Sunday, May 8, 2011

Freshly Simply Spring

The trees are in full bloom.  Green is surrounding us both outdoors and in our grocery stores.  The rich, thick comfort food of winter is being replaced by the fresh, bright and very green produce arriving in stores.  This is by far one of my favorite food seasons!  One of my favorite delicacies, artichokes (carciofo in Italian), has arrived.  They come in all different shapes and sizes.  I picked a purple one up tonight and I can't wait to indulge in this delightful treat tomorrow evening!  A more versatile and accessible vegetable is asparagus.  It is this time of year that produces the thin, delicate, and crisp veggie that I adore to work with and eat!  I have too many favorite ways to eat it, so I'll share just one for now.  Pan seared to an al dente finish is the best.  As you sear the asparagus over high heat, the flavor intensifies and the color brightens.  When seared for only two to three minutes, it stays crisp on the inside and deliciously tender on the outside.  One of my favorite seasonings is salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  Finish it with a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end, and this dish is like eating green candy!  Tonight I choose to steal a beautifully simple shrimp scampi recipe from my friends Anna and Diego and added asparagus to it.  Delicious!  I can not wait to make this delight for all my friends and family!

Shrimp scampi and cheese ravioli with asparagus.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did tonight, and I will tomorrow for lunch!

3 garlic cloves
1 handfull of Italian flat leaf parsley
1 bunch asparagus, bottoms discarded and steams cut into 1 inch pieces
6 oz. shrimp
1 lb. Cheese Ravioli
3 Tbs. butter or Olive Oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt to taste
Freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Boil 2 qt. water for ravioli.  Clean, devein, and detail shrimp.  Pat dry.  Chop garlic, parsley and asparagus.  In a saute pan, heat butter.  Toss shrimp in saute pan for 3 minutes or until shrimp is fully cooked.  Remove shrimp from saute pan.  Salt the boiling water and add ravioli.  In the saute pan, add asparagus, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt.  Sear asparagus for 2 minutes.  Add garlic and parsley and toss.  Turn heat on saute pan to med-low.  Add shrimp back to saute pan and toss.  The ravioli should be floating in the boiling water by this time.  Once all the ravioli is cooked, add ravioli to asparagus and shrimp mixture and toss.  Serve immediately.  Top with a sprinkle of freshly grated Pecorino cheese.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mmm Mmm Good!

With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, it makes me think of cabbage.  And when I think cabbage, I think of one of my favorite soups.  It's hearty, healthy and delicious.  In my quest to be accountable to all the ingredients I buy, and not throw away leftovers away, this is the perfect dish.  There is no doubt that you will have what seems to be a ton of soup...but you can freeze the left overs and have it ready in a pinch!  This soup is savory with a touch of sweet from the sausage.  It's versatile as well.  If you'd like to make it a vegetarian soup, substitute beans for the sausage.  White navy beans or kidney beans would be a great addition or substitution.  My secret ingredient for this soup is the rind from a wedge of Parmesan cheese.  When you add the rind to the soup, it gives the broth a creamier, nutty flavor.  It is truly a game changer!  I hope you enjoy the as much as I have over the years.

Cabbage Soup

1/2 package Lean Turkey Kilbasa
4 links Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage
1 large Vidalia onion
4 medium turnips
1 bunch Red Chard
1 medium head of Green Cabbage
64 oz. Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1 small can fire roasted diced tomatoes
3 Bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 rind of Parmesan cheese 
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

In a large dutch oven add 2 Tbs. olive oil.  Dice onion, kilbasa and apple sausage. Saute diced onion over medium-low heat in until translucent.  Add diced kilbasa and apple sausage.  

Increase heat to medium-high to saute sausage and onions.

Peal turnips.  Chop turnips into bite size pieces.  Wash and dry red chard.  Chop red chard into large slices.  Discard the stalks of the chard.  Add the turnips and chard to the pot and stir.  

While the chard is cooking down, chop the cabbage into 1 to 2 inch pieces.  

Add cabbage to the pot and stir. 

 Once the veggies have a chance to cook down a bit, cover them with the chicken stock. 

Add the remainder of all the ingredients and simmer on low for 45 minutes.  Adjust salt as necessary.  The Parmesan rind will soften while cooking.  Remove parm rind and bay leaves before serving.  

Stir occasionally while cooking.  Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 5 days.  May be frozen for up to 2 months.

Serve with toasted crostini bread or crackers.

Since it was lunch time while I was making the soup and I couldn't wait another 45 minutes....I floated some fresh tortellini in the top of the soup for 7 minutes...Delicious tortellini in broth!

