……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

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.



Pasta Sauce with Chickpeas September 24, 2011

Last week, all my meals were based around the deliciou carnitas meat I defrosted (I promise to share that recipe at some point in the future): burritos, omlettes with carnitas, naked burritos, carnitas salad, etc. It was delicious.

This week, I’m ready to have a vegetarian (well, almost vegetarian) week. And yes, as a single girl with a full time job, I cook a full recipe of something over the weekend, and nosh on it all the way through the work week. There is NO WAY I am going to start using those “cooking for one” recipes; what’s the fun of cooking if you don’t get no-effort leftover dinners later?

So, on to a very easy recipe for pasta sauce with chickpeas. This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen with really only one change: I added squash to the pureed chickpea mixture so I could (a) sneak in some extra vegetables without even noticing (b) get rid of some of the last of the squash and (c) get the sauce the added moisture it needed without just having to add in pasta water.

Pasta Sauce with Chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, or 2 cups freshly cooked chickpeas [If you haven’t tried using dried chickpeas, this isn’t the recipe to start with…but you do need to start. They are delicious in a way that canned chickpeas can never be.]
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
(If you’re dying to use squash like I did, throw in some here)
Olive oil
1/2 cup pancetta – toss in some extra herbs if you’re excluding to make the dish vegetarian [I cheated and used just some proscuitto since I didn’t have pancetta]
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
Lots of chile flakes
1 can diced tomatoes
10-15 basil leaves
Salt and parmesan cheese to taste

Reserve 1/3 cup chickpeas. Throw the rest in the food processor or blender along with the stock (and squash, if you’re using that). Set aside.

In a medium pot, cook the pancetta with the olive oil, then put in the  onion and garlic, until everything gets translucent and fragrant. Then, add in the tomatoes, chickpea puree, and basil, cooking for about 20 minutes. When you’re done, toss in the chickpeas and some cheese, and put it on top of pasta. Mmmmmm.


End of Summer Rice September 12, 2011

Here in Philadelphia, it does not feel like summer has ended. It is muggy and hot and humid and muggy and humid. Yuck.

But on the bright side, my squash plant is finally showing signs of dying, so I’m delighting in what I finally know are the last squashes of summer. To celebrate, I’ve thrown together a nice rice dish that I served with sausage.

[Sorry, no photo. I packed it all up into little containers for my lunch this week before I snapped its picture.]

End of Summer Rice adapted from B.A. 

1 bell pepper, diced
2 small-medium squashes, diced
1 onion, diced
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
3 cups broth – or 1/4 cup lemon juice and 2 3/4 cups water, if you’re, say, out of broth
Cayenne pepper to taste

Cook the diced veggies in olive oil, stirring frequently, until onions begin to become translucent and all have softened. Then, add rice and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Dump in your liquid and spices, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until water has been absorbed.

Healthy, simple, and delicious with some nice spicy Italian sausage on top.


Summer Squash Soup, Two Ways August 6, 2011

When I was small, my parents had an expansive garden. We grew multiple types of green beans, squash, melons, peas, tomatoes, and a bajillion other things. The garden was so large that my punishment for doing really stupid things was weeding the entire thing alone.

My dad’s terraced handiwork and hours pouring over seed catalogs in the winter meant that we were incredibly well-fed with homegrown goodness. And, at least one summer, it meant that our kitchen was unbearably overrun with zucchini. At one point, the zucchini got so big that my sister and I wrapped two up in blankets and teased my mother that they were going to replace any other dolls we had.

Suffice it to say, for several years, I literally could not each zucchini or summer squash. Could not, could not, could not eat it.

So, I’m not exactly positive what made me decide to plant so much squash in my little raised planter bed in my little yard. [Yes, that’s a photo of my yard. And, you know what, I can’t see my raised planter either. That’s how big those plants are.]

So, what do you do when you need to get rid of pounds and pounds of squash, but don’t feel like eating it for breakfast?

Squash soup, two kinds: Squash soup with dill and Summer squash-corn soup. Note that these are really good side dish soups, not great main dish soups.

Then put everything you can’t eat in the freezer for later.

Summer squash-corn soup

1 lb. summer squash, cut in half, then into 1/2 in slices
2 cups corn
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbs. olive oil
2.5 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
Chili powder
Red pepper flakes

In a heavy pot, combine corn, squash, onion, oil and garlic. Saute all together for 3 to 5 minutes, or until squash begins to soften and onion begins to become translucent. Add spices to taste for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add broth and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Let soup cool, then puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Garnish soup with thin squash slices, and spice with salt and pepper to taste.

