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Thursday, July 30, 2009


Casey and I are making the trek up to Vermont tomorrow. We always drive since we take the pups with us, but it is quite a journey - usually about 12 hours.

Anyway, I probably won't be blogging while we're up there so no new posts for a couple weeks. When I come back I want to try making a raspberry pie, perfect my hummus recipe (I have made it about 4 times but am still trying to get the perfect flavor and texture), perfect my guac recipe and try out some homemade pizza dough.

In the meantime I will be eating fresh VT fruit and veggies, Ben and Jerry's (they sell factory "seconds" up there for cheap), maple creamies and homemade (not by me) goodies.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tomatoes + Avocados = Heaven

So pretty much all I have been eating lately is tomatoes and avocados. I am obsessed. Our tomato plant only produced about 8 tomatoes but they are so yummy and delicious. They're Romas and super meaty. They're also quite sweet and taste amazing just sliced and sprinkled lightly with salt.

My favorite avocado/tomato concotion is to take one tomato and one avocado and chop into decent sized cubes. Then I squeeze half a lime over them and season with salt and pepper before devouring with a fork. Once I added cilantro and, as much as I love cilantro, it just took away from the natural flavor of the tomatoes and avocados.


Thursday, July 23, 2009


Ikea's magnetic spice containers. My regular spice rack is completely full and I needed a way to get all my extra spices out of my cabinets (space is tight). I bought a bunch of these from Ikea and love them. I just stuck mine on the fridge but they also sell magnetic strips that you can mount on the wall.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast

This recipe is right up my alley. Artichokes = yum. I will definitely be making this dinner again. Note to self: buy meat mallet, using a hammer was dicey, at best.

Recipe adapted from Foodival. Serves 2 people.

2 chicken breasts
1/2 can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 4 oz container shredded parmesan, romano, and asiago cheeses
1 tsp dried parsley
a pinch of nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
1 tbsp butter, divided in half

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a small bowl combine chopped artichoke hearts, garlic, cheese, parsley, and nutmeg.

Lay out the chicken breasts and trim. Using a meat hammer, flatten the chicken breasts until very thin, approximately 1/4" thick. Spread cheese mixture, half in each chicken breast, staying about 1/4-1/2" away from the edges. Roll up the chicken breast tightly, trying to contain all the filling, and secure the seam with toothpicks. Repeat with the second chicken breast. (Note: I didn't even need toothpicks, I just placed the breasts, seam-side down in the dish and they held fine.)

Season the outside of the breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place on prepared baking dish, 2" deep, and top each with 1/2 tablespoon of breadcrumbs then 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until meat has reached 160 degrees. Let rest 5-10 minutes, serve.


Key Lime Pie

I LOVE key lime pie. It has always been one of my favorite desserts. So, when Pioneer Woman  posted a recipe for it I knew I had to try it. She used regular limes for hers b/c her local grocery stores don't have key limes. Luckily, I live in DC and found key limes easily.

This recipe will definitely be a staple for me to bring to barbecues, it was a cinch to make and a huge hit with everyone. The hardest part was squeezing the small key limes. PITA. But, worth it, in my opinion.

Update 7/6/10: I have made this pie 4 or 5 times now. It is always a huge crowd pleaser! I have tried using a garlic press to squeeze the key limes with, which works pretty well. Just be sure to wash your press thoroughly before using it on your limes.

18 graham crackers (the 4-section large pieces)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

1 heaping tbsp lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice
2 egg yolks
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

Lime zest, for garnish
1 cup cold, heavy cream
1-2 tbsp sugar

Crush crackers in a food processor or Ziploc bag. Pour them into a bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter. Press into a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes or until golden and set. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Mix lime zest, lime juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add in condensed milk and mix on high until smooth and thick. Pour mixture into crust and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour—more if possible.

Mix together cream and sugar on high until stiff. Top the pie with the whipped cream and grated lime zest. If you are making this in advance, you may want to wait until right before serving to top with whipped cream. Make sure that it stays refrigerated until ready to serve so the whipped cream doesn't melt.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Yet another PW recipe. Seriously, you can't go wrong with her. I made this cake for the Fourth of July and it was scrumptious. It was actually pretty easy to make, especially for my first time making a cake. Be warned that the cake is very heavy and sweet. I am usually more of a chocolate or pie kind of girl. This was delicious, don't get me wrong, but I could only eat one piece. One very, very small piece. Actually, that might be a good thing.

5/27/10 Update: I made this again for a BBQ and it was a huge hit! I wanted to remake it because my original pictures for this blog post were sub-par. This is really a great cake to make for summer events. Just be sure to keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.


1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
9 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 lb (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb strawberries (plus extra for garnish, if desired)

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.

 Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined. Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan (make sure the pan is at least 2" deep or it will overflow when cooking - I used an 8"x3" cake round).

 Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly and a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

 Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoons sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.

 Make icing: combine cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.

