Saturday, May 31, 2008

My wife can cook - part 2

This is a nice warm pasta salad with bowtie pasta, feta cheese, sautéed garbanzo beans, and tomatoes. She even took my lead and added some fresh rhubarb for a tart crunch. Nice light vegetarian meal.

Friday, May 30, 2008

My wife can cook

When she has time she can follow a recipe pretty well. Here is a chicken breast with a mushroom and white wine sauce. Brown rice, asparagus and some of my freshly made whole wheat onion sourdough bread accompanied the meal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tarragon Chicken and Pea Penne

Nothing says spring like fresh peas. Unfortunately I don't have fresh peas but these organic frozen peas sure were sweet. I made a quick and dirty dinner with whole wheat penne pasta. I cooked up some onions and garlic in olive oil, added some chopped chicken breast to it. Once that was almost cooked through in went a bunch of frozen peas. I made a sauce using a couple tablespoons of flour mixed with a cup or so of skim milk. This was added to the chicken and peas along with a half cup of fresh chopped tarragon from the garden. The cooked pasta was tossed with this mixture and topped with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. It was YUMMY.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Whole Wheat Onion Sourdough

I felt in the mood to bake some bread. This was very similar to the whole wheat onion sourdough no-knead bread I made last fall. The proportions were probably a little bit different. It rose better this time and came out with a very nice texture. The crust was PERFECT baked in my Le Creuset iron pot. I split it quite deeply right down the middle just before baking and it sprang open just beautifully.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rhubarb salad?

You bet! This salad turned out so good. Actually it has a lot more than rhubarb in it, but that is the secret ingredient that makes this dish very interesting. I started by chopping two large stalks of freshly picked rhubarb. In went one small red onion diced along with about a cup of chopped fresh asparagus. About 1.5 cups of cooked leftover brown rice was tossed in along with one can of drained and rinsed great northern beans. The whole shebang was flavored with the juice of one lime and half a lemon, salt and pepper to taste (a lot of pepper) and a good dose (~3 tbsp) of extra virgin olive oil. I love the tanginess and texture of the rhubarb pieces as you crunch down on them.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Barbie Bonanza

The weather was perfect this Memorial Day weekend for firing up the grill. We had some friends over last night to share in the BBQ bonanza. On the menu was a kalamata olive and walnut stuffed pork tenderloin, Jamaican jerk chicken kabobs, classic burgers on the grill, grilled asparagus, grilled vidalia onions and grilled potatoes.

First let's talk pork. I started by brining the whole pork loin in a mixture of salt, sugar, whole bay leaves, whole cardamon, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano and garlic. This was brined for about 3 hours. The pork was then cut open using a roll-cut technique to make a large flat open piece about 1/2 inch think. This was smeared with the kalamata olive and walnut stuffing.

Kalamata Olive and Walnut Stuffing

3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp juice from olives
Juice from half a lemon
3/4 cup walnuts
a handful of cilantro
black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

All the ingredients were blended finely in a food processor.

After the filling was spread evenly over the pork it was rolled up back into a tenderloin shape and tied securely with butcher's twine. This was rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper before grilling.

Now for the chicken. I was inspired by Teresa from Running to Eat. This dish was so simple. I just made a Jamaican jerk inspired marinade and let the chicken soak for a couple hours. These were skewered and thrown on the BBQ.

Jamaican Jerk marinade

Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp freshly ground allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp freshly ground ginger
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice of one small orange
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tsp habanero hot sauce

The pork was grilled over a medium flame turning every so often until the inner temperature reached 165 F. It was taken off the fire and allowed to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

We cooked some burgers for the kids. These are simply flavored with seasoned salt. Asparagus got a quick grill after being tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.

I just LOVE whole onions grilled slow over a fire. These vidalias already started out pretty sweet. They were almost like candy after grilling. The pork was stuffed perfectly.

And here's a plate all assembled.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Marathon Meal

Nothing fancy tonight. Just fueling up to run 26.2 miles tomorrow morning. Whole wheat pasta with a mushroom tomato sauce. I just sautéd onions, mushrooms and garlic and added a can of Hunts sauce. As I said, nothing fancy. But it will help me fill my muscles with glycogen for tomorrow's fun.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Soba Stir Fry

Nothing like the thought of Asian food to make me start instantly salivating. I made this chicken, broccoli and soba noodle stir fry and it really hit the spot. I first cooked the soba noodles and set it aside. Then I quickly stir-fried some broccoli, garlic and ginger in a mixture of olive oil and sesame oil. Once they were just slightly cooked I removed them from the wok. The chicken was marinated in a mixture of soy, sesame oil, mirin, and a splash of teriyaki sauce. This was added to the hot wok and fried just until cooked. The veggies were added back to the wok and the noodles were tossed in. I did add some more soy, sesame oil, mirin and teriyaki sauce. A quick toss and everything was nicely mixed together. 

