Wednesday, September 1, 2010



I have officially made the switch from blogspot to wordpress

Please read this blog at the following

Please bear with me as I adjust some of the older posts to fit certain formatting needs!


No-Cook Soup

Is it too hot out to cook? Need a nice refreshing dish to cool you off?

Good thing you read this blog, because I have a great recipe for you!

Chilled Cucumber Soup

It was pure chance that I stumbled upon this recipe. After being evacuated from work this afternoon (I work right next to Discovery headquarters where a man was holding hostages earlier), I decided to hit the treadmill at my complex for a little bit, and picked up "Real Simple" to read once I decided to walk.

As I was flipping through the magazine, I was intrigued by the bowl of green soup, so I read the recipe and ingredient list and thought to myself,
"Hey, I have all those ingredients already!"
So I ripped out the recipe, ran upstairs to my apartment and made this fabulous, super easy no-cook soup.

3/4 fat-free sour cream
4 scallions, roughly chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded
1/2 C. fresh basil
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 english cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In blender, puree the sour cream, scallions, jalapenos, basil, lime juice, half the cucumbers, 1/4 C. water, salt and pepper.

Add the remaining cucumbers and puree until smooth - add water as needed to get the right consistency.

Let chill for an hour, squeeze in some more lime juice if you like, and serve!

Now how easy was that?
I can't say that this is my favorite recipe ever, but it definitely hit the spot on such a hot day. I guess you will have to make it and try it yourself to see what you think...and if you do, let me know what you think!

I wanted to give some tips for cutting jalapenos for you pepper amateurs. In my experience, since the pepper is so small and you hit the seeds as soon as you cut into it, I find it best to make a small incision (I sound like a surgeon) lengthwise down the center of the pepper.

Once you have made the cut, carefully peel parts of the pepper away from the seeds. You will end up with something that looks like this...

In terms of ww* points, the only thing that counts is the sour cream and that is about 5 for the whole recipe (if that), so we will over-guess and say 1 heaping cup of this soup has about 1 point.

Serve this with a nice piece of toasty baguette and you are all set.

Super Fresh!

As fall is approaching, gardens are popping out fresh ingredients left and right. One thing that your garden might be overflowing with is tomatoes! I have a super easy and super fresh recipe for pasta so that you can use up a bunch of those tomatoes for a tasty dinner.

Pasta with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

4 quarts water
1 tbsp. kosher salt
12 oz. uncooked whole wheat spaghetti
2 pints cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp. evoo
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 C. chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
1/4 C. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4C.(3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 450°

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Cook 10 minutes or until spaghetti is al dente. Drain spaghetti in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Return spaghetti to pan; set aside, and keep warm.

While spaghetti cooks, combine tomatoes, 1 tablespoon evoo, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper, tossing well to coat. Bake tomato mixture for 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and lightly charred in places.

Add tomatoes and any tomato juice to spaghetti in pot. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking water to baking pan, scraping pan to loosen browned tomato bits; carefully pour water mixture and remaining 2 tablespoons oil into spaghetti mixture.

Place pot over medium heat. Add remaining reserved cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until spaghetti mixture is moist, tossing frequently. Stir in basil and parsley. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

*Photo: Gentl & Hyers; Styling: Kendra Smoot

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Gumbo, Dumbo!

Gumbo is a great dish that is good for any beginner cook. It is pretty hard to mess up, and you can be a little adventurous with the ingredients because you can put almost ANYTHING in gumbo. 

I made a chicken and sausage gumbo that I found on the Cooking Light website while I was browsing. For some reason I have a been in a soup and stew mood, and I came across this in my browsing. I altered it a little bit, so I will post it how I made it and throw some tips down at the end.

Chicken Sausage Gumbo

1 bag boil-in-bag rice
2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 C. chopped onion
1 C. chopped green bell pepper
1 C. chopped celery
1 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
2 C. chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
8 ounces turkey kielbasa, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1 (14.5 oz) can fat-free, low sodium chicken broth

Bring water to a boil. Submerge bag of rice and cook for 10 minutes. When done, remove from heat and set aside.
While rice cooks, combine flour and oil in a large sauce pan. Saute over medium-high heat 3 minutes.

Add onion, pepper, celery, garlic, thyme and red pepper; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
Stir in chicken, kielbasa, tomatoes, and broth; cook 6 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve over rice.

I used diced tomatoes with jalapenos because I like the spice, but the original recipe called for diced tomatoes with peppers and onions.

I used a reduced-fat, skinless, turkey sausage that was good, but may have been a little too sweet for this recipe.

I also chose not to serve mine over rice (I overdid it a little this weekend), but it taste fabulous without it anyways - I guess it is personal preference.

As far as weight watchers points*, I don't think it is that much. All the veggies have nothing, the chicken is about 6 total in the whole recipe, the sausage that I used was very low in fat so i will say another 6 points for that. Add in a point for flour, oil and 2 for the tomatoes - that brings the whole thing to about 16. I'll call a serving a 1 1/2 cups, 4 servings/recipe, so...after all that math - 4 points for 1 1/2 cups of delicious, fabulous, spicy gumbo sans rice).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pork Butt and Cupcakes and Birthday - OH MY!

So on Sunday, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Justin and I went to our friends Jeff and Sarah's for their daughters 1st birthday party. We had such a good time. It was such a hot day, but regardless we enjoyed sitting outside, drinking some beer, eating too much food and seeing our friends so excited that their daughter turned one.

