Tag Archives: Entree

Cocoa Cumin Steak

That’s right.  I made a steak for dinner tonight.

Fritz was in carnivore heaven.

This is an awesome dry rub recipe that I found in America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook over a year ago, and I could have sworn I already blogged about it because it is just so darn good.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had not.  And because of that, I owe you an apology.

It was downright mean to withhold this recipe from you.  Cruel and unusual punishment.  I’m sorry I did that to you.

So next time you are making a steak, and you aren’t sure what to put on it, try this dry rub.  And even though it may sound weird, trust me on this.

Cocoa Cumin Dry Rub Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 T cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 T freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 t ground cumin
  • 2 t ground allspice

Combine all the spices in a plastic or glass container–it’ll make enough for two or three steaks, so if you plan on using it twice, make sure that you don’t touch the raw meat and then touch the spice.  No diseases or bacteria, please.

Pat the steak dry with a paper towel and rub in the spices.

Grill over high heat for a few minutes until both sides are browned and grill-marked, then move over to medium heat for the remainder of the time.  I wanted it done medium-well, so I grilled it for another 12-15 minutes.

This steak is perfect as is.  No sauces, salt, or other fancy-smancy doohickeys needed.

I served it with a plain and simple green salad with blueberries and chocolate balsamic vinegar.

You might have noticed a little chocolate theme goin’ on here.  I did that on purpose.

Fritz’s sister is here visiting for the weekend, so tomorrow will probably involve lots of girly chat and possibly a haircut, which I desperately, desperately need.  Hopefully I’ll also have more time to play with the new lens.  Sayonara!

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Filed under Spice Mixes

Chicken & Radicchio Pasta Salad

Post # 200.

Amazing–it feels like just yesterday that I decided to make an apple pie (well, two–I’ve never been the type to do things by halves) and then blog it!  But, 200 posts later, I’m still loving the blogging world!

I also added a new page to the blog today–called “Top 100”.  It’s a list from the New York Times naming the top 100 novels from 1923–present.  I’ve started using it as an inspiration when I want to combine what I’m reading by chance (read: books I choose based on their titles and covers alone) with something that will definitely enrich my selection and hopefully make me a little smarter, too.  And nerdier?  Definitely.  So check it out and let me know if you’ve read any of them, and which ones you think I should tackle next.

In last week’s CSA box we received a head of radicchio, which I had never tried before.  When I googled it and discovered that is it very bitter, I got a little nervous.  I am frankly just not a fan of bitter greens, so I knew I’d have to cook this to make it palatable.

And of course I was also hoping to somehow make it beyond palatable into something more delicious.  I adapted this pasta salad recipe from Food & Wine’s Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes, from Laura Pensiero’s Hudson Valley Mediterranean.  Her mantra is:

Eat healthy, enjoy food, live well, and never sacrifice flavor.

Now that is a mantra I can get behind.

Chicken & Radicchio Pasta Salad Printable Recipe Card

  • 8 oz dry whole-wheat pasta (I used macaroni)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small head radicchio, shredded (for a shredding tutorial, go here)
  • 12 oz chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 t dried garlic)
  • 1 1/2 t mustard (I used Trader Joe’s Hot and Sweet Mustard–mmm)
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Drain and place in a large bowl–this is where the entire salad is going to end up, so make sure there’s enough room.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and saute the onion until translucent and beginning to brown.  Add the radicchio and saute for a few more minutes until it cooks down, but not until it’s totally limp.  Add the onions and radicchio to the pasta bowl, and mix.  Now is a good time to add the frozen peas, too–the hot pasta will defrost ’em.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the (now empty) skillet.  Cook the garlic until fragrant (30 seconds or so), and add the chicken, saute until golden brown and cooked through.  Add the mustard and chicken broth, and cook until the broth reduces volume by half.  Lastly, pour in the Parmesan cheese and stir until it melts and forms a nice, thick sauce.

Add the chicken mixture to the macaroni bowl.  Mix.  Taste.  Be surprised that the radicchio, though bitter, isn’t bad.  Taste again.  Salt and pepper to taste, toss it one more time, and steal one more taste.

Yum.  Serve either warm, at room temperature, or cool.  It is totes up to you.

