Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Yes. I titled this Sliders. As in yum. Not as in the desperate Indian's mascot Slider who is failing at doing anything to help the Indian's win.  Well, the team isn't helping too much either.  Anyway, I wanted to make EVERY burger they had in Food Network Magazine, but my parent's tiny little stomachs wouldn't be able to handle it. (And when I say tiny, I mean tiny; at dinner, I eat more than the two of them combined)  So I settled for three different baby sliders:
This is just the beginning of the burgers (the best part--the meat, obviously--is yet to come). The slider on the left, the Bistro Burger, is dressed with dijon mustard, a frisee salad, which includes frisee lettuce, sliced shallots, oil, dijon mustard, and bacon drippings.  The tiny patty was eventually topped with crispy bacon and a fried egg.  The one in the middle, the Italian Burger, begins with gorgonzola cheese,  then arugula lettuce with balsamic vinaigrette is between that and the patty.  Then the meat is topped with thin sliced salami (more meat, what else?), and baby bella mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and Italian seasonings.  Lastly, the burger on the right was to become a garden burger.  It begins with a slice of tomato topped with red leaf lettuce then is topped with avocado and alfalfa sprouts tossed in a green goddess dressing (a mayonaise, basil, lemon and chives mixture).
The dinner resulted in:
They ended up being not as messy as they look right here!  However, I must admit, it was still too much food for my parents.  I'll save the sides for another day! :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Green Beans and a Poached Egg

So, with leftover lemon-hazelnut pesto, I had to find a way to use it AND the green beans that were a day away from going bad in my fridge.  So I used a variation of this recipe in order to "kill two birds with one stone" (as you can tell, I HATE wasting food).  So, this started with the first challenge: I've never poached an egg. Can you believe it? I've cooked dozens of incredibly complicated recipes, but never even poached an egg!  And I'll let you in on a little secret.  I was nervous.  For something my 87-year-old grandpa does everyday. I started with boiling some water, then cracking an egg into a little ramekin.  Then, with the bottom of the ramekin in the water, I poured the egg in and let the white whiten.  I kept it in there for approximately four minutes:
While this was happening, I cooked my green beans in the leftover pesto:
Then look how beautiful the egg turned out!
And the beans:
And, lastly, the finished product:
The egg dripping over the beans was a wonderful texture.  However, if I were to make this again (which I would-I mean, protein and veggies? My two favorite food groups!), I wouldn't use such a lemon-flavored pesto.  It doesn't go well with the egg; the acidity was too much for the subtle buttery flavor of the yolk.  But I'm sure a regular pesto would be fantastic. Be sure to finish by adding some freshly cracked pepper on the egg-it's the only way to have it!

Stuffed 8-ball Zucchini

While at the farmer's market on Saturday, I finished selling my granola and then made my "rounds" at the end of the day.   I complimented a nice lady on the 8-ball zucchini she was selling-they were beautiful!  Not only did she say thank you, but she gave me four! So I tried to do my best to make the free food worth it.  I used this recipe and it proved only...okay. I guess things don't always turn out like the picture!  I started by scooping out the flesh at and sautéing it:
Then I added cooked rice, chopped basil, sun-dried tomatoes that had been soaked in hot water and chopped, pine nuts, minced garlic and kalamata olives:
After sauteing the mixture, I stuffed it into the zucchini (there was a fair amount left over) and baked it at 400 for 20 minutes:
I didn't like this recipe because the sauteed mixture was incredibly watery and even after 20 minutes in the oven, the shells felt uncooked and flavorless.  There was not enough garlic flavor or salt from the olives and tomatoes.  So, if you do feel the desire to make (and fix) this recipe, I would add some more flavor of your own, drain the mixture, and roast for TWICE as long.  It was definitely an experience and one worth learning from!
*The key to being efficient is to make sure that your ingredients are in the state that they are stated in the ingredient list! If it asks for cooked rice, be sure to cook your rice before you start anything else in the recipe :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stars and Stripes: Red, White and Blue Mini Pies