Squash soup with dill

1/2 Tbs. butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
Salt, pepper, and dill
2.25 lbs. summer squash, cut in half, then into 1/2 in. slices
2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1-2 Tbs. olive oil

Melt butter, then cook onion and half the garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add squash and cook for 3-5 more minutes. Add dill and broth. Bring to broth, then reduce to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until squash is tender.

Let soup cool, then puree soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.


Ginger Rice July 19, 2011

Not everyone has this problem: the ginger root in your crisper drawer has gotten just a tad old and if you don’t hurry up and use it, you’re going to lose it. (I’m sure other people have similar issues, but probably just inserting a food other than “ginger” into that sentence. If you have this problem with ice cream, just call me up – I will make sure it doesn’t have to be tossed.)

Anyhow, I have dilemmas about what to do with spare ginger root periodically, and have recently found a solution that is pretty well near perfect: ginger rice. This dish has a great deal of flavor (ginger flavor, if you’re curious), but isn’t so weird that it doesn’t go with a lot of other foods and isn’t so difficult that it requires me to go get more ingredients. It’s a perfect pantry recipe. Beware that it is very ginger-y, so if you don’t like the fresh stuff, don’t make it.

Ginger Rice (which goes terribly well with Apricot Chicken and, as leftovers, in Chicken Rice Bowls and Chicken with Eggs)

1 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup rice (preferably basmati)
1.5 cups stock or broth (chicken, turkey, and vegetable stock all work well)
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan, and then add everything else. Bring to a boil, then cook for about 12 minutes more or until water is absorbed. Fluff rice with a fork and serve.


Summer Crostini – Four Variations July 13, 2011

The way to trick people into eating whatever weird flavor combination you feel like is to serve everything in small pieces, hence why I love tasting dishes. It’s also the reason that I currently love crostini.

At a recent brunch, I got to make 4 different kinds – both sweeter and more savory, which made for a nice brunch combo.

People ate all of them.

I’d recommend these at all hours. (Also, the basic ingredients needed are portable enough you can assemble and eat them at work.) Put some together immediately.

These ingredient recipes are written as they are assembled, from bottom to top.

Peach and Proscuitto Crostini

Sliced baguette
Ripe peach slices
Strips of prosciutto (stays on best when wrapped around the peach slice)
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of honey

Thyme Apple Crostini

Sliced whole wheat or rye baguette/small pieces of bread
Gruyere (preferably melted on top of the bread in the broiler)
Fresh thyme leaves
Apple slices

Goat Cheese and Tomato Crostini

Sliced baguette
Goat cheese (do not buy the pre-crumbled kind – you need to be able to spread this)
Fresh basil leaves
Sliced sundried tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper

Pear Walnut Crostini

Sliced whole wheat baguette
Pear slices
Large walnut pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of honey


Grilled Kebabs (Veg and Otherwise) June 1, 2011

This past Monday we rang in the new season with a small grill party in our tiny Brooklyn backyard, complete with wine, s’mores, and cheese puffs. Thanks to my awesome roommate Phil who took over the grilling part (I need to learn how to do this myself soon), I now have a delicious and easy kebab recipe to share with you all.  Hopefully, this grilling thing can turn into a regular occurrence… I have big plans for a huge bag of red/orange peppers in my fridge. (Salsa? Bell pepper jam?)  This week off is starting to feel productive already– made a healthful dinner, installed an air conditioner… maybe I’ll even organize that 12-inch pile of art deco readings sitting by my bed (!)

Grilled Kebabs:

1 package bamboo skewers

6 shallots, peeled and halved

2 orange bell peppers, chopped into chunky 2-inch pieces

1 package of whole white mushrooms, w/ dirt patted off

1 medium onion, chopped into chunky, 2-inch pieces

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 zucchini, chopped into circular or half-circular pieces

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 bottle store-bought marinade of your choosing (We used something that had a cowboy on the label, and it was mostly mustard-based. I wasn’t in charge of the chicken, so I probably would have made something from stuff lying around if it was just me, but it’s a holiday. Store-bought is totally fine and way easier.)

[This makes enough for 5 people to eat more than comfortably and still have room for s’mores.]

If you have the time and inclination, prepare the chicken the night before and let it marinate, but if not, just prep it about 1-2 hours before you grill. Cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch pieces and place in a tupperware. Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the kebabs. Prep all the veggies, soak the bamboo skewers in a bowl of water for 5 minutes, and then start assembling the kebabs by layering the veggies and chicken on each skewer.  We made some that were just veggies for those of us not into meat. Grill for about 10-12 minutes on either side (this varies depending on your grill temperature, so rely on whether things look cooked or blackened). Serve immediately. Best if eaten outside in the shade with some PBR while perusing back issues of Vanity Fair.