Jeff cooked the main course of the day - pork butt! I did learn that it is not actually pork butt, but (hahaha) pork shoulder! The reason it is called pork butt is because a long, long time ago in England, they used to store the pork shoulder in barrels that they called butts, hence the name pork butt!

The pork was on the grill from 7:30 in the morning until about 3:00 in the afternoon. I wish I could tell you what kind of rub was put on it, but I am not sure about the specifics. While Jeff took care of the pork, Sarah had a beautiful spread inside that consisted of cheese and crackers, homemade dill dip with shredded cucumber, chips and salsa, delicious hummus and this interesting spicy onion-type dip for chips.

I then took on the role of sous chef and helped make some sauces while Sarah and others pulled the pork apart. There was a LOT of pork, let me tell you. The sauces Jeff made were delicious. One in particular was a mustard sauce with brown sugar, vinegar, hot sauce and a few special ingredients. It was finger-lickin good! Along with the pork, Sarah served my butternut squash side, baked ziti, couscous salad and ceaser salad. Everything was so tasty - I almost didn't have enough room for dessert.

For dessert, Sarah had homemade cupcakes! She made strawberry with vanilla frosting, and lemon with lemon cupcakes. Then, there was tiramisu that our friend Jennie made and that went really quick, brownies, chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips and these apple crunch bars.

After eating tooooo much food, we sang Jean happy birthday while she sat emotionless (it was priceless). She dove into a strawberry cupcake, opened her gifts, and if I can put words in her mouth, I think she had a darn good time.

Thank you Jeff and Sarah for hosting such a lovely party! It was a great time had by all!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Squash It!

Justin and I are going to our friends Jeff and Sarah's today for their daughters 1st birthday party. It feels like just yesterday when we found out Jean was born! Anyway, they are hosting a party at their house this afternoon for about 40 friends and family.

My mom always told me that I should never show up anywhere empty handed, so I called Sarah to ask her what I should bring to the party. She told me that she had these two HUGE butternut squash that she needed to do something with.

Now, our other friend Jennie makes this awesome butternut squash side dish that Sarah and I always drool over, so Sarah asked if I could try and make it. I tried it once before and failed miserably, so I had Justin get me the recipe so I could make it right this time.

I wish I had a video of me hacking away at the squash with a butcher knife because it was pretty hilarious.  I sort of winged this recipe, but I will try and lay it out as best as I can.

2 butternut squash
1 1/2 C. crumbled blue cheese
1 C. chopped walnuts
3 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
evoo (drizzles- no exact measurement)
salt and pepper (to taste)

Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds in the middle. Then, peel the squash (you can use a regular peeler) and make sure NO skin is left on.

Once the squash is peeled and de-seeded, cut it into 1 inch cubes and place in a microwave safe dish. Microwave for several minutes (I did 3 minutes, mixed it around and did another 3) - do this until the squash is almost soft enough to eat.

Then, spread the squash cubes on a cookie sheet, drizzle with evoo and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the squash from the oven, place in a bowl and refrigerate for about an hour (or longer if you are making this ahead of time). It is important to let the squash cool so that it doesn't melt the cheese when it is mixed in.

After the squash is cool, mix in blue cheese, walnuts, honey, cinnamon salt and pepper. Stir so that everything gets coated and serve!

Tips: This is a great side dish that goes with ANYTHING! Blue cheese and honey are very complimentary to each other. Also, the crunch of the walnuts along with the soft squash is another great combo.

You will definitely need a fair chunk of time to make this dish but you can definitely make this a few days ahead. I recommend making the squash ahead, and then just mixing the remaining ingredients right before you serve. The hardest part is the peeling and cubing of the squash so once you get that out of the way, it's a breeze.

Also, I know blue cheese can be an acquired taste, but this would also taste good with crumble Gorgonzola or even goat cheese.

I hope it's a hit at the party! Wish me luck!

Table for 9

Last night I hosted my very first dinner party! This was something that I have wanted to do for a while, but it was a matter of getting all my stuff together and mustering up the courage to actually cook for a lot of people.

In total (including me) there were 9 around the table - well not exactly around the table, a few had to sit on the couch because I couldn't find a spare table, but regardless, I was cooking for 9.  All day I kept running over the time in my head. I called it for 6:30, which meant I wanted the appetizers to be done by then, so I had to put the pigs in a blanket in at 6:15, etc... You get the picture. I'm a planner, what can I say.

Other than the fact that the pilot light in my oven went out around 6:00 (I got it fixed within 10 minutes), everything went off without a glitch.

The menu was as follows:
Pigs-in-a-blanket (with ketchup and mustard dip)
Shrimp cocktail (with homemade cocktail sauce)
Tomato-mozzarella-basil skewers

Main Course:
Red wine marinated sirloin steaks (about 3 lbs)
Garlic mashed potatoes
Sauteed string beans with garlic

Blueberry peach cobbler with vanilla frozen yogurt.

If I do say so myself, everything was delicious. The appetizers kept people busy while I finished everything up in the kitchen. The company was fabulous, I must say I have great friends!

Everyone helped me clean up, which was fabulous considering I am a little anal when it comes to cleaning.

Looking back on it now, I think it last night was a success. We enjoyed some drinks, good talks, delicious food - what else could a girl ask for?

Thanks to Jay, Jess, Whitney, Steve, Amber, Michelle, Sperry and Justin for coming! Hope everyone enjoyed.

And in the words of Dave Matthews
Turns out not where, but who you're with that really matters...