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Archive for January, 2010

Amos and Sadie, our cats, are seriously the best!  They’ve adapted to, yet again, another temporary home and have complained very little.  They are troopers!   Sadie did moan and meow in protest on the car ride over, and they both hid and slinked around the new place for a day.  But now, they are strutting around like they own the place.  They especially love the winding staircase!

When we move the cats to a new home, Adam and I try to “cat proof” the place as best we can, and then we like to observe the cats intently to see what trouble they can get into.  Luckily, Sadie and Amos are not bad cats.  They like to play and explore, but are not completely destructive.  Amos particularly does not like closed doors and will push on them, try the door knob, and stick his paw under the door and rattle it.  On the first night, he managed to open Robert’s bedroom door, and both Amos and Sadie paid him a visit at 4 am.  How could you be mad waking up to those two staring at you?

The other day, as I was getting ready to leave the apartment, I could not find Sadie.  I looked everywhere – closets, cabinets, bathrooms, bedroom, under everything – no Sadie.  I started to freak out a little.  This is where I found her…

All snuggled up in a Whole Foods reusable grocery bag.  Sadie supports my efforts to “go green”, and doesn’t want me to forget about her when I go food shopping!

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Do you ever have those nights when you think you have plans, the plans are canceled, and you are left with no dinner?  Well, this happened to me the other night.  I am trying to minimize the amount groceries I buy this week because ultimately Adam and I will have to move it next week.  I hate moving food.  It is such a production.  Loading bag after bag of dry goods, refrigerated items, frozen foods, into the car.  Driving to the new place quickly to then hike bag after bag up the stairs, and feverishly put the frozen foods in the freezer and other items in the refrigerator, while the dry goods sit on the floor in their bags until you are able to find a home for them.  Ugg.  I hate moving…

But I digress…no dinner plan, no ingredients, oh, and the grocery store was closing in 20 minutes.  Perfect!  I had some leftover pasta from the lentil soup, and found this recipe online for baked pasta with Italian sausage.  Yum!

It was quick and easy to make, and I managed to get it on the table only a few minutes after both Adam and his friend, Robert, walked through the door.  We sat around Robert’s newly constructed kitchen island…

Enjoyed a few beers, and devoured every last bite on our plates.

Baked Pasta with Italian Sausage
adapted from Week of Menus
Printable Recipe

1 lb of elbow pasta
1 lb of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
a few good handfuls of grated cheese (Italian mix) or 3/4 lb Fontina cheese, rind removed, sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 cup basil chiffonade (rolled into a “cigar” and sliced finely)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, ONE MINUTE less than required. Drain pasta and set aside.

Heat 1 TBS oil in a large skillet or pan, add sausages and use the back of a spoon, or spatula to break up into small pieces.  Cook until evenly browned, about 5 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from the skillet and put on a plate, but leave the oil and fat renderings.  Add remaining 1 TBS oil to the pan, heat, and cook onions until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for an extra minute.  Add sausages back in and add tomatoes, dried basil, dried oregano.  Continue to cook until all the sauce is hot and bubbling.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste sauce and adjust seasoning according to your taste.  Add pasta to the skillet and toss and heat through.  Pour out into a 3 quart casserole dish.  Top with cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is all melted.  Remove from oven and top with basil chiffonade.  Serve and enjoy!

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Comforting Lentil Soup


Adam and I are, again, living the life of nomads.  We have moved out of our sublet, and are temporarily staying with one of Adam’s co-workers, who has graciously allowed us to take-over an entire floor of his new apartment.  Sadie and Amos were not very happy about the move at first, however, they have adjusted quickly and made this their new home.  Little do they know, we will be making another move next week to our new permanent apartment.  Though I am so thankful for Adam’s friend’s generosity, it will be nice to have our own apartment and start making it our home.

After eating take-out for the first few days, I finally found the local grocery store, and decided it was time to cook.  Adam and I needed a little comfort food, and I wanted to cook for Adam’s friend.  It is a challenge to cook for someone new.  I never know what to make, so I went with an old standby, lentil soup.  Lentil soup is hearty, flavorful, and only requires one pot to make!

In the past, I have made lentil soup using a recipe we got from a friend.  Of course, that recipe is nestled into one of the million boxes that we have in storage.  I remember most of the recipe, but added a few twists.  I added chicken broth instead of water, used canned tomatoes instead of fresh, and added some pasta.  It was incredibly delicious, and filling.  We enjoy ours with a splash of red wine vinegar – it just brightens up the soup!

