Sunday, March 28, 2010

Leftover Love

I have a love-hate relationship with leftovers.  On the one hand, they’re great for a quick and easy meal.  On the other hand, they’re boring.  I hate eating things two days in a row.  Yesterday, I came up with a great recipe to use up the rest of the stuffed peppers I had from Friday’s dinner.  It was easy, just requiring a few more ingredients, and it enhanced the flavor of the peppers.  Read on for a great leftover solution for stuffed peppers! 

Spicy Stuffed Pepper Soup
Serves 4

2 leftover stuffed peppers
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 c. chicken stock
1 tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. cumin
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
½ c. dry white wine

Chop the peppers into bite sized pieces.  Place in a large pot with the chicken stock, tomatoes, tomato paste over medium heat.  Add the herbs and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, covered.  Add the white wine during the last 20 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dinner Date Stuffed Peppers

B and I decided to have a Friday night dinner date at home.  We are trying to save up money for a vacation this summer, so we’ve been cutting back on how much we go out (it’s been painful, we love to go out to eat!).  We decided to open up a bottle of wine and make a nice meal.  I offered to cook, after a long and stressful week, nothing relaxes me like cooking, for some reason I find it therapeutic.  I decided to make stuffed peppers since we haven’t had them in awhile and I hadn’t quite perfected my recipe yet.  I thought they turned out really well, and the wine, which was a gift, was fantastic.  Here’s my recipe for stuffed peppers, bon appétit! 

Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4

4 bell peppers
1 c. cooked rice
Olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ Vidalia onion, diced
½ lb. ground turkey
Salt and pepper
¼ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. oregano
1 can tomato sauce
1 c. shredded mozzarella
Parmesan cheese if desired

Preheat oven to 375.  Cut the tops off the peppers; remove all seeds and white membrane from the peppers and tops.  Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Sauté the garlic and onions.  When onions are translucent, add the ground turkey and spices and brown the meat.  Remove from heat, put the mixture in a bowl and add the rice and cheese.  Stuff each pepper with the filling and replace the tops.  Place in a glass baking dish and top with tomato sauce.  Cook at 375 for 35-40 minutes.  Top with fresh parmesan before serving.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Food to Love: Beef Short Ribs

Since B and I both love to experiment in the kitchen and create our own recipes, we came up with an idea to keep our recipes fresh.  Each time we go to the grocery store, we’ll purchase an ingredient or food that we’ve never cooked with before.  This is our first attempt at the new ingredient challenge, and we both were excited with the results.  The new ingredient?  Beef short ribs.  Though a popular cut of beef, neither of us has ever cooked it before.  I took the lead on this one (B was burned out from the pancake fiasco).  Read on for my recipe for beef short ribs.

JM’s Beef Short Ribs
Serves 2 generous portions

2 lbs beef short ribs
Olive oil
2 whole cloves garlic
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion
¾ c. carrots
2 c. beef broth
1 c. Cabernet Sauvignon (or other dry red wine)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. basil
Salt and pepper

Chop onion and carrots to bite size pieces.  Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven pot (or other heavy bottomed pot) generously with olive oil, heat on stove over medium heat.  Season beef on all sides with salt and pepper.  When oil is hot, add the beef and brown on all sides.  Remove beef, set aside.  Add whole garlic, onion, and carrots, sauté for a few minutes until onions become translucent.  Add the beef back to the pot along with the chopped garlic.  Add beef broth, wine, herbs, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Serve over mashed potatoes or rice. 

*Cook’s note:  The liquid should cover the short ribs; liquid ingredients may vary depending on the size of your pot.  If you have a large pot, add more liquid, keeping the 2 broth to 1 wine ratio.  When finished, there will be a lot of liquid left over, I like to ladle some of the broth over the beef and potatoes, you could also make a quick gravy by adding a flour/water mixture after you remove the beef and vegetables.  Add the flour/water mixture slowly, stirring often, over low heat until desired thickness is reached.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lessons from Pancakes

Hey everybody, this is B.  I like to think of myself as a pancake master; a characteristic I’m sure I inherited from my dad who has self-proclaimed himself as the maker of “the world’s greatest pancakes.”   Having said that, today was the first day I decided to distance myself from beginning with a basic pancake batter box of ingredients, and instead, start from scratch.  Let me first say that after my disastrous experience, I will never take that magical box for granted again.  Which brings me to my first lesson learned:  Never underestimate the importance of proper measuring when attempting to make a new recipe (unless you don’t mind making it several times before you get it right).   There’s a reason those boxes filled with predetermined measurements of specific ingredients were created.  They take out a lot of the guesswork.

