Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stuffed Peppers

I actually made a menu board this week (I love menu planning, it makes me feel like a bad ass!), and one of our dinners was stuffed peppers. I sliced the tops off of the bell peppers and then broiled them by themselves for about 15 minutes, rotating them every 5 minutes so they roasted evenly (the top photo was a last minute pepper that didn't get broiled--it was crunchy and raw, so definitely broil first!). I didn't start broiling until recently (because honestly, I didn't know how), but it just heats the oven from the top, which is great for roasting or getting a nice toasty finish on something.

Then in a bowl, I mixed brown rice with some steamed veggies (basically what I had in the fridge--green beans, red pepper, onion, broccoli, and squash) and a big dose of Hernandez salsa. Scooped it in my peppers and grated some cheddar on top, then baked them for about 15 minutes, or until everything was gooey and awesome looking.

I stuffed my (non-vegetarian) husband's with cooked ground beef, brown rice, and Rotel diced tomatoes, also topped with some cheddar. We ate 'em with Greek yogurt (tastes a lot like sour cream) and some pinto beans cooked with salsa on the side. Ole!

Stress Baking

So not only do I drink way too much diet soda when I'm stressed, I bake like a maniac. This week alone I've made two batches of cookies and a box of No Pudge brownies. These were my regular recipe with chocolate chips, toffee, and a little extra sea salt.

Green Smoothies

Whenever I'm under a big deadline I get hooked on caffeine and drink Diet Coke like it's going out of style. Then I end up feeling gross, and worse, it makes me crave sugar and all sorts of junk. So I've been wanting to detox...gently. Nothing crazy. I found out about this through the 100 Days of Real Food Blog (definitely check that out, great articles on there). It's a bunch of recipes for green smoothies--I started with the Beginner's Luck smoothie. Despite the green, it was actually very good and kept me full for a few hours (I had it for breakfast two days in a row). I'm kind of excited to see what I feel like after drinking them more regularly!

The site has lots of fun recipes, and they come with beautiful pictures too:

2 cups spinach, fresh
2 cups water (I mixed in crushed ice)
1 cup pineapple (I used frozen)
1 cup mango
2 bananas

– Serves 2 –

Blend spinach and water until smooth. Next add the remaining fruits and blend again. Use at least one frozen fruit to make the green smoothie cold.

Here is the original recipe (and photo):!prettyPhoto

Wrap it Up

I picked up a new vegetarian cookbook from the clearance aisle at Barnes and Noble, and decided to try this wrap recipe with some leftover burrito tortillas. I forgot to get cream cheese, so I made a basil mayo instead (pesto mixed with olive oil-based mayo). It's one sweet potato, cut with the thickest setting on my mandoline and roasted in the oven for about 10 minutes, fresh spinach, and low fat feta cheese. Pretty good and it got me thinking about all the other types of veggies I could slice and roast, and what else would be good in a wrap.

The next day, I roasted up a whole zucchini, also sliced on the mandoline, and a whole red pepper, just opened and evenly trimmed. It wasn't cooking fast enough, so I broiled it and got some nice roast marks on there! It also helps to sprinkle some sea salt and fresh pepper on the veggies to give them some flavor. I flipped them half way so they would cook evenly.

Then I laid out my tortilla (definitely want to try a spinach or whole wheat one next time, but this is what I had in the fridge) and spread it with Boursin cheese, then added the veggies, fresh basil, and some crumbled goat cheese.

Lastly, I rolled it up like a pinwheel and cut it with a really sharp knife. This one was even better and would have been great with eggplant or mint also. I might be crazy sometime and try one that has all the elements of my favorite sushi roll (rice, sweet potato, cucumber, cream cheese, seaweed salad). There are so many combinations that would be good in these, and they're a cinch to make.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tomato Gouda Basil Pasta

I love, love, love the Food Network magazine. They always have creative ideas and the best recipes (with pictures!). This was in the July edition and was soooo good! Sorry for the crappy picture, it was taken on my phone and doesn't do it justice.

Kosher sea salt
12 ounces penne pasta (I used the fun kind in the picture)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used olive oil mayo by Kraft)
1/4 cup whole milk (I used 1%)
1/4 cup white vinegar, plus more if needed
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotles (I used more, to taste)
1 10-ounce package grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 pound smoked gouda cheese, cut into small cubes
24 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Drain and rinse under cold water until no longer hot; set aside.

2. Make the dressing: Mix the mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste and the adobo sauce in a small bowl, tasting for seasing.

3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, dressing, tomatoes and gouda. Stir in the basil at the end. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. I served it hot and it was also delicious that way!

