Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New York: Take 2

The other half of my weekend in New York City consisted of spending much time in the kitchen. The thing about my family, is that we're often content to do not much of anything. Well, by most people's standards anyway. Really what I mean is that, to us, hanging out in the kitchen, eating whatever we happen to cook up, and chatting all the while (usually with a glass of good wine) can fill up an entire evening!

My sister and I decided to sample some fare from the wonderful Smitten Kitchen. We opted for the mushroom marsala pasta with artichokes. Umm, there is nothing about that I wouldn't like. Mushrooms? Check. Cooking with wine? Check. Pasta? Check. Anyway, you get the idea... It was INDESCRIBABLE. In a really amazing way. The Marsala and the mushrooms combined to create a whole new flavor that I could have licked out of the pan would I not have burnt my tongue. In fact, I think I will be making another variation of this in the coming days, it was THAT good.

Mushroom Marsala Pasta with Artichokes
(barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen & Giada DeLaurentis)

3 tbsp. olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pan)
1 small onion (finely chopped)
10 oz. mushrooms (we just bought one package, rather than the pound it called for)
1 c. dry Marsala wine
1 lb. pasta
12 oz. frozen - thawed (we overdid the artichokes to make up for the mushrooms)
3/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. cream
1/2 c. flat leaf parsley
salt & pepper, to taste
splash of balsamic vinegar

Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for one minute. Add the mushrooms. Saute, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the mushrooms have cooked down, about 10 minutes. Add the Marsala and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes (this took us much longer).

Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to directions on the package, or to taste (al dente for us!). Drain the pasta and add it to the mushrooms, marsala, and onions. Add the artichoke hearts, parmesan, and cream. Cook until the artichokes are heated through. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, again to taste. EAT.

The next day the sister and I decided to try our hand at baking. After scouring several recipes we decided to try our hand at muffins with red onions and dill. We used a vegan herb bread recipe but subbed in the red onion and dill for all the herbs the recipe called for. Again -- DELICIOUS. Sister shared with friends and got rave reviews all around. I had to go back to NC, but I made more the next day.

Muffins with Red Onion and Dill
(Adapted from How It All Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sara Kramer)

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
egg substitue (to equal one egg)
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. vinegar
3/4 c. soy milk
1 small to medium red onion
3 tbsp. dill, chopped
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Yes - the sifting is important. Add the dill, red onion, egg replacer, sugar, oil, vinegar, and milk. Mix together until just mixed. Do not overmix, especially in the vegan version! Spoon into muffin cups. Sprinkle kosher salt on the top. Bake for about 25 minutes. Check with a knife or toothpick to see if they are done.

Non-vegan version
I made these with one egg and 3/4 c. of milk. Beat the egg prior to adding it. It made the muffins slightly more wet so I added about 2 - 3 tbsp. of flour. It still made approximately the same number of muffins as the vegan version.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Just over a week ago I boarded a plane to visit the wonderful land of New York City. As my sister is currently living in Brooklyn, we spent a lot of time just "going around." Lots of time on the subway, lots of time walking, and (of course) lots of time eating! We ate at a couple interetsing and fantastic restaurants and spent some time in Emily's kitchen.

The first restaurant we tried was actually a bar called Alligator Lounge. They have this really wonderful concept of a free pizza with every beer or drink ordered. So over a couple Brooklyn lagers, we shared some free pizza! Now, I thought this would be cheap-o microwave pizza, but they had a huge wood-fired oven in the bar and you could really watch them make it! So much better than we thought.

(I apologize for forgetting to take pictures of the amazing tacos. They went to my belly too quickly. So we're doubling up on pizza.)

The next night we went to a restaurant called San Loco. We actually ventured all the way to Manhattan for this one, and it was completely worth it. They have this amazing concept for their tacos. A hard shell taco, wrapped in a soft taco, with either guacamole or cheese in between the layers. YUMMM. Either bean or beef come highly recommended :)

I'm going to split the New York trip into two posts... stay tuned for the cooking edition of what we did in NYC!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Starting with a Basic

I (wrongly) assumed for a period of time that everyone knew how to make a good, solid French toast. In my opinion, this is important knowledge. French toast can serve as breakfast, brunch, or dinner. Most often in this kitchen it makes brunch or dinner, because who really gets up early enough to make French toast for breakfast?! The important thing is to mix the eggs with milk (I've heard orange juice can make for an interesting substitute). Then use some flavoring: I generally choose vanilla and cinnamon. Just use these to taste!

There's something else odd about this dinner for me tonight. I made myself an egg. I have gone for most of my 26 years hating eggs. In the last month I have been going through an odd egg phase. This is my second "over-medium" egg and I am eating my weight in omelets. Oh... the omelets... I will have to try to convince the hubs to make a post about the deliciousness and photo-perfection of his omelets. I will not attempt to recreate that goodness.

SO with my belly full of French toast, egg, and sausage, here is my first "recipe."

Simple French Toast

For 6 slices of toast (thin bread):
2 eggs
1/4 cup-ish of milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 - 2 tsps. vanilla

Beat eggs until fluffy. Add milk. Add cinnamon and vanilla to taste and whisk. Dip bread into mixture first on one side and then the other. Place on skillet or griddle and cook until golden brown.

Easy-peasy. But I had to start somewhere!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hello from North Carolina!

On a night that I made myself a lovely (and giant) bowl of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for dinner, I have decided to debut my very own food and cooking blog. I know, not exactly a fanfare-worthy start. But hey, a girl's gotta eat, and sometimes on a random Tewwsday right before tax day, box mac-n-cheese it is!

Hopefully, this blog will also serve as some motivation to continue to try new and different recipes. The hubs and I recently (as in 5 months ago) moved into a beautiful new house with a gorgeous kitchen! Having come from years and years of apartment-kitchen living, this has been a huge excitement for me. On top of that, we have a new gas range and brand new pots and pans. I tell ya, I am geared up and ready for some cooking!

I already have a couple ideas up my sleeve to share. There are some recently made recipes I would like to put up here; however, I didn't take any pictures as I wasn't yet planning this blog. I may post sans pictures just to get things started. I'd love for any feedback anyone has about this as we get started.... so... ENJOY!

Happy Eating!