……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Cool Avocado Soup July 31, 2012

I rarely pull recipes off restaurant websites – I always feel like they’re going to leave off a key ingredient in order to inspire me to come back to their spot instead of making a dish myself. But, when I got this recommendation, it sounded too good to pass up.

Before I made this, I’d never eaten a cold soup. Now, I basically want to live off cold soup all summer long. This was incredibly refreshing, all while being incredibly creamy and decadent.

Plus, we finally got to use the antique cold soup china tureen that’s been in the basement for a year. Classy business, this soup.

Plus it’s green. Which is awesome.

Cool Avocado Soup from Panera

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 English cucumber, partially peeled, then chopped (I used a little cucumber from my garden!)
4 scallions, green parts only
2 cups vegetable broth
Juice of one lime
1/3 cup packed cilantro (leaves and stems)
1/2 – 1 jalapeño pepper, depending on your taste preference, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 – 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4+ tsp. cumin
1/4+ tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt

Throw everything in the blender and puree for 2-3 minutes. Let it sit for a few hours, then blend again for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro as desired.


Summer Dinner Party July 5, 2012

Filed under: Dinner — krandle @ 8:45 pm
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To me, a dinner party is basically any dinner I cook for extra people and that takes more time than usual. (For example, if you showed up at my house and I fed you a stir fry that I was reheating, that isn’t a dinner party. But, if you showed up and it took more than an hour to cook, that’s a dinner party.)

I’ve run through this menu twice in dinner party-like scenarios now, and I’m convinced it’s a keeper. It’s not very often I find a chicken recipe that people rave about – and this one earned rave reviews even from people who don’t care too much about food!

Other great parts of this menu include:

  • The vegetable side can be varied based on the vegetables you have on hand; the general cooking principles and dressing transfer even to what I had in my garden (zucchini, green beans and radishes)
  • If prep is done properly, this meal takes only about an hour to assemble. (This was easier the second time around.)
  • Because of the way this is put together, it’s really easy to have everything come out hot at the same time. (This is a huge boon to me, since I struggle with end timing.)

So, I give you this summer’s dinner party menu:

Goat cheese-wrapped grapes (as an appetizer)

Pecan-crusted chicken with fresh raspberry sauce

Asparagus, pea and radish salad

Mustard-roasted potatoes

Basil French 75

Simple dessert (a skillet cookie and a fresh fruit crumble both worked nicely)


Tips on preparation:

  • Do the sauces/dips earlier that day or the day before, but add the citrus juices and fresh herbs right before you cook. This works for the dressing for the vegetables, mustard stuff for the potatoes, raspberry sauce for the chicken, mustard dip for the chicken and breadcrumb/nut mixture for the chicken. For one dinner I made with this menu, I made the sauces/etc. ahead of time, then packed everything up and made dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen in another state; it worked remarkably well, and everything transported quite nicely.
  • The grape appetizer can be made a few hours ahead of time, but it’s not great to leave the grapes overnight. The nuts get soggy if they sit for too long near the cheese.
  • When it’s time to cook, prep the veggies first. While you’ll cook them last, they can be chopped and readied first. (You can do the asparagus a few hours ahead of time as well; blanch it beforehand to save time later.)
  • The potatoes need to start cooking first. And, although the chicken should ideally be roasted at a lower oven temperature, roasting them at the higher temp after browning them is totally fine. The chicken does not dry out or burn, and you ensure that you can have everything come out on time when the potatoes and chicken are in the oven at the same time.
  • Get someone else to help make the drinks; basil french 75s are easy, so someone else can take that off your plate.


Pecan-crusted chicken with fresh raspberry sauce June 19, 2012

Filed under: Dinner — krandle @ 6:02 pm
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Sometimes, it’s hard for me to want to take the time to make chicken taste good. It’s so easy to just toss it in the oven with a spice rub or throw it in the crockpot with some sauces or vegetables – and then have everything taste good – that I’m sometimes not very motivated to put any time into poultry.

This recipe, however, is worth the effort. I think it’s perfect dinner party food – and the sauce adds a color that you probably wouldn’t otherwise have on your plate (FUSCHIA!), unless you were serving beets.

It’s really moist, while also staying a little bit crunchy. It tastes fresh so is great for spring/summer. And, it doesn’t take very long or require too much attention, making it easy to serve while people are over. I’m already planning to serve this at my next dinner event.