While Kevin and I were in Bologna, Italy (food capital of Italy, and where tortellini was invented) my brother's friend introduced us to how tortellini was originally made and served.  They only serve it in broth, and I have to say, I will not eat it any other way anymore.  No heavy sauce for me...the broth is the way to go!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Mi Amore

February, the month of LOVE!  The month of red roses, cute little bears and hearts.  I love red and roses, but I could do without the chotchkie stuffed animals and any heart within a heart within a heart anything!  The color red is sensual, sexy and delicious!  Stirring hunger within each of us.  The Chinese associate the color red with luck.  Their weddings are draped in it.  We need to celebrate red and all that is associated with it...including Valentine's Day.  I know there are those out there that think the day is a cliche.  What's wrong with having a day dedicated to romance?  Dedicated to making your loved one feel even more special.  It's a day dedicated to giving back to each other.  We should embrace this little gem of a holiday!  Show your love to your friends and family.  Whether it's giving a poem, a simple, "I LOVE YOU," flowers or a little taste to entice the buds of your soul, give yourself the gift of giving amore to your loved one.  For me, I have always shown my love (no matter what day it is) by cooking for the one I love.  Making something special that tells the other person you LOVE them brings joy to my heart.  Watching your Honey enjoy the dish you've created is priceless.  It's so rewarding!  I'm sharing with you a couple of my favorite sensual dishes.  Rich, yes!  But, after all, it is Valentine's Day.  Revel in the richness for such a special night!  A spicy pasta followed by decadent chocolate molten cake.  You two lovebirds will feel like Lady and The Tramp!

Papperdelle with Spicy Italian Sausage in a Vodka Cream Sauce
6-8 Servings

1 lb. Papperdelle pasta (I like to use the yellow pepper papperdelle from Pike Place)
1 lb. Spicy Italian Sausage
1 Vadalia Onion
1 Large Red Pepper
1 medium Orange or Yellow Pepper
2 cloves Garlic - Crushed (if your both eating it, you'll love kissing each other)
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 pinch of crushed red pepper
1 jar of your favorite Vodka Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Parmesan Cheese

Boil water in your pasta cookware.  While water is heating, heat 1 to 2 Tbs. Olive oil in a large skillet.  Remove casing of Italian sausage and separate into 1 inch pieces.  Brown sausage in Olive oil until cooked through.  Chop onion and bell peppers into 1 inch pieces and add to sausage.  Saute on medium heat until peppers are almost cooked through, or aldente.  Boil pasta and cook until just underdone.  Add Vodka tomato sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and heavy cream.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add aldente pasta to Italian sausage vodka cream sauce and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  To serve, add a generous portion to plate.  Drizzle with fresh olive oil and shaved Parmesan cheese (use your vegetable peeler to make shavings).  Enjoy!

Now, I have to be favorite papperdelle is homemade fresh pasta made with my own two hands.  If you have the time it will truly be a game changer.  I have always used Mario Batali's fresh pasta recipe, and it is outstanding!  And, for such a lovely occasion, why not?

Individual Molten Chocolate Cakes (Recipe by Joy of Cooking)
8 Servings

Worthy of an elegant dinner party, these flour less, ultra-rich, sauce-in-the-center chocolate cakes are baked in a muffin tin and served warm.  You can make the batter ahead, scrape it into the muffin tin, and cover and refrigerate overnight before baking.  Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70 degrees F.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter and sugar 8 muffin cups.  Heat, in the top of a double broiler or in a microwave on medium, stirring often, until melted and smooth:

6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Remove from the heat and sift in:

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Stir until smooth.

Beat in a medium bowl on medium speed until soft peaks form:

4 Large egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tatar

Gradually add, beating on high speed until the peaks are stiff but not dry:

2 Tbs. sugar

Use a rubber spatula to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.  Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cakes are cracked on the top but still gooey in the center, 7 to 8 (a minute or so longer if the batter has been refrigerated prior to baking).  let sit for 2 to 3 minutes; the cakes will shrink slightly from the sides of the pan.  Place a rack over the cakes and invert to unmold.  Serve hot, accompanied with Whipped Cream and fresh Raspberries (optional).  Enjoy!

It has been said that chocolate is a mood enhancer...after eating this, I can't see how you wouldn't be seeing hearts in your lovers eyes!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


The battle continues!  I'm still throwing away food.  Granted, not nearly as much, but I can't seem to find the perfect balance.  No matter how much I plan, sometimes the week gets away from me.  Between travel, impromptu dinners out and sometimes a lack of interest as to what's in the fridge, there is still food ending up in the garbage disposal or trash.  One of my biggest problems is the amount of food I'm making.  It's hard cooking for one.  I'm working on trying to decrease the quantity of food I'm creating.  Just a few weeks ago ground turkey was on sale for 1.99 per package.  Great deal!  I bought two.  I made a delicious taco meat and veggie mixture that I could use for breakfast, lunch and dinners.  Egg beater omelets with taco meat for breakfast, taco salad lunches, and taco's for dinner...using my resources well.  Versatile dishes that span the day and week offer variety for the soul!  One of my favorite new recipes (thanks to my boyfriend, Kevin) is Chicken Chili.  It's the best I've ever tasted, and a recipe I can reduce for just me.  I even made it for everyone on my most recent vacation to Sundance, UT.  There were 5 of us in a cabin and we enjoyed the chili for 2 meals!  The chicken chili would also make beautiful enchiladas, taco meat mixture or an exotic casserole for later in the week.  Or, turn it into an outstanding chicken tortilla soup by just adding more broth and tortilla strips.  I hope you find as much joy in this recipe as I do.

