I don’t know about you, but I can’t resist those 10 for $10 deals in the grocery store. Even if I don’t need the item or have any plans to cook with it, I feel a strong urge to snap up all 10 avocados, 10 kumquats, or 10 cans of spaghetti sauce. It’s good shopping economics, right?! Buying something because it’s on sale… I’m going with it! Well, that’s sort of how this dinner came about. Today’s special was 10 for $10 eggplants. Those purple, slightly odd-lookng vegetables are so cute, aren’t they!? I just had to buy one!
Instead of making my stand-by Eggplant Parmesan, I decided to make a chunky sauce out of my violent treasure. Problem is, eggplant is not exactly a crowd pleaser. Lets just say… my attempt at cooking eggplant for an old college flame… went down in flames… I’m talking a break-up worthy meal! So, I was hesitant about cooking it for my husband. To my relief, he actually liked it! Yay!
I love this recipe because the sauce is so chunky and full of yummy fresh vegetables and basil. Eggplant may be the star, but the heart is the tomato! Pomodoro means tomato in Italian! Since this is an Italian dish, there’s no better tomato to use than the San Marzano plum tomato. I used the canned version and diced up the tomatoes into smaller pieces then used the juice as my sauce base. We cooked up a heaping bowl of angel hair pasta and just pigged out!
If you’ve never tried eggplant before, trust me, it’s really not that scary. A funny name for a beautiful vegetable! What have you got to loose… especially when they’re only a dollar a piece!
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 small chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can San Marzano tomatoes (I diced them)
1/3 cup mushrooms
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of dry red wine
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, (optional)
12 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1. In a large skillet, cook chicken breasts thoroughly. Remove from skillet, let rest and set aside.
2. Warm oil in skillet. Add eggplant pieces. Stir and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
3. Add garlic to skillet and cook 1 minute (I used an olive oil infused with garlic, so I left this step out)
4. Add tomato, mushrooms, vinegar, wine, salt, pepper, red pepper and stir until tomatoes break down – about 5 to 7 minutes. Cut chicken into small chunks and add to sauce in skillet. Turn down to low heat.
5. Cook pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain.
6. In a serving bowl, spoon sauce over pasta, top with chopped basil and fresh grated parmesan cheese.
You can find more great projects and inspiration at:
One Creative Weekend
Happy New Year!
2013?!?!? Where have you been all my life!?!?
This is it, this is the year that__________? However you fill in that blank, isn’t it comforting to know we get a do-over, a blank slate, a new beginning every 365 days! Because really, over the course of 365 days, there is far too much time for disappointment, heartache and let-downs. I love the hope and anticipation that comes with each New Year! And after the calorie, sugar and carb extravaganza that is the holiday season, this is the perfect time to reassess our eating habits… and for me… to cleanse my system. Ugh, I feel like I’m living in “ick-city” with crud (as politely as I can put it) clogging main street! Well, it’s time to clear it all out!!!
Here’s my obligatory disclaimer that I’m not a dietician, but I think I can safely say that a soup chock full of veggies can’t be bad for you! This Cabbage and Sausage Soup is my favorite go-to detox meal! I make it whenever I eat like the resident of a college frat house for a little too long! The veggies and spices stewed together make my insides… and outsides… feel so much better!
Now, I’m not advocating a silly “cabbage soup only” diet. The key is to have it for lunch or dinner and then don’t mess up the benefits by eating like crap the rest of the day. But I feel like one good diet deed spawns another. It can turn in to a chain of healthy eating. So, whether you’re trying to make a long-term healthy eating change in 2013, or if you just love veggies – like me – be sure to give cabbage a chance!
A few tips before you start chopping, I didn’t use the core of the cabbage – I chopped around it. You can just do a rough chop on your cabbage pieces… no need to overthink it. One inch pieces will do, remember they wilt down as they cook.
I made this soup in a crockpot, but if you don’t have all day, it would be just as easy to make an easy pot of soup on the stove.
So, cheers to 2013… and here’s to healthy eating in the New Year!