Pecan-crusted chicken with fresh raspberry sauce – modified from B.A.

Raspberry Sauce
– Note: this makes about twice as much sauce as you need for this amount of chicken; it makes a great salad dressing, though, so don’t worry about cutting it in half

3/4 cup lightly packed fresh raspberries (about 3 1/2 ounces)
3 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 cup safflower oil (works fine with vegetable oil too)
3 to 6 tsp. water (optional)


1 cup chopped pecans (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or plain dried breadcrumbs
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
3 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1/3 cup honey mustard
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves, butterflied
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 Tbs. peanut oil
4 cups baby salad greens (baby spinach is great here)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

For Raspberry Sauce

Puree raspberries, white wine vinegar, and sugar in blender until smooth. With blender running, gradually add safflower oil. Add water by teaspoonfuls as needed to thin to desired consistency. Season raspberry sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

For Chicken

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix pecans, panko and 2 teaspoons pepper on a plate with a lip, or in a shallow dish.

In a bowl, mix honey mustard, mint leaves, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken; coat and let excess drip off. Place chicken into crumb-nut mixture, coating both sides and pressing to adhere. To make things easy, don’t coat until you’re ready to put chicken directly into the skillets. And, when you have extra crumb-nut mixture left, put it into the skillet alongside the chicken, roasting it as well, then serving alongside the chicken for extra crunch.

Divide equal amounts of butter and oil between 2 large nonstick skillets; heat over medium-high heat. Add 2 chicken pieces to each skillet; reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is light brown, about 4 minutes per side. Place chicken on rimmed baking sheet; transfer to oven. Roast chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Plate using salad greens first, then topping top with chicken. Drizzle sauce on top, and garnish with fresh raspberries.


Menu ideas: When bacon is on sale June 4, 2012

Filed under: Breakfast,Dinner,Lunch,Soup — krandle @ 10:29 pm
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I like bacon as much as the next gal – but I only ever buy it when it’s on sale (and when I’m feeling relatively healthy / all my jeans fit at the beginning of the week). And it recently was on sale (and I was feeling ready to take on an absurd amount of fat), so I got to try out a whole new slew of recipes. Here are some recipes I found to try to keep my skillet busy.

Bacon, egg and leek risotto – a quick weekend breakfast this is not, but it is pretty delicious. Watch out, though – I halved this recipe and it still made four servings

Amazing grilled cheese sandwich – yes, it includes bacon…and sriracha and avocado. It’s going to change your sandwich world.

Crockpot baked beans – big disclaimer here: total cooking time here is 15 hours, plus you need to soak some beans overnight ahead of time. Sure, you can be sleeping for part of it, but you’re going to need to figure out your schedule ahead of time so you don’t burn anything. The beans are tasty, but you need to have the time committed to do this.

Vegan cream of broccoli soup – what, did you think I was trying to harden my arteries entirely in a week? This soup has become one of my favorites this year, and I don’t even like broccoli. It’s fresh, fast, and freezable. Plus, if you’re not vegan, you can sprinkle your own cheese on top to make it a light version of broccoli cheddar soup.


Summer corn fritters with tomato and avocado salsa May 23, 2012

Well, it certainly has been a while! Don’t worry – I’m still cooking like a fiend. Some of it just isn’t worth writing home to the internet about. But, my garden has been planted, and I ate the first fruits (a single, cute radish) this evening – so I decided it’s time to resume sharing all the wonderful things I’ve been eating.

Just to kick it off, here’s a lovely, delectable summer treat that simple to make and involves fresh corn. This is also, aside from one other horrific experience, the first thing I’ve ever fried. My boyfriend was quite pleased about being able to have fried food as a side dish to our dinner.

Fresh Corn Fritters
slightly adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

3 ears corn, shucked and cut from the cobs (scrape the juice from the cobs into the bowl as well)
1 cup flour
¼ cup diced red onion
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup thinly sliced basil
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
salt and pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. buttermilk (you can also substitute greek yogurt)
2 Tbs. butter, melted
Vegetable oil for frying

Serve with tomato and avocado salsa (recipe below)

After getting the corn off the cob, place 2 cups of it into the food process and pulse several times to create a chunky puree. Return the mixture to the bowl with the remaining corn. Add the onions

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, basil, powder, soda, salt and pepper. Add to the corn mixture. Then, add in eggs, buttermilk (or yogurt) and butter, stirring just until combined.