Lentil Soup
by Anne
Printable Recipe

2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into half-moons
2 celery stalks, sliced
Salt and pepper
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/2 cups dried elbow pasta
11 cups chicken broth
Red wine vinegar or Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the tomatoes with their juices.  Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.  Add the lentils and mix to coat.  Add the broth and stir.  Add the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the pasta.  Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.  Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves and discard.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls.  Add a splash of red wine vinegar or sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

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Sometimes a girl just needs some chocolate.  This time, it took the form of a gooey, creamy, chocolaty cake.  I love chocolate cake with a “molten” center & thought that this recipe sounded very similar, yet easy to make.  The most intriguing part of this cake is that coffee, yes coffee, is poured on top of the batter before baking!  According to Ina Garten, coffee just makes chocolate taste more like chocolate.

Adam didn’t used to eat sweets before dating me.  He enjoyed the occasional bowl of ice cream, but that was about it.  I have a major sweet-tooth, and I wasn’t about to curb my desire for sweet, sugary confections.  Now Adam eats dessert right along side me!

With a nice scoop of Cherry Garcia ice cream from my homeboys, Ben & Jerry, this dessert was complete!  It was chocolaty, soft, and super-fudgy!

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

6 TBS (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup whole milk
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups coffee, at room temperature (see note above)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly coat an 8-inch-square glass or ceramic baking dish thoroughly with vegetable oil spray.

Melt the butter, 1/3 cup of cocoa, and the chocolate together in a medium bowl in the microwave, whisking often, until smooth, 1 to 3 minutes.  In a separate bowl, stir the brown sugar, 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup cocoa together until there are no clumps.  Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a third bowl.

Whisk the remaining  2/3 cup granulated sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk in the yolk, then the chocolate mixture until combined.  Whisk in the flour mixture until combined.

Spread the batter in the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the batter.  Pour the coffee gently over the brown sugar mixture.  Bake until the cake is puffed and bubbling and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the baking dish, about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  (Do not overbake.)

Let the cake cool in the dish on a wire rack for about 25 minutes before spooning into bowls.

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Quinoa is a grain that I have never cooked before.  Our local grocery store here in New York does not carry quinoa, but I found a box a little while ago at Trader Joe”s.  I thought, “What the heck”, and bought it without knowing what I was going to do with it.  A few weeks went by with it sitting on the shelf looking at me, crying for attention.

I finally stumbled upon a recipe in, none other than my The America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, for quinoa pilaf with apples and pecans.  I had all of the ingredients, plus a few tilapia filets, and voila…dinner!

It was delicious.  I was surprised how much texture the quinoa actually had.  When you bite down on the grains, it feels similar, I think, to the “pop” or “crunch” of caviar.  Yummy little bursts of wholesome goodness!  The nuttiness of the pecans complimented the quinoa, and the apples were little bits of a sweet surprise.

Quinoa Pilaf with Apples and Pecans
from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
Printable Recipe
3 TBS unsalted butter
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled cored, and chopped fine
1 onion, minced
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
Salt
2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse
2 TBS minced fresh parsley
Pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the apple, onion, sugar, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the drained quinoa and cook until it is just beginning to turn golden, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the quinoa is tender with a slight crunch, about 15 minutes.

Remove the cover from the saucepan, and continue to cook the quinoa until the remaining of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Off the heat, let the pilaf stand for 5 minutes.  Gently stir in the toasted pecans and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Foodgawker Accepted My Photo

My photo is under entry #48298 on Foodgawker.

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This morning, appeared like any other morning.  I got up, kissed Adam goodbye, made some coffee, and sat down to check my email.  Lo and behold, I saw that my photo of sweet potato ravioli was chosen as #6 on Foodbuzz for Today’s Top 9. The Foodbuzz Top 9 is a photo-driven collection of top-buzzed posts within the Foodbuzz community.  This was incredibly thrilling to me!  I texted Adam and my sister, and posted it as a “status update” on my Facebook page.  I’ve only been blogging for a short time, and a Featured Publisher on Foodbuzz for a week or two.  I am honored that they chose my photo.  Plus, this has already increased traffic to my blog!

I have now learned how to take a “screenshot” of a website.  So, here’s a screenshot of the Foodbuzz Top 9 from January 15, 2010.

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