Mushroom Lentil Burgers from Cooking Light. It was difficult to divide this recipe to make a single serving (the ingredients include a whole egg for 4 burgers and a baggie of precooked lentils) but it was so worth it. There’s way more flavor in these patties than in any frozen-foods-section veggie patty I’ve ever tasted: very umami and filling without any pretense at being real meat. I’ll never go back!
Jeweled Rice Pilaf with Carrots from Food & Wine. This goes-with-everything side dish features not one, but two carbs (rice and broken-up pasta), as well as toasted nuts, fresh herbs, lemon, and roasted carrots. I made two substitutions: pine nuts for the almonds and golden raisins for the olives. This makes enough for an army so either cut it down or do as we did and have the leftovers as a main course the next day with diced meat and/or an egg on top and a salad of mixed greens.
Homemade Multigrain English Muffins from the Woks of Life. These nutty, simple, chewy get their whole-grain goodness from one of my favorite ingredients, 10-grain cereal. (I use Bob’s Red Mill because I can get it in bulk at WinCo.) They have this in common with one of my favorite sandwich bread recipes of all time, Amber Waves of Grain Bread. I made muligrain English muffins once before from a recipe which baked in the oven. These get fried in a skillet, more like “real” English muffins (which are made from a batter, rather than a dough and are cooked in rings on a skillet).
Syrniki from Wikihow. OMFG. I don’t remember why I had a carton of ricotta in the fridge with just a tablespoon missing but I couldn’t bring myself to toss 95% of a perfectly good and extremely versatile ingredient like that so I Googled “ricotta pancakes” and made the first recipe I came across. Success! Midly sweet, incredibly creamy, with an almost-but-not-quite chewy texture. And so rich it’s no wonder the recipe only makes six silver-dollar-pancake sized cakes. As with all things Russian you are directed to dress them with sour cream and applesauce but we went crazy with butter, honey, and three flavors of jam.
Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk and Kale from Food & Wine. We are kale-haters so I omitted that ingredient. I also subbed fenugreek for the fennel. This smells so good while it is cooking that I am amazed that none of my neighbors tried to invite themselves to dinner. There’s tons of spices and flavors (cumin, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cilantro, lemon, onions). The coconut milk makes it all sinfully creamy. It’s also incredibly filling! Serve with my favorite chapatis.
Lemon Cream Icebox Cake from the Kitchn. Thin layers of whipped cream, lemon curd, and graham crackers. This tasted exactly as I hoped it would: like the limoncello tiramisu at my favorite date-night restaurant, Lombardi’s. Many icebox cake recipes call for a tub (or three!) of Cool Whip, but this one has you whip your own cream with powdered sugar and lemon zest. Worth it. I’m glad I made a half-batch in an 8 x 8″ pan because there was just a tiny piece left after we dug in, and there’s just the two of us here.
Beef Satay With Peanut Sauce from South Beach Diet Online. Inexpensive top round is sliced thin and marinated in a little lime juice and a whole lotta garlic and ginger before being threaded onto skewers and grilled. The peanut sauce is pretty darn good, too, if a little runny. If I hadn’t been following the South Beach Diet when I tried this I would have used the peanut sauce from Cooking Light’s Chicken and Noodles with Peanut Sauce.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust from The Lucky Penny. Not soggy, not crumbly, not cauliflowery. Also not very bready, but it is tasty and it can pick it up and eat it with your hands – if you don’t overload your toppings like Matt. I just put a dollop of sauce, a sprinkling of herbs, and a handful of shredded Italian blend cheese on my half. My pizza cravings were satisfied.
Lemony Roasted Salmon with White Wine Couscous from Cooking Light. This was surprisingly inexpensive, given its fancy-sounding name (and flavor), but I used frozen salmon fillets and bulk-bin couscous. I halved the recipe but forgot to halve the yogurt, chive, lemon, and olive soil sauce, and just as well because it really made the dish. Goes together quickly and easily and tastes pretty impressive.
This year Matt asked me to bake cookies several times a week so that he could flood the break room at his day job with sugary goodness. This sounded like a great plan to me because I love to bake and getting all the cookies out of the house the very next day means less chance for me to eat them all myself. Even with the new pup underfoot (more on him soon) I have managed to crank out some good stuff without burning a single cookie.
Peanut Butter Blossoms from Better Homes and Gardens. These disappeared in a day. Soft little peanut butter cookies with whole Hershey kisses smooshed into the top – what’s not to like?
Lemon Bars from Ina Garten. I took the time to hand-squeeze five jumbo lemons to get a whole cup of lemon juice for these super-tart bars and it paid off – literally. After the pan was emptied and returned to me the same day I dropped it off I had a request from the shop manager to make a second batch just for him – and he wanted to pay me for my time.
Cowboy Cookies from my personal files. Crunchy-chewy oatmeal cookies full of chocolate chips and pecans. One of the few cookies I am physically incapable of resisting. I have no idea where I got this recipe. I jotted down the ingredients long before I ever started cooking, which makes it likely that I got it off of a PBS cooking show. I am shocked that I didn’t cite my source – that is not at all like me. I typed it up on a typewriter (I used to sort of collect them) and the instructions I invented make it clear to the current-day me that I had never baked a cookie in my life. Here’s a corrected version:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1-1/3 cups quick oats
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth. Beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add oats, chocolate chips, and pecans.