Chicken Chili

6 Chicken Breasts
64 oz. Chicken Broth (reduced want to control the salt!)
1 Large Vadalia Onion - diced
3 cloves Garlic - crushed
2 Poblano Peppers - small dice
21 oz. Diced Green Chili's
3 large jalapenos (add 1 to 2 more if you like your chili with a kick) - finely dices
1 can Navy beans - drained and rinsed
30 oz. White Hominy - drained and rinsed
1 Knorr Roasted Chicken Gravy package
1 Tbs. Cumin (add more if you like the smoky taste)
1 Tbs. Oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Bring the 64 oz. of Chicken broth to a boil.  Add the chicken breasts and diced onion.  Cook chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through.  When the chicken is cooked though, take them out and place on cutting board.  Shred chicken breasts using a fork to pull chicken apart.  Whisk Knorr Roasted Chicken Gravy mixture into chicken broth to remove lumps.  Place chicken back in broth.  Add garlic, poblano peppers, diced green chili's, jalapenos, navy beans, hominy, and spices, except cilantro.  Simmer chili for 30 minutes.  Add chopped cilantro.  Serve with diced tomatoes and sour cream.  (I prefer using plain fat free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream)  To make into enchiladas, decrease the liquid slightly.  After rolling into tortillas, top the enchiladas with green enchilada sauce.  To make soup, increase the liquid amount and added tortilla strips for a delicious chicken tortilla soup.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Zesty Fresh Winter Pick Me UP!

Don't you wish you lived in California for all the beautiful fresh veggies all year round?  I often wished I had stayed in San Diego just so I could eat California cuisine every day.  Especially in the doldrums of winter.  Well, I didn't stay, and honestly, I couldn't be happier here in the Pacific Northwest.  From the fruits of the mountains, to the fruits of the sea, and let's not forget the fruits of the vine, the PNW is a foodies playground!  There isn't much we don't have readily available.  And beautiful, I might add!  I meander around the gorgeous fruit and vegetable displays at Whole Foods brimming with excitement trying to narrow down what will actually make it to my table.  If I could only bring it all home!  One of the beauties about living in a temperate climate...local produce, poultry, seafood, wine, cheese, olives...I could go on and on.  I think the best part of exploring the grocery store is finding what's local today.  Seasonal ingredients make you appreciate them each year and beg you to miss them when they're not in season.  The wafting smell of butternut squash roasting warms you in fall and winter.  The sound of fresh snap peas tease you in Spring.  And how can you not love the smell of burgers grilling on the Fourth of July!  The thought and the smell of these wondrous foods stir memories within each of us.  Memories of friends and family.  Food is that powerful!  And sometimes, in the depths of winter, you remember that fresh zest of summer and long for those ingredients.  Sometimes you just need a pick me up.  Everyone knows fresh lemon will always add that punch to those roasted veggies, or roasted chicken, but why not try something new?  Oranges?  They're readily available in winter.  Thank you Florida!  One of my favorite salads involves oranges.  Thanks to the brilliance of my Mom, who has invented this beauty, it has become a staple all year round in my house hold.  It makes a gorgeous presentation to boot.  The glistening oranges against the silky pale green butter lettuce will lighten any ones winter blues.  My Mom also loves to add some jewels to the salad at Christmas.  Pomegranate seeds.  They are like little rubies begging to be eaten.  And what a sweet punch they add.  The ingredients are simple, readily available and a perfect healthy addition to any ones table and tummy!

Orange Jewel Salad with an Orange, Balsamic and Dijon Vinegarette

2 heads of Butter Lettuce (1 Romain bunch is also wonderful)
2 Naval Oranges
1 Red Onion
1 Pomegranate (optional)

Wash and dry lettuce leaves.  Tear to appropriate size.  Zest one teaspoon from orange for dressing and set aside.  Slice both oranges into small bite size wedges.  Thinly slice red onion.  (a whole red onion is usually too much for just one salad, so use your judgement for how much you'd like).  Seed the pomegranate.  The best way to seed the pomegranate is to fill a mixing bowl with cool water, slice the pomegranate in half and place in the bowl of water.  Carefully pick the seeds out of the pith.  This way you won't get red pomegranate juice all over you and stain your clothes.