Here is the original recipe:

Bread Baking

Our neighbor, Luca, was interested in learning how to make bread, so we spent a Saturday afternoon whipping up some foccacia and these French loaves. Bread is really simple, just time consuming (and messy). But I feel better knowing I'm not eating all the gross preservatives and chemicals that go in to the stuff at the grocery store. And you can't beat the taste of bread fresh out of the oven (or the delicious smell!).

Recipe to come...

Simple Does It

When the CSA flowers start to wither, I like to use the blooms that are still going in tiny little vases around the house. Pretty, right?

Leek, Potato & Gruyere Frittata

This was so good, and reheated really well the next day. I would easily serve it for guests. We got leeks in our CSA bag this week (along with potatoes and onions) and I had no idea what to do with them, so this was great. Recipe was adapted from Williams Sonoma Kitchen.

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 oz. small red potatoes, sliced 1/8” thick
2 leeks, white and light green portions rinsed well, thinly sliced
5 large eggs
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small onion, diced (optional)

1. Heat a 12-inch, non-stick, oven safe sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and melt. Add
potatoes, salt and pepper and sauté, flipping potatoes occasionally, about 8 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

2. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in same sauté pan. Add leeks (and onion), salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a separate bowl.

3. In another bowl, whisk eggs and cream. Stir in cheese, parsley, potatoes, salt, pepper and leeks. Melt ½ Tbsp. butter in sauté pan. Add egg mixture; cook until just beginning to set, about 4 minutes, using rubber spatula to lift cooked edges and allow uncooked eggs to flow underneath.

4. Cover and cook egg mixture another 2-3 minutes until eggs are set. Place pan into oven and broil for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy. Shake pan to loosen frittata; slide onto plate.

Callie's Biscuits

Hello, my name is Meg, and I have a carb problem. There, I said it. I had heard so much about local Callie's biscuits, in national magazines and whatnot, and even though they are nearly $20/bag, I had to give them a try. About a year ago I bought the cheddar and chive biscuits and my whole world changed. OMG. They melt in your mouth and are just so damn tasty. Even the ones we made in culinary school couldn't touch these. I couldn't resist them at the grocery store this week. Do yourself a favor and go get some of these babies. Today.

Asian Garlic Sauce

My husband has been hung up on this garlic chicken/broccoli dish he gets at the local Asian place and asked me to recreate it at home. After a quick Google search, I found this recipe, which turned out smashingly!

I used up some leftover veggies, including broccoli, yellow pepper, cabbage, and green beans. We also served it with brown 'fried' rice (cooked with an egg, soy sauce and some scallions), and chicken for the hubs. Here's the easy sauce recipe.

    1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar (I used brown sugar)
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
    1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon chili sauce, or according to taste  
    1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
    1 tablespoon water
    1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
    3 - 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (4 teaspoons - 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic)

1. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauces, rice wine/sherry, chili sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl, stirring to combine. In a separate small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until aromatic (about 30 seconds).

3. Quickly restir the sauce, add it into the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring. (This will take about a minute).

4. Re-stir the cornstarch/water mixture and add it to the sauce, stirring to thicken.


Pretty Pretty

I love my weekly CSA wild flowers, mixed with herbs like basil. That is all :).

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I've done this show many times in the past, but the last year or so it has been tough because I always seem to be traveling or have some conflict with the date. But not this time! I applied and am really excited that I got in! Now I need to get busy on making some new pieces--July is going to be here before I know it!

Room with a View

My husband just started a new job about a month ago and had to make a quick run to the office on a Sunday to take care of a time-sensitive task. I tagged along so I could check out his new work space and then we got brunch at the Rutledge Cab Co. (yum!). I have to admit that the views of historic downtown from his office are pretty hard to beat!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pasta Primavera

This is a great 'clean out the fridge' dish that is always tasty. I was afraid of sauces for a long time, making them from scratch just seemed like crazy talk. But this one is easy and the trick is to keep tasting it until it's flavored just right (adding salt, etc.).

1 lemon (juice + zest)
2 sticks of butter
1 cup white wine (Chardonnay is good)
Sea salt
1 tablespoon garlic (a few fat cloves minced)
1 small onion, diced
Assorted veggies (I used green beans, broccoli, peppers, carrots, squash but anything works)
Mozzarella (I usually dice up one big ball of it)

1. Cook pasta, set aside.

2. In large saute pan (I use our wok pan), cook down the white wine over medium heat. The liquid should reduce by about half. When it has, stir in butter, lemon juice/zest, onion, sea salt, and garlic. Keep cooking down and tasting until it is seasoned to your liking.

