Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wicked mac and cheese: a recipe

Cheddary mac and cheese, with sun-dried tomatoes, bacon and other good stuff
I read recently that a surefire way to lose unwanted pounds and feel a bit better is to eliminate rice and pasta from your diet.

No ... more ... PASTA?

Well, spare tire, unless hell freezes over, looks like you're here to stay.

I realize this is the second pasta dish I'm highlighting this week but sometimes that's just the way it goes. There will be something sweet soon, I promise.

And you can't be too upset with mac and cheese, really. As I'm fond of saying, this is one of those don't-waste-it-on-picky-children dishes, an adult mac and cheese, loaded with all sorts of colored, non-bland foods that today's kids bitch about: ham, bacon, green onion, sun-dried tomatoes. Oh yeah, and stinky blue cheese.

Simply put: wicked awesome.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mediterranean tuna pasta: a recipe

Mediterranean tuna pasta
Here's a super-quick way to get a huge dose of your weekly Omega-3s!

A few weeks ago I signed up to be a recipe tester for Food52's weekly community picks. It's a cool concept: the editors pick a theme (e.g., chocolate and spice, celery, canned fish) and readers submit their original recipes that revolve around that theme. Finalists are chosen by the editors, who then ask readers to test those finalist recipes. Each recipe tester submits her/his notes about the dish, which are then featured on the page for that recipe, along with the author's notes.

It was a fun way to try out a new recipe and be able to share my thoughts with a cooking community, in only about 100 words, rather than a whole blog post.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sausage and spinach rice bowl: a recipe

Sausage and spinach rice bowl
I used to live in Southern California. The famed "OC", in fact -- although no one called it that except the fools on that TV show.

One of my favorite things about living there was that you could get healthy fast food. Clearly I'm not talking about In-N-Out (which I used to call "In, Wait Around for a Wicked Long Time, N Then Out"). There was a cool fresh Tex-Mex place called La Salsa (I think), and of course the almighty Wahoo's, home of the fish taco.

(I still have never eaten a fish taco. The combination just scared me too much.)

Besides fish tacos, Wahoo's made these fast and yummy rice bowls. Ever since we moved away (can it be nearly 10 years? Good lord, I'm getting older faster), I've made my own version of those rice bowls for a fast lunch or dinner. Put some warm cooked rice in a bowl, add some seasoned grilled chicken (black beans optional) and top it off with a couple of big spoonfuls of pico de gallo. Delish.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

White chocolate cherry crispy rice treats: a recipe

White chocolate and cherry crispy rice treats
Ah, rice crispy treats -- who doesn't love them?

Seriously, I mean who? Can you even imagine anyone saying, "You know, I really can't stand those rice crispy treats. They're just so nasty."

See? You can't. No one would say that.

Rice crispy treats are wonderful in their simplicity, particularly the no-bake aspect. Melting, yes, but, baking? No.

In fact, I'm not even going to insult your intelligence by including my usual how-to photos as part of this recipe. Really, do you need me to show you how to melt butter? I didn't think so.

What's great about this recipe from Cook's Country is that it is all about grown-up rice crispy treats, with a more sophisticated flavor than your childhood favorite. The addition of white chocolate and dried cherries give them that not-to-be-wasted-on-fussy-children, enjoy-with-a-cup-of-coffee-not-milk lagniappe.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cabbage, ham and mushroom galette: a recipe

Cabbage, ham and mushroom galette with horseradish cream
Not a big fan of cabbage? Neither am I.

For years, my association with cabbage has been the overcooked corned beef and cabbage dinner served in bulk at the annual St. Patrick's Day dinner and fete that our local church held (and that my parents forced me attend, even as a sullen teenager) while I was growing up.

I'm not sure which was worse, the soggy brown cabbage or the band of non-Irish locals in plaid pants playing "Danny Boy". (I believe the pipes were calling those pants back home, stat.)

Yeah, you would have bad cabbage flashbacks, too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gingerbread scones: a recipe

Gingerbread scones
Recently, I've been hearing a lot of the following:

"I don't get Pinterest."

Frankly, I don't get what's not to get. So here it is, in a nutshell, from the Ninj:

Pinterest = visual

That is, it's simply a visual bookmarking tool. If you've used delicious (I guess they got rid of the periods when they went all corporate), you've pretty much already been Pinteresting -- you bookmark interesting items to your account (pins) and organize them by give them tags (boards).

Now, if you don't know what the hell delicious is, all is not lost. You've probably been Pinteresting for years, too. Do you have a folder somewhere called "dream house ideas" or "recipes" with all sorts of ripped out magazine pages in it? Congratulations, that's old-school Pinterest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fruity baked oatmeal: a recipe

Fruity baked oatmeal

It's hard enough pulling something together every morning just for me and Mr. Ninj (thank goodness the Ninjette and Ninjino are pleased as punch to have oatmeal and dog food every single morning), but then you throw in some houseguests and it's enough to send even The Ninj into a tizzy.

Which is why I love breakfast casseroles. My favorites are the ones that you can assemble the night before and then pop into the oven when you wake up. But straightforward recipes with simple ingredients, like this fruity one, are also fine by me, as they take very little time to prepare.

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest; it comes from Inspired Taste but they adapted it from 101 Cookbooks. I've adapted it a bit further (chocolate chips? gross), so it's definitely flexible and customizable.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

No-Knead Bread and Slow-Roasted Tomato Bruschetta

Slow-roasted tomato bruschetta, on homemade no-knead bread
It's challenge time again!

I'm participating in the Cook It! 2012 technique challenge that Caroline of Grow It Cook It Can It threw down in January. The concept is simple: Caroline resolved to try out some I've-always-wanted-to-do-that cooking techniques and decided to ask us to play along at home. She issues the monthly challenge (January was homemade pasta) and we can then try out the technique, using whatever method we like, incorporate it into a recipe and blog about it.

That's how my orrechiette Bolognese was born a few weeks ago.

The February challenge Caroline issued was making your own bread. Sweet! Two years ago I discovered the super-easy "bread in 5 minutes a day" technique popularized by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, but I decided to try a different method this time.

I gave Jim Lahey's no-knead bread a try.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bacon oatmeal cookies: a recipe

Bacon oatmeal cookies
Yep, bacon cookies.

Read it again: Bacon. Cookies.

Your eyes are not deceiving you.

Now check outside to make sure this isn't the rapture or anything, because these cookies are purt-near cookie perfection. If you thought the salted oatmeal cookies were wicked, hold on to your hat.

In the words of Mr. Ninj, "These cookies are an EVENT!"

Regular readers know that it tends to be pork-o-palooza around here (love me some sausage!), so of course I've been thrilled to see bacon showing up as the new new thing in many of the recipe magazines. Bacon martinis, bacon lollipops, bacon ice cream ... why not bacon cookies?

As with the salted oatmeal cookies, don't waste these on children (if you give one to a child and s/he says, "Eeew, raisins!" or anything like that, I will personally travel to your house to smack you). These are grown-up treats, with that oh-so-hard-to-attain balance of sweet and savory, soft and crunchy.