Now lesson number two is a little more ego deflating.  As a person who prides himself on his ability to make small adaptations to recipes to make them my own, of course my preparation of pancake batter would be no different.  I’ve done it in the past when making pancakes, and most of the time, had a high rate of success.  But without having the basic pancake foundation (previously found in the box), my additional changes didn’t allow me to learn where I had gone wrong with the basic recipe.  So lesson number two learned:  Basics first, adaptation later.  Next time I make anything from scratch, my focus will be to get the initial ingredients correct before I start adding my secret ingredients.

These lessons certainly aren’t absolutes.  And I can pretty much guarantee next time I’m in the kitchen making something new, if I see something on the countertop I think might take what I’m making to the next level, I’ll probably throw it in.  But now that I’ve developed my own box of basic lessons, I don’t see too much harm in a little adaptation.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kitchen Essentials

Every week before I head to the grocery store, I take stock of my supplies.  There are certain items that I cannot live without, and generally form the basis of most of my culinary undertakings.  While everyone has their own list of items they can’t cook without, there are some items that I believe everyone should have on their list.
These are my kitchen essentials:
  • Good Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese (a block, please don’t by that fake crumbly stuff!)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Penne or Rotini and spaghetti (I think these are the most versatile pastas)
  • Garlic
  • Vidalia or Yellow onion
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Herbs: Basil, Oregano, Bay Leaves, Red Pepper Flakes, Sea Salt, Parsley
  • Pinto beans
  • Chicken stock
  • Dry White Wine (I prefer Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
What are your kitchen must haves?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Food for Thought

Today I came across a Wall Street Journal article, “Adding Zest to Recipes on Labels,” and had to share.  It’s about the process behind those “back of the package” recipes, which I’ve always wondered how they were created (seriously, whoever came up with Green Bean Casserole was a marketing genius).  The article offers a behind the scenes look at how companies create the recipes that feature their product (while inevitably encouraging the purchase of additional products) and how the process has changed as Americans have developed more sophisticated palates and demand more interesting ingredients:
“America's increasingly sophisticated palate, influenced by TV cooking shows, celebrity chefs and gourmet ingredients, presents a problem. Food companies need to figure out how to update their recipes to entice today's more ambitious cooks to use products that might otherwise sit on the shelf for months. The recipes must make cooks feel like they're doing more than just adding eggs to a mix, but not use so many ingredients to require a special trip to the store. If they get too trendy, they risk alienating their core consumers.”
I’ve never been one for back of the box recipes (with exception to the Nestle Tollhouse Cookie recipe), but the drastic improvements companies are making to their recipes may just encourage me to give it a try.  The Campbell’s Chicken with Sundried Tomatoes recipe cited in the article may just warrant a future taste test. 

Link to the article and the recipe: "Adding Zest to Recipes on Labels"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"B" and a Quick Dinner Post

Let me start off by introducing you to “B,” my live in boyfriend. We’re college sweethearts who moved to the city together after school to start the next big step of our lives together. B loves to cook, drink, and entertain as well, so expect to see the occasional post from him. We actually work quite well together in our small kitchen, though he is definitely a messy cook!

Now that you’ve been introduced to B, let’s discuss one of our nightly conundrums…what to have for dinner. B and I are both young careerists, and, like most working professionals, we need quick and somewhat healthy meals during the week. I try to be creative with my quick meals; no one likes to get stuck in the pasta-every-night rut. I’ll post quick recipes B and I come up with to keep us from getting bored, and hopefully it will give you some ideas for interesting weeknight meals. Here is my first quick meal post, enjoy!

Chicken & Apples
This quick chicken meal only took about 20 minutes, I suggest using thin chicken breasts to keep the cooking time short. This meal was inspired by things I already had sitting around, namely, an apple and a half an onion. Recipe serves 2.

2 thinly sliced chicken breasts
1 small apple
½ a small yellow onion
Flour, salt and pepper (just enough to coat the chicken)
Olive oil (two turns of the pan)
½ cup of dry white wine
1 tsp. rosemary
1 cup cooked white rice

Thinly slice the apple and onion. Dredge the chicken through flour (add a little salt and pepper). Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chicken, onion, apples, and the rosemary. Make sure to stir the apples and onions so they cook evenly. Chicken should cook for about 3 minutes each side. After chicken is cooked through, add the white wine and stir, let it cook down for a minute or two. Serve over white rice.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Welcome to DC Food Love

Welcome to DC Food Love! I’m excited to be starting my first blog about some of my favorite hobbies- cooking, eating, and entertaining! DC Food Love will share my experiences navigating the food world, from my experiments in the kitchen, to new things I’m trying- foods, wines, restaurants, kitchen gadgets- you name it. If it’s food related, I’ll post about it! I hope you enjoy following my experiences and will be entertained by my thoughts on wining, dining and entertaining! Thanks for reading!