing and, yes, it is my favorite.

My sister makes it exactly like my mom did so the huge dish she placed on the table was empty after about 10 minutes.

And this is for the rest of you because y'all know how much I like sweet things:

Mini lemon tarts with sour cream and raspberries.
While I usually don't partake of the sweets - I did try one of these. They are very lemony and tart with the sour cream adding a wonderful creaminess - a winner mini dessert.

What everyone else also enjoyed for dessert:

Starting from the bottom and going clockwise: Chocolate pie, another chocolate pie, ginger bread, pumpkin pie and apple pie.
It was a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The search for galangal continues...

Tom Kha soup with beef rib eye.
I didn't get a chance to hunt down galangal for my recipe challenge today. 

So, what did I do? I used some of the ingredients on hand and made a kinda/sorta/maybe like version of Tom Kha.

I still didn't have any galangal, no Thai chillies and there were no kaffir lime leaves in sight.

I just did my usual and used what I had. And I was curious about how using ginger in place of galangal would change the taste of the soup.

The soup was definitely missing the complexity of flavor of the traditional Tom Kha Gai (with beef substituted) but it was still pretty great.

I found this great packet of thinly sliced rib eye when I was on my day-long shopping trip yesterday.

I put 2-3 slices into individual plastic bags and put them (about 12 in total) right into the freezer. Now I will have a handy protein supply that will take minutes to cook up!

After realizing my dreams of continuing my hunt for galangal were never going to materialize, I decided to adapt a recipe I found here

So, straight on to the recipe - it was a pretty fast and satisfyingly spicy - I highly recommend it as a modified home version of Tom Kha-something kind of soup.

Tom Kha soup with beef rib eye

Serves 1


1 1/2 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup of coconut cream (it is the creamy stuff on the top)
1/2 cup of coconut milk (the clearer liquid you see towards the bottom of the can)
1/4" square of ginger
Two 2" segments of lemon grass, pounded slightly
1 button mushroom, sliced
2 broccoli florets, cut in half
The juice of 1/2 of one small lime
2 tsp of fish sauce
1/2 tsp of soy sauce
1 Tbsp of fresh chopped cilantro
Two 1/2" slices of a small red Serrano pepper, seeds removed
3 thin slices of frozen beef rib eye, broken into pieces


Put the chicken broth, the lemon grass and the ginger into a soup pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes.
Turn the heat down to a medium simmer and add in the coconut cream and milk along with the chili peppers, soy sauce and fish sauce. Simmer another 2 minutes.

Add in the beef rib eye and broccoli and let cook 2 minutes. Then add in the mushrooms, cilantro and lime juice - take the pot off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Ladle the soup into a bowl and be careful to fish out the chili peppers if you like your soup on the mild side. 

I also fish out the lemon grass because I hate having to dig around it for the other ingredients. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cultural confusion and Tom Kha Gai

When I was in NYC a strange thing kept happening - I would be at the Met or Moma  and people would mistake me for being Italian or Dutch, etc - anything other than American.

I don't quite get this because I am mostly of Irish heritage and I doubt I dress very European.

At the Met a women from Naples mistook me for being an Italian. In fact after much talking (talking on her end and gesturing on mine) she was distressed that I was not Italian.

In fact she said, "Americano? No, No, No!"

I didn't quite know how to react to that one...

But that leads into me trying to duplicate the Tom Kha Gai from my neighborhood restaurant.

This is a dish made up of coconut milk and savory chicken and just a wonderful melange of flavors.

After hitting 3 different Asian grocery stores and still not finding kafir lime leaves or galangal I gave up and went to the Thai restaurant and ordered Tom Kha Gai.

I was lingering around staring at the menu and wondering how I could find galangal when the restaurant owner swung by and asked me if I had a question.

I told her I couldn't find galangal anywhere and she said, "You can find it at any Asian grocery store."

After a couple of questions it became clear I had been looking in the wrong department. Apparently it is kept in the freezer aisle. 

Sigh, another trip to the grocery store tomorrow. 

And to get back to the original theme - In every Asian store I went to today everyone spoke to me in their native language and only after I looked utterly confused did they switch to English. 

My favorite moment of the day? An elderly grandfather hobbled over to help me pick out fish sauce. He was speaking in a language I don't understand - I am gesturing to say, "this is the one I usually get - is it bad??" He picks one off the shelf and puts it in my cart. 

I smile (in thanks) and he pats me on the shoulder. 

And yes, it is the most wonderful fish sauce - salty but not too salty. 

And I did get a cooking challenge from the owner of my neighborhood Thai place - she said to try and replicate her Tom Kha Gai and come back and let her know how it works out because her's has a secret ingredient.