I really enjoyed this pasta dish–definitely an entrée and not a side, and full of different textures.  The radicchio was still bitter, but not overwhelming.  I had this for lunch today with half of a grilled zucchini and a roasted beet: vegetable city.

For people who don’t need to use up their CSA veggies and don’t like bitter greens, you can make this recipe with spinach or Swiss chard, too.  But if you can, give radicchio a chance (because it’s always good to add some variety in your diet!).

Speaking of CSA boxes, say hello to week seven:

And say hello to radicchio number two–guess I’ll have to find another cooked radicchio recipe for this week, too.  Any suggestions?

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Filed under Entrees, Salads

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Skewers

Tests are over–and I floated about in the pool for an hour today, finishing up Mansfield Park and Range of Motion and I was, well, torn about how I felt about my latest Jane Austen read.  I’m interested to hear what you think.

I think reading Jane Austen perfectly exemplifies the dichotomy under which I live my daily life.  On one hand, I love reading a romance novel just as much, or perhaps more, than the next girl–especially if it’s well written.  I will gladly indulge in any period film involving a horse and carriage and Mother bustling around in multiple brown skirts and aprons marrying off all their gorgeous daughters to rich, sexy men to save their family’s fortune.  If it’s raining outside and I am drinking vast quantities of tea, wrapped in a blanket with my cat, all the better.  I just love that feeling.

It’s sad, I know.  I think it might be too late for me.

But at the same time, I despise the horrid and privileged men and especially the stringent, sexist, oppressive atmosphere these poor women are forced to live in.  Seriously, Mansfield Park?  Fanny Price is not able to participate in putting on a play in the privacy of her own home with her family because it is too morally corrupt?  And that she judges all the other people around her and rarely expresses any true emotion other than that which is acceptable by the society in which she was raised is supposed to make me like her?  Ugh.

And then the book ends with her marrying her one true love–perfect, except that it’s her cousin!  Her first cousin, that she was brought up alongside!  The genetics alone horrify me.

I know, I know, I have to respect the times in which it was written–and I’m not saying Jane Austen wasn’t a great writer.  I’m just…you know.  What do you think?

Anyway, on to our meal for tonight–grilled tandoori chicken kabobs.  This is one of my favorite chicken recipes I’ve had in a long time, but I do have to warn you: it’s hot!  So beware if you still actually have some of your taste buds remaining.  Feel free to get rid of the cayenne all together if you need to.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Kabobs (adapted from Real Grilling by Jamie Purviance, serves 4) Grilled Tandoori Chicken Skewers Printable Card

  • 3 chicken breasts (about 6 oz each)
  • 1 C plain yogurt
  • 1 T each ground ginger, paprika, and vegetable oil
  • 2 t minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 t each salt and ground curry powder
  • 1 t ground turmeric
  • 1/2 t ground cayenne pepper

I halved the marinade recipe and used two small chicken breasts to make two servings.

Combine the yogurt, spices, and vegetable oil in a bowl.

Cube the chicken into roughly equal pieces, about a 1″ each.  Place the chicken in the marinade, and make sure it covers all the chicken.  Tightly wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Either soak wooden skewers for 10 minutes before using, or use metal ones.  Slide the chicken onto the skewers, placing them next to each other, but not too tightly.  Grill the skewers over direct medium heat on the grill for about 10 minutes, turning once.

We also grilled zucchini and green onions.  For the green onions, cut off the root tip and a few inches of the hollow tops on the opposite end.  Spray with olive oil or canola oil, and dust with salt and black pepper.  Grill over direct heat for about two minutes on each side–if you can finagle this, the white part should be cooked over higher heat than the green side.  If you can’t, it’s okay.  I’ll still like you.

I was a huge fan of the grilled green onion–I left most of the green tops, and they basically turned into onion chips at the skinny ends.  The whiter ends were soft and sweet.  Oh, yes.

The tandoori chicken?  Spicy, hot, tender, moist, charred–everything I love most about grilled food.  Even Fritz, who hates food that is too hot, loved it.

He actually said he wanted to eat this chicken every night for the rest of his life…but I’m not sure he really means it. 

Oh–I also got featured on a fellow blogger’s site (not a food blogger, though).  Visit Arianna Belle’s blog on Organized Interiors to check it out!