1 Medium head of green cabbage, chopped in 1 inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 green pepper, diced
2 15 oz cans stewed tomatoes
1 15 oz can chicken broth
1 15 oz can of water
1 package of Kielbasa, pre-cooked (any flavor will work – smoked, spicy, etc – I used Turkey Kielbasa)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano (or more to taste)
1. Pour tomatoes with the juice, chicken broth, and water into a crockpot. Add spices and stir to combine.
2. Add cabbage pieces, carrot slices, green pepper pieces, and celery slices to the pot and stir into tomato sauce.
3. If setting crockpot to High (or 4 hours) allow the soup to stew for 2 hours. Slice Kielbasa into 1 inch round pieces and add to the crockpot. Allow the soup to simmer another 2 hours or until carrots and cabbage are tender.
4. Let the soup cool for 15 minutes and serve.
I can’t believe my one year blog-aversary is less than a week away! You know what else I can’t believe… that I’ve stuck to last year’s New Years resolution for the entire year! That never happens. (Ask me to give up sweets, and I can only make it for an hour… tops!)
I started this blog with the intention of finally learning how to cook good food instead of just eating out all the time. I also fell in love with the idea of cooking and I wanted to try – and share – recipes that I love making, and of course EATING! Mostly, I just hated the idea that I would go through my new domestic life with no traditions. Meals are so intimately woven into the fabric of our lives, and I just felt sad that I had no signature dishes that I could be proud to make for company, parties, or get-togethers.
Not only has it been fun to get my hands dirty in the kitchen over the past year, it’s been incredibly rewarding too. For one, I got to eat some ah-may-zing homemade dishes! (Collateral Damage: I may have gained a few pounds! Worth every one!) But also, I’ve gotten to know a network of talented, creative and all-around awesome food bloggers. I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has inspired me to keep blogging and keep cooking despite having a full-time job and a desire to enjoy life instead of sitting in front of a computer – or an oven – all day!
There have been many hits along the way, and well more that a few misses! I’ve tried to share all of my experiences as honestly as possible and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the good, bad and ugly right along with me. For what will likely be my final post of 2012, I wanted to share my absolute favorite dishes with you, and the dishes that have been the most popular on my blog this year! Who knew crockpot scalloped potatoes would be such a hit!
Without further adieu… here is my BEST OF 2012 list! And here’s to another 365 days of good eats!
JENN’S FAVORITES OF 2012
MOST POPULAR OF 2012
I can’t believe Christmas is less than a week away! I know it flies every year, but this year I’ll be especially sad to see it go. I’ve really been embracing the holiday season: blasting Christmas music on my car radio, decorating the apartment, shopping (online, of course! Amazon Prime rocks!) cooking treats for co-workers and mailing Christmas cards. Between the hustle and bustle of the holiday, work, a death in the family, and some recipe flops… my blog has been a bit neglected.
On my last weekend before Christmas, I wanted to bake something special that I’ve been craving for a while. Gingerbread is one of my all-time favorite smells and tastes of the season. Put it in a latte, a cookie, or a bread and I’ll devour it. I decided to put a Christmas twist on the year-round favorite: banana bread.
The molasses and spices really give this bread a delicious kick, and the banana keeps it so moist. Side note: the first time I ever used molasses for gingerbread cookies I thought they were going to crash and burn. Does anyone else think molasses smells like Teriyaki sauce, or have I been drinking too much egg nog?
Anyway… the Cinnamon Icing is really a beautiful complement to the spiciness of the bread. Just drizzle it right over the top of the bread after it cools. If you like it, you might also want to try these Pumpkin Spice Cookies With Cinnamon Glaze.
Well, we’re all busy with last minute holiday errands, so I won’t take up any more of your time. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays… and don’t forget to make time for the people that matter!
FOR MORE HOLIDAY IDEAS, VISIT: One Creative Weekend.
(Adapted from Tablespoon.com)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp all spice
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (I used white sugar and it turned out just fine)
2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat Oven to 350 and spray 8×4 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
3. In medium bowl, mash ripe bananas. Mix in sugar, molasses, milk and oil until smooth.
4. Slowly mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until the batter is completely combined.
5. Pour batter into bread loaf pan, bake at 350 for 45 minutes. To be sure it’s done, stick a toothpick into the center of the bread. It will come out clean if it’s cooked thoroughly.