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crazy Concoctions

I've been pretty busy lately. Consequently I haven't had time to cook, or time to shop, or time to do anything. So getting lunch together in the morning has been somewhat of a challenge. With pantry items waning and no time to prepare good food I found myself foraging through the cupboards and fridge for anything to throw together. This leads to some pretty wild combinations. Like this wrap I made for lunch on Friday. I started with the last of a package of tortillas. I had a bit of refried beans in the fridge, so I smeared the tortilla with that. On top of the beans went some crumbled maytag blue cheese and that was topped with some hard salami I picked up from Trader Joe's the last time I was down in The Cities. A few parsley leaves and that made a quick and, well, strange lunch wrap. It was pretty good. Except I forgot to cut the casing off of the salami and it was hard to chew.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Greco Burger

Ever since Susan Mello won the 2003 Build a Better Burger contest in 2003 with her "My Big Fat Greco-Inspired Burger" I wanted to make this. I have taken several liberties with her original recipe. First of all I could not find good lamb to save my life today in my local grocery store so I resigned myself to making my Greco burger out of ground beef. Regardless, it turned out really good. I also wanted something more substantial than a pita to serve it on so I opted for a thicker ciabatta roll. The meat is flavored with mint and cumin. It is layered on top of some chopped lettuce, topped with a feta tzatziki sauce and a lemon and oregano grilled eggplant. I also served it with a grilled vidalia onion.

Tzatziki Sauce with Feta

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced finely
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup non-fat yogurt
1 tbsp dried dill
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Ingredients mixed well and chilled for at least one hour.

Grilled Eggplant

1 eggplant
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
2 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil

Eggplant was sliced into half inch slices. The remaining ingredients were whisked together. The eggplant was tossed with the marinade and allowed to sit for one hour. Eggplant was grilled on a hot grill until soft.


2/3 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 tbsp ground cumin
salt and pepper

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spring Green

Yes, spring is arriving here in the frozen north. I can't wait to get digging into the dirt and get my garden planted for the season. One thing I grow in abundance every year is basil. I love pesto and can't wait for the height of summer when the basil comes into my kitchen by the bushel. I can eat pesto on anything from pizza to sandwiches to, of course, pasta. In anticipation of the coming gardening season I made a pesto pasta dish. This is not my usual pesto as the little containers of basil I find at the grocery are way too expensive to make a big batch. So I kicked this one up by combining the basil with baby spinach leaves. So, I guess it's a basil and spinach pesto. It was nicely flavored with the basil but the spinach tamed it down so it was not so over the top as I usually do it. I also added some chicken, mushrooms, onions and garlic to this dish along with some fresh tomato at the end. Here are more details of the recipe I whipped up for this dish. Oh, I didn't realize I was out of pine nuts and walnuts so I used almonds instead. Turned out pretty good.


1 package of fresh basil leaves (about 1/2 cup loosely packed leaves)
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/4 cup slivered almonds (walnuts or pine nuts are better)
juice of one lemon
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, about 1/2 cup (I didn't measure)

All the ingredients except the oil were added to a blender. The ingredients were processed while drizzling in the olive oil to make a loose sauce or paste. You could add a bit of water too if you want to cut down on the oil. A wooden spoon was carefully used to stir the leaves in the blender while processing. The pesto sauce was set aside until needed.


1 pound of sliced boneless skinless chicken breast
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
5 large button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 chopped fresh tomato

To a hot large pan (I used a wok, actually) was added about a tablespoon of olive oil. The onions and mushrooms were added along with a bit of salt and pepper and sautéed until fully cooked. The garlic was added toward the end of the cooking. The onion and mushroom mixture was removed from the pan and the chicken slices, seasoned with salt and pepper, were added. Once the chicken was cooked through the onion mixture was added back to the pan.

Meanwhile in a large pot of boiling water a 1 pound package of thin whole wheat spaghetti was cooking. Once it was cooked to al dente the paste was drained and added to the chicken and onion mixture. A splash of the pasta water was added to prevent burning in the pan. The pesto sauce and fresh tomatoes were added and the paste was tossed to mix everything well. This was turned out into a serving bowl.