- Using a medium cookie scoop (I use a #50 disher) or a tablespoon measure, drop balls of dough 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until barely golden on edges. Let sit on baking sheet five minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Meatball Tagine With Herbs and Lemon from Food.com. A user posted this recipe from Cooking Moroccan by Tess Mallos. So much flavor! The meatballs are full of cumin and paprika and onion and cook in a broth flavored with cilantro and turmeric, with pops of bright preserved lemon. Takes some time, but most of it is hands-off, and it’s easy. The only expense is the lamb so it’s not too hard on the wallet, either.
Homemade Garlic Freezer Bread from Budget Bytes. There’s only two of us here so when we have spaghetti or lasagna and one of those giant batons of pre-slathered read-to-bake garlic bread from the deli about half the loaf ends up going to the chickens, no matter my love for buttery carbohydrates. Solution: this recipe. Buy an unsliced, non-slathered loaf of French bread, slice vertically like regular bread, slather it yourself, and then freeze in baggies of two to bake as you need them. Texas toast for two in your own freezer.
Eggplant with Yogurt and Dill from the Food Network Kitchens. I decided it was high time I tried eggplant and I chose this as my first recipe. Apparently I chose wisely. Apparently I also like eggplant. But really, what vegetable isn’t delicious when roasted to caramely perfection with shallots and garlic and then slathered in tangy yogurt?
Creamy Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas from Budget Bytes. These babies cleanly knocked off the previous winner of the “cheap and easy super-inauthentic white people enchiladas” slot in my recipe collection. (These were the previous winner). These are even cheaper, even tastier, more filling, and slightly more authentic (by dint of their not containing cream of chicken soup). Our plates will be seeing a lot of this recipe because holy crap do I love enchilada sauce. The recipe explains how to make your own but the night I tried these I was in a big hurry and used La Victoria.
One Pan Chicken Apple Sausage Pasta from Inspired by Charm. I think this one of those recipes that someone blogged and then thirty or forty other food bloggers made it and blogged about it (with a link back to the original) and then more bloggers reblogged it from them . . . and I just don’t feel like tracking it back to the source. Wherever this originated, its creator must have been looking for quick, easy comfort food that didn’t use up every pot in the kitchen. It’s lightly cheesy and creamy, slightly sweet from the apples, a little smoky from the sausage, cheap (and makes a heap) reheats easily, and only takes about 1/2 an hour.
Green Bean and Potato Salad with Herbs and Anchovies from Williams Sonoma. I made this for my lunch this week to satisfy a craving for potatoes (and a growing curiosity about anchovies) and I was not disappointed with my choice of recipe! Green beans and Yukon Gold potatoes are dressed in a vinaigrette consisting of shallots, garlic, vinegar and oil (obvi), buttloads of fresh basil and tarragon, and anchovies. I confess to taking a big shortcut on the herb route because we overspent ourselves a bit on the Peninsula (on food, appropriately) so I subbed jarred pesto for the fresh herbs. Given that the vinaigrette was still outstandingly flavorful and bright I cannot wait to try it as the recipe was written. There is nothing at all like fresh basil or tarragon! (For those of you wondering: no, there is no fishy taste or smell. Anchovies are not like other fish somehow. If you think you’ve never had anchovies but you like Caesar dressing then let me be the one to tell you that you have had anchovies and you like anchovies.)
This week: recipes to conquer the onslaught of cherry tomatoes in your garden.
Tortellini Salad from Dream Home Cooking Girl. This is a main-dish pasta salad for hot summer nights. Cheese tortellini are tossed with fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, basil leaves, and the sweet cherry tomatoes that are in abundance right now. The recipe called for Caesar dressing (which would also have been great) but I opted for Litehouse Italian (the stuff they keep next to the bagged lettuce in the produce section) because I thought it was more in keeping with the other Italian ingredients. I chose wisely! Not only was it much, much lighter (calorie-wise) than Caesar but the bright notes of the sweet peppers really popped with the salty pepperoni and all that cheese. We had this for dinner with a green salad but it would also be very welcome on a potluck table.
Farro with Honey-Garlic Roasted Tomatoes from Cooking Light. Another great grain salad to add to my growing collection! Cherry tomatoes are tossed in olive oil, garlic, and a little honey, roasted, and paired with chewy, nutty farro, a dash of vinegar, and some nice tangy feta. Don’t be tempted, as I was, to substitute fresh chevre for the feta! Some other ingredient disagrees with fresh goat cheese and makes it taste strongly of mold. Not a problem with cured feta. One change I would recommend from the recipe is to roast the tomatoes longer than specified. It says not to let them brown but I would let them get really shriveled and caramelized because the very short roasting time in the recipe leaves them very mushy and all their extra juice makes the salad gooey instead of fluffy.
And this recommendation came in just last night from my mother, who also has great taste in tasty things: Spaghettini with Checca Sauce from FoodNetwork.com. Scallions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and parmesan are blitzed in your food processor with a little olive oil. This mixture (uncooked!) is poured over spaghetti or angel hair along with fresh mozzarella. Your kitchen stays cool. Mom says the sauce packs a flavor punch. Cheese plus uncooked garlic and onions plus sweet cherry tomatoes sounds irresistibly bright and punchy to me. I can’t wait to make this. (Mom also says she thinks it would be great with shrimp. Again, I concur.)