Heat the oil in a skillet, and scoop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls in to create little fritters. Fry the cake 1 to 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Place on a baking sheet lined with paper, then pop them in a warm oven to stay warm while you finish cooking the remaining fritters. Top with tomato and avocado salsa.

Tomato and Avocado Salsa

1 large tomato, cored and diced
1 scallion, minced
½ jalepeno, cored, seeded and diced (I left this out because I had a heat-averse dining partner)
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of ½ lime
1 ½ tsp. olive oil
1 ½ tsp. white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 avocado, diced

Stir all ingredients (except avocado) together. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve, then add the avocado.

Per serving: 209 calories, 3 g saturated fat, 27.6 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g dietary fiber, 5.7 g protein,


Orange and Soy-Glazed Baby Back Ribs January 3, 2012

Filed under: Dinner — krandle @ 8:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Is there a better way to ring in the new year than with the most delicious meat I’ve ever cooked? (No, seriously – I think this is the most delicious protein I’ve ever made.)

Well, I guess it could be better if you could see how wonderful it was. Oh wait. You can!

Thanks to the most wonderful parents in the world, who have graciously listened to me talk about how all my food pictures look gross, I am now the proud happy ecstatic owner of an incredible camera. And you are now the mildly amused reader of a blog with better quality photos.

Anyways, back to the pork: it is to die for. It’s even mind-blowingly delectable when it’s reheated. I would be happy if I ordered these in a restaurant.

Note to people who come over to my house for dinner: if you think you want me to make these for you, first think about the fact that they must be eaten with your hands to ensure you can nibble off all the delicious meat. And once you’ve decided that you’re fine looking like a slob at my table, call me and invite yourself over.

So, happy new year every one. Here’s to more delicious food and more high res photos. (Now, stop sitting in front of your browser – go make these.)

Orange and Soy-Glazed Ribs from B.A., obviously

3 1/2 pounds baby back pork ribs, cut between bones into individual ribs (18–20 ribs)
1 cup soy sauce, divided (I used half soy sauce and half ponzu)
9 garlic cloves, minced, divided
5 tsp cumin seeds, divided
3 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, divided
3 Tbs vegetable oil
6 scallions (white and light-green parts separated from dark-green parts), finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice plus zest from 1 orange
3 Tbs honey
Zest from 1 lemon and 1 lime

Place ribs, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tsp. cumin seeds, and 1 tsp. red pepper flakes in a large pot; add water to cover completely. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cover with lid ajar; cook until ribs are tender, about 2 hours. Drain ribs; set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; add remaining 3 tsp. cumin seeds and 2 tsp. red pepper flakes. Toast lightly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. [Note: don’t toast longer than this or you basically create pepper air, which is like hot pepper spray. It makes you cough forever.] Add remaining 6 minced garlic cloves and white and pale-green scallions. Sauté until just soft, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup soy sauce, orange juice, and honey. Bring to a boil and cook until sauce is thick, 12–15 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place ribs on prepared sheet; brush with sauce. Broil until sauce bubbles, 2–3 minutes. Turn, brush with additional sauce, and broil until ribs are heated through and sauce is bubbling, 2–3 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with remaining sauce. Sprinkle dark-green scallions and citrus zest over.


Sweet potato black bean ravioli experiment December 4, 2011

I know the question that you’ve been asking yourself all weekend: now that her workload is slowing down  and her boyfriend is in the recording studio all weekend, what is K going to do with herself?

Since part of me wants to strive to become a poorer, less healthy, less nitpicky version of Martha Stewart, my weekend included a deep clean of the house (yes, Mom, I even cleaned the baseboards and the top of the fridge) – and a ton of cooking.

First off, I made these peanut butter pretzel fudge brownies (no adaptation from the original, except I used brownies from a delicious mix). Don’t worry – I’m taking them to the office. I don’t have the budget to buy a wardrobe for my 10-lb heavier self right now.

Then, I made some Cranberry Cornmeal Bread in my breadmaker. Yeah. You’re still jealous of my $5 machine. I know.

And then – because I did not want to clean anything else in my house – I decided to try my hand at making pasta.