7. Let bread cool in pan 10 minutes, remove and place on wire cooling rack with wax paper underneath to catch any icing. Allow bread to completely cool before you drizzle on icing.
8. For icing: Mix all ingredients in small bowl until icing is creamy. Drizzle over the top of cooled bread. Allow icing to set for 1 hour.
Tis the season for swirly, minty candy canes. As a kid, it was the most common Christmas treat we got at school. I can remember having contests with my friends to see who could suck the end of their canes into a sharp point the fastest. As the years went by, the candy cane lost a little of its allure. It got boring. Like those mints you get at a restaurant, you can only eat so many until your stomach gets really angry at you.
Now that I’m a so-called adult, I’ve been longing for some of the flavor and innocence of my childhood… aka… PEPPERMINT!
Ok, I’ll say it… I’m Jenn, and I’m a peppermint addict. I’ve been going a little coo-coo with it this season. Peppermint popcorn, peppermint pie and now: peppermint cookies! I love that the minty flavor gives a pop of freshness to these luscious chocolate cookies, and the icing with a hint of peppermint ties it all together. YUM!
I had a little help with this recipe from my newfound favorite holiday baking sidekick – the Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips. I incorporated them into both the cookie and the icing. I love these chips because you can substitute them for other traditional ingredients to make your recipe more “holiday themed!” They also gave my glaze such a beautiful pink hue!
How else have you incorporated peppermint into your holiday baking?
Have a very MINTY holiday!
(Adapted from FoodNetwork.com)
2 cups flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups Andes peppermint baking mints (or 2 cups chocolate and 3 candy canes crushed)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Just less than 1/4 cup of Andes baking mints, melted
3 1/2 teaspoons water
Preheat oven to 350
1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until smooth. Add in the vanilla.
3. Slowly mix in the flour mixture in batches until fully combined. Gently mix in chocolate chips and Andes chips.
4. Roll tablespoons of batter into your hands to form a ball and then flatten the balls into teacup sized cookies. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake until just cracked on top, about 8 to 10 minutes. Move to a cooling wire. Once cookies are cooled, drizzle with glaze.
For the glaze:
1. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt your Andes mint chips in microwave.
2. Add in sugar and water and mix until smooth.
3. Transfer mixture into a resealable sandwich bag and snip off the corner. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies. Let cookies stand until set, about 10 minutes.
Happy Wednesday! How is everyone doing at keeping off those holiday pounds? It’s only the 5th day of December and I think I’ve gained about 5… a pound a day… and I’ve loved every minute of it!
Holy smoked cheese am I excited to share this discovery with you! A few days ago I bought a butternut squash – not knowing what I was going to make with it. I mostly bought it ‘cuz it looked pretty, but pretty doesn’t put food on the table! So, I let sit for a few days while I mulled it over. Thanks to some Facebook, Twitter and internet trolling, I came across several Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese recipes including this one from A Cozy Kitchen!
I have to say, this dish honored the beauty of the squash in such an amazing visual and sensual way. So velvety and creamy – I couldn’t tell where the squash ended and the cheese began. And I felt good knowing there were some healthy vitamins hidden in an otherwise carb-loaded dish. There’s also so much you can do with the dish: I’m thinking of adding curry next time for a little kick…or bacon if you’re in to that. You could also switch up the cheese with a smoky gruyere to give it a more sexy flavor.
Here’s a step-by-step… and don’t forget to visit A Cozy Kitchen! for more ideas!
(Adapted From A Cozy Kitchen! and Martha Stewart)
1 small butternut squash cut into 1 inch pieces and roasted
1 pound penne (or other noodles)
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
Pinch of nutmeg
1/3 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup of sharp grated cheddar cheese (or smoked cheddar)
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
2. Boil your penne or other noodies until al dente.
Once the squash has roasted, bring squash, chicken stock, and milk to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 5-7 minutes.