Last but not least, I’ve been playing with my new (old) lens from the garage sale–I’m in love with it and now I want to buy lots more lenses.  Uh oh.  Hello Henry!

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Filed under Entrees

Cheesy Peasy Couscous

Today was just one of those days.  One of those days when you feel a headache starting off as soon as you wake up, when class seems to take twice as long as normal, when the erratic driver in front of you on the drive home makes you want to cry rather than laugh, when you come home needing a simple and quick comfort food.

Just one of those days.

I needed the ultimate comfort food–one that contains the dairy trifecta: milk, cheese, and butter.  And because dairy does not equal “unhealthy”, you can use all three of those in some delicious moderation and eat comfort food that can still make you feel good.  ‘Cause on days like these, guilt is the last thing you need on your plate.

Cheesy Peasy Couscous (Printable Recipe Card)

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 1/2 C broth (I used one chicken bouillon cube and 1 1/2 C water)
  • 1 C frozen peas, defrosted and drained
  • 1 1/2 C dry couscous
  • 2 T whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C Gruyère cheese (or other cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 t smoked paprika

Preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the peas and the broth (or bouillon and water). 

Bring the whole mixture to a boil and take off the heat.  Pour in the dried couscous and cover with a lid or plate, and let it sit for fifteen minutes until it absorbs all the broth and gets nice and fluffy.  Place the couscous into a casserole dish and get ready for the cheesy magic.

While you are waiting, make the cheese sauce.  In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the flour, milk, and cheese until a nice, smooth, thick sauce forms–it should only take a few minutes.  Pour the sauce over the couscous mixture and mix it in.

Lookin’ good!  Add a bit of salt and shake the smoked paprika over the top.  Smooth the mixture out, and place under the broiler until a nice golden brown crust forms, about 5-10 minutes.

That’s it!  Salt and pepper your serving to taste and eat right away.  It’s kind of like a cross between mac and cheese and a casserole.  I bet this would be even better with pearled couscous, ’cause it’d be even closer in texture to standard macaroni. 

Fritz walked in as I was taking pictures of the finished product, and he was super excited to see this–he grew up with a lot more casserole-type dishes than I did, and he loves seein’ them come out of the oven.  Spoon it all into a big dish, and let that comfort just roll over ya.

It’s okay if you want to add a little extra smoked paprika.  I’m going to need to join Smoked Paprika Anonymous if things keep heading in this direction.

I also did a little work in the garden a few days ago and harvested a bunch of lavender.  Since it seemed like a waste to hang them up to dry in the closet (far away from my eyes and nose), I put a few stems each into a bunch of glass jars and let them dry as a centerpiece for the table.  They looked beautiful, smelled great, and only took a few days to dry.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to make with them–lavender eye pillows? Lavender salt?  Lavender ice cream? 

So many ideas, so little time!

Have you ever made anything with dried lavender?  Any ideas for me?

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Green Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I forgot all about this recipe until very recently.  It’s nothing too exciting; in fact, it’s the perfect example of “you can’t go wrong with the classics” and “less is more”.

My love for chicken salad sandwiches started when I was in middle school–there was a small cafe that opened in my hometown within walking distance of campus.  My friend Meghan actually worked there for a while, and we used to absolutely rave about their chicken salad, which were best when served on toasted bagels.  The best part about the salad was that it was studded with pieces of tangy and sweet green apple.

I’ve adapted this recipe over the years, and yesterday’s version was by far the best.  And that was a happy accident.

Fritz grilled some chicken for us yesterday, and we had three breasts all frozen together.  I told him to defrost all three, grill one, and I’d use two of them the next day for chicken salad.  He thought I meant he should grill all three of them, and when he coated them in a thin layer of BBQ sauce, I thought the resulting chicken salad might be a little too weird.

Wrong.

It was so good!  The smoky BBQ sauce was only a pretty thin layer on the chicken, and it actually worked perfectly for this recipe–you could hardly taste it, but what you could was a perfect addition to the basic chicken salad taste.