 Slice cake in half through the middle (use a long serrated knife). Spread strawberries evenly over each half of the cake (cut sides up), pouring on all the juices from the strawberry. Place cake halves into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.

 Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining 1/3 cup around the sides.

 Leave plain OR garnish with strawberry halves.

 IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!

  • You definitely need a deep cake pan. The one I used was 3" deep and the cake came up pretty high in the pan.
  • Freezing the icing and cake makes it much easier to ice. But, don't worry if not all the strawberries are completely covered. The cake looks kind of nice with a little hint of them showing through.
  • The cake gets very brown on the edges so don't worry. The first time I made this I took the cake out 10 minutes early because I was afraid it might burn on the top. The second time I cooked it for 45 minutes and it was perfect.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Baked Lemon Pasta

Another Pioneer Woman recipe. This was light tasting and yummy, great for spring and summer. It would also be good served with chicken.

1 lb thin spaghetti
4 tbsp butter (I used light butter)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups sour cream (I used light)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste if desired
Plenty of grated Parmesan cheese
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
Extra lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.
In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over low heat. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat. Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary.
Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes (don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out).
When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top. Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley. Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end.

Mine didn't get nice and browned on the top like I would have liked. I am still experimenting with my oven but maybe broiling it for a few minutes would do the trick.

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Crate and Barrel

I love Crate and Barrel (affectionately known to me as C&B). I also hate them. I hate them for sending me a C&B Best Buys catalog every month. I hate them because I inevitably find eleventy billion things that I want. I need. And I hate them because they are not giving these things to me for free. (Note to self: if I get desperate enough I may want to consider a part time job there, if only for the employee discount). But, I also love them. Because of things like this: Belmont Kitchen Island

Um, okay. Really, I have to have this. It is a matter of necessity. I have a small kitchen, there is zero space left for anything else in the cabinets. This is a problem since I have about fifty-three thousand kitchen items that I need. It is a matter of survival. You could almost say life and death. Almost.

But, look! It has wooden legs, if you prefer...

Or, rolling wheels! A decent shelving area to store more crap that I need. Two extra drawers (for those C&B green napkins that I just have to have - they match my kitchen wall color. Yes, yes, I already have napkins but these are for spring/summer. Get with the program). Ooh, also towel racks that I could probably hang something creative from.

Extra countertop space with a leaf for even more. I do need extra countertop space b/c I have one appliance that does not have a home on the countertop. It would be ever so grateful to have a home.

Alright, I really think this is a no-brainer. I am planning myself a "house warming party" for, oh, this weekend, and registering for this. That way I will get the 10% complete-your-registry discount. You will soon be mine, Belmont Kitchen Island.
Seriously, C&B, I deserve some royalties for this post. May I suggest, a free island?


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

I have had this really strange fascination with brussels sprouts recently. I was seeing them all over the cooking blog world and I had never, ever tasted them before. I was under the assumption that they have a bad rap, mainly because people steam/boil/etc them to death and they turn into little slimy balls of grossness.

But, it made sense to me that flash frying them or roasting them would be the key to a tasty sprout. So, I played around with them a couple different times and found a concoction that was quite delicious last night (this picture is actually from the first time I tried them).

Brussels sprouts
Olive oil
Garlic, minced
Seasoning salt (I like Lawry's)
Dried chili pepper flakes
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cut off the bottom of each Brussels sprouts (about a quarter inch). Remove and discard the outer leaves. Continue to remove the leaves, setting them aside, until you reach the heart of the sprout. Cut the hearts in half.

Heat the oil on medium heat and add the minced garlic. Saute the garlic until it is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add the leaves and halved hearts of the sprouts and mix. Season with salt and chili pepper flakes. Let cook 4-5 minutes, mixing occasionally. Turn the sprouts over with a pair of tongs and let cook another 4-5 minutes until the edges are slightly browned and caramelized.

Add freshly squeezed lemon juice, mix, and serve.


Szechuan Noodles

This recipe is from Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa). The peanut ginger sauce has a lot of ingredients but most of them are things I typically have on hand. I definitely recommend adding in extra veggies in here based on your preference (try mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots, etc).

6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste, found in the international food aisle)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup good soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)

Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, chili oil, sesame oil, and ground peppers. Puree the sauce.

Add a splash of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, place it in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with 3/4 of the sauce.

Add the red and yellow bell peppers and scallions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the pasta.

- This makes a ton of sauce, next time I would probably halve the sauce recipe.
- I didn't have any chili oil so I used hot sesame oil instead.
- I used whole wheat pasta, which tasted great with this sauce.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Coming soon...

I am behind on blogging. I made a lot of yummy stuff over the 4th of July weekend.

Coming up is:
Szechuan Noodles
Key Lime Pie
Strawberry Shortcake

Also, I think we finally figured out the problem with the backsplash and it should be finished by this weekend. No really. I am serious this time.
C + C Marriage Factory: July 2009

C + C Marriage Factory