Stir in cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Your squash should begin to melt into the sauce, but you may need to mash it a little to get the sauce smooth
3. Drain noodles and stir in Squash mixture and cheeses.
Transfer the pasta and cheese into a lightly greased baking dish.
4. Top the casserole with bread crumbs mixed with olive oil and parmesan cheese and spread evenly to coat.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes more until bread crumbs are lightly browned.
It’s amazing what you can do with a little candy and loads of creativity. Today I was swept into a fantasy world of gingerbread, gumdrops, jellybeans, frosting and fairy tales. Some of Seattle’s top architectural firms and culinary artists came together to construct a series of mind-blowing gingerbread castles… because, you know, houses are for us small fries! It’s part of the 20th Annual Gingerbread Village hosted by the Sheraton Seattle and benefitting JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).
This year’s theme is “Once Upon A Time.” Each castle is plucked from your favorite Disney movies and fairytales. The details are not just mouthwateringly delicious, they’re also a work of architectural genius. I kept thinking “how’d they do that?” and “what’s that made of?” Each castle really was impressive to behold. Some castles even had moving parts including a working drawbridge. If you get a chance to head to downtown Seattle this weekend, I highly recommend checking it out and donating to a very good cause. You even get to vote on your favorite castle… I’ll reveal my favorite at the end of this post!
Here’s a sneak peek… but trust me, you’re gonna want a closer look!
AND MY FAVORITE WAS:
Time to come clean! I need to get a few things off my chest so I can start a new week on a clean slate.
I have been busy at being a bad cook lately! So many flops, fails and frustration… in so little time. I’m certain I could write a weekly blog about my many mishaps, but I’ve been compiling them for this blog. So, for your amusement (and my catharsis) here’s a look at what happens when cooking goes wrong!
FOODIE FOUL UP #1
I have to start with my culinary unicorn. You know, that elusive recipe that I can never seem to get right. It’s the ever-complicated No-Bake Cookie! I’ll wait for the laughter to subside. Ok, done?! Good! Yes, that’s right… what should be the most simple of recipes is impossible for me to master. I mean, come on! The phrase “no-bake” is in the name! That should imply ease!
What makes my supreme failure even worse is that the no-bake is my husband’s favorite dessert! Poor thing! I decided to make a batch on Halloween because we had no candy whatsoever in the house. I thought I had it all worked out in my head. I knew where I had gone wrong the last times… and I knew how to fix it. I needed to boil the chocolate a little longer so the cookies would stick together. No such luck. The only way to keep them from becoming a soggy mess was to keep them in the fridge. Good thing I like cold cookies! The time before that, it was even worse… the sugar never dissolved so we were stuck with gritty cookies that had to be stored in the freezer. Yeesh! I swear, someday I’ll get it right!
FOODIE FOUL UP #2
Ohhhh…. there’s more.
My next train wreck really made me sad because I messed up one of my favorite vegetables.
I decided to roast some potatoes and asparagus to go along with a dish we were having that escapes me now (I guess it wasn’t too memorable either!). Not realizing that asparagus needs less time to roast than potatoes, I put them on the same dish and I’m sure you can guess what happened: My asparagus shriveled up into dry, brownish-green, barely-recognizable stalks of “inedible yuck.” The potatoes, while tender, were barely seasoned, so that was a wash too!. Le Sigh.
FOODIE FAIL #3
This one isn’t so much of a fail as a disappointment.
Ever set out to make something and have such high hopes that when you eat it, you just sink into a foodie depression because it falls flat? Enter my Stuffed Acorn Squash.
I was really excited to make this for lunch one day this fall. Where I think it all unraveled was my brain fart of not baking the squash first to get it tender before stuffing it with rice and hamburger. It took forever to cook, and by the time it was done, the filling was a little dried out and the squash was still a little hard. I ate every bite (we can’t be wasteful) but it was not a pleasant experience.
Ok, now you know my dirty secrets. I feel much better having cleared the air! Now I can leave it all in the past, learn from my mistakes and move on to bigger, better, and more delicious adventures!
Have a great weekend everyone!