3. Drop in the assorted veggies and let them cook in the sauce for a few minutes, until tender.

4. Turn heat off and stir in pasta, then add mozzarella chunks. Enjoy!

Bagels & Bialys

Last semester I missed bagel making day because of a work trip. Lucky me got to make it up this summer! We made regular bagels (with various toppings), and bialys ('bee-ah-leez'), which are basically bagel dough that is punched down in the center and filled with onions that have been sauteed in butter (along with some poppy seeds). They skip the boiling water and go straight to the oven for baking. I was skeptical because it seemed like onion overkill but they were very good. Now I need to dig up the recipe and post it because bagels were much easier than I expected!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

ZZ Ward

The flight home from Austin was not nearly as glamorous as the trip out. The plane was delayed by an hour, so everyone missed their connections in Atlanta and I had to spend the night at the ghetto fabulous Delta-sponsored hotel near the airport. Despite having to talk to five agents before getting a comped room and waiting in a huge line to get checked in, I actually slept really well and flew out fine the next morning (despite being seated next to twin babies on the final flight--that would be five people in one three-seat row of the plane, two of whom were shrieking and flailing most of time--UGH).

I decided when I got home that it was time to do something fun, so I met the husband for sushi at Osaka, then we walked over to Half Moon Outfitters, where they frequently have musicians in town for the weekend play a short (free) acoustic set before their big evening show. This weekend it was ZZ Ward, who has an amazing bluesy voice. We tested out sleeping bags in one of the store tents before hanging out on the balcony to hear her play. It definitely took the edge off of my jet lag and was a nice little afternoon date :).

Here's one of the songs she played, probably her biggest hit so far:

Soup & Sammie

In bread class we made a Pullman's loaf, which was basically a square white loaf of yumminess. I brought home half of one and decided that some grilled cheese sandwiches were in order. I buttered the bread, then added some muenster and provolone cheese with sliced tomato and grilled it in a cast iron skillet. Then I whipped up this fast easy frozen veggie soup, which will soon become part of the regular repertoire because it is THAT easy. Fast and delicious!

10 oz. frozen veggies (I used broccoli)
14 oz. vegetable broth
2-3 Tbsp. Greek yogurt
1/4 grated cheddar cheese
1-2 minced cloves of garlic
Drizzle of Sriracha sauce

1. Cook down frozen veggies in the broth on medium heat.

2. Using an immersion blender, blend together the veggies and broth until creamy. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook over medium-low heat for another 10 minutes (until warm). Enjoy!

Brown Butter Salted Rice Krispy Treats

My friend Laura and I followed the Smitten Kitchen recipe and boy were they good.

Makes one 8 inch pan.

1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute.

As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.

Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan. Let cool, cut into squares and get ready to make new friends.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen:

Friday, June 7, 2013


Today was a good day. Like, a REALLY good day. My flight to Austin was delayed, which was fine because it gave me more time to walk the dogs and get stuff done around the house. Delta originally had me waiting five hours at the Atlanta airport for a connection, but I got there and they got me on a earlier flight in first class. Which I could totally get used to :). Great flight, then I get to the hotel and they give me a complimentary upgrade to a king suite (what-the-what?!). Then, just when things can't get any better, the front desk staff informs me that the ATX Festival is going on and that there are lots of celebrities staying at the hotel. Now maybe this makes me shallow, but I love me some celebrities!

So I wander to the check in area for the festival and passes for the weekend started at $150 (totally out of my price range). They give me a schedule of events and the opening premiere happens to be starting right next door at the Paramount Theatre. I go over and talk to the volunteer manning the door, and she tells me to sit tight, and after about five minutes they let me in for free!

The opening night features a screening of "Arrested Development" and the actresses who play Maeby (Alia Shawkat) and Ann aka "Her" (Mae Whitman) held a Q&A with the audience afterwards. Score!

There was also a "Boy Meets World" reunion scheduled, so I saw Ben Savage (sorry for the unflattering picture, I was trying to be inconspicuous with my picture taking and not appear like a total stalker) and the rest of the cast (minus Topanga). I also ended up in the ladies room with the show's mom at one point.

During the Q&A, Alia pointed out the "Friday Night Lights" cast sitting one row behind me. Look! It's Joey Lawrence's little brother on the right ("Whoa!")!

The Q&A was really interesting and it was funny to see ultra religious "Ann" chugging Bud Light during the interview.

I'm not sure how all of the stars aligned, but what started as a pretty average day turned into a pretty freaking awesome adventure. I love that about Austin--there is always something cool going on!