Every American wants treats on the anniversary of the day our country declared independence.  So why not support our country's colors to show your true spirit? Here are some cream pies I made from this recipe from willow bird baking blog.  I did not make the crust from scratch, I have to admit, but it was a very nice recipe that didn't take too long!  First I baked the pre-made crusts in little cupcake tins:
    They were really tiny!  
Then I made the cream filling, which didn't take too long, just be sure to sift your flour, as little bumps of flour form once it hits the liquid.  Then I placed the diced fruit on top:

Lastly, I made the fruit glaze, a separate one for each fruit.  I poured it on top and it was surprisingly thick, colorful and very sweet.  

It was a perfect 4th of July treat to go with fireworks (and a thunderstorm)!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rosemary Lemon Marlin with Roasted Redskin Potatoes and Fennel Sautee

Dinner is probably my favorite meal to cook.  There are so many options, and you can totally justify spending tons of time and energy on it...or spending very little, depending on the night.  Tonight my father and I had loads of inspiration, so we created this little masterpiece:
We kinda winged it (which I personally think is the best way to go), but here are what I would say are the recipes:
Grilled Lemon-Rosemary Marlin:
Preheat your grill to about 350* F and make sure to rub olive oil on the grills (any fish, even a steak-y fish like marlin, is flaky and should be ensured a clean removal from the grill).  Season one side of the fish with fresh minced rosemary leaves, lemon zest, salt, and pepper, then lay face down on the grill.  Once all your filets are down, season the other side.  Let grill for roughly 3 minutes, then flip.  Once the filets are cooked all the way through, take off the grill and douse in lemon juice, which keeps the fish light and flaky.  (If you want typical grill marks, rotate the fish from the 10:00 to the 2:00 position halfway through grilling the one side). Serve with a few rosemary leaves and lemon zest on top for garnish.
Fennel and Leek Sautee:
Chop the vegetables in 1 inch thickness, having more fennel than leeks as it gives the stronger anise flavor.  Put in a sautee pan with tarragon vinegar and olive oil.  Season with minced cilantro, minced tarragon leaves, salt and pepper.  Bring liquids to a boil then simmer for roughly two minutes.  Add a pinch of sugar.  When most of the liquid is gone, about 10 minutes later, turn up the heat to caramelize the vegetables until you deem ready to serve.
Roasted Potatoes with Hazelnut Pesto:
Quarter redskin potatoes and toss in a bowl with the juice and zest of a lemon, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Spread out on a roasting pan and roast at 425* for 30 minutes.  When you put in the potatoes, put in the hazelnuts as well and roast for 10 minutes, flipping (or rolling) halfway through.  While the hazelnuts are roasting, put garlic cloves, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano leaves, mint leaves and basil leaves in a food process.  Shell the roasted hazelnuts, add to the food processor and process all.  If it seems too thick, add oil or lemon juice.  If it is too watery, add more hazelnuts.  Take potatoes out of the oven and top them with the pesto.
I apologize for the lack of specificity in this recipe.  I know there are no measurements, but that's why they say "baking is a science, cooking is an art."  Do what feels right to you and go with the flow!  If you mess up, its all a part of the experience.  My dad and I made this for ourselves and my mother, so I would recommend this for a small weekend or weeknight meal with the family. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I know the club will not regularly do a lunch meal for its members, however, sometimes lunch food can be the best kind!  And you never know, maybe one Saturday we will substitute a co-op dinner with lunch.  With both my parents working, I have to fend for myself for lunch, which gives me the best opportunity to experiment!  (But, I am a creature of habit, so I tend to have very similar things each day)  Here are a few of the lunches I have prepared for myself, and hopefully everyone can learn from them!
Here is a picture of my salad. They are so easy to make and you have UNLIMITED amounts of vegetables (and other ingredients!) to choose from.  I have used this summer cucumbers, beets, chick peas, artichokes, peppers, onions, tomatoes, dates, raisins, dried apricots, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and celery, just to name a few. THEN! You can choose from tons of dressings-I personally just like vinegar, which brings out the natural flavor of the veggies- tons of types of meat to go on top (salmon, skirt steak, grilled chicken, etc.) AND tons of lettuce (I generally like spinach, but you could go with bib lettuce (a sweeter flavor) red leaf (a little more bitter) iceberg, and many more!
Here are cut up dates with cashews on top of cottage cheese.  I would recommend cottage cheese with any type of trail mix.  It is a lean protein that requires an acquired taste, but I feel that it "skinnies" up any fruit-nut combo that I like (and its delicious!)
Okay, soup from a can-boring right? NO!  You can totally call yourself a chef with a few additions to canned soup.  This is split pea, so I added mint, a flavor which is traditionally paired with peas, and a few tortilla chips to add some textures.  I also often add diced mushrooms, spinach, and oregano to my tomato soup.  This spices it up quite a bit.