A very fun challenge indeed!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Turkey chili

Whenever the weather starts turning cold my mind always turns to a hearty chili.

No real recipe today but I just wanted to share a ground turkey chili I made that turned out wonderfully.

The basic ingredients were:

1/2 lb of ground turkey
1 can of white beans
1 can of kidney beans
1/2 a Japanese sweet potato
1/2 cup of frozen peas
2 Tbsp of chili seasoning (McCormick)
1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes

 Throw all of the ingredients into a pot and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

You will be left with a hearty, thick stew that really warms you up on a cold fall day.

I enjoyed mine with a bit of low-fat cheddar cheese melted on top and some non-fat yogurt.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pasta Bolognese

Ground Turkey Pasta Bolognese.

One thing I hate having to give up is pasta bolognese. The traditional recipe calls for all kinds of wonderful things like pancetta, cream, sausage, etc - all the things I have to stay away from for the moment.

So, this morning I decided to make a version of bolognese that I could eat.

The bulk of the sauce is filled with vegetables but the trick is that I chopped everything super fine so that the vegetables added a nice texture (not meat-like but still nice and thick) to the sauce.

This meal gives you a nice hefty serving of vegetables without having to face a plate piled high with steamed veggies - which I am beginning to loathe at this point.

Ground Turkey Bolognese

Serves 1


1/2 cup of ground turkey
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup of water
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
6 broccoli florets, chopped fine
1/2 a carrot, chopped fine
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 pinches of dried oregano
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp of olive oil
1 serving of pasta, cooked al dente


Boil 3 quarts of salted water and add in your choice of pasta. While the pasta cooks start assembling the ingredients for the sauce.

In a small sauce pan add in the olive oil, celery, broccoli and garlic and let saute for a few minutes over medium heat.

Add in 1/2 cup of pasta sauce and 1/2 cup of water. Bring everything to a simmer and add in the turkey meat. 

When the sauce is reduced and becoming thick, stir in the fresh basil.

Drain the cooked pasta and add back to a skillet over low heat. Pour the sauce over the pasta and allow the dish to simmer over low heat until the pasta begins to absorb some of the sauce.

Plate and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spicy creamy miso dressing

Composed salad with spicy creamy miso dressing.

When I have to eat low fat I always struggle to find a really delicious salad dressing.

I really haven't found a bottled dressing I like and most of them have a funny after taste.

So, while I am trying to happily embrace my stomach soothing meals, I decided to come up with a dressing I would actually enjoy.

And for those of you wondering about portion sizes - this is my salad on a dinner plate. 

Here is a shot of the dog's treat with the dinner plate so you can get an idea of scale.

When they get treats it is almost always a very small portion. 

And because I love taking close up shots here are some photos that make the portions look huge:

The dog's treat of smoked salmon over brown rice with a dollop of the spicy creamy miso dressing.

But back to the dressing. This recipe makes a bold flavored and creamy dressing with a nice kick of heat. 

Spicy creamy miso dressing

Serves 2


3 tsp of non-fat yogurt
3 Tbsp of unsweetened soy milk
1/2 tsp of honey
2 tsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of miso paste
1/4 tsp of sesame oil
1/8 tsp of chili paste
1/2 tsp of lemon juice
1/2 tsp of yellow mustard
1 Tbsp of nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in a small pot and warm over low heat. Whisk until the honey and miso melt and the sauce becomes smooth.

Adjust the amount of soymilk to achieve the desired consistency.

Drizzle over your choice of salad and enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Crispy salmon nibbles

Crispy salmon nibbles.
Yes, I agree - the salmon nibbles look a bit over cooked. But that is because this started out as salmon fish sticks.

It turns out that I am horrible at taking the skin off of a salmon filet. I mean really horrible.

What was once a beautiful, plump fish filet turned into a scene from a gory horror movie - sans the blood and a lot more fish bits.

But, it is best to just roll with these kind of things. 

Since the whole plan was going down in flames I decided to ditch the egg dip and just coated the salmon (bits) with a mixture of breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, paprika and ground black pepper. 

They went into a 450 degree oven (another big mistake) which after 10 minutes I turned down to 400 degrees. 

And even though I did my best to ruin this dish - it actually turned out pretty yummy.

Defying the laws of nature and my oven - the salmon was quite tender and juicy - go figure...

But, no fear, I did manage to fully incinerate some of the smaller chunks so the dogs got to munch on those.

I enjoyed the crispy salmon nibbles with a dipping sauce of non-fat yogurt, yellow mustard and a liberal amount of paprika.

So the theme of the day is - embrace your failures because sometimes they turn out pretty tasty:-)