The downtown office where I do some consulting work is right across the street from Fish restaurant on King Street. I had not been there since college, and fortunately my palette has improved significantly and I can actually appreciate how ridiculously delicious the food is now. They are kind of pricey for dinner, but offer an awesome $10 lunch special where you get an entree, side, and drink. My go-to is the tofu moo shu wraps with ginger aioli and the edamame/lentil salad on the side. Someday I will attempt to replicate this at home, but for ten bucks it's totally worth stopping in and getting take out whenever possible. Can't say enough good things about this place!

Artisan Breads

Summer schedule is set and I'm signed up for Artisan Breads. I like that the focus is on rustic, homemade looking bread instead of perfectly sculpted loaves (not my strong suit). We started with some artisanal poolish corn bread, which looked really pretty, but quite frankly, didn't taste so great. But it was fun to use bannetons and practice getting the different lines and cuts on the bread.

Then we made mozzarella from scratch (I didn't even know that was a thing!), which involved sticking your hands in boiling water and trying to mold cheese curds into a ball and then putting it in a salted ice bath. We also made some pizza crust and baked that with a little bit of olive oil, fresh mozzarella, sea salt, and basil on top. Un-be-liev-able. Must do this at home soon!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cookie Sammies

While preparing for a cookout at my Mom's house this weekend, I couldn't decide on a dessert. Cookies seemed boring and ice cream felt kind of lazy but when combined they make a special semi-homemade treat that everyone loves!

First I made some simple chocolate cookies that are generally flat, with a slight crisp. I omitted the chocolate chips since I knew the ice cream (Breyer's Reese's flavor) was going to be super rich and chocolatey.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 sticks of butter (softened)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
(1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Put butter, egg, and vanilla in mixer with brown and white sugar, mix until creamy and slightly fluffy.
3. Add in dry ingredients, mix until combined and add in chocolate chips, nuts, etc. if desired.
4. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet.

Makes about 3 dozen small cookies or 2 dozen large ones. Once cookies were cool, I scooped a nice blob of softened ice cream in the center.

Then came another cookie, which I twisted on to smoosh the ice cream down. I made these the night before and wrapped them tight in saran wrap. They held up well, especially if you let them sit for a few minutes the next day to soften up again slightly. Yum!

Grain Salad

I had a tasty little side salad at Heart restaurant last week and decided to get creative and make my own version at home. I started with some plain quinoa, which I cooked with garlic, sea salt and water. And I didn't burn it! I made 1/2 cup dry (1 cup cooked), following the directions on the package.

Then I sauteed up some CSA greens, which included kale, onion, and asparagus.

Next, I nuked a 90 second pack of farro grains (from Target) and mixed it with some plain canned beets.

I mixed in the greens and quinoa, then finished it off with fresh lemon juice, a touch of red vinegar, salt and pepper, and crumbled goat cheese. Gave it a good stir and it was all set!

Strawberry Fizzy

In my quest to give up diet soda, I've been trying to find substitutes that I like. Last week I made a pound cake with a simple syrup from our CSA strawberries to go on top (sugar, lemon juice, strawberries, basil). There was some strawberry topping left over, so I stirred it in with the carbonated water and it was pretty good! Not a Diet Coke, but pretty good. Going to keep looking for alternatives, but this was the best one so far.

Any Time is a Good Time for Breakfast

I love getting fresh eggs with our CSA, but some weeks we just can't seem to eat them fast enough. And this week we had potatoes to use up too. That can only mean one thing--breakfast for dinner!

Threw some cheddar and fresh basil with the eggs, a little Texas Pete, onion, and tomato with the potatoes, and heated up some frozen Grands biscuits in the oven and voila! Dinner is served!

Nature Time

While we were in northern Georgia, John and I were able to get a quick hike in at Raven Cliff Falls, just a few minutes from where we were staying. Even though it was a holiday weekend it wasn't unpleasantly crowded and it was nice and shady. The views were spectacular and it was really relaxing (see, don't I look relaxed?).

Okay, I was slightly winded and excited about the view, but John nailed it:

There were beautiful waterfalls and the trail was challenging but still well within my weakling abilities. We talk about going to the mountains a lot (because we always enjoy it so much when we're there) but never seem to get around to doing it. While we were flipping through a local paper we saw several cabins that were in foreclosure, so on the way out of town we drove by and checked one out.

This one was $50K and was on a super cool (5 acre) lot with a creek near by. There were others as low as $24K, and it got us thinking about how nice it would be to have a vacation home someday. We'd fence it in so the dogs could run around and then try to rent it out when we're not there to hopefully pay for some of it. Of course we're just daydreaming now, but it's something to think about for the future, especially if the in-laws end up retiring near this area as planned.