Green Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches (this makes enough for four hearty sandwiches, but you could easily multiply this recipe!)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1-2 T of your favorite BBQ sauce (we used a mesquite flavor)
  • 1/2 tart green apple (such as Granny Smith)
  • 1/3-1/4 C mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

It doesn’t take a genius to make most recipes–this one included.

Grill the chicken over high heat, coating once with a thin layer of BBQ sauce.  If you a BBQ sauce lover, then you can add more, but I really would suggest going light.  You want to taste the actual chicken in this salad.

Once it’s cooled (I usually use leftover chicken, so this is an even easier summer recipe), cut into small chunks–about 1/2″ big or a tad bit smaller.  Dice the apple (I like the apple pieces to be about the same size as the chicken, but you can go smaller if you want less crunch and more homogeneity in every bite) and mix.

Stir in the mayonnaise, going a spoonful at a time.  I normally hate mayonnaise, but this recipe really does it for me.  As long as I wash my hands 100 times after eating it (is there anything worse than the smell of mayonnaise on your hands?).  However, the last thing you want to do is add too much mayonnaise, ’cause you can’t take it back.

Season with salt and pepper–we actually didn’t have to add any to this particular recipe, but sometimes I add a generous sprinkle of black pepper and a small amount of salt; it does depend on how salty your mayonnaise is, though!

Serve on toasted sesame buns, or bagels, or even plain white bread.

To each his own, you know.  Although I personally feel the bread needs to be toasted for appropriate enjoyment.

Fritz said this was the best version of this recipe I’ve made, and I credit the BBQ sauce incident.  Well done, Fritz.

I also made this salad for some friends of ours lately, and they also liked it.  It’s perfect for a hot summer day (hello heat wave this week!) when you can’t even contemplate turning on the oven, or if you have some leftover chicken you need to use up.

I also make a turkey/cranberry version after Thanksgiving.  Instead of apples, sometimes I use green grapes.  Try anything!

We served it with edamame.  Isn’t it so fun to eat edamame out of the pods?  Sometimes I buy it already shelled, and it’s just not as satisfying.  Too bad, ’cause it’s more expensive in the pods.

We pick up our CSA box in a few hours!  I can’t wait–looks like I can expect to see red boston lettuce, a lettuce mix, arugala, baby spinach, garlic scrapes, swiss chard, and red beets.  Heavy on the lettuce, but that’s expected this early in the season, and perfect since I’ve been having a green monster every morning and going through spinach super fast!

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Refrigerator Review: Spinach and Pasta Frittata

When a woman leaves her husband alone in their apartment for a week while she goes to visit her parents, several things will appear to be true upon her return:

  1. The kitchen table, counter, and stove top will have clearly not been wiped down since she left;
  2. Her cat will have apparently contracted some kind of UTI or bladder issue, and will now be lingering piteously around the cat box;
  3. The vet bill for said cat will cost $192; and
  4. The refrigerator will be full of half-finished man foods that need to be used ASAP or they will go terribly, terribly bad.

Despite ridiculous vet bills (wish I could just give him some cranberry juice and leave it at that) and leftovers I’m not sure what to do with (a lot of cooked spaghetti, 1/2 lb of uncooked ground turkey, and wilty spinach), it’s really nice to be home.  So when the opportunity came to cook Fritz a nice meal while impressing him with my ability to turn what he calls “an empty fridge” into something delicious, I jumped on it.  I want to be a leftover magician.

Hello, frittata.

Spinach and Pasta Frittata

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey (you could also use chicken, beef, sausage, whatever)
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika (alright, I’m obsessed)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 handfuls spinach (1/2 C cooked spinach)
  • 1/2 lb-3/4 lb cooked whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 5-7 eggs, depending on how much pasta you have
  • 1/3 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese

I didn’t take an “ingredients shot” this time, because, let’s be honest–it’s really difficult to make a pile of leftovers look appealing.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in an oven-safe pan (we are gonna cook the entire frittata in this pan) over medium heat and saute the onion until soft and translucent.  Add the ground turkey and cook thoroughly, then flavor it with the salt and paprika.

Next, toss in two handfuls of spinach and stir in until they are wilted.  Add the spaghetti on top, and combine.

Crack the eggs into a separate bowl, and add the milk and cheese.

Whisk until light, and pour over the top of the spaghetti mixture.