This is what I call the everything sandwich.  I'm sure you can see why.  This sandwich had garlic hummus on toasted 7-grain bread with spinach, sliced tomatoes, bread-and-butter pickles, sliced turkey, smoked salmon and a fried egg right on top.  It was also the MESSIEST sandwich I've ever eaten!  Being gluten intolerant, I don't have much practice eating a sandwich anyway-but the fried egg and the slippery smoked salmon definitely didn't help. (Tip: when adding a fried egg, make sure most things are warm-it tends to lose flavor as it cools)
As always, I'll leave you with something a little sweet.  This is SO simple-vanilla greek yogurt topped with sliced bananas and some of my homemade granola (which the co-op will hopefully be selling in the fall!). As you can tell, I couldn't resist and took a few bites before I took the photo!
Enjoy! Keep cooking!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When the Moon Hits Your Eye...

Feeding 20 plus people can always pose a bit of a challenge, however, if you're going to take on this feat of cooking, pizza is the way to do it.  Its fast, simple, and everyone loves it.  My family has always been a big fan of the Boboli pizzas-- whenever I was in grade school and my brother and I had a million activities going on, we'd grab a slice of Boboli and head out to the next thing on our list.  However, we are all "growed up" now and I decided to share this delicious memory with my extended family on our vacation in the Outer Banks.  We had 16 people eating the pizza so we made 4 big pies and 4 little.  Here are all of our ingredients:
The trick is to make the big ones safe kind (the usual cheese, pepperoni, etc.) and experiment with the little--until next time of course!  So here are the ones we made:

The two big ones here are cheese, with a thin crust and pepperoni and the little ones are green pizza (pesto, mushrooms and parmesean) and another cheese (just to be safe-we had a few kids to feed)
The big: Broccoli and cheddar, and half-pepperoni, half-meat-lovers
The little: White pizza (shrimp, alfredo sauce and parmesan cheese) on a wheat crust, and apple chicken pizza (Fuji, a crisp apple that will hold up in the oven, cubed, pre-cooked rotisserie chicken breast and Feta cheese)
We baked two big and two small at the same time as to maximize efficiency, which I would recommend, however, make sure you keep the light in the oven on because they WILL cook at separate paces given the differing sizes and toppings. (P.S. Feta never looks melted, but it is!)
Surprisingly, all was inhaled by my family except there was leftover cheese pizza! I guess you just have to have faith in the adventurous eaters.  Here are a few of the finished products:
  apple chicken and cheese
 green and white pizzas
It was such a simple dinner and we had such a blast making it! Even my brother and mother, whose skills in the kitchen are...let's just say...unmatched by other aspects of their life, did their part.  And the opportunities are endless! I didn't even try a hawaiian pizza or a taco pizza or a breakfast pizza...and the list goes on and on...and on. So to leave you with something sweet to remember, here is our dessert pizza, inspired by the one and only Peirce dining hall: