Monday, October 29, 2007

Rotini with Chicken, Broccoli and Tomatoes

I just recently subscribed to Cooking Light... what a treat! So many tasty dishes and beautiful food photos. This is from their November issue. I really hope to make the delicious looking pecan pie that is proudly displayed on it's cover for Thanksgiving dessert. We'll see if there's time!

This recipe originally called for asparagus (which I love) but we had broccoli that needed using and we used whole-wheat pasta. Other than that, I was pretty faithful to the original (though I halved it for two). Light, tangy, and tasty (the feta adds that extra punch). Pretty quick and easy too!

I also find it easy to blanch the broccoli in the pasta cooking water before sautéing, to speed up the cooking process. If you're concerned about mixing the flavors, steam the broccoli briefly in the microwave before adding to the pan.

Rotini with Chicken, Broccoli, and Tomatoes
from Cooking Light (with mods.) Serves 2 8/10

6 oz. uncooked (whole-wheat) rotini
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or diced fresh tomato)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 TBS fresh basil, chopped
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1/2 TBS olive oil
1/2 cup feta or other tangy goat cheese

1) Cook pasta according to package directions. (Blanch broccoli florets in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then remove and drain, before adding pasta).
2) Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken and broccoli to pan. Sauté about 5 minutes.
3) Add tomatoes and garlic. Sauté 1 minutes.
4) Stir in pasta, basil, vinegar, and oil. Remove from heat. Serve with feta (and a nice crusty bread).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Homemade Fettuccini Alfredo

For my birthday my mother-in-law bought me the pasta attachment for our Kitchenaid mixer. If you've read any portion of this blog so far, you may notice that pasta is one of my favorite foods (so versatile and delicious!) so the prospect of being able to make my own was very exciting! She also passed along a recipe for homemade fettuccine from her copy of the October edition of Bon Appetite. With that as my guideline, I made my first forays into the fresh pasta cooking world.

This was actually a lot simpler than I had anticipated. It's really just a matter of giving yourself enough time to let the pasta dry, in it's various stages, and then be patient and delicate with the numerous times one must feed the dough through the rollers. Making the dough in the Cuisinart is super easy and the nice thing about the Kitchenaid attachment is everything, obviously, is mechanized--you just re-adjust the thickness of the rollers to press the dough into a thinner and thinner sheet, but all the rotating and pressing is done by the machine. And watching the full sheet of dough get cut into perfecting even strips so quickly and easily, honestly, filled me with glee. That's right, glee. I am very easily entertained.

I have yet to master the actual drying process however; we ate half of the pasta the same evening and the rest the next day. I am trying to find it within me to have the patience to spiral each delicious strand of fettuccine into a pinwheel for drying and saving, but honestly, I haven't yet. It seems like too much work. I hear they make drying racks for this sort of thing, however, unless making pasta becomes a regular activity (fun, delicious, but a bit time consuming) I may just have to suffer through eating it all very quickly. Darn.

And how better to do fresh pasta justice than with a very simple alfredo? Honestly, when I took a bite of this I blurted out "Wow, this tastes professional!" Not that everything I make isn't delicious and made with loving care, but it honestly tasted like something you would get in a restaurant.

Homemade Fettuccine
pasta recipe inspired from Bon Appetite
makes about 1 lb

2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling/shaping
1/2 tsp plus 1 TBS salt
2 large eggs
~6 TBS warm water, divided

1) Combine 2 cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in food processor. Pulse to combine. Add eggs and 4 TBS warm water. Using pulses, blend until a moist dough forms and begins to gather into a large dough ball, adding more water by the tablespoon if dough is dry.
2) Gather the dough together and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and pliable, sprinkling with flour if sticky, about ten minutes. Sprinkle lightly with flour on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 45 minutes. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Cover with plastic.
3) Shape one piece of dough into a thin rectangle (the more rectangular, the more even your noodles). Set pasta maker at widest setting. Run through machine 4 times.
4) Adjust the machine to next narrower setting. Run dough through the machine 4 times. Continue through rollers until desired thinness, rolling the dough through 4 times each.
5) When dough strip is about 1/16 inch thick and about 20 – 24 inches long, place on floured service or large baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough. Uncover strips and let dry for about 30 minutes, turning once.
6) Cut each dough strip in half crosswise. Fit machine with 1/4 – 3/8 inch cutter attachment. Run strips through machine, cutting dough into fettuccine and dusting with flour if dough sticks.
7) Spread fettuccine our on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with flour and toss to coat. Cover fettuccine loosely with kitchen towels. Let stand for up to four hours, tossing occasionally to prevent sticking

**You can actually cook this pasta immediately, though I would say it benefits from some drying time to just make it easier to work with. If you intend to use the pasta next day, allow it to continue drying, then cover with a non-terrycloth dish towel and store in the coldest part of your fridge. Use the next day—pasta that has not be completely dried can quickly become moldy. To dry properly, use a rack or twist fettuccine strands into spirals, leave out to dry completely, and freeze or store in an airtight container.

Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo
Serves 2

1/2 lb fresh fettuccine (see above recipe)
3/4 cup light cream
3 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 TBS salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
ground black pepper, to taste

1) Put up a large pot of water to boil (about 2 quarts).
2) Combine butter and 1/2 cup cream in a large saucepan. Heat over low until butter is melted and cream is barely simmering. Whisk to combine. Turn of heat and set aside.
3) When water has come to a boil add 1/2 TBS of salt to the water and the fresh pasta. Cook about 3 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
4) Add pasta to the hot cream. Add the remaining cream, Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Cook over low heat for 1 – 2 minutes or until thickened slightly. Serve immediately (preferably with garlic bread and a small mixed green salad or broccoli!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pork Chili

So I selected this recipe because we had pork, but then it turned out we didn't have most of the other ingredients, so I improvised. It turned out rather tasty! I'm a fan of chili; though Maryland isn't much of a chili state, I grew up with my father taking us to The Hard Times Café, where they served five kinds of chili anyway you wanted, from chili dogs to a "five-way" with chili, cheese, spaghetti, beans, and onions. I was a fan of the red Cincinnati chili, while Dad liked the drier Texan style. Either way, I learned to like my chili "chili mac" style (as I have explained previously) over pasta and with lots of cheese. This is more the "red" style that I like, with a wet, tomato base. This comes together pretty quickly, for a chili, and is quite delicious.

Pork Chili
inspired by The Simply Healthy Lowfat Cookbook
Serves 2 8/10

1/2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 TBS olive oil
1 large bell pepper, diced (or frozen bell peppers, which is what I had handy, about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp salt
dash of red pepper
1 TBS flour
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tomato, skinned and pureed in a food processor (you could also use canned crushed tomato, 1/2 cup)
1 tomato, diced (canned would be fine too, 1/2- 1 cup)

3 cups wide egg noodles
1 cup grated cheese of your preference (cheddar is my favorite, but we used left over gruyere and fontina from the Italian fondue)

1) Put 1/2 TBS chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, and cubed pork into a ziplock bag and seal. Massage until coated.
2) In a Dutch oven, warm oil over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add pork and sauté until browned, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
3) Add bell peppers, onion, garlic, basl, salt, red pepper, and the rest of the chili powder and cumin. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add flour and stir, cooking about 1 minute.
4) Add chicken broth and tomato puree. Increase heat to hight and bring to boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors.
5) Return pork to the pot and simmer 2o minutes more, or until meat is tender and pulls apart easily.
6) While pork is cooking, prepare egg noodles according to pack directions.
6) Remove chili from heat and stir in diced tomatoes. Serve over noodles with grated cheese on top.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Italian Cheese Fondue

As promised, here is our favorite fondue recipe, inspired by a stint of Italian themed fondues at The Melting Pot a few months ago. We actually cooked the whole thing in the fondue pot itself this time (though you could do it over the stove top or in a double boiler). We also over came our past difficulties with the wine and it was the perfect consistency (we wound up adding half the wine half way through... I don't think that's traditional or how you're supposed to do it, but it worked if you have the kind of trouble that we did). Also, I used the grater attachment on our cuisinart. I am a genius. This is my new favorite tool; the possibilities are endless! Latkes anyone?

Italian Cheese Fondue
Serves 2

1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 heaping tsp of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup grated Gryuere
1 1/2 cup grated Fontina
1 TBS flour
1 TBS pesto sauce
1 TBS marinara sauce
1 TBS grated Parmensan cheese
salt & pepper to taste.

crusty italian bread, cubed
apples, cubed

1) Prepare fondue pot, according to assembly directions, to make cheese fondue (this usually requires filling the main basin with about an inch of water, fitting the ceramic dish over this, lighting the sterno, and placing the basin over it on the stand). Allow water to heat for about 5 - 10 minutes.
2) Add wine and garlic. Heat until steaming (really, you want this hot... heat it over the stove first if you have to).
3) Toss cheese with flour. Slowly add cheese by the handful, whisking with a fork, until melted and combined (this should be a smooth, pliable consistency, not too liquidy or too stiff. Too much liquid? Add more cheese. Too stiff? Add warmed wine.)
4) Add pesto, marinara, parmesan, and seasonings to taste. Stir to combine.
5) Serve with bread and apples (and any other tasty dipper... salami anyone?)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wonton Soup and Asian-Inspired Risotto

With the leftover wontons from our Artichoke and Feta wontons, I decided to make wonton soup, and to go with it, an asian flavors inspired risotto. I went light on the soy sauce and ginger, but I wouldn’t be afraid to add more—the flavors were somewhat subtle. To fry up your own fried wonton garnish, I actually just sliced up some wonton wrappers, brushed them with olive oil and a little salt, and baked them in the toaster oven at around 350ºF for a couple of minutes. Keep and eye on them; they burn easy.

Wonton Soup
Serves 2 (plus extra for freezing)

wonton wrappers
1/3 – 1/2 lb ground chicken
1 TBS soy sauce
1/2 TBS dry sherry
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp sesame oil
2 TBS scallions, chopped and divided
2 – 3 cups chicken broth or stock

1) Combine chicken, soy sauce, sherry, ginger, sesame oil, and 1 TBS scallions in a medium bowl.
2) Lay out one wonton wrapper. Wet edges with a little bit of water (I usually just use my finger). Place a teaspoon of chicken mixture in center of wrapper. Bring two opposite corners together and press the edges together to seal. Place on a non-stick baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture has been used.
3) Heat chicken broth in a medium sauce pan until just boiling. Lower heat and add scallions and six wontons. Cook for 4–5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
4) Cover remaining wontons with plastic wrap and place in freezer until frozen, then remove and store in freezer in a large freezer bag or plastic container.

Asian-Inspired Risotto
Serves 2

1 cup Arborio rice
2-3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 – 2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp ginger
1 TBS sesame oil
1/2 cup of scallions, chopped
1/4 cup white wine or dry sherry
1/2 cup sweet bell pepper, chopped
1 link cooked chicken or turkey sausage, chopped
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1 TBS butter
salt and pepper to taste
fried wontons for garnish

1) Heat stock in a small sauce pan until hot, but not boiling. Add soy sauce and ginger. Keep warm.
2) Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until shimmering. Add scallions and sauté until translucent. Lower the heat to med-low. Add the arborio rice and stir until it is coated with oil.
3) Add the wine or sherry to deglaze the pan. Stir until the liquid has been mostly absorbed and the rice begins to stick to the pot.
4) Add warm stock to the rice 1/2 – 1 cup at a time and continue to stir the risotto until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the rice begins to stick before adding the next cup. The rice will begin to absorb the liquid much slower.
5) After about 15 minutes, the rice will have puffed up and taken on a creamy texture and will almost hardly be absorbing any liquid at all, but still be a bit al dente. Add sausage and bell pepper and cook about 5 more minutes or until the rice is tender but slightly chewy. Remove from heat.
6) Add the butter and parmesan, blending until creamy. Season to taste. Top with fried wontons and serve.

Artichoke & Feta Wontons and Salad with Soy Sauce Dressing

For my birthday, the boy got me two Alton Brown cookbooks! They are absolutely wonderful. Tonight I tried his "Artichoke and Feta Wontons" from the sauté section of the book. Though they take a little while to assemble, they are utterly delish. The feta and artichokes give it a certain bite, a sort of sour, creamy taste, while the bacon adds salt and the scallions add zing. They came out a little bit oily, but otherwise they were very good. We also had some leftover salad fixings (and half of a raw egg leftover from the wontons) so I made a salad with a soy sauce dressing. They could be a great party starter.

Artichoke and Feta Wontons
from Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food with mods.
Serves 2

olive oil
12 - 14 wonton wrappers
1/3 of a can of artichoke hearts (about two hearts), drained and chopped (I used my mini-food processor which worked great)
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 slices of bacon, cooked til crisp and chopped
1 TBS scallions, finely chopped
1/2 an egg (save the other half for the salad!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup of water or chicken broth

1) Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Heat broth in a small sauce pan.
2) Combine artichokes, feta, bacon, scallions, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
3) Lay out a wonton wrapper on a dry surface. Brush the edges of the wrapper with a little bit of water (I just use my finger). Place a heaping teaspoon of filling into the center of the wonton and fold up, pinching the edges together to seal. Place on a half baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth. Continue until filling is used up.
4) Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once hot, brush about a tablespoon (maybe a little less) of olive oil on the pan until the oil begins to smoke. Add wontons, about 8 - 10 in the pan. Sauté 2 minutes per side. Gently add 1/4 cup broth to the pan and cover, cooking an additional 2 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Move wontons to an oven-proof dish and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining wontons.

Salad with Soy Sauce Dressing
Serves 2

spinach or whatever lettuce you so desire
8 - 10 grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup carrots cut into matchsticks
1 large scallion, chopped
1/2 an egg, fried and sliced thin (fry up the rest of the one from the wontons)

1 TBS soy sauce
1/2 TBS dry sherry
2 TBS light olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp garlic
pinch of black pepper

1) Toss together vegetables. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Top with egg.
*This would also be tasty with sesame seeds, orange slices, fried wontons, snow peas, red pepper, etc.


We went apple-picking a couple of weekends ago (among other crazy events!) and got sooo many delicious apples! I have great plans for these, including apple bread and apple crisp, however we have lots of birthday cake leftover so the last thing we needed was more desserts. So I started with applesauce. Super easy.

Homemade Applesauce
Makes 1 jar/ 4 -5 servings

5 -6 apples

1) Core, peel, and slice all apples. Place in a large pot and cover half with water (about two cups). Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.
2) Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 30 - 40 minutes or until apples have broken down and you can easily mash them with a spoon.
3) For smoother applesauce, use a mixing wand or food processor and pulse until desired smoothness.
4) Serve warm or cold with cinnamon and/or brown sugar. Mmmmm.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Welcome one and all! This is the new incarnation of my foodblog (formerly on livejournal, name cookyjar). I have just finished transferring over all my old entries, so feel free to peruse my meager compendium of recipes and posts thus far. I've been cooking up a lot of tasty things recently, including homemade fettucini, apple crisp, and artichoke and feta wontons! I can't wait to share it all with you!

I'm also hoping to include a bit more creative food writing (see Thoughts on Risotto for a sampler) and maybe some restaurant and book reviews as well! I will try to post as often as I can, but I will tell you up front that I tend to be bad about that sort of thing and may instead post in feverish, inconsistent bursts.