Orange Balsamic Dijon Vinegarette

2 Tbs. Frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tsp. Orange Zest
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl whisk orange juice concentrate, orange zest, Dijon mustard and vinegar together.  While whisking, slowly stream in olive oil.  Add more if dressing tastes too much of vinegar.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  One trick I like to use is to make the dressing in an old mason jar or food jar that has been washed and dried.  The Dijon mustard is a stabilizer for the salad dressing, so all you have to do is dump the ingredients in the jar, cover tightly and shake vigorously.  Then you have a storage container for your left over dressing.  Toss salad with vinegarette and serve immediately.  Enjoy!  This salad dressing is delicious on any salad.  In the summer time, any kind of berry is beautiful and delicious to add.  I particularly enjoy blackberries.  I hope this salad brings you as much joy as it has to the Anderson and friends household for years!

Now for the wine!  In the summer time, pair this salad with a crisp Gewurtztraminer or Pinot Gris and your palate will be delighted.  In the winter, I would enjoy this salad with a robust Chardonney (served slightly cool, but not refrigerator cold) or light and fruity Pinot Nior.  This salad pairs beautifully with a light cheese course and/or chicken, white fish or pork main course.  I have plenty of recipes to share, and I'm excited to share them all!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Beginning Journey

I'm inspired!  Inspired to create healthy, delicious meals.  I haven't added it up, quite honestly, I'm afraid to! I'm sure I've thrown out hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars worth of ingredients and left overs in my life time.  Probably just last year could have topped one grand!  I believe the stats are that people throw away, on average, $500 worth of food (ingredients) every year.  I know I'm not alone.  I know you have thrown away the last of the milk because it's expired, or the last three yogurts you were sure you'd eat this week.  Bread that now could be mistaken for blue cheese.  Lettuce that is now so rotten it looks like a bad smoothie sitting on the bottom of your veggie drawer.  Who knows how old that jar of roasted red peppers in the refrigerator door are?  Or the ketchup for that matter.  How about the mayo?  Is it still good?  Smell it, maybe you'll know then!  Well, I took a vow this New Years.  A vow to be accountable.  Accountable to the food!  I'm a foodie, why shouldn't I be accountable to the ingredients I buy every week?  I buy these ingredients to create such deliciousness that my friends and family perform happy dances as they enjoy it.  Or simply, the ingredients I buy to make delicious, healthy meals for me to enjoy every week.  I love dancing with joy over a great dish, and I think the food does to.  The tomato deserves the respect of being eaten.  The roasted lemon chicken deserves the respect of not ending up in the landfill.  So, I start this journey.  
I'm single, so the journey should be simple, right?  Well, I'm finding it much more difficult than I thought.  Planning is key!  Sunday's are my day to plan and shop and cook.  I plan meals for breakfast, lunch and dinners that have common ingredients so they don't go bad.  I'm also keeping a folder on the refrigerator for all my receipts I spend on food.  I'm amazed at how aware it makes me.  How aware I am of exactly how much I'm spending at different grocery stores.  It's invigorating!  Just yesterday I did my shopping for the week, and by planning ahead and by taking note of prices, I saved $24.23 on my grocery bill!  Come on!  Usually you see at the bottom of the receipt a 5 Spot or even 10, but close to 25!  Now I'm proud of myself!  The biggest joy in this journey has surprisingly been the preparation of food.  I'm not taking the easy route and buying pre-made meals, or taking shortcuts by buying an already roasted chicken (although they are really delicious, and I'm sure I will several times this year), I'm buying ingredients to prepare my meals the old fashioned way...Homemade!  I have found that by making my own Pico de gallo, I have so much pride in my food as I enjoy it.  Don't get me wrong, for those of you that know me, I'm not one to buy ready made food anyway, but taking the time to plan and prepare is rewarding.  Chopping up the tomatoes, onion and jalapeno and creating a delicious garnish for my Mexican inspired meals this week brings me joy.  As I topped my omelet this morning with homemade pico de gallo, I smiled.  I knew that  the jalapeno smiled too!  
Join me in my exploration of my kitchen.  My frugal food finds, healthy creations and delicious cravings await!

A lighter side of Potatoes:  Cauliflower Puree

1 Head of Cauliflower
1 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 Tbs. Fat-Free Cottage Cheese
1 Tbs. Fat-Free Plain Greek Yogurt
3-4 dashes of hot sauce (I prefer Tapatio)
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Cut core out of Cauliflower and separate into florets.  Steam Cauliflower florets until fork tender.  Drain water.  Add butter, cottage cheese, yogurt and hot sauce.  Puree with hand blender (or transfer to a blender and puree).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.  It can be stored in refrigerator for up to 4 days.  Makes 4 to 5 servings