Bake in the oven on the medium rack until the eggs no longer look runny, and the edges are brown and crispy, about fifteen minutes.  I also turned on the broiler for the last few minutes to get a nice, browned top–it’s always nice to have a little crunch!

This came out really nicely.  The best thing about a frittata like this is that you can literally make it however you want–add different vegetables, meat, spices, sauces, whatever!  It’s perfect for a leftovers dinner or even a leftovers breakfast.

The smoked paprika also gave it a nice smoky flavor that I now want to eat in everything.  I’m obsessed.  I can’t stop.

Fritz took one look and said, “that looks gourmet!”.  He also said that it didn’t taste “leftover” at all.

Success.

Henry, who has been traumatized from his visit to the vet, has taken refuge in a pile of cardboard by the door waiting to be recycled.  I spotted him by the tail–poor baby.

We also just watched the movie Funny People, which I actually liked a lot despite its large quantity of genital-based humor.  Adam Sandler is so nice to watch when he is playing a serious character, and I thought it ended up being quite moving and thought-provoking.  Anyone else out there enjoy that movie?

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Filed under Breakfast, Entrees

Grilled Trout with Lemon, Tarragon & Garlic Mayonnaise

We made this for dinner yesterday, and I would have to call it an absolute success.  Not only did Dad have an extra excuse to go fishing (I requested fish earlier in the week when we went kayaking), but the flavors worked out beautifully.

I didn’t want to do anything too crazy, because it was hot outside and I didn’t want to spend all day inside cooking.  I asked Dad how he normally prepares the fish, and he said that sometimes he coats in a bit of mayonnaise and grills it.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise.  Ever.  But I thought that flavored with some herbs and citrus, then used to protect and baste the fish in flavor while it’s grilled over high heat might be a different story.  And I was right.  No mayonnaise taste detectable–especially since we didn’t eat the skin of this particular fish.

Lemon, Tarragon, & Garlic Mayonnaise

  • 1/3 C mayonnaise
  • 1 T fresh tarragon, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 T lemon zest

Combine all the above ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.  Reserve your newly naked lemon to squeeze over the top of the fish.

Grilled Trout with Herby Mayonnaise

  • 4 trout, cleaned and prepared
  • lemon, tarragon, & garlic mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lemon wedges

First, take pictures of fish in the manner that makes it most alarming to your blog readers.  Then laugh because it looks like they are singing the Hallelujah Chorus (all together now–Haaaaallelujah!).

I’m sorry.

Off with their heads!  Dad gave me a nice lesson in cleaning fish–you never know when you might need to prepare your own dinner from the basics.  I actually remembered most of the steps from when I watched him do it as a kid, but he gave me some extra tips.

Next, turn on the grill to high heat (Dad estimates it was around 300 degrees) and let it warm up.  Next, coat the fish in a nice layer of the herby mayonnaise–most of it is going to drip off as it cooks, so you don’t want to be too stingy with it.  If you want to toss some lemon, garlic, or tarragon inside the fish before you get going, I’d be okay with that. 

Let the fish turn a nice, gorgeous, crispy brown.  The flesh should turn white when it is fully cooked and easily flake with a fork.

It’s better for fish to be flaky than for people.

Drizzle with some lemon left over from the mayonnaise zesting–the sharp citrus really takes the fish to the next level.

We served this with pasta salad and the sangria from yesterday–a very light and fresh summer meal!  Just watch out for those fish bones as you are eating.

So weird that I used to hate fish as a kid, ’cause now I love it.  It’s amazing how much our palates change and mature as we grow up. Speaking of growing up, the whole family trooped over to watch Jordi’s third karate lesson–she’s decided to take up a new hobby, and she got promoted from a regular white belt (novice) to a first-class white belt something-or-other (still a novice).  Now her white belt has a black stripe on the end.  Pretty exciting stuff.

Isn’t she so beautiful?  They grow up so fast!

This morning I went to breakfast with Mom and Dad at Stella’s, a popular Betty Boop-themed diner.  It was fun, and it made me reminisce about earlier times.  More importantly, it’s right around the corner from the Antique Exchange.  Oh, yes.  I was so excited!

And then it was closed.  Alas–maybe tomorrow.

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